Finer Arts Records
The Finer Arts Record Label has a long and somewhat clouded history – and the name Finer Arts lives to this day as a family owned enterprise in Denver, Colorado – although the vinyl recording days are long past. But the label’s heyday was back some nearly 50 years ago when Morris Bernstein served as a partner with Frank Kavelin and also as a producer, song writer and more. Morris was the son of immigrant parents and was born in southern Colorado in the town of Capulin. During his lifetime, Morris composed more the 600 songs. Many of the songs performed by the Finer Arts recording acts were written by him. According to the Jewish Theater News in Denver, Morris composed for political figures Roy Romer and President Ronald Regan.
Finer Arts began in Hollywood, California where it’s earliest releases were recorded. Many of these releases would be reissued by Finer Arts on labels bearing the Denver address. Morris also owned Trans-World Records which had the distinction of releasing Otis Redding’s first single. Bernstein and Kavelin apparently did have disagreements and so the label fractured sometime in the 1960’s with Bernstein setting up in Denver, Colorado recording new acts but also releasing previous tracks from the original label in California. Visit the Kavelin family page to learn much more about Bernstein – Finer Arts – Lute Records and more.
Finer Arts lists 60 South Glencoe Street on most of its labels. I do not know if that residence ever actually served as a recording studio. Morris (sometimes “Morey”), passed away in
Among Bernstein’s compositions was the sound track to “Israel O’ Israel” became the basis for a later production of “Suddenly Hope”. The Israel sound track was released on Finer Arts release 777 in 1982.
Juanita Brown with Dusty Brooks
Juanita Brown was a lead vocalist with Dusty Brooks and His Tones – The two sides here were both composed by song writer and record label owner for Finer Arts out of Denver, Colorado – Morey Bernstein. Seems odd that Morey who spent his early years in Los Angeles working with Al Kavelin of Lute Records would compose a couple of Sun tracks but not odd when research revealed these tracks were indeed recorded in L.A. and leased to Sun.
Here’s an interesting promotional piece from the Johnny Johnson Agency from 1953 promoting an appearance of the Tones with Juanita at the Rossonian Lounge in Denver, Colorado! As Bernstein was a Denver lounge and entertainment figure – it all seems to add up!
Denver Newspaper Article – Morey Bernstein – March 24th, 1962
Finer Arts Billboard Listing – September 14th, 1967
There are two acts that stand out above the others within the Finer Arts catalog: First, The Hollywood Argyles with their release of Finer Arts 1002 as listed below. The original Argyles were the creation of Gary Paxton – who in fact recorded “Alley Oop” solo back in mid 1960. There were many Hollywood Argyle releases prior to the Finer Arts 1961 recording. Based on the success of the release – Gary put together a performing group to fill appearance dates. Prior to the Argyles – Paxton was one-half of the duo Skip and Flip (“Cherry Pie” and “It Was I”). Skip was Skip Battin, who would later join the Byrds. I contacted Paxton and he told me he never traveled to or worked in Denver, but did production work for Morris often in Hollywood, thus the Hollywood Argyle release on Finer Arts.
Paxton also told me that he had traveled for a time to Nashville to do some work and thus tracks such as the two shown below on Capitol Records which were most likely cut in the Country Music Capitol.
Otis Redding & the Shooters
The other Finer Arts release of note is one by Otis Redding (with the Shooters on one side). According to the Jewish News article, “Bernstein claims to have discovered by Otis Redding and Jan and Dean.” Quiet a claim. This record below was released on Trans World records – and some sources claim the Finer Arts 2016 is a “reissue”. An item on-line however – publicizing a switch in ownership for Finer Arts also included Trans World. So go figure. For sure the Finer Arts recording date is one of the very earliest for Redding (he also had a release on Orbit records in 1961). Which came first? Where does Trans World fit in? Who discovered Otis Redding? D The advertisement for this release from Billboard appears below – November, 1966. An Otis Redding biography indeed does relate about an early trip to Hollywood where Otis tested the waters and it was during this visit that he recorded the tracks shown here – first released on the Trans-World label – which was also a Morey Bernstein venture – Then he up and departed back to Texas to resume his quest.
Billboard Magazine – November 12th, 1966
Cash Box Magazine – November 12th, 1966
Finer Arts 45s
Finer Arts 1001 – Doug & Freddy & the Pyramids – “I Know You’re Lyin'” b/w Take a Chance of Love”
The orange label release is an original commercial first issue and the Red Label could have been a 2nd issue but could be first. The second set of scans below were a re-release of Doug and Freddy once the label was located in Denver.
Finer Arts 1002 – Hollywood Argyles – “The Morning After” b/w “See You in the Morning”
Finer Arts 1004 – Robie Lester – “Ballad of Cheatin’ Life” b/w “Miracle of Life”
Finer Arts 1005 – Viviane Greene – “Thanks for Nothing” b/w You’re Nobody Till Somebody Loves You”
Greene is listed on this 1950 Denver Post newspaper advertisement as an “added attraction” for the nationally known group The Charioteers – appearing at the Rossonian Lounge at 2650 Welton Street (image from “The Denver Eye”)
Finer Arts 1006 – Joni Davis – “Somewhere There is Someone” b/w “Too Lonesome to Cry”
(A rare Finer Arts picture sleeve – Only one I know of)
Finer Arts 1007 – Fabulous Enchanters – “Why Are You Crying” b/w “Something Blue”
The Fabulous Enchanters were a local duo who released this one single on Morey Bernstein’s Finer Arts label which dates from 1962. “Something Blue” was penned by Bernstein as was usually the case with many Finer Arts releases.
From Kevin Guthrie – November,2018: “The late Denver jazz pianist Jack Collins Davis played piano with the Fabulous Enchanters. He was a teenager, when they went to L.A. to record. I believe Vern Byers; a Denver promoter had something to do with it. Red Mitchell was the bassist on the date.”
Finer Arts 1009 – Ce Cee Carol – “Oh! Mr.Judge” – b/w Tag-A-Long”
Finer Arts 2008 – Vicki Martin – “Beware My Love” b/w “Handful of Dust”
Finer Arts 2010 – Don Rutherford – “Eskimo Song” b/w “Punishment of Love”
Finer Arts 2011 – Hustlers – “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter” b/w “Julianne”
This group started off at the University of Colorado in the 1960’s. Members included Mike Wuergler (bass), Mel Anderson (guitar), Jan Camp (vocals, percussion) and Adrian Anderson (banjo).
Finer Arts 2016 – Otis Redding & the Shooters – “She’s Alright” b/w “Tough Enough”
Finer Arts 2018 – Cantor Maurice Weiss – “Blow the Shofar, Blow” b/w “He Who Knows”
Finer Arts 2019 – Marvells – “Miracle of Life” b/w “What About the Mountain”
Like many recordings acts on Finer Arts – label owner Morey Bernstein wrote many of their tracks. A YouTube visitor attended a performance by the Marvells at Denver’s Cole Jr. High School in the 1960’s.
Finer Arts 2021 – Eric Mitchell – “Home Again” b/w – I’m Here My Love”
Finer Arts 2022 – Marlene McDade – “Miracle of Life” b/w “How Can I Tell Him”
Finer Arts 2023 – Mel “Chub” Anderson – “Sometimes” b/w “These Changing Times”
Finer Arts 2024 – Marvells – “How Could You Hurt Me So” b/w “Cause I’m Loving You”
Finer Arts 2025 – Newcomers – “My People” b/w Blow the Shofar, Blow”
Finer Arts 2026 – Marvells – “I’m a Fool for Losing You” b/w “Tomorrow”
Finer Arts 6201 – The Well Diggers – “Crazy Alice” b/w “Destination Heartbreak” by Jeannie Wyland & Sweettree
(More about this single from Lisa Wheeler at the “North Of Pueblo” Blog Site)
Finer Arts 45-3 – Kaylen Wells – “Time” – b/w “You Gave Me You”
Finer Arts 777/45 – Doug Duggan – “Come Home” b/w “Stop”
Finer Arts 777 – Susan Nelson – “The Soft Touch Of You” b/w “Time Will Make My Hurt Go Away”
Finer Arts 45-5 – Marina & Ocean Fire – “Hot Ride” b/w “I Know You’re Lying”
Trans World 6907 – Ce Cee Carol – “Tag-A-Long” b/w Oh! Mr. Judge”
Trans World 6908 – Otis Redding & The Shooters – “She’s All Right” b/w “Tuff Enough” featuring Jackie
Trans World 6906 – Hong Kong White Sox ‘ “Cholley-Oop” b/w “He’d Better Go” by Brumley Prunk
Finer Arts LP’s
LP – The Hustlers – Finer Arts 103 – Ski Country
LP – The Hustlers – Finer Arts 104 – The Hustlers In Action
LP – Finer Arts FA-S-202 – Vicki Martin – A Handful of Dust
LP – Finer Arts 2001 – The Vincent Brothers – Prelude to Discovery
LP – Finer Arts 777 – Morey Bernstein – Israel Oh Israel
Other Recordings with Bernstein Connections
78/45 – Sun 182 – Tears and Wine b/w Heaven Of Fire – May, 1953
45 – Dynasty 626 – Jackie Curtis – Home Again – August, 1959
45 – Cascade 5912 – Tommy Knacklin and the Four Jets – Worry, Worry, Worry b/w Somewhere There Is Someone – 1959
45 – Landa 681 – Robie Lester with Don Ralke Orch. – The Miracle of Life b/w Ball of Cheating John
The A Side is a Morey Bernstein Composition and the record is produced by Finer Arts – probably during the Hollywood based days