1. Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah (1:58)
2. In a Little Spanish Town (2:16)
3. Mambo at the Zenda (1:50)
4. Thanks for the Memory (2:05)
5. I Know That You Know (2:08)
6. Count Up To Six (2:29)
7. Talk to Me Baby, Tell Me Lies (2:08)
It's Monday. It's possibly warm where you are. You're at work, unless you're in Maine or Massachusetts, where today is Patriots' Day, a curious local holiday that commemorates the Battle of Lexington and offers people the day off to appreciate Revolutionary-themed cosplay.
Chances are you need some stimulation to get you through to Friday. Automatic Canteen and Rowe are here to help, with the Customusic sampler, one of many attempts to improve productivity in the workplace by harnessing the power of music.
Pity the poor employer...
All the boss wants is work done cheaply. This conflicts with the desires of employees, who want such outlandish things as food and breaks during the workday, to say nothing of health insurance and retirement plans. In the early days of American industry, the bosses could threaten the employees with termination or, in extreme cases, smack them around a bit to keep them focused. Fortunately for employees, the Lowell Textile Strike of 1836 put an end to the more unsavory practices of American industry.
Employers came to realize that perks could be as effective as threats in motivating the workplace. Vending machines became a common site in lunchrooms, many of them built by Automatic Canteen, one of the first large-scale producers of cigarette and snack machines.
Automatic Canteen began looking to add music to its list of vending machines, and in 1959 it bought William Rowe's jukebox company, naming the new enterprise AC Rowe. With an established list of corporate clients (Automatic Canteen exists today simply as Canteen), they sought to tap the motivational music business with a product called Customusic. This could be run from a dedicated jukebox in the supervisor's office and pumped out to the rest of the building.
Customusic was a direct competitor of MUZAK and offered the same variety of sonic atmospheres. Today's selections come from the "Productivity" portion of the sampler. Year unknown for this one, but the line art and lettering on the cover suggest the early1960s.
These are bright, fully orchestrated covers having more in common with the "Beautiful Music" format than the horn-heavy (yet scrupulously recorded and engineered) offerings of MUZAK. Also absent is MUZAK's trademark Stimulus Progression concept, where tracks are arranged to enhance and heighten the positive effect of the music. There's no order apparent, apart from someone's wry positioning of "Count Up to Six" as the sixth track on the side.
This is just one side of a four-sided album. If you like it and want more, drop a comment below and I'll post the rest in the coming weeks.