Sunday, March 29, 2009

Jerry Vale

Jerry Vale was the consummate easy listening artist, not exactly a crooner – his voice was too big for that – but all his songs are slow and arranged with big big orchestration. His voice is a tenor of near operatic quality.

Vale put 9 songs on the top 100 between 1956 and 1966. I got one from somewhere or other, and 4 more are on this album, Jerry Vale’s Greatest Hits, which was released in 1961. Where did I get it? Probably from Pyramid Records.

Jerry Vale:

Pretend You Don’t See Her – Insecurity, pride, hurt, pain, it’s all here. Smile, sings Jerry, and pretend to be gay. Not what he means. A hit from late in 1957.
Go Chase A Moonbeam – I listened to the butterfly, sings Jerry. Ok. From the fall of 1958.
Innamorata (Sweetheart) – Major love song. Vale sings in an almost operatic tenor. This was a hit in the winter of 1956. Dean Martin also put it on the charts.
Go – One of those the-temptation-is-getting-too-strong songs. True love waits for tomorrow…
Prima Donna – Not to be confused with Donna The Prima Donna by Dion.
And There Is My Beloved – How many guys introduce their girlfriends / wives like that??
Two Purple Shadows – He didn’t realise how he felt until he saw her with someone else. And all he saw was the shadows (think Silhouettes by The Rays or Delilah by Tom Jones). Jerry has been stood up, finds that his girl is with someone else, and walks away with a heart that is utterly and completely shattered…
You Don’t Know Me – From the fall of ’56. Classic ballad. The ultimate expression of the barrier between the me you know, and the me I wish you knew. Elvis covered this, and so did Ray Charles.
If – Not the Bread song…
Enchanted – Not The Platters song. At last you surrender to me, sings Jerry, and together we share ecstasy.. Really. That’s pretty graphic if you ask me…
And No One Knows
Have You Looked Into Your Heart – Trying to revive a lapsed romance. This was a hit in the winter of 1965, and the style has not changed much from his 50s hits.

Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers

This was a Rhino album, The Best Of Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers. I picked it up at the HMV store that was next door to the office where I worked, back around 1994 – 95. It was a small store, and very mainstream, and it was unusual to find Rhino there, but there you have it…

Frankie Lymon was the Michael Jackson of his day, 13 years old when Why Do Fools Fall In Love hit, early in 1956. He had a brief run of fame and fortune, and by 1968 he was dead of a drug overdose, his career having been stalled since around 1960.

Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers:

Why Do Fools Fall In Love – Here is where, early on its history, rock and roll (come R & B, but same universe) waxes philosophical. Why does the rain fall from up above, asks young Frankie. He was 13 years old when he sang this, setting the precedent for Michael Jackson, who would debut 13 years later. The Beach Boys did this, and so did Gale Storm, and The Diamonds, and Diana Ross, and Joni Mitchell, and Sha Na Na. Nobody did it like Frankie Lymon. A hit in the winter of 1956.
I Want You To Be My Girl – A bold statement. No pussy footing around. “Come on baby let’s go downtown.” What greater statement of romantic intent could there be? From the spring of 1956.
I’m Not A Know It All – A ballad, and kind of another version of the Wonderful World idea that Sam Cooke expressed so eloquently.
Who Can Explain? – A Why Do Fools Fall In Love rewrite, the lyrics, same philosophical bent, the tune. Who can explain. Not The Who…
I Promise To Remember – This features some of the greatest doo wop stuff in the repertoire. Song was a hit in the summer of 1956.
The ABC’s Of Love – From the fall of 1956. How big a step from this the ABC by the Jackson Five?
Share – The essence of love perhaps, right here. “I’d share this moment with you” sings Frankie. Isn’t that what it’s about?
I’m Not A Juvenile Delinquent – A strange sentiment for a love song. But really this was an “answer song” to all the critics of rock and roll
Baby, Baby – Love by numbers, not unlike We Got Love by Bobby Rydell.
Paper Castles – The prototype. Stevie Wonder did Castles In The Sand, and so did Seals & Crofts (a different song). And Don McLean did Castles In The Air. But The Teenagers were there before anyone.
Teenage Love – I guess given the name the name of the group, this song title is more personalized than it would otherwise be. Still, it’s all about carrying books and the like…
Out In The Cold Again – Here is where Frankie sings a ballad. He had, I will say, an amazing voice…
Goody Goody – More MOR, with a kind of big band arrangement, this, and it was apparently a solo recording, though it’s not clear from Whitburn. A hit in the summer of 1957.
Creation Of Love – Another ballad to end the proceedings. One of those magical moment songs, totally bogus lyrics, but still a slow dance worth considering…

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Carl Perkins

Rockabilly was the rural face of rock and roll, which was, it seems, by its nature, the most urban of musics. And Carl Perkins was the most public face of rockabilly.

Given his status as a legend, it’s amazing how few hits he had - 3 on Sun, 2 on Columbia. But that’s how it is. This collection is his Sun recordings, which was a small part of his career, but the biggest part. It’s called Original Golden Hits, released by the Shelby Singleton Corporation, the company that bought out Sun Records, and I got it at the Country Music Centre.

Carl Perkins:

Blue Suede Shoes – “Don’t you step on my blue suede shoes” – one of the great refrains of rock and roll. This was the first track on the first Elvis ablum, and it’s a rather ironic twist to the history of rock and roll that this song has always been more closely associated with Elvis than with Perkins, notwithstanding the fact that Perkins wrote it, recorded first, and had the bigger hit. The song encapsulated, in its portrayal of the rock and roll kid, all fashion and attitude, the pheneomenon of rock as style, a consistent reality from then till now, though the blue suede shoes gave way to blings. A hit in the winter of 1956.
Boppin’ The Blues – 12 bar blues, rockabilly style. I love you baby, sings Carl, but I must rhythm bound. Bop cat bop. From the summer of '56.
Lend Me Your Comb – Ah the old story, gotta get home, it’s getting late, make myself look decent. There is a version of The Beatles doing this in the Star Club in Hamburg.
Only You – The Platters, hillbilly style…
Tennessee – A brag in song. So Carl plays up all those great things about Tennessee, especially the music, and throws in the atomic bomb towards the end. Hard to know how to take that. I was in Tennessee once, I was about 14, drove through with my family, was in Nashville, Chattanooga, didn’t spend much time.
Honey Don’t – Life with a perverse woman. The Beatles covered this on Beatles ’65, Ringo sang.
Matchbox – The Beatles did this one also, also with Ringo singing, this time on Something New.
Dixie Fried – Let’s all get Dixie fried yells Carl. No one was ever more serious about having fun than Carl…
Right String Baby But The Wrong YoYo – Great analogy. Gerry & The Pacemakers covered this.
Everybody’s Trying To Be My Baby – The perils of being a celebrity. The Beatles covered this on Beatles ’65, George singing this time.
Your True Love – Carl’s love song is music of great celebration. The message is I love you, you love me, let’s dance! From the winter of '57.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Louis Armstrong

Louis Armstrong puts me in mind of Albert Einstein. Einstein wrote his theory of relativity when he was in his 20s, and he spent the rest of his life trying to figure out where to go next. Satchmo’s moment of glory lasted longer, a few decades, but by the time Hello Dolly! hit number 1 in 1964, he had done what he had to do, with nothing left of prove

Everything that you hear, if it’s jazz, and much of what isn’t jazz, owes its existence to Louis Armstrong; John Coltrane, Glenn Miller, Oscar Peterson, Wynton Marsalis, and on and on. Ok, so he basically invented the whole world of jazz improvisation. But more than that, as Dave Marsh says in his description of Wonderful World, “His use of his voice as a medium for emotional effects, damn the niceties, helped set the stage for a rock and soul generation that sometimes seemed to offer nothing but such displays.” I wouldn’t say ‘emotional displays” though; I would say “human heart.”

There are three collections here. The first was on a label of dubious legality, but the recordings seem legitimate enough; and it covered his music from the 1920s to the 1940s; the second was a prerecorded tape copy of Louis Armstrong’s Greatest Hits, featuring his Columbia recordings from the 50s; and the third was Louis Armstrong’s All Time Greatest Hits, which brings us into the 60s. All three were library copies, but the last was touch and go. I had it on hold for so long that my hold finally expired. I guess they’d lost the copy, but I guess they got a new one, because I did get my hands on it at some point.

Louis Armstrong:

Cornet Chop Suey – Chop suey suggests food chopped into little pieces. And so it is, Satchmo plays his cornet and each note has its own nutritional value, and contains a universe of sound unto itself. The idea of infusing faux Chinese culture in to popular music forms would pop up now and then, think Ling Ting Tong by The Five Keys. This is from 1926. Recorded by Louis Armstrong & His Hot Five
Potato Head Blues – No relation, one suspects, to Mr. Potato Head. From 1927, Louis Armstrong & His Hot Seven
Tiger Rag – Louis Armstrong & His Orchestra from 1930. Recorded later by Les Paul & Mary Ford.
Big Butter And Egg Man – The double entendres are flying fast and thick. By Louis Armstrong & His Hot Five from 1926, vocals by Louis Armstrong and May Alix.
When It’s Sleepy Time Down South – Black musicians’ relationship with the south has always been something like a love-hate one. There is always more going on than the simple lyrics would have us believe. Louis Armstrong & His Orchestra from 1941. An actual singing vocal by Armstrong.
When You’re Smiling – A very famous song by Charlie Chaplin. Only Satchmo could pull this off without sounding hokey. Louis Armstrong & His Orchestra from 1929
On The Sunny Side Of The Street – From 1935, again Louis Armstrong & His Orchestra
Solitude – Ditto.
When The Saints Go Marching In – This probably started the tradition of performing this as a jazz / rock number. It is Louis Armstrong & His Orchestra and it is from 1938.
Ain’t Misbehavin’ – Ditto again. This is the great Fats Waller song. I always liked Leon Redbone’s version.
Jeepers Creepers – One of those songs that becomes part of the popular culture well beyond the significance of the immediate context. This is Louis Armstrong & His Orchestra from 1939.
I Want A Little Girl – Not surprisingly, he is talking about a romantic partner, not a daughter. He is back to being Louis Armstrong & His Hot Seven. This is from 1946
Someday You’ll Be Sorry – Louis Armstrong & His All Stars from 1947.
Lazy River – A hit for Si Zentner in 1961, and Bobby Darin did it. This is The All Stars from 1948.
I Love Jazz – From 1958.
Mack The Knife (A Theme From The Threepenny Opera) – Unlike most of the contemporary versions, Satchmo sings it, and it was about 3 years before Bobby Darin got hold of it, but Darin owns it. From the winter of 1956
Back O’ Town Blues
Blueberry Hill – From the fall of ’56, more or less contemporary with Fats Domino’s version. Recorded, though, in 1950.
(What Did I Do To Be So) Black And Blue – A rare song of racial awareness. Van Morrison covered this on Magic Time. This is odd coming from Louis Armstrong, whose statements tended to musical, not lyrical.
Basin Street Blues
Cabaret – The song from the play / movie.
All Of Me – The best version of this song is probably by Dinah Washington.
Struttin’ With Some Barbecue
Indiana – A real jazz rave up. And well, no, I’ve never been to Indiana…
That Lucky Old Sun – Some people have a hard life. I prefer Ray Charles’ version.
I Still Get Jealous – Love songs tend to be about young love, new love, falling in love, infatuation. It’s rare to hear a song like this about an old married couple, and how they still have it for each other. I think also of Let’s Chase Each Other Round The Room Tonight by Merle Haggard – different style, same message.
Hello, Dolly! – And so the guy who invented jazz back in the 20s was back at number 1 in the spring of 1964, competing with The Beatles, The Stones, The Animals, et al, with a song that was totally retrograde…
What A Wonderful World – No relation to Wonderful World by Sam Cooke. This song was released in 1968 and reached number 1 on the UK charts; then, in 1988, after being featured prominently in Good Morning Vietnam, it found its way into the Billboard top 30. The song is a simple child’s view of the wonder of the world, and Satchmo’s gritty delivery keeps from being maudlin; on the contrary, his voice lends reality to the Hallmark lyrics.
Muskrat Ramble – Made famous by The Andrews Sisters, the tune was borrowed by Country Joe McDonald for Feeling-Like-I’m-Fixing-To-Die Rag

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Edmund Hockridge

Edmund Hockridge was a Canadian singer, who made it big in England in the 1950s. He had quite the career, and what’s interesting is that he died 11 days ago as I write this, which was my birthday.

Edmund Hockridge:

Young And Foolish – A lush ballad that presents romance as a big mistake, though one that’s good while it’s on. A UK hit in the winter of 1956.
No Other Love – The follow-up to Young And Foolish.

The Teen Queens

Two sisters, hardly a group, but they were The Teen Queens. They only ever had one hit, and this collection is called, if you look at the front cover, The Teen Queens, with a The Birth Of Rock & Roll label in the upper left hand corner, and if you look at the side, Eddie My Love.

The Teen Queens

Eddie My Love – A song of longing. This was a hit simultaneously for The Fontane Sisters, The Chordettes, and The Teen Queens, and it was the Queens’ only hit. That was in the winter of 1956.
So All Alone – A song of longing. Sound quite a bit like Eddie My Love.
Rock Everybody – A rewrite of Rag Mop. Get up and dance.
Baby Mine – No relation to Oh Baby Mine by The Four Knights. A song about honesty in a relationship.
Let’s Kiss – A song about conflict and resolution, the refrain being “let’s kiss and make up.” . The tune is similar to Let The Good Times Roll by Shirley & Lee.
My Heart’s Desire – A song about, well, desire.
Billy Boy – A song about a conflicted relationship. Our cleaning lady had a son named Billy.
Just Goofed – A song about the imperfection of the human condition.
Teen Age Idol – Not the Ricky Nelson song. A song about love as a form of idealization.
Zig Zag – A song about unfaithfulness.
Riding – A song about being in a relationship that’s doomed to fail…
I Ain’t Gonna Tell – A song about a clandestine relationship.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Guy Mitchell

Imagine the spot where the four states meet: New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Utah. That’s what Guy Mitchell is about. He is about where country meets pop meets rock and roll meets easy listening.

Until the Elvis phenomenon he was just totally easy listening, a kind of poor man’s Jerry Vale. Then he became Mitch Miller’s secret weapon. Miller, the A & R man at Columbia was the anti rock and roll man. So he got Mitchell to keep the suits quiet.

This is a collection called The Definitive Guy Mitchell, and it lives up to its title. I found it at the Grande Biblioteque, not all that long ago.

Guy Mitchell:

Giddy Ap! – A very silly horse riding metaphor for a romantic encounter
Me And My Imagination – We could not survive if we couldn’t daydream. I like the way John Sebastian said it better though; Mitchell does this lush ballad just this side of maudlin.
You’re Not In My Arms Tonight – The absence of one’s love throws the rest of the world into a kind of sad relief. Romance without one’s partner is just sad.
You’re Just In Love – With Rosemary Clooney. We heard this before…
My Heart Cries For You – Ok, here is where “maudlin” kicks in big time.
The Roving Kind – It’s about a girl, a nice girl, a proper girl, but one of the roving kind. And, get this, she makes him walk the plank!!!
Sparrow In The Tree Top – The bird is a misbehaving husband, coming home late, but really he didn’t misbehave at all…
Christopher Columbus – Musical history. Johnny Horton made a career of songs like this.
A Beggar In Love – Self deprecation never gets you anywhere. This guy seriously needs therapy…
Unless – Kind of like “Till” I guess.
My Truly, Truly Fair – Mitch Mitchell gets co-credit on this, which makes sense, because it has a profound sing-along feel to it.
Sweetheart Of Yesterday – Comes in with a chorus that sounds like the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and Mitchell comes in with a faux Jerry Vale vocal that will curdle all the milk your fridge, and curl your cat’s hair…
Belle Belle My Liberty Belle – I’m not sure if this is song to the actual Liberty Bell, or a girl named Belle. Either way, it’s dumb. A wartime song
I Can’t Help It – This is the Hank Williams song, I Can’t Help It If I’m Still In Love With You, and so Mitchell joins Rosemary Clooney, Tony Bennett and Frankie Laine among “easy listening” artists of the 50s who covered Williams. Ricky Nelson did this song, and better.
There’s Always Room At Our House – A song about hospitality.
Pittsburgh Pennsylvania – That’s where his romantic tragedy happened. I’ve never been there myself.
The Day of Jubilo
Gently Johnny – Seduction and resistance to a marching rhythm…
She Wears Red Feathers – A gal with a sense of style…
Feet Up (Pat Him On The Po Po) – A song about a baby, obviously. Couldn’t be anything else, could it? Lie back, dear, and let me pat you on the po po...
That’s A-Why – A love song, with Mindy Carson.
Train Of Love – With Mindy Carson. Not the Annette song. Stepping into what would become Johnny Cash territory, but not really.
Wise Man Or Fool
Times Are – Another bouncy bouncy song
The Cuff Of My Shirt – He wrote down her info on the cuff of his shirt, and now he can’t find the damned shirt…
A Dime And A Dollar – Carefree Guy…
Bob’s Yer Uncle – Kind of the adult version of See You Later Alligator
I Met The Cutest Little Eyeful – I wonder if she’d like being described as such. But she is French, which I get totally…
Gee But You Gotta Come Home – A marching song. No wonder she won’t come home. That plus the nasty things he said…
Otto’s Gotta Go – A reference to Crazy Otto, the piano roll maestro…
When Binky Blows (The Trombone Blues)
Ninety-Nine Years (Dead Or Alive) – We finally reach the “modern era.” Guy is in jail. Bad boy. Thinks his girl will wait. Keep thinking. From the winter of 1956.
Perfume Candy And Flowers – The first flush of love…
Give Me A Carriage With Eight White Horses – It seems like this is a song about domestic bliss but it’s so over the top it’s hard to tell.
Singing The Blues – This is actually a country song, originally done by Marty Robbins. Mitchell finally hit his stride with this, which went to number 1 as 1956 drew to a close. Ray Conniff gets co-credit. Tommy Steele put in on the UK charts, and Paul McCartney remade years later.
Crazy With Love – Here is where Mitchell gets into faux rock and roll. His whole style changes. But he’s no rock and roller; I guess this is as much as Mitch Miller could stand. From the fall of 1956, the b side of Singing The Blues.
Take Me Back Baby – From winter 1957. The b side of…
Knee Deep In The Blues – This Singing The Blues rewrite was a hit in the winter of 1957.
Rock-A-Billy – In case we didn’t get the point. From the spring of 1957.
Sweet Stuff – More faux rock and roll, real faux. From the summer of 1957.
Call Rosie On The Phone – The night has a thousand eyes, he’ll know if she’s not true. Guy tells his friend to make a date with his girl, see if she says yes. What a scheme. The only Rosie I can think of is the daughter of some friends, who is now teaching at my kids’ school…
Honey Brown Eyes – Brown eyes are nice. My wife has brown eyes…
Heartaches By The Number – Another country song, originally by Ray Price. Mitchell’s version was number 1 at the end of 1959.
Silver Moon Upon The Golden Sand
My Shoes Keep Walking Back To You – Very country, this. Ray Price? From the fall of 1960, Guy Mitchell’s last hit.
Your Goodnight Kiss (Ain’t What It Used To Be) – Love is never static…
Soft Rain
Big Big Change – Organ aplenty here, a bit odd overall

Sunday, March 22, 2009

March, 1956

Here are some songs that were on the music charts in March, 1956. I have the blue ones.

  • Why Do Fools Fall In Love - Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers

  • Seven Days - The Crew Cuts

  • Ask Me - Nat King Cole

  • Mr. Wonderful - Teddy King

  • Mr. Wonderful - Sarah Vaughan

  • Moritat (Threepenny Opera) - Lawrence Welk

  • A Tear Fell - Teresa Brewer

  • Why Do Fools Fall In Love - Gale Storm

  • Eddie My Love - The Teen Queens

  • That's All - Tennessee Ernie Ford

  • Blue Suede Shoes - Carl Perkins

  • Juke Box Baby - Perry Como

  • Theme From Threepenny Opera - Louis Armstrong

  • Memories Of You - Benny Goodman Trio with Rosemary Clooney

  • The Poor People Of Paris - Russ Morgan

  • Eloise - Kay Thompson

  • Heartbreak Hotel - Elvis Presley

  • Eddie My Love - The Fontane Sisters

  • Hot Diggity - Perry Como

  • I Was The One - Elvis Presley

  • 11th Hour Melody - Lou Busch & His Orchestra

  • Mr. Wonderful - Peggy Lee

  • To You My Love - Nick Noble

  • Flowers Mean Forgiveness - Frank Sinatra

  • Innamorata (Sweetheart) - Jerry Vale

  • La Mer (Beyond The Sea) - Roger Williams

  • Forever Darling - The Ames Brothers

  • Why Do Fools Fall In Love - The Diamonds

  • Eddie My Love - The Chordettes

  • Port Au Prince - Nelson Riddle

Dick Hyman Trio

This guy was a keyboard whiz, who stayed more or less on the fringes of pop music, doing albums that were somewhere between avant garde and kitch. In the late 60s he resurfaced as Dick Hyman & His Electric Eclectics, and we will consider them separately.

Dick Hyman Trio:

Theme From Threepenny Opera – The Threepenny Opera was a German operetta written by Bertold Brecht and Kurt Weill, and it was translated into English and it hit the stage in 1956, and the theme song hit the charts in about a dozen different versions. There was this one, one by Richard Hayman & Jan August, Lawrence Welk, Louis Armstrong, Billy Vaughn, and Les Paul. Bobby Darin sang words and revived it in 1959, and Ella Fitzgerald put it back on the charts in 1960. This version is whistful - harpsichord and whistling...

Little Richard

This is as serious as rock and roll gets. Little Richard was the guy who let out all the stops, who eschewed subtlety, who put it all out there, perversion and all. One of the great architects of rock and roll.

Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On comes from some anonymous collection, but the rest is Little Richard’s 18 Greatest Hits, which I have on a CD. It’s decent, but I would have dropped two of Heeby-Jeebies, She’s Got It, All Around The World and included Baby Face and True, Fine Mama.

Little Richard:

Tutti Frutti – There isn’t much one can say about this song that would make much sense, because the song itself doesn’t make much sense, but it doesn’t have to, but it’s an expression of such unmitigated rock and roll joy that words are useless. It was Little Richard’s first hit, that was in the winter of 1956, and it kicked off a series of similar jubilant but slightly off centre outbursts that formed one of the foundation repertoires of rock and roll. It was covered, incompetently by Pat Boone.
Long Tall Sally – A favourite among cover artists. Elvis did it, and left the lyrics alone. The Beatles did it, and changed “bald headed Sally” to the safer “Long Tall Sally.” The Kinks covered it too. Bald headed Sally? I knew a girl named Sally a few years ago, she was a young Egyptian girl in my French class, and she was not long nor tall nor bald. This is from the spring of 1956.
Slippin’ And Slidin’- The flip side of Long Tall Sally, it was a hit in the summer of ’56. The cover of my CD says “Sliddin’”.
Rip It Up – A great Saturday night let’s-go-out-and-get-ripped song. From the summer of ’56. Bill Haley & His Comets covered this, and so did Elvis, and so did John Lennon
Ready Teddy – The flip of Rip It Up, also a hit in the summer of ’56. Another party song.
Heeby-Jeebies – Woman as spell caster. She put the jinx on me. Covered by The Fourmost
She’s Got It – Sometimes there’s just no better way to describe it. This and Heeby-Jeebies were one side of a single, released in October, 1956.
The Girl Can’t Help It – She can’t help it if she was born to please. Richard has a major crush on her. From the winter of 1957. This was the title track to some movie or other. Bobby Vee covered this.
All Around The World – The flip of The Girl Can’t Help It. A song about rock and roll.
Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On – How it was meant to be done. A hit for Jerry Lee Lewis but I do believe that Little Richard did it first.
Lucille – This one digs a groove so deep you can get lost in it. From the spring of 1957, and it’s amazing, given the totally (I mean totally) perverted lyrics, that it made the charts at all. The Everly Brothers put it back on the charts, but they changed “sister” to “daddy” (you don’t do your daddy’s will). I don’t think I’ve ever known a Lucille.
Send Me Some Lovin’ – The flip side of Lucille, also a hit in spring 1957. This is what Little Richard sounds like doing a ballad, and he pulls it off. Sam Cooke did this also.
Jenny Jenny – An invitation. Won’t you come along with me, sounds innocent enough. Spinnin’ like a spinnin’ top. Wha? From the summer of 1957. Covered by Mitch Rider & The Detroit Wheels, as Jenny Take A Ride. Did I ever know a Jenny? My parents knew a couple Al and Jenny. Their son was a teacher in the school that my kids went to.
Miss Ann – From the summer of 1957, the flip of Jenny Jenny. A little slower, more like Fats Domino. I’m sure that various Anns have crossed my various paths, but none that left much of an impression.
Keep A-Knockin’ – Well... Fats Domino did I Hear You Knockin’, but what Fats did was put his feet up, sit back, shake his head, and say “sorry babe,” Little Richard jumps up and down, shakes his fist, screams his head off, and generally carries on. Different styles, eh? From the fall of 1957.
Good Golly Miss Molly – Can’t mistake the meaning here, “sure like to ball.” Ok. This was a top 10 hit in the late winter of 1958. I guess “ball” could mean party. So many people covered this: The Swinging Blue Jeans put it on the UK charts in 1964. Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels did it as part of a medley with Shorty Long’s Devil With A Blue Dress. CCR covered it on their second album.
Ooh! My Soul – Just more ranting and raving, from the summer of 1958. Richie Valens spoofed it with Ooh! My Head.
Kansas City – A song originally called KC Lovin’, and a number 1 hit for Wilbert Harrison in spring of 1959. This version was a hit at the same time. The CD label says Kansas City / Hey Hey Hey. Little Richard recorded his own version of Leiber & Stoller’s Kansas City, and he recorded his own Hey-Hey-Hey-Hey and he recorded a medley of both. The Beatles covered the medley on their Beatles For Sale album in 1965 (Beatles VI in North America) but the record cover identified the song as Kansas City, which did not credit Richard as songwriter. They corrected it when the CD was issued in 1987. This CD features just Kansas City, but it is labelled Kansas City / Hey Hey Hey, a wonderful example of historical revisionism run amock. Anyway, Richard does Kansas City as it was meant to be done, kicks Harrison’s ass from here to Cleveland. Only Paul McCartney could match him…
Bama Lama, Bama Loo – What I like is meaningful lyrics, and it is doesn’t get less meaningful than this. This is from the summer of ’64, after Little Richard had disappeared and had now come back, having been brought back to life by the English groups like The Beatles and The Swinging Blue Jeans who were covering his songs en mass.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

February, 1956

Here are some songs that were on the music charts in February, 1956. I have the blue ones.

  • Go On With The Wedding - Patti Page
  • Speedo - The Cadillacs
  • April In Paris - Count Basie
  • Hallelujah I Love Her So - Ray Charles
  • Chain Gang - Bobby Scott
  • Theme From "Threepenny Opera" - Dick Hyman Trio
  • Band Of Gold - Kit Carson
  • No Not Much - The Four Lads
  • I'll Be Home / Tutti Frutti - Pat Boone
  • Go On With The Wedding - Kitty Kallan & Georgie Shaw
  • Lipstick & Candy & Rubbersole Shoes - Julius LaRosa
  • Lisbon Antigua - Mitch Miller
  • Don't Go To Strangers - Vaughn Monroe
  • Moritat (Threepenny Opera) - Les Paul & Mary Ford
  • Young And Foolish - Edmund Hockridge
  • Theme From "Threepenny Opera" - Richard Hayman & Jan August
  • Poor People Of Paris - Les Baxter
  • Lullaby Of Birdland - Blue Stars
  • Cry Baby - Bonnie Sisters
  • 11th Hour Melody - Al Hibbler
  • Ninety-Nine Years (Dead Or Alive) - Guy Mitchell
  • Theme From "Threepenny Opera" - Billy Vaughn

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Count Basie

Count Basie Compact Jazz An icon of popular music. His career spanned decades but all I’ve got is the Compact Jazz collection, which spans a few years during the 1950s.

Count Basie:

Shiny Stockings – Burton Cummings covered this on one of his solo albums.
April In Paris – I know what April in Montreal is like. This was on the Billboard chart in the winter of 1956.
Down For The Count – Cute.
Corner Pocket
Blues Backstage
One O’Clock Jump
I’m Shouting Again
Count ‘Em
Nasty Magnus
St. Louis Blues
Doodle Oodle
All Of Me

The Cadillacs

I had, until recently, a collection of Cadillacs tracks consisting of one song which was Speedo, that I got, if I remember correctly, from Echoes Of A Rock Era. Recently I picked up a collection called For Collectors Only, and they aren’t kidding – 3 CDs of tracks by a group that only ever had two hits. Probably everything they recorded is on it. So I’m not putting that up here, not till later. But I’m cheating by putting Peek-A-Boo here.

The Cadillacs:

Speedo – I can’t figure out whether this is a stud song or an anti-stud song. I mean, speedo. From the winter of 1956.
Peek-A-Boo – This is The Cadillacs in Coasters territory; the song is Yakety Yak redux. This is from the winter of 1959.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Nelson Riddle

Band leader, arranger extraordinaire. Riddle worked with Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Nat King Cole etc. etc.

Nelson Riddle:

Lisbon Antigua – One of those jazzy instrumentals that were so popular in the 50s, this one from early 1956.
Route 66 Theme – Another instrumental, the theme from the TV show Route 66. This is said to be a different song from the one The Stones did, also Them, but it’s hard to tell. This is from spring 1962.

The Drifters

Note: As I write this, The Drifters do not appear on YouTube, except in live recordings and remakes. It is a shame, and a perfect example of how those on the business side have the heads firmly up their collective asses....

If they play music in heaven, and surely they do, they play old Drifters records.

The Drifters were two groups, more or less, maybe three, depending on which history you read. The first group had, at first, Clyde McPhatter singing lead, and were a better than average 50s R & B vocal group.

Then in 1959, after many personnel changes, manager George Treadwell fired the whole group, and hired a group called the Five Crowns, with lead singer Ben E King, renamed them “The Drifters,” and the rest is history. The third incarnation came about after Ben E King left.

It is that 2nd / 3rd group, though, where the magic happens. The Drifters, of course, sing of love and romance. But the songs are so beautiful, the harmonies so magic, the arrangements so glorious, that songs of romantic love become transcendent statements of human potential, a tribute to how wonderful things could be (Some Kind Of Wonderful), even when they’re sad (I Count The Tears). In Drifters records, it is always Saturday night, the music is always playing, the stars are shining, and the night is magic.

It’s not fair for one group to have made so many great singles.

These tracks come from 1. A compilation of their early records, the name of which I can’t remember, which I found in the dusty vaults of the Centennial Library, and which was the only copy I ever saw. 2. The Drifters’ Golden Hits, the standard package for many years, which I picked up at Country Music Centre. 3. various singles / compilations.

The Drifters:

Three Thirty-Three – The title refers to an address. This is a cool hangout, with “all shapes and sizes of women,” with whom you can “do things you’ve never done.” One can only imagine.
Money Honey – The root of all evil. Everything comes down to the almighty dollar. One of the great gritty R & B songs of the era. Elvis did it. It is not The Bay City Rollers song. From 1953.
Honey Love – “I need it in the middle of the night.” I bet. A stud song. From 1954.
White Christmas – One R & B version of many, maybe the first black White Christmas. Great doop doop doops in the background. This song snuck into the top 100 in December, 1955.
The Bells Of St. Mary – Harkens back to The Harptones and that ilk, which was exactly contemporary with this, more or less, exactly. Heavy on the organ.
Watcha Gonna Do – This is nothing more complicated than making a date for the evening, to a great beat. From 1955.
I Should Have Done Right – This is a throwback to style closer to 40s jump blues than 50s R & B
Adorable – Johnny Moore takes over as lead singer from Clyde McPhatter. The group makes “adorable” sound like “lewd and lascivious.” From 1955.
Steamboat – The boat is the symbol of separation. Lead vocals by Bill Pinkey. From 1956.
Ruby Baby – Leiber & Stoller par excellence. Dion hit it big with this in 1963, and Ronnie Hawkins covered it.
Fools Fall In Love – This has the strange quality of being a fast ballad; only The Drifters could pull it off. There is an odd twangy guitar solo that plays off against the sax; conclusion – this is good stuff. From winter, 1957. Elvis covered this about 10 years later. Johnny Moore sings a great lead
Drip Drop – Another one covered by Dion. One of the greatest self-pity songs ever. From the summer of 1958. Bobby Hendricks sings.
Your Promise To Be Mine – A song about separation, and promises.
There Goes My Baby – This song stands huge in the annals of R & B, said to be the first such record to use strings (the pundits never heard The Platters obviously). Ben E. King kicks off the second version of The Drifters with a vocal that strains just out of his comfort zone, baion bass, typany that threatens to bring the roof down, and an atmosphere of romantic tragedy that would bring a tear to the eye of the most hardened cynic. From the summer of 1959.
(If You Cry) True Love, True Love – Easily one of the most beautiful records ever made in the history of the world. From late 1959. Johnny Williams sings lead.
Dance With Me – Maybe the best song about dancing ever; dancing becomes a metaphor for everything that’s beautiful in life. From late 1959, the A side of (If You Cry) True Love, True Love. Ben E King back on lead vocal.
This Magic Moment – Oh my goodness, those swirling strings sound as if they’re played by angels. This may be the best that Ben E. King ever did. The silliness of the romantic lyrics are completely and totally redeemed by the magic of the music. The moment when the background is reduced to a lone Spanish guitar – that’s pure musical genius. From the spring of 1960. Jay & The Americans put it back on the charts in 1969.
Save The Last Dance For Me – How we want things to work out. We don’t always get our wish. The Stones sang You Can’t Always Get What You Want and the message was the same, but The Drifters speak the language of love and longing, the Stones – drugs. This was actually the only #1 record that The Drifters had; it was a hit in the fall of 1960. A hit again in the early 1970s for The DeFranco Family, and Harry Nilsson put it on his Pussy Cats album.
I Count The Tears – Again, King puts it over, helped along by the great bass, the strings, the guys la-la-la-ing along. Beautiful beautiful stuff, from the winter of 1961.
Some Kind Of Wonderful – Another wonderful song, this one from the spring of ’61. Not to be confused with Some Kind Of Wonderful by The Brothers Six, covered by Grand Funk. Rudy Lewis sings. The Fourmost covered this.
Please Stay – Think of The Temptations, and how proud David Ruffin was when he sang Ain’t Too Proud To Beg. And Lewis here, he is not proud, not at all, he is desperate; If I got on my knees, sings Rudy, with a quality of voice that one can only describe as unearthly. You know she won’t stay, you know he knows it, and you know that he can’t not beg. This record is almost too painful to listen to. From the summer of ’61.
Sweets For My Sweet – Confection, as the title would (and does in fact) suggest. Kind of a cha cha rhythm going on here. From the autumn of ’61. This was The Searchers’ first hit. Charlie Thomas is lead vocalist
When My Little Girl Is Smiling – Another Charlie Thomas lead. From the spring of ’62. And I know that smile...
Up On The Roof – Rudy Lewis is back in charge. A song of escape, especially poignant I think for those who can’t afford trips to California, can’t even afford a back yard. Goffin & King wrote this, and Carole King covered it later, as did James Taylor, and The Nylons. From the winter of ’63.
On Broadway – A song about trying and failing, about not fitting in. From the spring of ’63. George Benson did this.
I’ll Take You Home – A high school dance, a young singles social perhaps. Things don’t always work out how we expect. Johnny Moore back in the group, on lead vocals. From the fall of ’63. Cliff Bennett & The Rebel Rousers had a go at this.
Under The Boardwalk – One can smell the hot dogs; and feel the sun on the sand. But, there is an underlying melancholy going on here, which has nothing to do with the lyrics. After all, this isn’t about the boardwalk at all, nor about the beach or the summer. A great record, from the summer of ’64. The Stones covered it on one of their early albums.
I’ve Got Sand In My Shoes – This Under The Boardwalk rewrite was a hit in the fall of ’64.
Saturday Night At The Movies – The Drifters’ formula applied to plain old fun. From late 1964.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Bing Crosby

My father was quite upset when Bing Crosby died. That was in 1977. My father then was about as old as I am now.

But that’s the nature of this, old music, from the 30s and the 40s, and a few hits from the late 50s to sneak it into this collection.

All tracks come from the box set called Bing! His Legendary Years, 1931 – 1957.

Bing Crosby:

Where The Blue Of The Night (Turns To The Gold Of The Day) – Nostalgia for a place that surely never existed. The ideal girl lives there. From 1940.
I Apologize – Not the Ed Ames song.
Love Is Just Around The Corner – A falling in love song. From 1934.
Red Sails In The Sunset – Bring her back to me. How quaint. From 1935.
Silent Night – Bing sings this song like it was written for him. From 1935. Charted again in December, 1957.
I’m An Old Cow Hand (From The Rio Grande) – This is, I think, by Gene Autry. I did not look it up. From 1933.
You Must Have Been A Beautiful Baby – I could think of so many people to dedicate this to. Bobby Darin covered it, and so did The Dave Clark Five, whose version took me years to find. From 1938.
Deep In The Heart Of Texas – From 1942. This is a famous song recorded first by Perry Como. I have a version by Duane Eddy
When My Dreamboat Comes Home – Covered by Fats Domino. From 1942.
White Christmas – Perhaps the best selling record of all time. The claim has been made. It was released in 1942, originally in the movie Holiday Inn. Later it was in White Christmas. It charted every December for a while, right up until 1962. There were a few exceptions in the early 50s. There are more versions of this than you can shake a stick at; I like The Beach Boys, The Drifters, Otis Redding, Elvis Presley.
Moonlight Becomes You – Oh my, what a romantic evening this is about. From 1942. A companion piece, perhaps, to Moondance. You’re all dressed up to go dreaming, he sings…
Pistol Packin’ Mama – By Al Dexter. This is from 1943. Another of those cowboy songs that Bing seemed to like so much.
Swingin’ On A Star – A childrens’ song, as far as I can tell. From 1943. It was a hit for Big Dee Irwin and Little Eva in 1963.
Don’t Fence Me In – Another western song. A hit later for Tommy Edwards. From 1944.
Ac-cent-tchu-ate The Positive – Very wholesome. Yuck
Too-Ra-Loo-Ra-Loo-Ra – An Irish lullaby. From 1944. Van Morrison did this on The Last Waltz.
McNamara’s Band – Music about music, Irish music in this case, though apart from the accent sported by the members of the chorus, there isn’t much Irish about this. From 1945.
Alexander’s Ragtime Band – More music about music. From 1947. Johnny Ray also did this.
Galway Bay – More About Ireland. From 1947.
Dear Hearts And Gentle People – Perry Como did this also, and it was a hit for The Springfields in 1962. It’s kind of dippy, the people he sings about don’t exist. I bet Bing never lived in a small town…
Chattanoogie Shoe Shine Boy – From 1950. A hit for Red Foley.
Sam’s Song – A happy song about a happy song. I don’t know who Sam is. I’ve known a few Sams in my life. From 1950. Duet with brother Gary.
Harbour Lights – The Platters put this on the charts in the late 50s. This is from 1950.
Autumn Leaves – A big hit for Roger Williams in 1955, this version has words, as does the one by Nat King Cole. From 1950.
In The Cool Cool Cool Of The Evening – Duet with Jane Wyman. From 1951.
Around The World – Seems to have been from the movie Around The World In Eighty Days. This is from the autumn of 1957, and was a hit also for The Fontane Sisters, for Mantovani, and for Victor Young.
Softly As In The Morning Sunshine – From 1957.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Dean Martin

Dean Martin was one of those 60s icons who lived in the world of your parents’ music, and he did movies and TV. He had a TV variety show for a while, that was in the late 60s and I remember watching it sometimes.

I remember watching him in a dumb spy movie on late night TV, possibly it was The Silencers. He kicked around Top 40 radio on and off.

He recorded for Capital during the 1950s, and some of those songs made up The Best Of Dean Martin. Then he switched over to Reprise, along with Sinatra and Sammy Davis, and his Reprise hits are on Dean Martin’s Greatest Hits Vol 1 and Dean Martin’s Greatest Hits Vol. 2. Innamorata comes from somewhere else, a cassette of some sort I think, and Too Many Indians comes from the Gentle On My Mind album that I borrowed from some library, and Gentle On My Mind actually comes from the single. Makes no sense? I know. Thank you.

Dean Martin:

That’s Amore – This is crazy. When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie… Now that would be a mess. Love as some kind psychotic condition.
You’re Nobody Till Somebody Loves You – A hit for composer Russ Morgan. It was the rerecording on Reprise that became the hit. Recorded by The Mills Brothers also.
Volare (Nel Blu Di Pinto Di Blu) – An English cover of the hit by Domenico Modugno. Dino’s version was also a hit, in the fall of ’58. Bobby Rydell put it back on the chart in 1960.
It’s Easy To Remember
Sway – Not the Rolling Stones song. This is a great dancing song, about dancing. Bobby Rydell covered this one too.
Return To Me – Do people ever really come back? Sometimes, I’m sure, but not as often as the songs would have us believe. From the spring of 1958.
Memories Are Made Of This – A number 1 hit in January, 1965. Covered by Gale Storm, and by Dino Desi & Billy, presumably with lead vocals by Dino, who happened to be Dean Martin’s own son. This has a stripped down arrangements, guitar, bass, vocal group, which doesn’t seem to go with Dino’s fancy shmancy baritone voice.
June In January – Is spring better than winter? Yes, I guess, unless this song was recorded in Australia. Love as a manifestation of springtime, whenever it happens.
Come Back To Sorrento – Sung half in English, half in Italian.
Just In Time – I wonder what would have happened had she found him a day later…
I’m Yours – Not the Elvis song. Same idea though.
Hey Brother Pour The Wine – Let’s drink to celebrate, until everything goes south, then we drink to forget. Could have been a signature song, considering his reputation as a lush, but it wasn’t anyway.
Innamorata – From the winter of ’56, a really lush ballad. A hit also for Jerry Vale.
Everybody Loves Somebody – This song kicked off his second career, and became his signature song. It was number 1 in the summer of ’64, the year of The Beatles. It’s not country, but it borrows a heck of a lot from Nashville.
You’re Nobody Till Somebody Loves You – This Reprise reprise of the song originally recorded on Capital was a hit in the winter of 1965.
In The Chapel In The Moonlight – From the summer of ’67. I remember this one, though I couldn’t have put a date on it. A wedding song, also done by The Four Aces and The Bachelors.
Houston – The first Dean Martin song I ever heard, and so it occupies a special place in my heart. It confused me I remember; the voice seemed out of place on the top 50. From the summer of ’65. And I have never been to Texas
(Remember Me) I’m The One Who Loves You – I love you and every knows it but you. The singing is jaunty, but there is a sad aspect to this. That he has to remind her, well… Also from ’65, the earlier part of the summer.
I Can’t Help Remembering You – It’s hard to get over a serious romance I guess.
• Nobody’s Baby Again – It’s not a good thing when a relationship defines who you are. From the fall of ’66.
Every Minute Every Hour – The title built from the lyrics of Everybody Loves Somebody
• Bumming Around – A rather polite variation of King Of The Road.
You’ll Always Be The One I Love – A declaration of undying love, an Everybody Loves Somebody redux, again. From the winter of 1966, the flip side of You’re Nobody Till Somebody Loves You.
Come Running Back – Return To Me redux, but only lyrically. The music is more in that 60s Reprise groove that all his stuff seemed to be in. From the summer of ’66.
The Birds And The Bees – This is really a silly pop song, and Dino’s voice is too big. It was a hit for Jewel Akens in early 1965, and a cover version by Rufus And Carla Thomas was what put it up there in the ranks.
The Door Is Still Open To My Heart – Dino can’t get over his failed romance. He cries even, still hopes to get her back. Not likely I’d say. This was a top 10 hit in the fall of ’64.
I Will – From late ’65, funny I don’t remember this one. Poor Dino’s been dumped for another dude this time.
Send Me The Pillow You Dream On – A hit for Johnny Tillotson. Dino put it back on the charts in the spring of ’65. Another song of heartbreak and loss.
Little Ole Wine Drinker, Me – Now this one I remember; it was from the fall of 1967. Another “character” song for Dino.
You’ve Still Got A Place In My Heart – Yet another heartbreak song.
In The Misty Moonlight – This love song from the tail end of 1967 was a hit originally for Jerry Wallace in 1964.
Lay Some Happiness On Me – I’ll second that… From the spring of 1967.
(Open Up The Door) Let The Good Times In – A song about attitude, and how to have a good one. From the end of 1966.
Somewhere There’s A Someone – Yet another rewrite of Everybody Loves Somebody. From the winter of 1966.
The Glory Of Love – A remake of The Five Keys’ hit from 1954.
King Of The Road – Dino doesn’t quite pull off this Roger Miller classic; he doesn’t sound much like a tramp…
Ole Yellow Line – Life on the road, picks up where King Of The Road leaves off, except he’s running away from heartache.
A Million And One – The number represents teardrops. I’ll take ? & The Mysterians’ 96 Tears.
Shades – As in sunglasses. They hide the crying eyes, but not the hurt left by the lies.
Gentle On My Mind – The John Hartford classic, a sort-of hit by Glen Campbell. A UK hit in early 1969. Glen Campbell sound believable, Dino doesn't so much.
Not Enough Indians – The song uses “Indian” imagery to describe a troubled marriage – “wampum, teepee, squaw.” Totally not PC. And chauvinistic. From the fall of ’68. I actually remember hearing this one on the radio.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Kay Starr

I should have a collection by Kay Starr but I don’t. She was a popular Capital recording artist, and she had 14 songs on the top 100 between 1956 and 1962, and more before that. I just have the two songs.

Kay Starr:

Rock And Roll Waltz – This was a big hit, number 1 in February, 1956. Obviously a novelty song, but the underlying message is how incomprehensible the new music was for adults. Still, at the end, the real message is that it does not matter. Let’s do the rock and roll waltz.
If You Love Me – Let it happen, she sings. Read anything you want into it, she is singing of love itself. I think. This is from 1954.

Friday, March 6, 2009

January 1956

Here are some songs that were on the music charts in January, 1956. I have the blue ones.

  • Rock And Roll Waltz - Kay Starr
  • White Christmas - Bing Crosby
  • Mostly Martha - The Crew Cuts
  • Rock - A - Beatin' Boogie - Bill Haley & His Comets
  • Are You Satisfied - Rusty Draper
  • Angels In The Sky - The Crew Cuts
  • When You Dance - The Turbans
  • Wanting You - Roger Williams
  • Lisbon Anigua - Nelson Riddle
  • It's Almost Tomorrow - Jo Stafford
  • My Treasure - The Hilltoppers
  • See You Later Alligator - Bill Haley & His Comets
  • Tutti Frutti - Little Richard

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Julie London

I’m sorry I don’t have a bigger collection of songs by Julie London. I used to, this collection had about 9 tracks, and I remember The Party’s Over, which isn’t here anymore. I don’t remember why I truncated this, probably for space.

It was a prerecorded cassette, called Cry Me A River And Other Hits, if I’m not mistaken, which I may be.

Whatever. Julie London was the ultimate sultry barroom torch singer.

Julie London:

Cry Me A River – A smokey barroom masterpiece. All the pieces come together – the laid back arrangement of guitar and bass, Julie’s voice, the lyrics about romantic injuries. Julie’s only hit, from late 1955. In 1970, Leon Russell did a radical rearrangement, which he handed over to Joe Cocker, whose version of the song on Mad Dogs & Englishmen rates as one of the most underrated wonders ever.
You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To – The idealized domestic life, before the reality sets in.
When I Fall In Love – A toss up I suppose between Julie London and Doris Day on this one. A hit for The Lettermen in the early 60s. More idealizing.
Let There Be Love
You’re My Thrill – It is the early manifestation of love, how my pulse increases…
Lover Man – Wherein our heroine pines for a partner… Not the Jimi Hendrix song.

The Dream Weavers

They were a duo, with random female members. They had 5 records in the top 100, all between December 1955 and May, 1956. I only have one, which was their biggie, and I pulled it off the actual 45, it’s all scratched up, too bad you can’t hear it.

The Dream Weavers:

It’s Almost Tomorrow – A ballad about the end of a relationship. This was a hit at the end of 1955 for about half a dozen recording artists. Nevertheless the song is pretty much forgotten.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

December 1955

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

  • Daddy-O - The Fontane Sisters
  • Croce Di Oro (Cross Of Gold) - Patti Page
  • It's Almost Tomorrow - The Dreamweavers
  • Autumn Leaves - Steve Allan
  • My Boy Flat Top - Dorothy Collins
  • Sixteen Tons - Johnny Desmond
  • C'est La Vie - Sarah Vaughan
  • Cry Me A River - Julie London
  • If You Don't Want My Love - Jaye P. Morgan
  • Love And Marriage - Dinah Shore
  • White Christmas - The Drifters
  • Memories Are Made Of This - Dean Martin
  • It's Almost Tomorrow - Snooky Larson
  • It's Almost Tomorrow - David Carrol
  • A Woman In Love - Frankie Laine
  • (Love Is) The Tender Trap - Frank Sinatra
  • Oh Suzanna - The Singing Dogs
  • Nuttin' For Christmas - Art Mooney & Barry Gordon
  • A Woman In Love - The Four Aces
  • Band Of Gold - Don Cherry
  • Gee Whittakers - Pat Boone
  • Teenage Prayer - Gloria Mann
  • Nuttin' For Christmas - Joe Ward
  • (I'm Gettin') Nuttin' For Christmas - Ricky Zahnd & The Blue Jeans
  • The Great Pretender - The Platters
  • Teenage Prayer - Gale Storm
  • Dungaree Doll - Eddie Fisher
  • Burn That Candle - Bill Haley & His Comets
  • Everybody's Got A Home But Me - Eddie Fisher
  • Nuttin' For Christmas - The Fontane Sisters

The Robins

Two members of The Robins ended up in The Coasters, but, contrary to popular belief, The Robins were not an early version of The Coasters. Nonetheless, two Robins songs ended up on Their Greatest Recordings: The Early Years by The Coasters, and there is nothing I can do about it.

The Robins:

Smokey Joe’s Café – A hit from the fall of 1955, if you can call a song that reached 79 on the top 100 a hit. A song about fooling around with the wrong girl. Think Come A Little Bit Closer by Jay & The Americans
Riot In Cell Block #9 – A genuine song about a genuine jail riot. Makes Jailhouse Rock sound like Mary Had A Little Lamb. The Beach Boys rewrote this and called it Student Demonstration Time.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Gale Storm

Well Gale Storm was a TV actress, she was in a show called My Little Margie.

This album, called Gale’s Great Hits, was released originally in 1966, which was nearly 10 years after any of the songs on it had been hits, and I picked up my copy at Records On Wheels; it was a reissue on some collectors label, with the same cover, the same tracks, but new liner notes. It is a good collection –10 of her 11 Dot hits are on here; missing is A Heart Without A Sweetheart, b side of Now Is The Hour.

Gale Storm:

On Treasure Island – Infatuation as treasure, romance as an island a story with a happy ending. Hit the charts in March of ’57, the month I was born.
Now Is The Hour – A parting song. Seems to me that this Bing Crosby did this. From the autumn of ’56.
Lucky Lips – This is bizarre. The original was by Ruth Brown. Cliff Richard covered it as well, which is more bizarre. It was the flip of On Treasure Island, and it was also on the chart in the winter of ’57.
Never Leave Me – Ok, another love song. One wonders about the insecurity expressed in a sentiment like “never leave me.”
Teen Age Prayer – Ah, poor teen age Gale fancies the kid in grade 11. You’d think that the artifice of this would prevent actual teenagers from buying it, but someone bought it, because it was in the top 10, and that was in the winter of ’56.
Why Do Fools Fall In Love – A big hit, of course, for Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers, and very popular with cover artists. Gale put this on the chart in the winter of ’56, and so did The Diamonds. And Diana Ross covered this many years later, and so did The Happenings, and so did Joni Mitchell, and so did Sha Na Na. And I suppose the answer is that everybody falls in love, fools included.
I Walk Alone – A woman vows, what? Abstinence? Faithfullness? All of the above?
Tell Me Why – Not The Four Aces song, nor The Beatles song, but Elvis did this. From the summer of ’56.
Memories Are Made Of This – A Number one hit for Dean Martin, Gale’s version also made the top 10 in the winter of ’56. The spare arrangement is similar to the one Dino used, and so is the chorus, and I think Gale may even sing it better. Dino Desi & Billy covered this about 10 years later.
Orange Blossoms – Not to be confused with Orange Blossom Special. This is another song of lost romance. Apparently orange blossoms have something to do with weddings.
I Hear You Knockin’ – Written by Fats Domino and Dave Bartholemew, but Fats didn’t release it until 1961. I do believe that Smiley Lewis recorded this, but his version never made the pop charts, so it was up to Gale to put this one over, and she did, her first hit, and that was in the fall of ’55. A song of defiance, go away says the singer, but the message is delivered in a kind of rollicking good time way, except for Dave Edmunds, whose 1970 cover cuts like a proverbial knife.
Ivory Tower – A cover of Otis Williams & The Charms’ hit, from the spring of ’56. Works better sung by a man I think.
My Heart Belongs To You – Wherein our heroine has doubts about her failed love affair from here to tomorrow, but, hey, her heart, you know…
Dark Moon – A hit from the summer of ’57. A song of how the state of nature reflects one’s inner state. Think of End Of The World by Skeeter Davis.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Gogi Grant

I had her two biggest hits, and I can’t remember for the life of me where I got them, honest I can’t, but recently I picked up Her Very Best. I found it at the Grande Bibliotheque, God bless the Grande Bibliotheque.

This collection has all 5 of her Era top 100 hits; it does not have her one RCA chart single (Strange Are The Ways Of Love)

Gogi Grant:

The Wayward Wind – The old story. Guy won’t settle down, won’t commit. A slave to his wandering wind. Think of Bobby Goldsboro, I’m A Drifter. The trumpet heralds the wind itself, while the upward sweep of the stings take us wherever it is the wind is blowing. This song was a number 1 hit in the summer of 1956.
Suddenly There’s A Valley – A song of hope. Listen carefully. Maybe there is truth in it. From the fall of ’55, this was in the top 10.
You’re In Love – A song about taking the risk. She may be singing to a friend, or she may be singing to herself, but then she gives it away: You’re in love, cries my heart to me. Gotcha. From the fall of 1956.
Wrap Your Troubles In Dreams – Speed up the tempo here a bit. Another attitude song. Just remember the sunshine always follows the rain she sings. But does it?
All Of Me – A jazz standard. A love song of complete and total dedication, but there is something obviously lewd about it.
Love Is – All the wonderful things wrapped up into one song. Nothing to do with Eric Burdon & The Animals.
I Let A Song Go Out Of My Heart – Another standard.
What’s New – What happens when the romance is over, and you meet again. With an Autumn Leaves worthy piano solo. Not to be confused with So What's New, recorded by many and a hit for none.
I Gave You My Heart – This could be part 2 of What’s New. Oh but here, she has someone new.
It Happens Every Spring – Yet another song about springtime love.
Love Is The Sweetest Thing
When The Tide Is High – From the fall of ’56, this is the flip of You’re In Love. It’s about a lost love. No relation to Blondie, which anyway is just called The Tide Is High. There is a similarity to The Wayward Wind in the string arrangement.
Who Are We – From the winter of 1956. This is one of those challenged love songs, as in our love affair is being challenged. Very dramatic.
The One I Love (Belongs To Someone Else) – Remember Midnight Confessions by The Grass Roots? Sounds like she is in love with a singer! In this case there is something going on between them, and it’s not clear whether her husband is having an affair, or he is just a two-timing boyfriend.
We Believe In Love – Of course we do. Not to be confused with Believe In Love by The Four Aces.
I’ll Never Be The Same – I get that, every experience changes us. She’s taking this a bit hard, though…
There Will Never Be Another You – Not The Seekers song, but the same idea. In this case it is yet another lost love.
I Don’t Want To Walk Without You – Here I am feeling sorry for myself…
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