Leo Diamond with his group chord harmonica

Except to those with a passionate interest in the instrument, harmonica albums seem to have limited appeal. Chief exponents were Jerry Murad's Harmonicats, a popular group, and virtuoso Leo Diamond. While neither act made especially important recordings, some of their albums are notable just for the standard charms of cheesy packaging and the odd cover of a great standard. In other words, some are worth hearing despite being harmonica albums. Leo Diamond made a career of trying unconvincingly to "warm" the harmonica as a romantic instrument; the best example, however, is Tommy Morgan's rare collaboration with exotica buff Warren Barker.

Buying: Skin Diver Suite is the classic of the idiom, complete with cheesy jacket. The Harmonicats consistently showed a sense of humor and covered tunes such as "The Avengers" theme. But almost all budget-label harmonica albums are dreadful.

Harmonica LPs

6Tommy Morgan w/Warren Barker: Tropicale; Warner Bros. B-1212; 1958
Leo Diamond: Mediterranean Suite; RCA Victor
6Leo Diamond: Skin Diver Suite & Other Selections (w/Murray Kellner); RCA Victor LPM-1165; 1956 (early "concept album" or "tone poem"; cheesecake jacket)
6Leo Diamond: Snuggled on Your Shoulder; RCA Victor LPM-1442; 1957 (cheesecake jacket)
5Leo Diamond: Hi-Fi Harmonica; Roulette R-25019
5Leo Diamond: Exciting Sounds from Romantic Places; ABC-Paramount ABCS-268
5Leo Diamond: Subliminal Sounds; ABC-Paramount ABCS-303
4Leo Diamond: Exciting Sounds from the South Seas; Reprise R9-6002; 1961
5Leo Diamond: Themes from the Great Foreign Films; Reprise R9-6009; 1961
4The Harmonicats: Command Performance; Mercury MG-20122
4Jerry Murad's Harmonicats: Harmoni-Cha; Mercury (Harmonica Cha-Cha; Mercury Wing SRW-16279; 1964)
5Jerry Murad's Harmonicats: Great Themes from TV & Motion Pictures; Columbia/Harmony HS-11223
6Omar Izar: Harmonica the South American Way; Columbia/Epic BN-26194

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