Seeburg V-200 Jukebox

Hello, Laptop Sessions fans! I thought it would be fun to post about our 1955 Seeburg V-200 jukebox that we got about a year ago. We’ve always wanted one and I’ve kept an eye out at fifties themed diners and such over the years. I went to a jukebox restoration company nearby a bunch of years ago, looking for options. But I didn’t realize how expensive these things were! Much like any other collectible, you can get less expensive versions that are still nice but there’s always one or two models that rise above the rest.

Take baseball cards, for instance. Everyone knows the Honus Wagner card that’s worth millions. Sure, you might have some good baseball cards but chance are you’ll never have the BEST one. Certain model years of cars (you can have a Corvette but likely ain’t gonna get a ‘55) and guitars (‘58 Les Paul, anyone?) follow the same trend.

So when it came to owning a jukebox, I was a bit disappointed to find out that the ones I thought I wanted were impractical (those Wurlitzer ones with the bubble lights? Most are from the 40s and only play 78 rpm records) or way too much money (the Seeburg V-200).

The owner of the jukebox repair shop told me of a jukebox he completely restored and that is was the most desirable Seeburg model ever made: the V200. He had the whole thing rebuilt from the ground-up. It cost the owner a ton of money. The best part? It was located right in my hometown, in a 50’s diner that I didn’t even know existed!

So, we went searching for it right away. It was BEAUTIFUL. I’d never seen a 200-play version before (this was the first model to ever have 100 records or 200 selections) and the features were out of sight. The rotating wheel to flip between banks of songs was so cool to look at and use.

We went to that diner almost weekly from there out, playing the jukebox every time. But, as many restaurants do, it went out of business. We didn’t know it was going out of business because there was a fire in an adjacent restaurant that forced the 50’s diner to close for a while. But it never opened back up again!

Out of desperation, I wrote a note to the owner and slipped it under the door of the vacant restaurant. I never heard back.

Fast-forward a few years to when I was about to complete graduate school and my MBA. I got cards from relatives with some money. While writing thank you notes, my default line was, “I’ll put it in the jukebox fund!” I never thought I’d actually pull the trigger and get one!

That night, while writing the thank you notes, I decided to look on eBay foe jukeboxes. I couldn’t believe it- there it was. THE Seeburg V-200 from the 50’s diner! It was still nearby and someone wanted a lot of money for it. Well, to cut to the chase, we worked out a deal and my friend and I stupidly went by ourselves to pick the 400 lb machine up. Thankfully we recruited a couple more guys to help us get it in the house where it will live forevermore.

This jukebox sounds amazing- the tube amp is powerful and high-fi. The machine has its quirks but I’ve gotten pretty good at cleaning, servicing and performing minor fixes. I can only hope it continues to provide our family and friends with years of good times. I hope you enjoy the photos of this beautiful beast below and thanks for reading!!

“(Marie’s The Name Of) His Latest Flame” (Elvis Presley cover)

By Jim Fusco:

Welcome to The Laptop Sessions with me, Jim Fusco!  I’m glad to be back with another acoustic cover song music video for you to enjoy.  Tonight, I go back about fifty years and bring you Elvis Presley’s classic song, “His Latest Flame”.  It’s a cool tune with a great beat.  I love the bossa nova style used in the original recording.  Of course, this video is just me and my guitar.  But, I think it still captures the essence of the song.  This song requires a lot of energy and I hope that shows in this cover song video.

“His Latest Flame” was written by the songwriting pair of Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman (you may remember the mention of their names in Ben Folds & Nick Hornsby’s “Lonely Avenue”).  This song went all the way up to #4 on the Billboard charts.  And clocking in just over two minutes, they proved that a catchy number, no matter the length, can be a big hit.

One thing I thought was interesting was the Del Shannon (of “Runaway” fame) originally recorded this song.  Of course, his version wasn’t the hit.  I imagine that happened to many artists once Elvis got a hold of a song.  I, for one, would be pretty intimidated if Elvis Presley picked a song I had already recorded and made it his own.  I think that would spell the end of the original version and the beginning of Elvis’ sure-fire hit in the late 50s and early 60s.

Of course, my cover version of “His Latest Flame” sounds its best because of my Martin MMV acoustic guitar.  It’s just so clear and powerful- it makes anything I play sound better.  I hope that my cover version helps keep this song alive for years to come and introduces it to a new generation of potential Elvis (and early rock’n’roll) fans.

On a side note, I’m still getting used to editing my Laptop Sessions cover song music videos with Final Cut Pro X.  It’s really a pain in the neck and many of the functions just seem purposefully “dumbed-down” to make it easier to use.  The problem is that it literally took me an hour searching online to find out how to fade in the video.  Geesh!  Plus, there’s a little skip in the audio at the end- I’m not sure why that happened, but there’s no way to fix it.  Also, there’s a few seconds of black at the end- not sure how it got there or how to fix that in the future.  But when the video takes literally HOURS to render at full 1080p high-definition resolution, I really only get one shot at it to get it right.

Finally for tonight, I wanted to mention the progress of my brand-new album, “Those Around Us”.  It’s all recorded and mixed.  Now, it’s in the loving hands of a mastering company.  If everything turns out as well as I hope it does, I’ll be posting praise for that company soon enough- I just want to make sure first. 🙂  Anyway, it’s an album of 12 original songs.  It’s 95% me, but there are a couple of nice collaborations on there.  As you’ll hear once it’s released, it’s by far and away the finest work I’ve done so far.  Every song is crafted with love and care down to each minute detail.  The songs aren’t overproduced, but they don’t sound sparse, either.  The vocals, now that I have a great Shure condenser microphone, are clear and pitch-perfect.  I’m not tooting my own horn there- I spent countless hours making sure the timbre of my voice was correct on each harmony track.  Also, the instruments really sound great.  I utilized a sampled Wurlitzer electric piano (used in such hits as “Joy To The World” among many, many others) and this album features a real drum kit.  Also, I have a vast array of different guitars, ranging from a 12-string electric to a lap steel.  The variation of sounds makes each track on this album sound fresh and different- no two tracks have the same instrument setup.  To me, that’s the mark of a diverse and interesting album.

I’ll be releasing more information on the album in the next few weeks.  I’m hoping to get the album cover firmed-up soon and will hopefully get to post an in-depth look at how it was created.  In the meantime, I’ll be back in two weeks with my next Laptop Sessions acoustic cover song music video.  I’d love to read comments both here on the music blog and on YouTube.  Take care and I’ll see you in two weeks.  Enjoy “(Marie’s the Name of) His Latest Flame”!

“Bye Bye Love” (The Everly Brothers) Cover Music Video

By Jim Fusco:

Hey hey- it’s another Jim Fusco Tuesday here on the music video blog.  Hopefully over the next few weeks, we’ll be putting some more time into the site and getting our views back and rockin’ once more.  Tonight, I’m a little depressed because I have this great new HD video camera and can’t even use it for the Laptop Sessions yet.  Why?  Because I can’t get my microphone to work with it and it doesn’t work as a webcam.  So, I’m really stuck.  Turns out that the unit has a stereo microphone built-in, but the microphone input is only in mono.  What’s the deal with that?

The video quality is very nice, however.  It’s such a shame- I thought I had it all figured out.  So, it’s back to the drawing board for me.

Moving on to tonight’s video:

Chris and I performed “Bye Bye Love”, the classic song sung by the Everly Brothers- yet ANOTHER band we haven’t done yet here on the best music video blog ever!  Man, this is a good tune.  We kind of look the Everly’s, too, don’t we?  I’ve wanted to do this one for a LONG time now, but Chris and I operate on two different schedules and I never got the chance to grab him for the session.  Things have calmed down a bit on his end, so we’ve gotten to do a couple of duets.  This was a fun one, but I wasn’t in the greatest of moods after the whole camera thing.

It was going to be very poetic, as well, as this is one of the older songs I’ve done and we would’ve been in crystal-clear, state of the art, 1080p digital video.  So much for that!

This song has an interesting structure.  It’s not unlike other songs of the time- a very familiar tune to the chorus.  But, the verses have this very interesting twist.  They go to an E chord towards the end of each verse and it makes the song sound very unique when you compare it to other songs of the period.  What a cool twist!

Make sure to check out the video I did with Chris, as well, (see below) as for the first time, I’m playing my brand-new lap steel guitar!  The video came out great and I actually sound like I know what I’m doing on that thing!  What a great sound- I’ve been looking for that sound for a long time and can’t wait to incorporate both that and my new 12-string electric into some original tunes.

Finally, to echo Chris’ sentiment, a friend and fellow musician, Tony Persia, died yesterday.  He was one of the original members of Danny and the Juniors and played that great piano on ‘At the Hop”- one of rock music’s all-time classic songs.  He was a good guy and always enjoyed talking to us.  We even got to sing with him!  I loved hearing his stories and he will be missed by many of us that loved to see him and hear him play year after year.  I know he’s rockin’ somewhere with Elvis and John Lennon.

Have a great night, everyone, and I’ll catch you very soon for another Laptop Session.  Will it be a duet?  Will it finally be in HD?  You’ll just have to wait and see- talk to you then!!