Monday, November 16, 2009

Floyd Cramer

The Best Of Floyd CramerI didn’t take piano lessons. My sisters did; I didn’t. I took guitar lessons, but I didn’t get very far. But piano, I wonder. I wonder how difficult it is to do what Floyd Cramer does. The songs, one could learn. The style, not hardly likely…

My favourite Cramer recording isn’t on here, because my favourite Cramer performance is the piano he played on Puppet On A String by Elvis. That’s not to denigrate anything else he’s done, just a personal favourite of mine.

Cramer had 11 songs on the top 100 (more on the country charts I guess) between 1958 and 1963. 7 of them are on this collection, called The Best Of Floyd Cramer, an old RCA Victor release.

Floyd Cramer:

Last Date – The signature tune of a signature pianist, a song about a fatal encounter, something like Yesterday but not so obviously dramatic. From the winter of 1961 / 1962. Skeeter Davis hit with this about 6 months later, as My Last Date (With You).
Tricks – A bit jazzy, with a sax solo and all…
Lovesick Blues – The Hank Williams song, Floyd Cramer style. This was a hit in the fall of 1962.
Unchained Melody – This is our 5th encounter with this song: Roy Hamilton, Les Baxter, Al Hibbler, Gisele Mackenzie, and this one. This is the first instrumental version. Not surprisingly, it’s pretty without being saccharine, strings and all.
Satan’s Doll – Not to be confused with Satin Doll by Duke Ellington.
San Antonio Rose – Written and originally recorded by Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys, Cramer’s version was a hit in the summer of 1961.
On The Rebound – Uptempo. From the spring of 1961.
Your Last Goodbye – Sad. From the fall of 1961.
Java – The great song by Allan Toussaint, and a major hit for Al Hirt in 1964. I have to admit, the trumpet handles this a lot better than the piano does. The arrangement, though, is almost identical. From the winter of 1963.
Swing Low – This is Swing Low Sweet Chariot obviously, with a truncated title. The muted vocal chorus, though, just sings “Swing loooowwww….”
(These Are) The Young Years – An obvious attempt to redo The Last Date, and appeal to the teenagers of the day.
Flip Flop And Bop – Kind of rock and roll, Floyd Cramer style. This was his first pop hit, in spring, 1958.

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