Saturday, February 28, 2009

Russ Morgan

Now this guy was a band leader with an orchestra, like Mitch Miller or Percy Faith or Nelson Riddle and that kind of thing. He was big in the 40s and it sounds like it.

This album, which is called Golden Favorites, and which boasts the “Music in the Morgan Manner”, I found in the easy listening section of Pyramid Records. Seems you could find just about anything at Pyramid Records.

Russ Morgan:

Does Your Heart Beat For Me – Oh my. The men are off fighting, we watch newreels at the cinema, and Russ Morgan’s chorus sings of love and romance.
The Object Of My Affection – This is really bouncy.
Do You Ever Think Of Me – I suppose I could think of some that I would dedicate this to…
Cruising Down The River – A song about, can you guess? Cruising down the river! This is one of his earliest and best known, and I have a version by Ken Griffin.
Linger Awhile – Stumbling – Features a laughing trumpet…
The Wang Wang Blues – Well you gotta love the title anyway.
Dogface Soldier – Redundant really, a “dogface” was a soldier. This marching song was a hit in the fall of 1955.
So Tired – A romance that’s just not coming off. Russ is getting frustrated.
Josephine – We heard this by Les Paul
You’re Nobody Till Somebody Loves You – A proposition with which one may reasonably argue. A hit for Dean Martin later. Morgan Co-wrote this.
The Johnson Rag – Before the twist, the frug, the bugaloo, or the bus stop, there was the Johnson Rag. Let your shoulders wag, don’t let your left foot drag…

Thursday, February 26, 2009

November 1955

Here are some songs that were on the music charts in November, 1955. I have the blue ones. I don’t have the black ones yet.

  • You Are My Love - Joni James
  • Love Is A Many Splendored Thing - Don Cornell
  • Only You - The Hilltoppers
  • Love And Marriage - Frank Sinatra
  • Sixteen Tons - Tennessee Ernie Ford
  • Suddenly There's A Valley - Jo Stafford
  • My Boy Flat Top - Boyd Bennett & His Rockets
  • Forgive My Heart - Nat King Cole
  • Young Abe Lincoln - Don Cornell
  • Black Denim Trousers And Motorcycle Boots - Vaughan Monroe
  • Pepper Hot Baby - Jaye P. Morgan
  • Dog Faced Soldier - Russ Morgan
  • Amukuiriki (The Lord Willing) - Les Paul & Mary Ford
  • No Arms - Georgie Shaw
  • He - The McGuire Sisters
  • No Other Arms - Pat Boone
  • All At Once You Love Him - Perry Como
  • Smokey Joe's Cafe - The Robins

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Lionel Hampton

The Compact Jazz series, which started out as Walkman Jazz, which started out as Walkman Classics, was a series of collections by various jazz artists, each of which seemed to highlight a few select years of the artist’s career. So it was never anything like a comprehensive or wide-ranging collection. But I guess that’s alright; it was what it was.

This collection of music by vibraphonist Lionel Hampton is no different; it highlights some recordings he made in the mid to late 50s. And that’s all I can tell you.

Lionel Hampton:

Flying Home
The Man I Love
Je Ne Sais Pas – French for I don’t know.
The High And The Mighty – A hit for Les Baxter.
China Boy – About the kid who brought the dishes?
On The Sunny Side Of The Street
That Old Black Magic – A hit for Sammy Davis Jr., for Louis Prima & Keely Smith, and for Bobby Rydell.
Moonglow – A big hit in 1955 for any number of artists.
Gladys – Imagine singing a love song to someone called Gladys. I’m sure I’ve known a Gladys or two; somebody’s mother was Gladys for sure, just don’t ask me whose.
Airman Special – Great drum solo on this one.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Eldorados

I don’t remember where I got this. That’s not so radical, but there was a time when I thought that I’d remember each and every LP, tape, single, CD, where it came from, when I bought it, etc. Not so. This was bought new, I know that much. It’s a prerecorded cassette, and I know that I took a chance, because as often as not you’d pick up something like this, and you’d get stuff “rerecorded by the original artists,” or some or one of the members of the original group. And there’d be no warning on the label. Later they changed that. But for a while that kind of fraud was rampant.

And you could tell, especially with the old stuff. Stereo – that would give it away. No doo-wop was recorded in stereo. Clear sound, another clue. Authenticity is something you can’t fake, and that is as profound as I get.

So this is 20 Hits, by The Eldorados, a group that had a handful of hits on the R & B charts in the mid 50s, and only 1 hit on the pop charts, and that was At My Back Door, and they are not exactly staples on oldies radio. The label on this is Phoenix Entertainment & Talent, distributed by Audio Fidelity, and my best guess is that this is not 100% legal. The group recorded for Vee-Jay, and Vee-Jay recordings ended up all over the place, so who knows.

The Eldorados

Tears On My Pillow – This is not the Little Anthony & The Imperials song. It is not a ballad even. It’s a bit hard to take, he misses his girl so he is crying in his bed? He knows she will be back some day. Like fun. Johnny Nash covered this years later.
Trouble Trouble – How a romantic interest can pervert all your most carefully laid plans…
Three Reasons Why – Nice and neat: 1: She’s an angel; 2: You make me happy when I’m sad; 3: You are my first love. That last one is a bit of a tautology – I love you because you’re my first love…
At My Back Door – Not to be confused with the hit At My Front Door, which comes later. The girl that ends up at his door is some girl, looks like something from the Brookdale Zoo…
Little Miss Love – This is one of those doo-wop songs, and there are many, whose words are there to give them something to doo-wop about.
She Don’t Run Around – High praise indeed.
Oh What A Girl
Lights Are Low – This one is a ballad of sorts.
One More Chance
Chop Ling Soon – Let one Ling Ting Tong out of the bag and look what happens…
Lovey Dovey Baby – Not to be confused with Lovey Dovey by Buddy Knox.
Love Of My Own – He has a love of his own, one he’s never shared. These guys have a knack of making the most profound romantic statements from the blatantly obvious. He does not share her, she does not run around etc.
Crazy Little Mama – I cite the title as it appears on the label, but the actual title is At My Front Door (Crazy Little Mama). This was their one and only pop hit, reaching the top 20 in the fall of ’55. Pat Boone covered it and his version, predictably, did better. Harry Nilsson recorded it for Son Of Schmilsson, complete with belch. In today’s world it might be different, but “crazy little mama” was not a term of affection.
Now That You’ve Gone – It’s a typical heartbreak ballad, except that the words don’t make a whole lot of sense.
Rock ‘N Roll Is For Me – The obligatory rock and roll tribute song. Similar to At The Hop, but without the dances.
A Fallen Tear – Another song about lost love. Memories of contentment, he sings about.
I’ll Be Forever Loving You – Describes that first rush of infatuation, feels like you’ve have too much wine, when you’re near everything is so sweet… But then - words to change – when you smile I feel so gay… A great dance song.
My Loving Baby – Their first hit, made the R & B charts. That was in 1954.
Annie’s Answer – First came Hank Ballard’s Roll With Me Annie, followed, not necessarily immediately, with Annie Had A Baby. And here you have it, Annie’s Answer, which is “I ain’t had no baby.” Well that shouldn’t be too hard to establish. But why it is, well, it’s.not so clear. I know just what to do, says Annie. One can only wonder. The lead vocals (Annie) are by Hazel McCallum. I have a friend at worked named Annie, and I don’t know if she’d like this, and we had a cleaning lady named Annie, when I was growing up, and I don’t think she’d understand this.
Baby I Need You

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Rusty Draper

Rusty Draper
Rusty Draper was quite popular for a few years, but he isn’t exactly a household name anymore, not even in this household.

The truth is that he had 11 top 100 singles between 1955 and 1963, 5 of them on the top 40, 6 of which I have here, which is a collection on Everest / Europa’s Timeless Treasures series. I picked it up at the Country Music Centre, though Draper isn’t exactly country, although he isn’t exactly not country. It was a cassette, and it still is.

Rusty Draper:

The Shifting Whispering Sand – A two part hit by Billy Vaughn, Draper managed to fit it all on one side of a 45. From the autumn of 1955.
Freight Train – A hit in the UK for Chris McDevit. A hit for Draper in the summer of ’57.
Are You Satisified? – With the other guy's love, that’s the question. Satisified in what respect? I think there is no question. This is from the winter of ’56.
In The Middle Of The House – The railroad comes through the middle of the house, sings Rusty. Oh my, I lived in houses like that. This seems to be a song about corporate abuse. From the autumn of ’56.
Gambler’s Guitar – This is more country. A man let’s his guitar tell his life story.
No Help Wanted – Rusty proclaims that he needs no help courting his loved one. “She calls me her little Piggy Wiggy.” Indeed.
Please Help Me, I’m Falling – The story of forbidden romance. It was Hank Locklin whose version was the bigger hit. This is from the summer of 1960. When I’m with you, sings Rusty, it’s hard to be true.
Let’s Go Calypso - A tribute to Harry Belafonte, The Tarriers etc. From the winter of 1957.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Chet Baker

Did I say that jazz puzzles me?

This is Chet Baker, he played trumpet, he sang a bit, and his music was cool jazz. And I can listen to this. This makes a kind of sense to me. Baker was not an innovator like Miles Davis, but he didn’t have to be. This music moves to where it’s supposed to go without requiring great leaps of faith from the listener, but it’s not unsophisticated, not by a long shot. So I like it.

The first part of this is the Sony Compact Jazz release, and the second part, starting from Freeway, is extracted from The Pacific Jazz Years. And I got both collections at the West Kildonan Library.

Chet Baker:

Summertime – Well it was Billie Holiday that transformed this song into jazz, which it always was anyway whether Gershwin knew it or not. This really a cool reading of the song, in every sense of the word, except temperature.
The Girl From Greenland – She must be cool too. Distant relative of the girl from Ipanema.
Anticipated Blues
Chet – A self-portrait in music I guess. For what it’s worth, I’ve never known anyone named Chet.
I’ll Remember April – Vocals by Caterena Valente
Everytime We Say Goodbye – Ditto
That Old Devil Called Love
Don’t Explain – No relation to Can’t Explain by The Who.
Baby Breeze
Halfbreed Apache – Never get away with a title like this now. No relation to Halfbreed by Cher.
This Is The Thing
Pamela’s Passion – I once went out with a girl named Pamela – twice, I twice went out with a girl named Pamela – I’d met her at university. Didn’t become acquainted with her passion though.
Comin’ Down – An upbeat song with a downbeat title.
Freeway – Santana did a long song called Freeway but this isn’t it.
My Funny Valentine – I seem to hear spoons clattering in the background. I have a version of this by Sammy Davis Jr.
Half Nelson – I’m guessing that this is the only popular song extant whose title is a wrestling hold.
Moon Love – This sounds like Annie’s Song, by John Denver, which is really weird until you realize that Annie’s Song sounds like the slow movement of Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony. Check it out.
I Get Along Without You Very Well – He sings this one. Of course the whole idea here is that he doesn’t get along without her well at all. Baker’s voice appeals to some I understand, but he reminds me of Herb Alpert – as a singer, he is a good trumpeter.
You Don’t Know What Love Is – The old story – you don’t know what love is until you’ve lost it. Another vocal. The style here reminds me of Julie London.
Lullaby Of The Leaves – The Ventures did this, but it doesn’t sound like the same song to me.
Pro Defunctus
Stella By Starlight – Tempo on this is a bit faster than what we are used to, but it works. We’ve heard this by Ray Charles and by The Ames Brothers.
All The Things You Are
Lush Life – A hit for Nat King Cole
Minor Yours
CTA – Chiago Transit Authority? Who knows..
Jumpin’ Off A Clef
My Old Flame

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Stan Freberg

I was a cab driver. That was a long time ago. I did 12 hour shifts, and I listened the radio. And one evening I was listening to CBC and they played a comedy routine of a guy doing Old Man River, but the radio police made him change it, because it was not, in today’s terms, politically correct. The skit was called Elderly Man River.

Years and years later I got this collection of hits by Stan Freberg, and I thought back to Elderly Man River, and I said I bet that was Freberg. And hey, I was right.

He was, I guess, the Weird Al Yancovic of his day. Some of the stuff is really funny; some is downright dumb. I picked up The Best Of Stan Freberg at a store called Red River Books, which I will describe in a later entry. I promise. I remember that the LP came just in a dust jacket, no cardboard cover.

Stan Freberg:

The Yellow Rose Of Texas – It was the snare drum that gave this song its character, so of course it’s the snare drum that bears the brunt of Freberg’s humour. This was a hit in the fall of ’55, not long after the Mitch Miller original.
John And Marsha – “John! Marsha!” over and over. I don’t know what this is a spoof of, but John and Yoko did a similar thing on their Wedding Album, and that wasn’t a spoof, but it sounded like one.
St. George And The Dragonet – An obvious spoof on the TV show Dragnet. One of the funnier tracks. “Overacting.” Gets me every time.
Banana Boat (Day-O) – The calypso classic, joked out. The bongo player is bugged out because the singer is too loud. So the singer has to run in and out of the room. And he don’t dig spiders. From the spring of ’57.
Trouble – I think this is from The Music Man. This is too close to the original to be any kind of funny.
Tele-Vee-Shun – I don’t know what this is a spoof of. I probably should, but I don’t.
C’est Si Bon – This is funny, but I don’t know what this is a spoof of either.
Heartbreak Hotel – Here is where Freberg pulls no punches. He takes the mickey out Elvis for all he’s worth. It’s a bit mean, it’s very funny, and it has no effect whatsoever. From the summer of ’56.
Rock Island Line – What’s funny about this is that he doesn’t have to change one word of the actual song to create a very funny record.
The Great Pretender – This is the best. The rebel pianist.

I ain’t gonna play that klink klink klink jazz!
You play that klink klink klink jazz, or you don’t get paid tonight!
klink klink klink klink klink klink

The Quest For Bridey Hammershlagen – This must be Reveen.
Try – A spoof of Cry, but Johnny Ray is so over-the-top that it’s not entirely necessary.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Eddy Arnold

I can’t say that I get Eddy Arnold. He was the king of Nashville, country music singer extraordinaire, but in truth he was nothing but a crooner. He had dozens of singles on the country charts, 22 on the pop charts between1955 and 1968, and only 5 of those made the top 40. Out those 22 I have 14, and they come from an RCA collection called This Is Eddy Arnold.

Eddy Arnold:

Bouquet Of Roses – A major hit in 1947. I don’t know if he is returning heartbreak with kindness, or this is just a prototype for Dead Flowers.
Make The World Go Away – As lush as anything that Arnold did. This is a plea for what can’t be. It was a top 20 hit in late 1965, the biggest he had on the pop charts.
The Streets Of Laredo – The sad tale of a dying soldier
You Don’t Know Me – This was a country hit for Arnold in 1956, around the same time that Jerry Vale was riding high with it on the pop charts. I think I like Arnold’s version better. Elvis did it too, about 11 years later. This is one of those tales of unrequited love. You think I’m just a friend, sings Eddy.
Misty Blue – Eddy is trying so hard to get over his lost love. This is from the summer of ’67. Dorothy Moore had a big hit with this about 10 years later.
It’s Such A Pretty World Today – A happy song, not unlike Louis Armstrong doing Wonderful World, except that Eddy’s world is pretty because of his newfound love.
Hear Comes Heaven – This is a majorly syrupy ballad, but somehow Arnold pulls it off, strings and all. It inched into the top 100 in late 1967.
Somebody Like Me – A warning like song, like The Beatles’ You’re Gonna Lose That Girl. From the fall of ’66.
Anytime – Wikipedia lists 38 recordings of this, which means that there’s more. This is from 1947, though I think this is a rerecording. Eddy leaves his options open.
Lonely Again – This is a song about bad timing. It was a small pop hit in the winter of 1967.
But For Love – Love as a kind of imprisonment. From 1969.
Turn The World Around – Yesterday redux? We had a fight and now I’m sorry. I’m sorry we broke up. Ok. Get over it. From the fall of ’67.
The Cattle Call – here is where Eddy Arnold is true for-real country singer, a cowboy singer in fact. From the fall of ’55.
The Tips Of My Fingers – From the summer of ’66, this was more of a hit for Bill Anderson, and Roy Clark did it too. This is the story of a so-close-but-so-far romance.
Here Comes My Baby – Not the Cat Stevens / Tremeloes song. Eddy doesn’t sound too thrilled.
I Want To Go With You – I guess there are times when a romance opens doors that go beyond the romance itself. This is from winter, 1966.
I’ll Hold You In My Heart – Maybe he’s overseas, serving. Maybe he’s a travelling salesman. Maybe he is the slammer. In any case, he is pining for her, and she is to wait for him. The original is from 1947.
What’s He Doing In My World – Eddy sings about romantic betrayal with a hesitance that makes me wonder. She was kissing him, but he is tentative. Did you tell him you’re my girl, he asks. We don’t need him, he says. Ok. How about, throw the bastard out. From the summer of ’65.
Lay Some Happiness On Me – One of those happy songs that even the saddest singers have to do from time to time. Dean Martin did this also.
I’m Letting You Go – A man struggles with the end of a relationship, one in which his true love seems to love another. From 1965.
Just A Little Lovin’ – A by-the-book love song. The original is from 1948.
The Last Word In Lonesome Is Me – Very clever. This is from the summer of ’66.
Release Me (And Let Me Love Again) – This doesn’t appear to have been a single by Arnold. So many versions of this: Ray Price, Kitty Wells, Esther Phillips, Charlie McCoy, and, or course, Engelbert Humperdinck.
Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye – From the fall of ’68, about 18 months after the hit version by The Casinos.
I Really Don’t Want To Know – Eddy’s version of this is from 1953. That was the same year that Les Paul & Mary Ford did it. Ronnie Dove put it on the charts in 1966, as did Elvis in 1971. It was also done by Tommy Edwards, Solomon Burke etc etc
They Don’t Make Love Like They Used To –This was Eddy Arnold’s last top 100 hit, from late 1968.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Johnny Ray

Johnny Ray wasn’t a crooner, he was the opposite – an emoter. He lived in the crooner’s universe though, pre-rock and roll.

His whole delivery was so over-the-top that it’s hard to believe that he was taken seriously. But he was taken seriously indeed.The girls loved him, they would swoon, or so I’ve read, I wasn’t actually there.

This is a small collection I picked up on a pre-recorded cassette. I think it was called Cry And Other Hits. If it wasn't then is should have been.

Johnny Ray:

Cry – Stan Freberg did a send-up of this, called Try, but it wasn’t necessary, this song is a send-up all on its own. Go ahead and cry, advice to the guys? A big big hit in 1952. Ronnie Dove put it in the charts in 1966.
Just Walking In The Rain – This song was top 10 in the fall of ’56. Not to be confused with Walking In The Rain by The Ronnettes / Jay & The Americans. The rain of course is a stand in for tears.
Here I Sit Broken Hearted – Not the poem we used to see on public bathroom walls. Johnny’s girl has taken off with his best friend. A popular theme (The Cars anyone?) but, says Johnny, bad enough I had to lose her, I had to lose him too…
Hey There – Rosemary Clooney owns this, and Sammy Davis Jr. did a passable version (several actually), but Ray doesn’t sound comfortable with it. A UK hit in the fall of ’55.
Alexander’s Ragtime Band – A hit for Bing Crosby
Paths Of Paradise – A bit of pop song philosophy. Given the double life that Ray must have lived, this song about making your own path must have resonated. A UK hit in the spring of ’55.
Little White Cloud That Cried – A big hit from 1952.
Please Mr. Sun – I love the harp in this one. Johnny calls on all the forces of nature to plead his case with his special girl, the sun, the rainbow, the trees, the wind etc. This was a hit for Tommy Edwards

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day

The vast majority of pop songs are about love and romance, or some aspect of those: unrequited love, requited love, lost love, found love, forbidden love, good love, bad love, adulterous love, pure love, platonic love, erotic love, and good old fashioned sex.

Well, given that it’s Valentine’s Day, I thought that I’d be totally perverse, and come up with a small list of songs that are about other things. So here are some random not-love songs. I did not bother to come up with the ten best or anything, this is just basically the first 10 I thought of.

· Abraham Martin & John – Dion
Given the proximity to some obscure American ritual called President’s Day, I figure I’d throw this in right off the top. And don’t forget Lincoln’s birthday. The pundits will tell you that this is hokey. And the pundits are right, but they miss the point, as usual. The hokiness works here, and I love the harp…

· Daniel – Elton John

I don’t really know what this song is about, but it’s one where the electric piano works like magic, and highlight the obscurity of the lyrics

· Signs – The Five Man Electrical Band

Great Canadian talent. A great parable. Great music

· He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother – The Hollies

Ok we’re hokey again. A song about brotherhood. Still, I love Alan Clarke’s voice, and anything he sings is okay with me…

· The Boxer – Simon

Possibly the best song about loneliness and alienation to reach the top 10.

· Spaceman – Harry Nilsson

Elton John did Rocket Man; that was the same idea. But Rocket Man wasn’t funny and this was, and Elton John wasn’t Nilsson.

· Take Me Home, Country Roads – John Denver

This is a song about reality. It’s about breathing, it’s about pure mountain springs, it’s about finding peace in the world you live in…

· Mack The Knife – Bobby Darin

A song about murder. Thanks to J for this one.

· Money (That’s What I Want) – Barrett Strong

This is as unromantic as you can get. It’s no small coincidence that this was Motown’s very first top 40 hit, way back in 1960. The Beatles covered this, and so did The Kingsmen, and so did Jr. Walker & The All Stars, and so did The Flying Lizards, and so did…

· Dead Skunk – Loudon Wainright III

I take it back. This is as unromantic as you can get:

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Platters

The Platters starts with Encore Of Golden Hits, one of those albums that was released ages and ages ago, but which stayed in circulation until vinyl finally bit the dust. My copy came from the venerable WK Library, and that was ages and ages ago.

Then came More Encore Of Golden Hits, and I can’t remember where I picked that up. On that one somehow Mercury managed to miss the songs that were hits, and included many that weren’t. It Isn’t Right and You’ll Never Never Know came from 2 sides of one single, With This Ring came from another single, and I Love You A Thousand Times came from an album they released called I Love You A Thousand Times.

I was overseas in 1977, and so were The Platters. I remember hearing the promo on the radio, they played Twilight Time, and I wonder now how many original members were still in the group then, if any.

For the record, the group had 40 songs in the top 100 between 1955 and 1967, most before 1962. 22 are here.

The Platters:

Twilight Time – Oh, man, they don’t make melodies like this anymore, and they haven’t for a long time. The song was number 1 in the spring of 1958, and I wonder if it wouldn’t be number 1 now.
Smoke Gets In Your Eyes – This is a Jerome Kern song from 1933. The Platters revived it big-time, and Williams outdoes himself. This was number 1 in early 1959.
(You’ve Got) The Magic Touch – Here I go reeling, sings Williams, as the groups oohs and ahhs behind him. This is about that feeling of infatuation, as so many other songs are, but here Williams declares that he’s learned that he can return the magic touch. And that’s where the real magic is. This is from the spring of 1956.
Enchanted – This is from the spring of 1959.
One In A Million – From early 1957.
My Prayer – This number 1 hit from the summer of 1956 is another love song, not some R & B flavoured gospel. My prayer is to linger with you. It spent 23 weeks on the top 100.
Only You (And You Alone) – Their debut hit, from the autumn of 1955. many covers of this, including Buck Owens and The Righteous Brothers, and Ringo Starr put it back on the charts in the early 70s, with Harry Nilsson singing in the background.
Remember When – Not to be confused with Remember Then by The Earls. From the summer of 1959.
My Dream – My prayer, my dream, you name it. This is from the summer of ’57. Not The Chuck Berry song.
Heaven On Earth – This is the b side of My Dream, but it seems to have been a hit a year earlier. You’ve made a heaven for you and I, he sings. Oh dear…
I’m Sorry – So is Brenda Lee, but she sang an entirely different song. This one was a hit in the spring of 1957.
The Great Pretender – More great vocals, another great song, certainly their best known. A song about facades, emotions real and imagined, the feigning of happiness in the face of heartbreak, the necessity of keeping up appearances, in spite of everything. The beginning of genre, including Two Faces Have I, Everybody Loves A Clown, The Tears Of A Clown, The Tracks Of My Tears. It was number 1 in early 1956.
Harbor Lights – Seems to have been published in 1950, though written much earlier. A hit for Sammy Kaye. The Platters’ version was a top 10 hit in the winter of 1960.
Wish It Were Me – One of those jealousy songs. This one from the fall of ’59. The b side of Where.
Where – Also from the fall of ’59. At this point the songs were repeating the formula, though the vocals were as good as ever.
Don’t Blame Me – A different vocalist on this one. The Everly Brothers did this one too. It’s a song about refusal to take responsibility for falling in love. I suppose it sounds innocent enough, but there could always be another side. Like maybe he’s married…
What Does It Matter – Why should I care about the past. This sounds like every other Platters song…
My Secret – A prayer, a dream, and now a secret. My advice? Stop keeping it secret.
To Each His Own – From the fall of 1960. This is Williams again.
Sleepy Lagoon – Some kind of dream scene. A small hit in the winter of 1960, the flip of Harbor Lights.
The Sound And The Fury – The Faulkner novel? Nah, just a love song.
That Old Feeling – Yeah well I get that, I mean she hasn’t gotten any uglier…
It’s Raining (Outside) Chule La Fora – From the fall of ’58, which is interesting, because the lead vocal is not Tony Williams. This is the flip of I Wish.
I Wish – From the fall of ’58. I wish you were happy all the while, he sings. Strange. Not the Stevie Wonder song.
You’ll Never Never Know – Odd that this got left off both Encore albums; it reached number 11 in the fall of ’56. You’ll never know how I feel, they sing. Maybe they should tell her.
It Isn’t Right – The flip of You’ll Never Never Know, and a hit at the same time. She is playing games with his heart, she is…
With This Ring – Here’s where The Platters sound like just another 60s R&B band. This is from the spring of ’67.
I Love You 1000 Times – Ditto this one, from the summer of ’66.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

October 1955

Here are some songs that were on the music charts in October, 1955. I have the blue ones. I don’t have the black ones yet.

  • He - Al Hibbler
  • Black Denim Trousers - The Cheers
  • Cattle Call - Eddy Arnold
  • Only You - The Platters
  • Shifting Whispering Sands - Rusty Draper
  • Suddenly There's A Valley - Julius LaRosa
  • Hey There - Johnny Ray
  • Suddenly There's A Valley - Gogi Grant
  • My Bonnie Lassie - The Ames Brothers
  • At My Front Door - The El Doradoes
  • Someone You Love - Nat King Cole
  • Yellow Rose Of Texas - Stan Freberg
  • I Hear You Knocking - Gale Storm
  • At My Front Door (Crazy Little Mama) - Pat Boone

Monday, February 9, 2009

Doris Day

I just remember the time I walked out of Argy’s with an old scratchy copy of Doris Day’s Greatest Hits, for which I probably paid $1.00. That may have been the same day I bought Eddy Arnold’s Greatest Hits, maybe even that Patty Duke album.

Later I picked up a CD collection called Doris Day: Her Greatest Hits And Finest Performances. It was a Reader’s Digest collection that I found at the Henderson Library. I didn’t go there a lot, but it wasn’t far from the EI office that I had to go to, when I had to go to the EI office.

And all the songs that were on Greatest Hits were on the Reader’s Digest box, so that made it easy. It’s here in its entirety. Move Over Darling comes from a compilation cassette of UK singles from the 60s.

And Doris Day? Well I can’t say I’ve ever felt any particular affinity for her music, though her voice is surprisingly sexy sometimes, and I used to not watch her TV show.

Doris Day:

I’ll Never Stop Loving You – This lush ballad was a hit in the summer of 1955.
It’s Magic
Whatever Will Be, Will Be (Que Sera Sera) – Her signature song, was a hit in the summer of ’56. She used it as the theme of the TV show she had in the 60s, the one I didn’t watch. It's always been a bit too happy for my tastes.
A Guy Is A Guy – This was a big one. The lyrics are hilarious. So listen while I tell what this guy did to me, she sings. I can only imagine. He followed her down the street for one thing. Sounds like a stalker.
Shanghai – It was just a lover’s device. I’ve never been to Shanghai, and neither, apparently, has Doris Day. Another major hit from the early 50s.
Little Girl Blue – Well, Judy Garland did this too.
Secret Love – Billy Stewart did an outrageous version of this
Quiet Night Of Quiet Stars (Corcovado) – How romantic. This is slightly Bossa Nova.
Fly Me To The Moon – Doris takes a crack at this. She doesn’t do too badly either. A hit for Joe Harnell.
My Dreams Are Getting Better All The Time
Teacher’s Pet – Think of Teach Me Tonight by The DeCastro Sisters. Something very unwholesome about this. From the spring of 1958.
I’m Not At All In Love – I don’t know what musical this is from, but it’s definitely from some musical. It has that la-de-da musical crap written all over it.
When I Fall In Love – A nice take on this, which was a hit for The Lettermen, and recorded by many.
I’ll See You In My Dreams
April In Paris – I’ve never been to Paris, not in April nor at any other time. A hit for Count Basie in 1956.
Sugarbush – I’m not sure who the guy is on this but I’m guessing Gary Crosby. And what is a sugarbush, anyway?
The Party’s Over – I’ll take Julie London on this one. From the winter of ’56 / ’57.
Lover Come Back – From the spring of ’62.
Everybody Loves A Lover – A big one from the summer of 1958. The Shirelles covered this.
It Had To Be You – A standard from, like, the 30s. Harry Nilsson recorded it on A Little Touch Of Schmilsson In The Night.
My One And Only Love
My Romance
Love Somebody – Not to be confused with The Bee Gees’ To Love Somebody.
Lullaby Of Broadway
Cuttin’ Capers
Fools Rush In – A very slow reading of this. It was a hit later for Rick Nelson and for Fabian.
Softly As I Leave You – I don’t know that this songs works all that well when sung by a woman. Still it’s nice.
Moonlight Bay – We were sailing aloooongggg….
If I Give My Heart To You – The Beatles rewrote this and called it If I Fell.
Bewitched – Another of her big ones. Ella Fitzgerald did this also.
Love Me Or Leave Me – A UK hit in the fall of ’59. A hit also for Sammy Davis Jr.
Move Over Darling – Another UK hit, this one in the spring of ’64. This has a slight girl-group feel to it.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Chuck Berry

One of my favourite movies is American Graffiti, and one of my favourite scenes is the one where they smother some guy's car in shaving cream, while the ever-present radio plays Johnny B. Goode. Only a Chuck Berry song would do in that scene…

I’ve never been to a Chuck Berry concert, but I’ve seen TV clips of his live performances, and it strikes me that he always has contempt written all over him. It’s like he despises what he does, and he despises the audience. It’s quite bizarre.

I got an album with 10 songs, it was simply called Greatest Hits, and it was a Quality Records release, the same series as the Chordettes one, but later I found The Chess Box.

I think it may have been the first box set I ever saw. That was in the mid-80s and it was at Records On Wheels. And it was vinyl, which they still sold back then.

Box sets tend to be hit and miss affairs, but the Chess box sets, the ones I’ve seen, are extraordinary. This one covers everything you want by Chuck Berry during his tenure at Chess Records, which lasted from 1955 until 1966, then for a few years in the 70’s. He spent the interim years at Mercury, and so there is a gap here, and it’s too bad, but not fatal I guess. The songs are presented in the order in which they were recorded, not released, so, for example, Promised Land shows up before No Particular Place To Go.

Chuck Berry:

Maybelline – One of the greatest rock and roll songs ever. This song qualifies as the first true rock and roll song as much as anything Elvis did. This is supposedly based on a country song called Ida Red, but it doesn’t sound country at all, and only slightly R&B, and I think that it’s totally unprecedented. It’s the story of a car chase, whose chorus (Maybelline why can’t you be true) has nothing to do with the verses (as I was motorvatin’ over the hill…). And so, it was a hit for Johnny Rivers in 1964, his follow-up to Memphis, and it was covered by Foghat, and by the Du-Cats, and by dozens more. It was a top 10 hit for Chuck, his first hit, and that was in the fall of 1955. “Rainwater washin’ all under my hood, I knew that was doin’ my motor good…”
Wee Wee Hours – A song of lost love, the flip of Maybelline, a slow blues
Thirty Days – Chuck conspires to get his true love incarcerated, so as to get her home in 30 days. Ronnie Hawkins covered it as Forty Days. It is basically Maybelline redux.
You Can’t Catch Me – A car song. The rolling Stones covered this on one of their early albums. Has the famous lines “here come old flat top” that John Lennon copped for Come Together
No Money Down – Chuck buys a Cadillac. He goes through all the specs, down to the insurance deductible…
Downbound Train – Not so different from Mystery Train. Savoy Brown copped this years later for Hellbound Train.
Brown Eyed Handsome Man – More great rock and roll. Buddy Holly’s version of this was in the UK top 20 in 1963. Dave Marsh posits that “eyed” should really be “skinned” and I can’t argue. In fact, there’s no other explanation. Otherwise, I qualify…
Drifting Heart – This one is kind of slow and Latino, with lots of piano.
Roll Over Beethoven – THE great rock and roll anthem. Chuck’s version, amazingly, only made it to number 26, and that was in the summer of ’56. The Beatles covered this on their second album, and the best cover was by Electric Light Orchestra, on *their* second album. The Beatles’ version, though, as it appeared on The Beatles’ Second Album, was the first rock song I ever listened to on our home player. I was 7.
Too Much Monkey Business – Vintage Chuck Berry, and maybe the best protest song to come out of the 50s. It wasn’t a hit for Chuck nor for anyone else, but there are so many versions of this: The Beatles, The Hollies, The Yardbirds, The Youngbloods, to begin with. Elvis did a criminally underrated version in the late 60s.
Havana Moon – He sings this is a kind of fake Caribbean patois. This is reputed to have been the inspiration for Louie Louie, or maybe Louie Louie inspired this, a tale of a guy waiting for the boat carrying his girl, and who falls asleep (after partaking of quite a bit of rum), misses the boat, and she sails away. Carlos Santana covered this on the Havana Moon album, in 1982.
School Day (Ring Ring Goes The Bell) – Another well known Chuck Berry classic. This was actually a top 10 hit in the spring of ’57. Jan & Dean covered this, and so did The Beach Boys. “The guy behind you won’t leave you alone.” Chuck was in his late 20s when he did this song about what a pain in the ass school was, probably the best song ever written about the subject. And as much as I like The Beach Boys, this stomps all over Be True To Your School.
Rock & Roll Music – Another rock and roll tribute to rock and roll. A hit late in 1957. The Beatles covered this on Beatles ’65, John Lennon giving a powerhouse performance, and The Beach Boys put it back on the charts in 1976.
Oh Baby Doll – This was actually a small hit in the summer of ’57. The Pretty Things covered this.
I’ve Changed – So have I.
Reelin’ And Rockin’ – The original. Chuck put a live version on the chart in 1973. This was a hit for The Dave Clark Five in 1965. Gerry & The Pacemakers covered it as well. Another tribute to rock and roll.
Rockin’ At The Philharmonic – A rather extended instrumental.
Sweet Little Sixteen – Probably the best tribute the teenage girl ever written. This has no more to do with reality than Boyd Bennett’s Seventeen, but that matters not at all. This is another perennial. Bobby Vee covered it, and so did Ten Years After, and so did The Beatles, and so did The Silicon Teens. The Beach Boys rewrote it and called it Surfin’ USA. It reached number 2 in the winter of 1958.
Johnny B Goode – If rock and roll has a signature song this is it. The story of a “country” boy who makes good, plays guitar like ringin’ a bell (now who could that be?). This was from the spring of ’58 and only ever made it to number 8, which, considering its stature as an unmitigated classic, is surprising. So many versions, where to start: The Beatles, Freddie & The Dreamers, The Beach Boys, Jimi Hendrix, John Denver, Johnny Winter.
Time Was – Not the Canned Heat song.
Around And Around – Another song about dancing and partying. The Rolling Stones covered this and so did The Animals.
Beautiful Delilah – Not to be confused with Delilah Jones by The McGuire Sisters, nor with Delilah by Tom Jones. Needless to say, I’ve never known a Delilah. The Kinks covered this on their first album. From the summer of ’58.
The House Of Blue Lights – This is Chuck Miller’s song. Crowbar covered it in 1971.
Carol – From the fall of 1958. There was a Carol at my last job place, no one special. Tommy Roe had a small hit with this, and the Stones covered it.
Memphis – Another biggie, though Chuck did not put it on the charts. He does an understated version of this, and The Beatles recorded a similar arrangement; it appears on their BBC Sessions. Lonnie Mack was the first to put this on the chart; he did an instrumental version that seemed to be based more on the chord structure than the melody. Then Johnny Rivers put it out as his debut, and his version, which put words to Lonnie Mack’s idea, sizzled. And check out The Faces’ version. It is sometimes titled Memphis, Tennessee, and unlike the songs about school and dancing and rocking and rolling that was Chuck’s usual forte, this had a serious subtext going on, where we are hearing about a 6 year old child left to navigate the aftermath of marital separation.
Anthony Boy – I knew an Anthony once, he was English so his name was pronounced “Antony.” A hit in the winter of ’59.
Jo Jo Gunn – From the autumn of ’58. A group called Jo Jo Gunn named itself after this song. The flip of Sweet Little Rock And Roller.
Sweet Little Rock And Roller – I knew this from a Gary Lewis & The Playboys album that we had when I was small. From the fall of ’58, this is vaguely a Christmas song.
Merry Christmas Baby – A blues by Charles Brown, from late ’58. Elvis recorded this, years later.
Run Rudoph Run – Here is Christmas music in the true Chuck Berry style. This was the flip side of Merry Christmas Baby, and it placed 2 positions higher (69).
Little Queenie – Queenie was Brian Epstein’s mother’s name. But that’s not who this song is about; chronologically that wouldn’t make sense anyway. This was a small hit in the spring of ’59, and it was the b side of Almost Grown. The Stones covered it on the Get Your Ya Yas Out album, recorded at Madison Square Garden in 1969.
Almost Grown – When do you become grown. This was on American Graffiti, and it was a hit in the spring of 1959.
Back In The U.S.A. – From the summer of ’59. Linda Ronstadt covered this.
Let It Rock – From winter 1960, the b side of Too Pooped To Pop.
Betty Jean – Never knew a Betty Jean.
Childhood Sweetheart – A song about a dream, a night time dream.
Too Pooped To Pop – The man is too old, too old to stroll says Chuck, the clear message being that rock n roll is for the young only. I don’t know if I like that…. This was a hit in the winter of 1960.
Bye Bye Johnny – The sequel to Johnny B Goode, in which Johnny goes to Hollywood. The song rocks like nobody's business.
Jaguar And Thunderbird – Maybelline redux, without the girl, just the car…
Down The Road Apiece – A song about a cool place to hang out, not sure if it’s a café, a bar, a disco, or a whorehouse. Kind of like Down At Lulu’s, or Sugar Shack. The Stones covered this.
Confessin’ The Blues – Notwithstanding the title, this isn’t a blues.
Thirteen Question Method – This may be one of the strangest songs Chuck ever did, although ultimately it’s nothing more than a step-by-step guide to courting. No relation to Thirteen Question by Seatrain, not that I can tell anyway.
Crying Steel – An instrumental.
I’m Just A Lucky So And So – A cover, this was also done by Ella Fitzgerald, and by Mose Allison. As I walk down the street…
I’m Talking About You – Another cover. Lot of people did this: Ricky Nelson, The Stones etc.
Come On – The Stones covered this and it was their first single. But they changed “some stupid jerk” to “some stupid guy.” The Chocolate Watch Band also covered it.
Nadine (Is It You) – This is the song that put Chuck Berry back into the charts after he got out of jail. The fact that both The Beatles and the Stones were recording his songs didn’t hurt him. This is kind of a slower version of Maybelline, was a hit in the spring of ’64. And I do know a Nadine. Went to school with someone I live with, and they are still friends.
Crazy Arms – A cover of a Ray Price song.
You Never Can Tell – I never hear this song now without thinking about Pulp Fiction. The story of a young married couple, it was a hit in the fall of ’64. John Prine covered this.
The Things I Used To Do – Reminiscing about an unfortunate relationship.
Promised Land – It’s California. This is from early 1965. It was covered by James Taylor, and by Elvis Presley.
No Particular Place To Go – The story of a disastrous date. This was a top 10 hit in the summer of 1964.
Liverpool Drive – An instrumental tribute to the Liverpool groups (The Beatles, The Swinging Blue Jeans, Gerry & The Pacemakers etc) that put Chuck Berry’s name back in the public eye.
You Two – A foursome go for a picnic, as far as I can tell…
Chuck’s Beat – An instrumental, with Bo Diddley. It’s really more like Bo’s beat…
Little Marie – The Sequel to Memphis. This was on the chart in the fall of ’64, I guess in response to Johnny Rivers’ success with Memphis. Little Marie here is the little girl daughter that was trying to reach poor Chuck in the other song, and here it seems that there is some attempt to reunite Mom and Dad.
Dear Dad – I need a new car, sings Chuck. A small hit in the spring of ’65. The last song he was to put on the chart until My Ding-A-Ling in 1972.
Sad Day, Long Night – A bluesy instrumental, complete with harmonica, unusual on a Chuck Berry record.
It’s My Own Business – Chuck whines about people who won’t leave him alone, kind of similar to about 15 dozen songs that Van Morrison’s done.
It Wasn’t Me – Yet another Johnny B Goode rewrite. It must have been some other body, sings Chuck, it wasn’t me…
Ramona Say Yes – All in favour of Ramona’s Monkey say yes… I may have had a client once named Ramona. But then perhaps not.
Viva Viva Rock ‘N’ Roll – Chuck didn’t quit, even long after it seemed that his time was done.
Tulane II – Yet another Johnny B Goode rewrite. This one even has a character named Johnny, in addition to Tulane, the heroine. That’s a strange name, Tulane.
Have Mercy Judge – I guess this hit pretty close to home.
My Dream – Chuck describes his dream home, in a spoken narrative type song.
My Ding-A-Ling – Juvenile in the extreme. This was Chuck’s big comeback. It came from The London Chuck Berry Sessions, and was the first, and only, number one that Chuck ever had. That was in the fall of ’72. They edited it down for the single, and that’s the version that showed up on the Chess Box. I remember hearing this on the radio, a lot.
Reelin’ And Rockin’ (live) – This is also from The London Chuck Berry Sessions. It’s an expanded version of the original. As his follow up to My Ding-A-Ling, it was edited from the album (the box has the full length version) and it was his last hit ever, reaching number 27 on Billboard in early 1973.
Johnny B. Goode (live) – A smoking live rendition from the same sessions. It actually starts with Bye Bye Johnny and morphs into Johnny B. Goode on the second verse.
A Deuce – Chuck does a drug song.
Woodpecker – Kind of take on the Woody Woodpecker theme, but not enough to get him sued.
Bio – Just what is says, Chuck Berry sings his autobiography.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Roger Williams

This guy is a bit of an enigma to me. He plays piano, obviously. And he made hundreds, thousands probably, of recordings of popular and not-so-popular songs, played on piano. But his technique doesn’t sound all that impressive; it sounds like any reasonably competent pianist could play this stuff.

He didn’t have too many real big records; he put 23 songs into the top 100 between 1955 and 1969, 7 of which were in the top 40, and 3 of which were top 10.
I put 3 collections together to make this one, and part of it was from Roger Williams’ Greatest Hits, and part was from a short cassette collection called Autumn Leaves, and the rest was from a double album, the name of which escapes me at this moment. Apart from the cassette, which I bought new somewhere, the LPs are from Pyramid.

Roger Williams:

The Impossible Dream – The song comes from the play Man Of La Mancha, which was from Cervante’s Don Quixote. This is, as someone I’ve been living with has said, a song just made for histrionics. The hit version was by Jack Jones, who wasn’t given to great displays of drama, but for some reason I’ve always associated it with Robert Goulet, and many others have done it, like Jim Nabors, Ed Ames, The Temptations, etc. This version made the charts in the summer of ’68, 2 years after Jack Jones.
A Taste Of Honey – The song is from 1960, and it was a pop standard. The Beatles recorded it on their first album, and Tony Bennett put it on the chart in 1964. Then Herb Alpert sped it up, and blew everybody away in 1965. This is a more languid version.
Galveston – The town is in Texas, the song was by Glen Campbell, and that was in 1969. A wistful tale of a boy on the battlefield, dreaming about home and sweetheart. A minor hit for Rogers in the summer of ’69, and the last song he’d put on the chart.
Wanting You – An early hit for Rogers, late 1955.
Clair De Lune – This is Debussy, a piece that’s been popularized quite a bit. It’s actually the 3rd movement of his Bergamasque, which is a suite for piano.
Tammy – This was a hit for Debbie Reynolds, and for The Ames Brothers, though I don’t have their version. I have a first cousin once removed named Tammis, but I don’t know if that counts. But here’s one: the comedian David Steinberg has (had?) a sister named Tammy, and I knew her growing up; she and her husband were casual friends of my parents, though ultimately they moved to LA, where we saw them during our visit in 1969. They had the first air conditioned car I’d ever been in.
The High And The Mighty – A hit for Les Baxter.
Liza – I’ve never known anyone named Liza. Never.
September Song – I have this by Liberace.
Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto #1 – This is the intro to the first movement of Tchaikovsky’s first piano concerto (he wrote 3, but only one is ever played really). This is one of the most dramatic intros in the classical repertoire, but Williams takes the spunk out of it.
The Shadow Of Your Smile – This was a pop standard in the 60s. But the highest it ever got on the charts was 93, and that was by Boots Randolph. Tony Bennett’s version only reached 95.
Moon River – Of course he had to do Moon River, and of course it has to be here. It seems that this song was always associated most closely with Andy Williams, but Williams never put it on the chart. The song was a hit by composer Henry Mancini, and by Jerry Butler, whose version is all but forgotten. And in England it was a hit for Danny Williams, no relation. The song was the theme from Breakfast At Tiffany’s, and may be the ultimate pop ballad. It’s sure been recorded often enough.
Dominique – A hit in 1964 for the Singing Nun, who I remember seeing on Ed Sullivan. It was about the Dominicans, and the original was sung in French. This is not sung at all.
Cumana – I googled this and it seems that Cumana is a city in Venezuela. Well I’ve never been there, but one of my kids had a teacher in kindergarten whose name was Mrs. Venezuela, or at least it sounded like Mrs. Venezuela.
I Left My Heart In San Francisco – A hit in the early 60’s for Tony Bennett, and it kind of became his signature. I was in San Francisco in 1969, but I didn’t leave my heart there; I was 12. I remember it was a way cool city, and I think I could go back there and get into a city like that – tons of character…
Yesterday – The Beatles song, of course. This has to be on here, too.
More – This is subtitled The Theme From Mondo Cane, because that’s what it was, the theme from Mondo Cane, which apparently was a very strange documentary released in 1962. The words were written later, though they are not on this version, which is instrumental. It’s a very attractive melody, and it’s way way more famous then the movie ever was. There must be thousands of versions (we’ve heard Catarena Valente), but the hit was an offbeat arrangement by Kai Winding.
I Got Rhythm – An old song, from, like, 1930. It’s by George and Ira Gershwin, and, for what it’s worth, it was a hit for The Happenings in 1967.
Roger’s Bumblebee – Rimsky-Korsakoff’s Flight Of The Bumblebee is probably the most oft-rendered-into-pop-format of any classical piece. It was a hit, as Bumble Boogie, by B. Bumble & The Stingers, but there were tons of versions. The Ventures did it as Bumblebee and claimed that they wrote it.
Windmills Of Your Mind – Theme from the original The Thomas Crowne Affair, with Faye Dunaway and Steve McQueen (see it if you get the chance), a fact not mentioned in Whitburn. The original was by Noel Harrison, but the hit in NA, such as it was, was by Dusty Springfield.
Autumn Leaves – The song that put Roger Williams on the map. It was indeed a hit in the autumn, and that was in 1955, when it went to number 1. There were 6 other version that made the charts, including Williams’ own 1965 remake, but none went higher than 41.
Till – One of those great romantic songs. A hit in the autumn of 1957. I remember The Vogues’ version from 1968, and also done by Percy Faith, and by The Angels.
Born Free – From the movie, this was Roger’s second biggest hit, reaching the top 10 at the end of 1966.
Somewhere My Love – That’s how it’s titled on the label. But Whitburn’s book lists it as Lara’s Theme From Dr. Zhivago, and tells me that it was a hit, of sorts, in the summer of ’66. The real hit version was by Ray Conniff.
The Way We Were – From the movie. This was a huge hit for Barbara Streisand.
Try To Remember – Another 60s pop standard, all the crooners did it, and all the instrumentalists and arrangers, and this version was on the top 100 in the spring of ’65, when it reached 97, and other versions were by Ed Ames and The Brothers Four, and Gladys Knight & The Pips, whose version reached number 11 in 1975.
Almost Paradise – One of his bigger hits, from the spring of ’57.
Near You – Another big one, this one from the autumn of 1958.
Theme From “Love Story” – I guess this is the theme from Love Story. It was a hit for Henry Mancini, oddly, because Mancini, king of the soundtrack, didn’t write this one.
On A Clear Day You Can See Forever – Yet another 60s standard…
Never My Love – The 1967 hit by The Association.
Around The World – A big song in 1957, a hit for Victor Young, for Manovani, for Bing Crosby, but not for Roger Williams.
Theme From “Black Orpheus” – aka A Day In The Life Of A Fool, a hit for Jack Jones in 1966.
Stardust – He does a very slow take of this. Nat King Cole did this, and so did Billy Ward & The Dominoes, and so did Nino Tempo & April Stevens
Gentle On My Mind – Some nice country / pop by John Harford, a hit by Glen Campbell, and by Dean Martin. Not much of a tune though.
Maria – From West Side Story. From early 1962. I can’t remember knowing anyone named Maria.
If You Go (Si Tu Partais) – I don’t know this one, and I don’t understand the French, unless I copied it down wrong. It should be si tu pars, if you go. As it is, partais is imperfect, and I don’t think it works.
Alfie – From the movie, for which it was done by Cher, who had a small hit with it. But Dionne Warwick had a bigger hit.
Teakwood Nocturne – There was a street called Teakwood in my hometown, but this song isn’t about that street.
Amor – From winter, 1962. Ben E King did this.
Love Theme From Romeo And Juliet – A huge hit for Henry Mancini in 1969
Softly I Will Leave You – Such a beautiful song; I said in the entry under Frank Sinatra, and I still believe it.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Jean Shephard

This is pure country, real pure, real country. Jean Shephard was an evangelist for the purity of country; she was apparently unimpressed with the whole countrypolitan thing that Nashville got so heavy into. I guess she wouldn’t think much of Achy Breaky Heart. She had a number of hits on the country charts, but not one on the pop charts.

This album is called The Best of Jean Shephard and it was released in 1963. I picked it up at Pyramid Records, and I remember getting it along with a number of other country collections. I guess I was discovering all this classic country right about then. That would have been late 80s, early 90s.

Jean Shephard:

Satisfied Mind – A country perennial. A hit in 1966 for Bobby Hebb, his follow-up to Sunny. But this has so many recordings; we’ve heard Red Foley. I’d venture to say that no one sings it better than Jeannie Shephard. This is from 1955.
A Dear John Letter – A cheating song. How country can you get. Ferlin Husky sings (says, really) the part of John. I don’t suppose Dear Ferlin would work. Her first hit, from 1953.
Forgive Me John – The follow-up. Well. Isn’t that ducky. I don’t love your brother she says. Now she wants to cheat, with the guy she cheated on, on the guy she cheated with. Ferlin Husky puts in his appearance, again, as John, who refuses to countenance the wrong she wants to do. “I could never do him like he done me,” he says, so poetically.
The Other Woman – More cheating, he loves me, I love him, she sings, that’s all that matters.
Two Voices Two Shadows Two Faces – Yet more cheating.
The Root Of All Evil (Is A Man) – I guess I can’t argue with the logic. From 1961.
Beautiful Lies – Waltz time. From 1955
How Long Does It Hurt (When A Heart Breaks) – From 1961.
I’ve Got To Talk To Mary – I think Mary might be the second most popular female name in popular music, second to Susan. A song about a cat fight. From 1961.
Don’t Fall In Love (With A Married Man) – Well I guess that’s good advice, directly opposed to The Other Woman, but I guess she isn’t so one-dimensional after all.
Under Suspicion – Perhaps this could be the “other side” of Suspicious Minds. Only it’s from a dozen years earlier – 1957 to be exact.
I Learned It All From You – It all comes home to roost. Bitterness set to music.
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