September 10, 2014

101 Reel-to-Reel Tapes 78: Mystic Moods Orchestra ~ One Stormy Night

In addition to my vinyl LP record collection I'm selling, I have hundreds of reel-to-reel, pre-recorded tapes as well. This is an entry about one of them that is for sale on eBay (see link below). Interested? Contact me by email, please, not by a comment.

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I have made field recordings of various nature sounds (rain, lighting, crickets, birds, etc.) since my father bought me my first reel-to-reel tape deck, a Voice of Music deck manufactured by V-M Corporation, in the early 50's. I dearly loved that deck.

Voice of Music tape deck console 
photographer unknown

I was a little more mobile when I got a Wollensack in the early 60's but I was still anchored by the electric cord to power it.

Wollensack tape recorder
 photographer unknown

When the 8-track tape format came out in 1963, I would make music compilations for friends and often I had to use their recordings which were sometimes in terrible condition. It drove me wild! I developed the technique of overlaying my field recordings to mask the noise from the bad records. It was pretty effective and my friends loved the finished product.

Well, the Mystic Moods Orchestra came along in the mid 60's and, lo and behold, they did the exact same thing (I sincerely doubt they were masking surface noise, though).

Mystic Moods Orchestra ~ One Stormy Night 
reel-to-reel tape box cover
photo by Styrous©

This debut recording from the Mystic Moods Orchestra came to be essentially by chance. Brad Miller, who had been recording old steam engine sounds for sound effects recordings, was inspired upon hearing a late-night DJ mix easy listening music with environmental sounds. He solicited arranger Don Ralke to record a series of easy listening songs, which were mixed with a thunderstorm. The congenial music combined with the rain and thunder proved to be a revelation to the general public, leading to several more successful mood recordings. Of the selections, Local Freight contains authentic steam engine sounds, a nod to Miller's first passion, while the lonely cello combined with the sound of falling rain on Autumn Leaves is quite striking. This is a space age pop classic.

Mystic Moods Orchestra ~ One Stormy Night 
reel-to-reel tape box back
photo by Styrous©

The Mystic Moods Orchestra was known for mixing orchestral pop, environmental sounds, and pioneering recording techniques. It was created by audiophile Brad Miller. The first Mystic Moods Orchestra album One Stormy Night, was released in 1965 through the label Philips. Throughout the rest of the 1960s and 1970s, the group continued to release similar styled recordings and their recordings continued to be reissued throughout the 1980s and 1990s.

Mystic Moods Orchestra ~ One Stormy Night 
reel-to-reel tape box cover detail
detail photo by Styrous©

Miller was born in Burbank, California, and had developed an interest in railroading in his teens. After a few years of hanging around rail yards and learning all the lore of steam and diesel engines, he decided to record the sounds of some of the last steam locomotives operating on a major rail line. Eventually, around 1958, he and his friend, Jim Connella, formed a company called Mobile Fidelity Records and started cutting records from these field recordings, which they released through railroading magazines and model train shows. Sound effects recording was quite the rage at the dawn of stereo, and one of these albums of train sounds was even reviewed favorably in High Fidelity magazine. A few years later, Ernie McDaniel of San Francisco radio station KFOG decided to put one of Miller's albums, Steam Railroading Under Thundering Skies, and an easy listening album, on separate turntables and broadcast them together. His late-night stunt produced a barrage of listener phone calls (most of which were positive), much to his surprise. He later related the episode to Miller, who was inspired by the idea.

Mystic Moods Orchestra ~ One Stormy Night 
reel-to-reel tape box back detail
detail photo by Styrous©

While working with arranger Don Ralke, Miller recorded a series of tunes, most of them Ralke originals, played by a string-laden orchestra, then mixed in a variety of environmental sounds he had collected. He took several months fine-tuning the blend, then cut a deal with Philips to release it under the title of One Stormy Night, credited to the Mystic Moods Orchestra.

Mystic Moods Orchestra ~ One Stormy Night 
reel-to-reel tape box back detail
detail photo by Styrous©

With the help of producer Leo Kulka, Miller quickly developed a series of One Stormy Night clones: Nighttide, More Than Music, Mexican Trip, Mystic Moods of Love. Don Ralke wrote most of the material and did all the arrangements for the first few albums. John Tartalgia did a few more, then Larry Fotine became the primary arranger when Miller and Kulka moved to the Warner Bros. label. The musical content shifted to mellow covers of current hits (Love the One You're With), and Warners modified the packaging of the albums to make sure there was no mystery that these were records to serve as the preamble or accompaniment to getting it on. Erogenous came with an inner sleeve that, when pulled out, showed a nude couple in soft focus.

In 1974, Miller founded his own label, called Sound Bird Records, and reissued many of the Mystic Moods Orchestra albums, as well as albums of environmental sounds without music and more train recordings.

Mystic Moods Orchestra ~ One Stormy Night 
photo by Styrous©



  • One Stormy Night (1966, Philips)
  • Nighttide (1966, Philips)
  • More Than Music (1967, Philips)
  • Mexican Trip (1967, Philips)
  • Mystic Moods of Love (1968, Philips)
  • Emotions (1968, Philips)
  • Extensions (1969, Philips)
  • Loke Token (1969, Philips)
  • Stormy Weekend (1970, Philips)
  • English Muffins (1971, Philips)
  • Country Lovin' Folk (1972, Philips)
  • Love the One You're With (1972, Warner Bros.)
  • Highway One (1972, Warner Bros.)
  • Awakening (1973, Warner Bros.)
  • Clear Light (1973, Warner Bros.)
  • Erogenous (1974, Warner Bros.)
  • Being With You (1976, Sound Bird Records)
  • Cosmic Force (1978, Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab)
  • Summer Moods (1985, Bainbridge Records)
  • Stormy Memories (1990, Bainbridge Records)

Mystic Moods Orchestra ~ One Stormy Night 
reel-to-reel tape label detail
detail photo by Styrous©


Side 1:

1 - A Dream / Conductor & Arranged By W. Shanklin, Composed By Wayne Shanklin - 3:55
2 - Minstrel Boy / Composed By Patrick, Ralke - 3:07
3 - Sayonara / Composed By Irving Berlin - 3:18
4 - One Stormy Night / Composed By L. Degar - 2:56
5 - In Your Arms / Composed By Ralke, Krueger - 3:04

Side 2:

1 - Fire Island / Composed By Ralke, Krueger - 3:15
2 - Aja Toro / Composed By Luttrell - 3:05
3 - Hot Bagel / Composed By Ralke - 2:08
4 - Local Freight / Recorded By Brad Miller - 4:58
5 - Autumn Leaves / Composed By Jacques Prévert, Johnny Mercer, Kosma - 4:40

Philips - PHI X 600205

Mystic Moods Orchestra ~ One Stormy Night, reel-to-reel tape is for sale on eBay 

reel-to-reel tapes on eBay

Curl up in front of a roaring fire on a rainy night (or a clear one, MMO will provide the rain) with your loved one and bliss on out.

Styrous® ~ Wednesday, September 10, 2014

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