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What is music good for? That is a question the curious among us have been asking for ages. Here at the ARChive of Contemporary Music, we have a whole section of “Music For.” Among these recordings is a series of five LPs by Peter Barclay and his Orchestra. The 5-LP series is noted as “Music for Gracious Living.” Now in the ARC window is one of these albums: Music for Gracious Living: Do-It-Yourself (Columbia CL 698).

The Do-It-Yourself album is unique in the series because the others, After the Party, Barbeque, Buffett and Foursome, are all based on music that would be played when entertaining guests, with extensive liner notes that includes recipes for snacks and dinners. Music is actually only mentioned on two of the albums, and Peter Barclay is only mentioned on one: on After the Dance, the music of 11 other bandleaders—including Xavier Cougat and Harry James, all of them with recordings on the Columbia label—are suggested for the get-together; on Buffett, Barclay is only mentioned in passing.

Do-It-Yourself is all about fixing up the home and, although it is not even hinted at in the notes, apparently the album at hand is the one you should listen to if you were to do so.

These records were issued around 1955. The cover photo on Do-It-Yourself depicts a very square family in their neatly appointed den working on home projects. It definitely looks as if Rock’n’Roll had not come to this town yet. Ten years after this photo was taken, I’ll bet the boy in the picture was rockin’ to The Beatles!

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