Saturday, January 31, 2009

Les Paul & Mary Ford

Everybody knows that Les Paul was a genius. He perfected the solid-body electric guitar, and he invented or developed all manner of recording techniques, including multi-tracking, delay, phasing etc. His recordings featured his wife’s voice in multi-part harmony, and he was, in the recording studio, a virtual one man band.

So what always strikes me about him is the discrepancy between Les Paul the innovator and Les Paul the recording artist, because on record he was a pop-meister extraordinaire. His records were lightweight, they were romantic, they were radio and TV friendly. The brilliance was never in-your-face; it was subtle and you had to know something about musicianship and recording to get it.

From what I understand, all the recordings he did while he was married to Mary Ford were credited to Les Paul & Mary Ford, even the instrumentals, on which, obviously, Mary did not sing. Most of this collection is taken from the box set, The Legend And The Legacy, which I found at the William Stephenson Library, and a from random vinyl collection, which I think was called The World Is Waiting For The Sunrise, which I found at Pyramid.

Les Paul & Mary Ford:

Lover – The first of many instrumentals, which seem to have been credited to Les Paul & Mary Ford, notwithstanding Mary’s complete absence from the final product. Paul plays these pretty much by himself, with a little percussion on the side. I have this in a vocal version by someone else. Peggy Lee? This is from 1948.
What Is This Thing Called Love? – Also from 1948
Caravan – Not the Van Morrison song. The great Duke Ellington song. Nat King Cole sings it, but most versions are instrumental. Cf The Ventures.
Nola – I do know a Nola actually, she is married to the brother of a classmate from grade / high school. From 1950
Tennessee Waltz –This is where the real fun starts. Mary comes in and sounds like a 20 voice chorus (ok, it’s actually 2 part harmony here). They were there before Patti Page, but it was Patti that had a huge hit. From 1950.
Little Rock Getaway – From 1950. I’ve never been to Little Rock, but I knew someone from Arkansas once, probably from LR, and he had a funny name, and I wish I could remember it…
Mockin’ Bird Hill – From 1951. Another one that Patti Page swiped…
How High The Moon – One of the songs for which they are best known. From 1951.
Josephine – From 1951. I don’t think I’ve ever known a Josephine.
I Wish I’d Never Seen Sunshine – How sad. I wish I had died as a baby, she sings.From 1951.
Whispering – From 1951. For a good vocal version, check out Nino Tempo & April Stevens.
The World Is Waiting For The Sunrise – Another one of their better known ones. From 1951, a busy year for them.
Tiger Rag – From 1952
The Carioca – Must be a dance, maybe the macarena of its day. From 1952.
I’m Confessin’ (That I Love You) – Ah, how nice. From 1952.
Smoke Rings – Tobacco smoke as a fantasy metaphor, they didn’t have those packages that show diseased organs back then. From 1952.
Meet Mr. Callaghan – No, I have no idea who he was. The Ventures covered this. From 1952.
Take Me In Your Arms And Hold Me – Not to be confused with Take Me In Your Arms And Love Me by Gladys Knight And The Pips. From 1952
Lady Of Spain – Also by Eddie Fisher, and by The Ventures. From 1952.
My Baby’s Coming Home – From 1952
Bye Bye Blues – From 1953
I’m Sitting On Top Of The World – Not the Howlin’ Wolf song. Also not The Carpenters song, which was just Top Of The World. From 1953.
Sleep – Not the Little Willy John song. From 1953.
Vaya Con Dios – A biggie, from 1953.
Johnny (Is The Boy For Me) – I thought Les was the boy for me. Johnny is our sys admin, and I think I wrote that in the notes for Johnny Will by Pat Boone. “Johnny” is also the most popular boys name in pop songs, though I haven’t done an actual study. For girls it’s Susan, and variations thereof (Suzanne, Susie, Suzy Creamcheese, etc.). From 1953.
The Kangaroo – From 1953. How many animals have songs written about them? Let’s keep track. 1….
Doncha Hear Them Bells – A bit religious.
I Really Don’t Want To Know – Tons of recordings of this, from the hit version by Ronnie Dove, to Elvis Presley. From 1954.
Wither Thou Goest – The lyrical title from the book of Ruth. Song from 1954.
Mandalino – From 1954.
Nueva Laredo – A song about Texas. As far as I can tell, the song that The Sir Douglas Quintet did, with the same title, is a different song, but I’m not sure, even after hearing them both. They are both about Texas anyway, and I’ve never been to Texas. From the winter of 1956, and the b side of Moritat.
Moritat (Theme From The Three Penny Opera) – I guess the Brecht / Weill operetta was translated into English and presented on Broadway or something around 1956, and so the theme music became a hit for a number of artists, including Louis Armstrong. Dick Hyman, and Lawrence Welk. Paul’s version only reached number 46, and that was in early 1956. Then in ’59, Bobby Darin recorded it as Mack The Knife, and put all the competition to bed.
I’m Movin’ On – A not bad rendition of a great country song, by Hank Snow. Also done by Ray Charles, The Rolling Stones, Taste.
Hummingbird – Not the BB King song. The tune for this song about someone who could not be nailed down was lifted for the theme music for the TV western Have Gun Will Travel (The Ballad Of Palladin). This is from the summer of ’55.
Amukiriki – I don’t know what it means either. From the fall of ’55.
Magic Melody – All the melodies here are magic. This was from the fall of ’55 and was the flip of Amukiriki.
Cinco Robles (Five Oaks) – From early 1957. The area of town I lived in had a street called Seven Oaks, and a museum called Seven Oaks House. That wasn’t here.
Goodnight My Someone – Goodnight, dear Mary…

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Arthur Lee, eBay, And The Last Track On The Album...

Mountain Jam

Music used to come stuck on something called “records.” Thing about records was this: The songs were sequenced, and there were 2 sides. There was no random access, except for picking up the tonearm and moving it to where you wanted it.

So yeah, sequencing was a thing. On a good album, the artist would think carefully about which song to put first, which song to end the side with, which song to end the album with. Think of Sargent Pepper, of course Sargent Pepper. It starts with the title track, “we hope you enjoy the show” they sing. Then towards the end the reprise, “we hope you have enjoyed the show.” Imagine putting on the CD, and using random play. The Reprise comes on first; how much sense does that make?

And I suppose they could have put A Day In The Life anywhere and it still would have been a great track, but it was meant to be a grand finale, second only the last movement of Beethoven’s Ninth. I think. That final chord, the one where the fadeout is so flaky that you can hear the air conditioners in the background, that chord, it has to come at the end of the album. It has to.

Let’s not even get to MP3s. Just the CD thing changed the whole experience. Remember double albums? Side one backed with side four, and side two backed with side three. They did that so you could put on side one, and put side above it on the record changer. (You do know what a record changer is, don’t you?) And so there was Eat A Peach by The Allman Brothers, 2 sides of studio recordings, 2 sides of one long live jam. But the jam was interrupted, half on side 2, half on side 4. Now on the CD they stitched it back together, made it one long track, which is artistically sound, but splitting it was just as artistically valid, for different reasons, but this is the CD. Nothing to be done.

Once you get into cybertracks, well just forget everything you ever knew. Never even mind the absence of cover art. Now you get to pick and choose the tracks, forget concept albums, forget sequencing, forget the album as a statement; we are back in the 50s, the single reigns supreme, but now it’s called an MP3 and it doesn’t have b side.

And the whole cyberworld thing brings with it another thing – band names. You have to have a searchable name. So search Crash Test Dummies, or Barefoot Ladies, and you’ll…what? Barenaked Ladies? Oh alright. Search Barenaked Ladies and you’ll do alright.

Oh wait, that one could be a problem. Ok let’s stick with the Dummies.

But back in ’65 when Arthur Lee named his band Love, well didn’t he realize that he was making it impossible to search for his music on eBay? I mean even under Music, you get 39,615 results, and not too many are the group you’re looking for. And then there’s Yes. And best of all, The The (352,844 hits). It won’t do. Someone should have warned these guys. Them, 890 results, better than The The, but still.

And what’s sad for me is that I have a turntable still, but not the wherewithal to use it. so I listen to old fashioned CDs, and yes, I have plenty of MP3s, and cassettes, and I randomize stuff as much as the next guy, but to me it’s like grammar – you’re only allowed to break the rules if you know them to begin with…

The Grand Finale

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Professor Longhair

The pundits love him, he is a legend, he defines the New Orleans style, etc. etc. Professor Longhair, whose real name was Henry Byrd. He is also very obscure, he never had a hit single, and his music is an acquired taste.

The first two tracks here come from an album of obscurities, and the rest is a distillation of Fess: The Professor Longhair Anthology.

Professor Longhair:

Mardi Gras In New Orleans – Kind of sums up his entire ouvre.
Hey Little Girl – Not the Dee Clark song
Bald Head – Not to be confused with Bald Headed Woman by Harry Belafonte / The Who / The Kinks, but the same idea.
Tipitina – That’s her name, Tipitina, and no I’ve never known a Tipitina
In The Night – A song about partying
Professor Longhair Blues – One of those bragging songs.
Misery – Not The Beatles song.
Cuttin’ Out
Go To The Mardi Gras
Big Chief Part 2
No Buts – No Maybe
Stag-O-Lee – A fairly straight rendition of this perennial, which was a hit for Lloyd Price in 1959 and for Wilson Pickett in 1967 – both renditions titled Stagger Lee
(They Call Me) Dr. Professor Longhair
Whole Lotta Lovin’ – The Fats Domino song. The professor hams it up.
Thank You Pretty Baby
Mean Old World – A more or less straight rendition of the Little Walter song.
Boogie Woogie – Just what it says…

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Fats Domino

I guess this goes back a ways.

All the songs up until Walking To New Orleans are from The Legendary Masters Series, which was a double album on United Artists, part of a series that included Ricky Nelson and Eddie Cochrane. And I picked that up, where else, at the Centennial Library.

And the last bunch of songs, apart from a couple singles, was from an collection whose name I can’t remember, but I’m pretty sure that I got it at A&A, which was a chain, and I think that I got it at the Eaton Place location, and they also had a store in St. Vital.
Well, Fats’ last hit was in 1969, it was a cover of Lady Madonna, and it wasn’t really a hit, it spent 2 weeks at the bottom of the top 100, literally, it only ever reached no. 100, but prior to that he had 65 singles on the top 100 and that was between 1955 and 1964, and about half of them are here, mostly the more popular ones.

Fats Domino:

The Fat Man – A bit of a self portrait. He didn’t dwell on his weight, unlike Billy Stewart who repeatedly referred to himself as the fat boy. This is from the late 40s.
Hey La Bas – Sung in New Orleans Cajun French I guess.
Goin’ Home
Country Boy – This doesn’t belong here but the collection got a bit screwed up. This is a song about a simple guy with a simple life. This is from the late winter / early spring of 1960.
Please Don’t Leave Me – This one shows up here and there. It was The Fontane Sisters who put it on the charts
Goin’ To The River – He’s not just going to the river, but he’s about to jump right in.
Ain’t That A Shame – The song that put Fats on the map. Reached number 10 in the summer of ’55. It was Pat Boone who put it at the top. There is a version by The Four Seasons that is wholly other, and Paul McCartney did it on one of his live albums. The version on American Graffiti has a vocal chorus superimposed; avoid it.
Poor Me – This is Ain’t That A Shame redux, but at least Fats assures us that though he is living in misery, he is not going to kill himself.
I’m In Love Again – The Fontane Sisters also had a crack at this. So did Ricky Nelson. From the summer of ’56.
When My Dreamboat Comes Home – From the late summer of ’56.
Blueberry Hill – Another biggie. This was an oldie that Fats revived and put on the charts in late 1956. Louis Armstrong did it also. There is a cover by The Dave Clark Five
My Blue Heaven – The flip of I’m In Love Again. Also from the summer of ‘56
The Rooster Song – Another re-do of Ain’t That A Shame. He even sings “ain’t that a shame” on the chorus.
I’m In The Mood For Love – I bet. Fats the crooner.
Blue Monday – From winter of 1957, a working man’s lament. Fats takes us through of tour of the week. Love those piano triplets…
I’m Walkin’ – From the spring of ’57. This was covered by Ricky Nelson and helped to launch his career. A real rocker…
It’s You I Love – Fats’ love songs aren’t very romantic, but I guess that’s his style. Playful, I guess. This is from the summer of ’57.
The Big Beat – Music about music, not so unusual. The big beat keeps you rockin’ in your seat he says. Isn’t the point to get up and dance? From late ’57.
Valley Of Tears – Fats’ sad songs are never so sad. He always sounds just a bit too jolly. This is from the summer of ’57, the b side of It’s You I Love
I Want You To Know – Another love song of course. From late ’57, the b side of The Big Beat.
Whole Lotta Lovin’ – Not to be confused with Whole Lotta Love by Zeppelin. This is another one of those bouncing rocking paeans to his affection for his current flame, complete with kissing sounds. From winter ‘58/’59.
I Want To Walk You Home – A Bit lecherous this. From autumn of ’59.
I’m Ready – Not the Muddy Waters song. But he’s ready for the same thing. From the summer of ’59.
Yes My Darling – A marriage proposal. From the late winter of 1958.
I’m Gonna Be A Wheel Someday – From the fall of ’59.
Walking To New Orleans – A loping ballad, with those piano triplets up there again, front and centre. First time we’ve heard strings on a Fats Domino records. From the summer of 1960.
Be My Guest – From late 1959
I Hear You Knockin’ – A hit for Gale Storm in 1955, Fats version didn’t release it until 1961, and it was the flip of Jambalaya. I like this one, a tale of go-take-a-hike. I learned the song from the blazing hot Dave Edmunds version from 1970.
Let The Four Winds Blow – From the summer of 1961. No relation to Four Strong Winds by Ian Tyson
Margie – From the summer of ’59, the flip of I’m Ready. I’ve never known anybody named Margie.
My Girl Josephine – From late 1960. I’ve don’t think I ever knew anyone called Josephine. Jerry Jaye did a remake in 1967
Three Nights A Week – Piano triplets and pizzicato strings. From the autumn of 1960. The title refers to her being gone. This is not hip hop, which anyway would have seven nights a week and then some…
Shu Rah – From spring 1961. It seems that the title refers to someone’s name. How odd. I wonder if that’s her first and last names, Ms Rah, or is, like, Shu Rah Smith or something.
My Real Name – His real name, apparently, is neither Fatso nor Domino, but The Handy Man. Jimmy Jones beat him to it (the one James Taylor did). This is from the summer of ’62.
What A Price – When I got married, all my friends complained that I was no fun anymore. DJ used to hang out, go to pub. Now he just goes home after school. And so Fats complains. Oh what a price I had to pay for loving you, he says. And what price? He had to give up gambling and rambling and staying out all night. Oh my. He sounds very sad, and it’s not so clear whether he and his loved one are still together. Presumably they are, or else he could stay out as long as he wanted to. This was from the winter of 1961.
Jambalaya (On The Bayou) – Fats goes country, and tackles Hank Williams no less. Well it is about Louisiana after all. From late ’61. We shall come across this again. And again, and again...
You Win Again – More country, more Hank. A relationship as a contest. You win again. From winter / spring ’62. Jerry Lee Lewis also covered this.
I’m Going Home – Not to be confused with Goin’ Home. He’s going home to his woman, though it’s not so clear where he was.
Don’t Come Knockin’ – A song after my own heart. Not to be confused with I Hear You Knocking, but the same idea, with strings.
Bo Weevil – Not the Brook Benton song, which was called The Boll Weevil Song anyway. So many songs about the crop-eating insect. From the spring of ’56.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Judy Garland

Judy Garland was in dozens of movies, made hundreds of recordings, was on every variety show on radio and TV. And she was Liza Minnlli’s mother. Her big years were before our period, which officially begins in 1955, but she recorded well into the 60s, and she did have one UK hit in 1955, though she is absent from Whitburn.

There was this box set at the WK Library, but the version of The Man That Got Away was a 1961 live recording, and that wouldn’t do, so I got a The Hits Of Judy Garland from the other library, and I fleshed this out with tracks from the Box Set, and that’s it.

Judy Garland:

Over The Rainbow – This is what she sang of course in Wizard Of Oz. From 1939. The Demensions put this on the chart in the early 60s, and Harry Nilsson recorded for A Little Touch Of Schmilsson In The Night, though it was available in the UK only for a long time.
The Man That Got Away – a UK hit in the summer of ’55.
The Trolley Song – She meets a guy on the streetcar. Cute. This is from 1944.
Get Happy – This is from 1950. Kind of gospel.
I’m Always Chasing Rainbows – From 1940. I guess Sammy Davis Jr. did this too.
On The Atcheson, Topeka And The Santa Fe – A song about a train, very different from anything Johnny Cash ever did. This is from 1945
Dear Mr. Gable / You Made Me Love You – This is cute, especially the spoken part in the middle. You Made Me Love You is a great old standard. Harry Nilsson did a great version.
Put Your Arms Around Me Honey – It’s just about the time for makin’ love. From 1949.
Meet Me Tonight In Dreamland – This is the flip of the last one.
Who? – No relation to He. This is from 1946.
Johnny One Note – I wonder if this is about someone real. Probably inspired Johnny One Time. From 1948.
Fly Me To The Moon – Ah but this is a beautiful song. Bart Howard wrote it, and I don’t anything about Bart Howard, or what else he wrote. Tony Bennett did a nice version. It was written in 1954, so I guess this recording is later than that. It was a hit for Joe Harnell in 1963. Judy does it well.
That’s Entertainment – Live.From 1961
Smile – There’s that Charlie Chaplin song again. Nat King Cole did this.
Alexander’s Ragtime Band – Best known by Bing Crosby, and Johnny Ray did it too.
Chicago – The same one that Frank Sinatra put on the charts. I think she overdoes it a bit. Live
Swanee – Another live track. Best known, of course, by Al Jolson.
Come Rain Or Come Shine – Both this track and the last are from 1961.
This Is The Time Of The Evening
Last Night When We Were Young
Little Girl Blue – Another great ballad. Janis Joplin covered it, but her version was quite different.
Zing! Went The Strings Of My Heart – This is another one that can’t lose. The Coasters did a wonderful version, with an arrangement that was copped by The Move, and then The Trammps.
I Could Go On Singing (Till The Cows Come Home) – From 1962
Old Devil Moon – I think Tony Bennett did this. From 1960.
I’ve Confessed To The Breeze (I Love You) – from 1960.
Rock-A-Bye Your Baby With A Dixie Melody – From the 1960 live album Judy In London. Jerry Lewis put this on the charts in 1956, and Aretha Franklin did it in 1962.
The Party’s Over – The best version of this is by Julie London. I also have one by Lonnie Donegan. This is from 1962. Her voice gets a bit hoarse here, but appealingly so.
Lucky Day – From 1960.
Stormy Weather – compare Lou Rawls. Another live track from 1960.

- sound bite: Some Like It Hot - Theme from the movie with Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon. A bit out of place here, as the movie was released in 1959. I took it from an album called Original Sound Tracks And Hit Music Form Great Motion Picture Themes, a title which doesn’t make much sense, but that’s what it’s called. It on United Artists and it was released in 1960.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Four Lads

Like The Crew Cuts and The Diamonds, The Four Lads were Canadian. Yay Canada. They were another vocal quartet; their style was very close to The Four Aces. The group’s first big hit was Istanbul in 1952, and between 1955 and 1959 they put 17 songs on the top 100. I have 9 of them here, plus a few earlier ones.

The album I had was probably called Moments To Remember, and I picked up The Four Lads’ Greatest Hits, and added those songs much later. Some songs here were from reissued singles.

The Four Lads

Moments To Remember – The song for which they are best remembered, this was a hit in the autumn of ’55. The Vogues put it back in the charts in the summer of ’69.
Together Wherever We Go – This could be a song between lovers or between friends.
Who Needs You – Not The Steppenwolf song. From the winter of 1957.
The Mocking Bird – This song was originally release on Epic, and it charted in 1952, and then was reissued in 1956. But this is the remake on Columbia, which was a hit at the end of 1958.
There’s Only One Of You – A hit in the spring of 1958.
No, Not Much – Another cutsie poo love song. A hit in the late winter of 1956, and I remember the one by The Vogues in 1969.
Tonight – This is from West Side Story. It was a hit for Ferrante & Teicher in 1961
Somebody Loves Me – I wonder who?
Standing On The Corner – From the spring / summer of 1956. Also a hit for Dean Martin. “I’m a cat, that got the cream…” Some creep stands around fantasizing about the girls he sees…
Put A Light In The Window – This is kind of the same idea as Knock Three Times, or Tie A Yellow Ribbon. From late 1957.
Down By The Riverside – Elvis did this also.
Instanbul – Their first big hit, about the capital of Turkey. Never been there.
The Bus Stop Song – Not to be confused with Bus Stop by The Hollies. A marriage proposal in song, and a bit of a strange one. Was a hit in the fall of ’56.
Gilly Gilly By The Sea – This is from 1954, and I have reproduced the title here as it appears on the album cover. But I understand that the full title is in fact Gilly, Gilly, Ossenfeffer, Katzenellen Bogen By The Sea. David & Jonathan did this about a dozen years later.
Enchanted Island – From the summer of ’58. Not so different for 26 Miles (Santa Catalina) by the Four Preps, or about 100 songs about Hawaii.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

September 1955

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

  • Love Is A Many Splendored Thing - The Four Aces
  • Song Of The Dreamer - Eddie Fisher
  • Wake The Town And Tell The People - Mindy Carson
  • Hummingbird - Frankie Laine
  • Longest Walk - Jaye P. Morgan
  • Moments To Remember - The Four Lads
  • Bible Tells Me So - Don Cornell
  • Love Me Or Leave Me - Doris Day
  • I Want You To Be My Baby - Lillian Briggs
  • I Want You To Be My Baby - Georgia Gibbs
  • Shifting Whispering Sands - Billy Vaughn
  • Same Old Saturday Night - Frank Sinatra

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Red Foley

Red Foley was a major country artist, who deserves more than two songs, but that’s all I have. My birthday is in March.

Red Foley:

Chattanooga Shoe Shine Boy – This guy makes your shoes shine, makes music while he does it, and he’s a great big bundle of joy to boot.
Satisfied Mind – Who is happy? He who is satisfied with what he has. So many recordings of this, Jean Shepard, Porter Wagoner, Bobby Hebb, Joan Baez, Bob Dylan.

Boyd Bennett & His Rockets

These guys were true pioneer rockabilly artists. They are not exactly a household name; I guess that’s because they only had two real hits, four on the top 100. Both of these came off the singles. I probably got them at Argy’s.

Boyd Bennett & His Rockets:

Seventeen – A song about a teenage girl. Finally we get to the original. Well we’ve heard The Fontane Sisters, The Ames Brothers. This is true rock and roll, in the grandest style. Anticipates The Beatles by 7 years (Well she was just 17 and you know what I mean…) A hit in the summer of ’55.
My Boy Flat Top – A song about a teenage boy and a paean to the crew cut. He’s a real hep cat and don’t you forget it. A hit in the fall of ’55.

Marion Marlowe

Marion Marlowe was an actess and singer. She was pretty obscure.

Marion Marlowe:

The Man In The Raincoat – A hit in the summer of ’56, and her only one. Sounds creepy, but she had a great time, riding the streetcar, dancing, lending him money… oops…

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Pat Boone

In 1997 Pat Boone released a CD called No More Mr. Nice Guy, subtitled In A Metal Mood. The cover features a picture in which he looks absolutely demented, and track listing includes songs by Deep Purple, Alice Cooper, Led Zeppelin, et al. It seems to have been a serious undertaking. It is difficult to understand who may have thought that it was a good idea.

Pat Boone doing rock and roll was never a good idea. Certainly he has expressed resentment about the omission of his name from the annals of rock and roll. He was there at the beginning, he says, doing Fats Domino and Little Richard, and putting R & B on the map. His contribution is unrecognized.

True enough, but for the fact that his recordings of R& B classics were terrible. His ballads were ok. But put rock and roll in front of him and did not have a clue.

Most of this comes from a real obscure import I got at Records On Wheels, called Friendly Persuasion. I never saw another copy. Some of the songs come from Pat’s Great Hits, and some come from singles, and those come from Pyramid.

Pat Boone:

Ain’t That A Shame – Ain’t That A Shame was by Fats Domino, written by Domino and Dave Bartholomew, and it was one of the great signature tunes of rock and roll in the heady year of 1955. Boone’s version is typical, he doesn’t know how to sing it, and the rhythm is stilted.. Still, it reached number 1 in the summer of 1955.
I’ll Be Home – Not the Randy Newman song, obviously. This is a ballad, and Boone was a decent ballad singer. This is from the winter of 1956.
I Almost Lost My Mind – This was by Ivory Joe Hunter, but I don’t have the original. This spent four weeks at number 1 in the summer of ’56. Boone’s singing is somewhat mannered, but I guess that’s what the song calls for.
No Other Arms – From the autumn of 1955. Not to be confused with No Other Arms, No Other Lips by The Chordettes.
‘Twixt Twelve And Twenty – A ballad about being a teenager, kind of drippy. From the summer of ‘59
Sugar Moon – Another formula ballad, this one from the spring / summer of ’58.
If Dreams Came True – Yet another syrupy ballad, another one from the summer of ’58.
With The Wind And The Rain In Your Hair – From the winter of 1959.
Good Rockin’ Tonight – This was the flip of With The Wind And The Rain In Your Hair, and it made the charts in its own right. It is pretty terrible. You don’t have to listen to Elvis do this to realize how bad this is, but it helps.
Anastasia – From the winter of 56 / 57. A song about a mystery girl, and I’ve never known anyone named Anastasia. This was the flip of Don’t Forbid Me.
Remember You’re Mine – A bit of a country lilt on this. A going away song, and a hit in the autumn of 1957.
Chains Of Love – Not to be confused with Chains by The Cookies / Beatles. This was the b side of Friendly Persuasion, and it was a hit in the fall of ’56.
I’m In Love With You – Upbeat, let’s get married. From the fall of ’57.
(Welcome) New Lovers – From late winter toward spring, 1960.
I’m Waiting Just For You – From spring 1957
There’s A Gold Mine In The Sky – Pat Boone, among other things, was an evangelist. He usually managed to keep his career as a pop singer separate, but occasionally his evangelism would spill over. This was a hit in the fall of ’57.
Big Cold Wind – The story of the demise of a romance. From the autumn of ’61.
When The Swallows Come Back To Capistrano – A hit for The Ink Spots. Pat’s version reached no 80 in the fall of ’87. It was the flip of April Love.
I’ll See You In My Dreams – From the winter of ’62.
Fools Hall Of Fame – From the fall of ’59.
The Wang Dang Taffy Apple Tango – A silly dance I guess. Guy can’t dance but gets the girl. Cute. This was from the spring of ’59.
Bernadine – From the spring of ’57, the flip of Love Letters In The Sand. Ok, I did know a girl named Bernadine, and I can not remember her last name, not that I would tell you. So it was the summer of 1970, I was 13, and my friend DS, his brother knew a girl (well he probably knew lots of girls) and this girl had a sister my age, and she was Bernadine, and she came round and the three of us went bike riding, me and DS and the girl. I saw her maybe 11 years later, and she remembered me, and she remembered the bike ride. And I haven’t seen her since.
Friendly Persuasion – A song with thee and thou, thee pleasures me in a hundred ways. This was an old song, but this version was a hit in the fall of ’56.
Gee Whittakers! – From the winter of 1956
Love Letters In The Sand – Number 1 for 7 weeks in the summer of 1957.
April Love – April Love was a hit in December. That was 1957. Spent 6 weeks at number 1. Just another sappy ballad.
Spring Rain – From the summer of 1960. A song about being 17.
Don’t Forbid Me – The Christian evangelist sings the anti-abstinence anthem. A number 1 hit in early 1957.
A Wonderful Time Up There – More religion but at least the one swings. From spring of 1958.
Cherie, I Love You – From spring / summer, 1958. This was the flip of Sugar Moon.
Moody River – This is the Pat Boone song that you’re most likely to hear on oldies radio. A song about deception and suicide. From the summer of ’61, this was Boone’s last number 1. Sinatra covered it.
Long Tall Sally – Pat Boone does Little Richard. This is an unmitigated disaster. From the spring of ’56. Little Richard never sang about Long Tall Sally of course. What he sang was “Bald Headed Sally” but Boone reverts to the title, I saw Uncle John with Long Tall Sally. To be fair, so did Paul McCartney on The Beatles’ version, at least on the official recording; in concert Paul sang about Bald Headed Sally. So did Elvis on his recording. I don’t remember what The Swinging Blue Jeans did…
Why Baby Why – Not the George Jones song. This was in the top 10 in the spring of ’57.
Mona Lisa – This is a straight interpretation of the Nat King Cole hit.
It’s Too Soon To Know – The Ink Spots did this. This was from late winter / spring of 1958, and it was the b side of A Wonderful Time Up There.
Are You Lonesome Tonight – This was a big hit by Elvis.
Deep Purple – An old standard. It was hit in the early 60s for Nino Tempo & April Stevens.
When I Fall In Love – Many people did this, and it was a hit for The Lettermen.
Speedy Gonzales – A novelty number I guess. Features the cartoon character. The parts with Speedy are good. This was from the summer of ’62.
Tutti Frutti – Another Little Richard song. Another miss. From winter / spring ’56.
Johnny Will – This was from late 1961. Johnny is our systems administrator at work. His surname is not “Will,” but neither is our hero’s; the “will” in the title is a verb. Johnny will take his girl out, if Pat can’t come up with dance money. $10 he needs. He has a week. I’m sort of rooting for Johnny here…

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Mitch Miller

I remember seeing Sing Along With Mitch on TV when I was quite small. Now I don’t think I ever sat down and watched an episode, but I remember the bouncing ball.

Miller was actually quite a big shot – head of A & R at Columbia Records. As such he was the anti-Elvis, refusing to sign any rock and roll artists, and so Columbia withered until they signed Dion Dimucci in the early 60s, at which time Miller’s reign was on the wane.

This is a scratchy copy of Mitch’s Greatest Hits, and it comes from Argy’s. Miller had 14 top 100 hits, 9 of which are not on here.

Mitch Miller:

March From The River Kwai And Colonel Bogey – I never saw Bridge Over The River Kwai, but it’s said to be quite miserable. The song is quite happy. This was a hit in the winter of 1958.
The Yellow Rose Of Texas – This was huge, number 1 in the fall of 1955 for 6 weeks. Another march, with kudos to whoever plays the snare.
Sing Along – I guess this could be his theme song. Maybe it was, I have no idea.
The Bowery Grenadiers
Theme From Song For A Summer Night – A mellow sax tune, and yes, it does kind of conjure up a warm summer evening in July…
Silly Little Tune – A song about a song, one that sticks in your head and that you can’t get rid of, like this one of course….
The Children’s Marching Song – This is This Old Man, and it was a hit in the winter of 1959.
Do-Re-Mi – From early 1960. I guess this is from The Sound Of Music, though the movie wouldn’t come out for a few years yet
Hey, Betty Martin – I’ve never known anyone named Betty Martin, though I’ve probably known a Betty, and I’ve certainly known people whose surname is Martin.
Bonnie Eloise – I don’t think Bonnie is her name, I think she is bonnie, and her name is Eloise. I’ve never known anyone named Eloise, though I’ve known a Bonnie or two.
Walkin’ Down To Washington – A great march, this.
Hey Little Baby

Saturday, January 10, 2009

August 1955

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

  • Yellow Rose Of Texas - Mitch Miller

  • Good And Lonesome - Kaye Starr

  • Yellow Rose Of Texas - Johnny Desmond

  • Kentucky Song - The Hilltoppers

  • Popcorn Song - Clifford Stone

  • Maybelline - Chuck Berry

  • Wake The Town And Tell The People - Les Baxter

  • Fooled - Perry Como

  • The Bible Tells Me So - Nick Noble

  • Autumn Leaves - Roger Williams

  • Seventeen - The Fontane Sisters

  • Seventeen - Rusty Draper

  • Gum Drop - The Crew Cuts

  • Tina Marie - Perry Como

July 1955

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

  • House Of Blue Lights - Chuck Miller

  • Alabama Jubilee - Ferko String Band

  • Sweet And Gentle - Alan Dale

  • That Old Black Magic - Sammy Davis, Jr.

  • Story Untold - The Crew Cuts

  • Ain't That A Shame - Pat Boone

  • Pricilla Wright - The Man In The Rain Coat

  • Sweet And Gentle - Georgia Gibbs

  • Love Me Or Leave Me - Lena Horne

  • Ain't That A Shame - Fats Domino

  • The Bandit (O Cangaceiro) - Eddy Barclay

  • My One Sin - Nat King Cole

  • The Man In The Raincoat - Marion Marlowe

  • Experience Unnecessary - Sarah Vaughan

  • Hummingbird - Les Paul And Mary Ford

  • Razzle Dazzle - Bill Haley & His Comets

  • Two Hound Dogs - Bill Haley & His Comets

  • Seventeen - Boyd Bennet & His Rockets

  • Domani - Julius LaRosa

  • I'll Never Stop Loving You - Doris Day

  • The Bandit (O Cangaceiro) - Eddy Barclay

Frank Sinatra

I took a course in Project Management in 1999 / 2000. I did a project in a team of 8, and I was not the leader. No, I was the lead programmer. The project leader was a kid in his 20s named Franco. And Franco was a fan of Frank Sinatra. So he’d bring CDs to the computer lab and we’d listen to Sinatra while we worked. And I would tease him. Tony Bennett did this song better I’d say. And Franco would go nuts. WHAT?? TONY BENNETT?!?!?? YOU CRAZY???

The first few tracks come from some kind of collection that I picked up at the library, then the rest comes from The Best Of Frank Sinatra, which is his Capital stuff, then Frank Sinatra’s Greatest Hits and Frank Sinatra’s Greatest Hits Vol 2, both of which have his Reprise hits.
This is a small section of the 65 top 100 singles he had between 1955 and 1975.

Frank Sinatra:

Learnin’ The Blues – We just heard this by Gisele MacKenzie. A number one hit in the summer of ’55.
In The Wee Small Hours Of Morning
The Tender Trap – A song about falling in love. From winter 55 / 56.
As Time Goes By – From Casablanca. There are hundreds of versions, and even one by Harry Nilsson.
Young At Heart
Hey! Jealous Lover – A top 5 hit as 1956 drew to a close.
All The Way – A top 5 hit as 1957 drew to a close. Many people did this one, and check out Neil Sedaka.
Witchcraft – From winter ’58. cf That Old Black Magic.
Chicago – I was in Chicago in 1971, and I saw some obscure relatives, on my mother’s side, went to the science museum. Judy Garland did this too. It was a hit for Frankie in the autumn of ’57, the flip side of All The Way.
Come Dance With Me
Only The Lonely – The album this came from was called Frank Sinatra Sings for Only The Lonely, and it’s one of those albums that shows up in everyone’s list of great albums. This is not the Roy Orbison song.
High Hopes – A dumb song, sorry. From the fall of ’59.
Nice ‘N’ Easy – From the fall of 1960.
Put Your Dreams Away For Another Day
Strangers In The Night – The song that put Sinatra back on the map. This was number 1 in the summer of ’66.
Written by Bert Kaempfert
Summer Wind – One of those summer romance songs. From the autumn of ’66.
It Was A Very Good Year – A song of yearning, and nostalgia, and false memories. The orchestral arrangement is extraordinary, alternating full strings and pizzicato, with oboe obligato in just the right places. I’m guessing Nelson Riddle.
Somewhere In Your Heart – From the winter of 1965. It has those piano triplets going down, kind of like what Dean Martin’s records sounded like.
Forget Domani – It sounds like he is saying “forget the money.” From the summer of ’65. I don’t remember it.

Frank And Nancy Sinatra:

Somethin’ Stupid – Nancy, of course, was his daughter, and she had her own career. It’s a bit sick, I guess, this duet, which was number 1 in the spring of ’67.

Frank Sinatra:

That’s Life – With a cool organ lead, this was a hit in the winter of 1966 / 1967. Another episode of Philosophy with Frank.
Tell Her (You Love Her Each Day) – From the spring of ’65. That’s what she lives for, sings Frank. Just a bit condescending.
The World We Knew (Over And Over) – Poor guy is obsesses, but I can understand that. He should get over it though. From the summer of ’67.
When Somebody Loves You
This Town – I wonder who plays that harp. This is from the fall of ’67. I don’t know what town he’s singing about, but I suppose it could be anywhere.
Softly, As I Leave You – A beautiful song – cowardly, but beautiful. Matt Monroe put it in the UK chart in ’62, and Frankie put it in the charts in the fall of ’64.
My Way – A French song called Comme D’Habitude (roughly “Like Always” or literally “By Habit”). Paul Anka wrote English lyrics and handed it to Sinatra, who made something of a signature song out of it. Considering how closely this song is identified with Sinatra and his career, it’s surprising that it only ever reached number 27 on Billboard, and that was in the spring of ’69, just when labelmate Sammy Davis was singing I Gotta Be Me. Elvis did this later, and his version was also a hit, just after he died, but Frankie owns it. Anka himself recorded it, and his version is nothing to sneeze at.
A Man Alone
Cycles – A small hit in the fall of ’68, and a kind of precursor to My Way. I’ve always liked this one. Maybe it’s the faux Floyd Cramer piano
Green – This is the Kermit the Frog song from Sesame Street. It’s not so strange really, Van Morrison also did it.
Love’s Been Good To Me
I’m Not Afraid
Goin’ Out Of My Head – A hit for Little Anthony & The Imperials in 1964, and The Lettermen made a medley out of it in 1968, with Can’t Take My Eyes Off You, and Sinatra put it back on the chart toward the end of 1969.
Something – George Harrison wrote this, and The Beatles recorded it for Abbey Road. It was the only number 1 hit The Beatles had that Harrison wrote. You want to hear a good cover, listen to Joe Cocker. Sinatra does it ok, but he doesn’t really get it.
What’s Now Is Now – The aftermath of an affair. Frank is very big about it.
The September Of My Years – Bobby Goldsboro did The Autumn Of My Life. Same idea.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Gisele MacKenzie

Gisele MacKenzie is special because she is from Winnipeg, which is my home town. Maybe she was friends with Burton Cummings. Maybe she was friends with Burton Cummings' mother.

All I had here, until recently, was the hit, Hard To Get, but now I have the collection, Hard To Get: The Best Of Gisele MacKenzie on RCA, which isn’t hard to get. I got it from the library, but you can get if from Amazon.

Gisele MacKenzie:

Hard To Get – Her one big hit, this reached # 4 in the summer of ’55.
The Boston Fancy – Sounds a lot like Bonaparte’s Retreat. I’ve never been to Boston, but I know someone from there.
Unchained Melody – Her take on this is underwhelming.
Two Hearts, Two Kisses (Make One Love) – We have this by The Crew Cuts
Play Me Hearts And Flowers (I Wanna Cry) – A hit for Johnny Desmond, but this is the only version that I have.
Beyond The Sea – La Mer originally. I have this by Bobby Darin, who had a hit with it in 1960. Ms MacKenzie does it well, even sings part of it in French, but she doesn’t sound much like a French Canadian…
The Star You Wished Upon Last Night – Cute, this. A minor hit in the autumn of 1956.
Dinner For One Please, James – Another bilingual performance
The River Seine – This one in French
Ebb Tide – One of those 50s standards, a hit for The Righteous Brothers in 1965.
Cherry Pink And Apple Blossom White – A hit for Perez Prado, and for Alan Dale. She sings it in French.
This I Know
Song From Moulin Rouge – A hit for Percy Faith, with vocals by Felicia Sanders. This is a very similar performance, and it’s not bad.
Too Young – The Nat King Cole hit.
Tell Me That You Love Me
Answer Me, My Love – Another Nat King Cole hit.
Learnin’ The Blues – A hit for Frank Sinatra.
Hey There – A hit for Rosemary Clooney, for Sammy Davis Jr, and for Johnny Ray.
Pepper Hot Baby – A minor hit in the fall of ’55.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Slim Whitman

Slim Whitman was a country singer, who only ever had one hit on the top 100, and that was I’ll Take You Home Again, Kathleen, which isn’t on here. But he had 7 top 20 singles on the UK charts.

This album is called The Very Best Of Slim Whitman.

Slim Whitman:

North Wind
Secret Love – A hit for Doris Day.
Rose Marie – This is not the Grateful Dead song, which was Rosemarie anyway. This song reached number 1 in the summer of ’55 in England.
Cattle Call – A hit for Eddy Arnold. Whitman does it well.
Indian Love Call – You’d have to call this First Nations Love Call now. A hit in the summer of ’55. Ray Stevens redid it.
More Than Yesterday
Twelfth Of Never – A hit for Johnny Mathis.
Guess Who – Another Johnny Mathis hit.
Something Beautiful To Remember
It’s A Sin To Tell A Lie – A hit for Somethin’ Smith And The Redheads

Clifton Chenier

This is just some token zydeco. It’s a distillation of a box set called Zydeco Dynamite: The Clifton Chenier Anthology that I got at the WK library.

Clifton Chenier:

Le Petite Fleur – The little flower
Baby Please
It Happened So Fast
Hey Ma Ma – Sounds suspiciously like Hey La Bas by Fats Domino
Ai Ai Ai
Bon Ton Roulet
Hot Rod
I Am Coming Home – This bears a passing resemblance to Sam Cooke’s Bring It On Home To Me
Tu Le Sien Son Ton (Once In A While)
Zydeco Cha Cha
Tighten Up Zydeco – No relation to Tighten Up by Archie Bell & The Drells
Cotton Picker Blues
My Babe – The Willie Dixon song. Done also by Ricky Nelson, Little Walter, and Gerry & The Pacemakers.
Road Runner – Not the Bo Diddley song and not the Jr. Walker & The All Stars song.
I’m The Zydeco Man
What’d I Say – The Ray Charles song, zydeco-style.
Hot Tamale Baby

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Caterina Valente

Whenever I think of Cheapo I get weepy.

I discovered Cheapo in 1986. I was in the twin cities, that’s Minneapolis / St. Paul, and the Cheapo location I discovered was on Snelling in St. Paul. And it was treasure house of second-hand LPs. A Treasure house.

I picked up Sam The Sham & The Pharaohs and Bobby Blue Bland and Caterena Valente. I went back in 89, and again in 95. Last time I went they had on store on one side of the street that sold CDs, and another store on the other side of the street that sold LPs, and I got a handful of reissued 45s.

I still have the business card, it shows 5 locations in greater Minneapolis, and 2 in St. Paul. They are still around, and their web site shows only 3 locations one of which is in Fridley. And I don’t know where Fridley is. But the store on Snelling is still there, so there is hope for the world yet…

And so that’s where I got this Catarena Valente album.

Caterina Valente:

Poinciana – A song about a tree
More – This is the theme from Mondo Cane. It was a hit for Kai Winding, but there are hundreds of versions. Caterina sings it partially in Italian, with a samba rhythm.
La Paloma – A hit for Billy Vaughn.
The Peanut Vendor
What A Difference A Day Made – A jazz standard and a hit for Dinah Washington
The Breeze And I – This seems to have been her only hit, and that was in the spring of ’55. The Tordadoes recorded an instrumental version, and it was on the flip of Ride The Wind, which was their obscure follow-up to Telstar.
La Golondrina
Besame Mucho – Written in 1940, in Spanish, this is an English-Spanish language version. Others versions are by The Beatles, The Coasters, The Trammps.
My Shawl – A story song about an article of clothing.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Sammy Davis Jr.

Probably working next door to an HMV outlet wasn’t the best idea in the world. It was happenstance. I got transferred to a new office in the spring of ’94, and the music store just happened to be next to the office.

Considering, I didn’t spend so much there. I remember buying Still Cruisin’ by The Beach Boys, two Stones singles from Steel Wheels, with non-lp b sides, a Poco box set.
I’d chat with the cashier:

Me: (hearing an unfamiliar version of Tears On My Pillow): who is this?
Cashier: Kylie Minogue
Me: Ah. I knew it wasn’t Little Anthony & The Imperials.
Cashier: No. … Um … Who?
Me: Little Anthony & The Imperials
Cashier: They did this?
Me: Yes. They did the original in 1957.
Cashier: Oh.
Cashier: You wanna work here?

But it seems to me that I bought at least one Sammy Davis Jr. CD there, that would have been The Decca Years. And maybe others.

I know that I went to great lengths to put this collection together. The other CD I used here was called Greatest Hits. And there seems to have been one more but I can’t remember it. There was an LP which was the original Reprise Greatest Hits, And Don’t Blame The Children came straight off the single.

I lost the CDs in 2006, in a break-in, in a house I had not moved into yet. I replaced some of the CDs, but not those.

And I can’t say anything about Sammy Davis Jr. himself that you don’t already know…

Sammy Davis Jr.:

Something’s Gotta Give – From the summer of 1955. The Fontane Sisters did this also.
Hey There – A big hit for Rosemary Clooney. Sammy did it in the fall of ’54, and not as well as Rosemary. Also Johnny Ray had a crack at it.
The Birth Of The Blues – Musical history as only Sammy can do it.
Easy To Love – I’m convinced that nobody is easy to love. But easy is not the point.
Love Me Or Leave Me – Sammy does an up-tempo scat-laden version of what is usually presented as a smoky barroom ballad. This was the flip of Something’s Gotta Give, and was also a hit in the summer of ’55.
Stan’ Up An’ Fight
Because Of You – A hit for Les Baxter and for Tony Bennett. Sammy does a cut-up impression-laden version.
Too Close For Comfort
That Old Black Magic – From spring / summer of ’55. A hit for Louis Prima & Keely Smith, and later for Bobby Rydell.
New York’s My Home – Montreal’s my home. I live 8 hours away by car, and I’ve never been to NYC. Call me deprived. This is from the fall of ’56.
There’s A Small Hotel – A little hanky panky never hurt anyone…
Six Bridges To Cross
Frankie And Johnny – Frankie is a girl. Johnny is a boy. Frankie kills Johnny. Oops. So many versions of this, Sam Cooke, Brook Benton, Elvis, even Dylan did it, though he called it Frankie And Albert.
My Funny Valentine – An old standard
I’m A Brass Band – He was that loud…
All Of You – A bit weird this: “I’d like to gain complete control of you, handle the heart and soul of you.” Doesn’t sound healthy to me…
Change Partners – Not the Patti Page song. Same idea though. Sammy schemes to get the girl away from her guy, get the waiter to tell him he’s wanted on the phone…
After Today
Fabulous Places – Theme for a travel agent
Where Are The Words
New York City Blues – Another tribute to the big apple.
I’m Always Chasing Rainbows – Aren’t we all.
All The Good Things In Life – A song about the vicissitudes of life.
The People Tree – From the fall of ’72. Here is where he is trying to milk the success of The Candy Man, except The Candy Man was # 1, this was # 92.
The Good Life – A hit for Tony Bennett. I also have a version by Bobby Darin
Please Don’t Take Your Time
At The Crossroads – Of life, he is at the crossroads of life. Very positive, upbeat, a bit saccharine. Not to be confused with Crossroads by Robert Johnson / Cream.
She Believes In Me – A nice sentiment. “I know I’ll never be the man I think I am, but I don’t give a damn, as long as she believes in me.”
Come Back To Me / Birth Of The Blues – A live track featuring Buddy Rich on drums, as Sammy points out off the top. This version of Birth Of The Blues is the same as the standalone version that we heard before. A bit sloppy of me. I’m not sure why these songs go together.
I’ve Gotta Be Me – This wasn’t a huge hit (it reached number 11 on Billboard in the winter of 1969) but it was a defining song for Davis. It’s possible that I heard it on the radio but I don’t remember. And you won’t hear it often on oldies radio. But the sentiment is very real: “I can’t be right for somebody else if I’m not right for me.” Seems I took this off the original I Gotta Be Me album, though I had it on a CD.
What Kind Of Fool Am I – This was one of his best known recordings, but it only ever made # 17, and that was in the fall of ’62. Lot of people did this, and Robert Goulet put it into the top 100.
If I Ruled The World – It was Tony Bennett who put this on the charts, and Stevie Wonder covered it, but not well. I guess we could paraphrase it as If I Were God.
• Gonna Build A Mountain
As Long As She Needs Me – This is from … what … Oliver? There are more versions of this that you can shake a stick at. A minor hit in the winter of ’63.
Once In A Lifetime
Hey There – This is a re-recording. He did the original in 1954 on Decca, and this is about 10 years later on Reprise. It’s a bit more jazzy.
The Shelter Of Your Arms – This is what Sammy was putting on the charts as the Beatles were invading America, that was winter, 1964.
Birth Of The Blues – I don’t know why this is here again.
Talk To The Animals – From Doctor Doolittle. There is no getting around the fact that this is a very dumb song.
On A Clear Day (You Can See Forever) – From the musical. This is the scat version
Yes I Can – “I can do anything, yes I can.” Another personal statement of can-do prowess. This was the name of his autobiography, which I read and which I have on a shelf somewhere. I can sort of relate to this these days… “I have just found the key…”
Don’t Blame The Children – A bit of social commentary. From the summer of ’67.
The Candy Man – This was huge. The radio played it about five times an hour. That was in the spring and summer of ’72. And it’s dumb. It’s just plain dumb. It’s not one of those songs that it’s so bad it’s good. This one’s just bad. You can even eat the dishes?
Spinning Wheel – The Blood Sweat & Tears hit. Sammy isn’t the best rock singer in the world.
What Kind Of Fool Am I – A live version
Birth Of The Blues – A different live version.
Didn’t We – A Jimmy Webb song, recorded by Richard Harris.
As Long As She Needs Me – Live
You’re Nobody Till Somebody Loves You – A hit for The Mills Brothers, and for Dean Martin.
You’ve Made Me So Very Happy – Originally by Brenda Holloway but better known by Blood Sweat & Tears. As talented as Sammy is, David Clayton-Thomas needn’t have lost any sleep.
Exodus – From the movie, which is from the Leon Uris novel. It was a hit for Ferrante & Teicher, and for Mantovani and for Eddie Harris. But none of those recordings had words.
Time To Ride
Mr. Bojangles – By Jerry Jeff Walker, a hit for The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and recorded by everyone from Bob Dylan to Neil Diamond to Harry Nilsson. Nilsson’s version is best of course, and I like the Dirt Band. Davis’ version is so-so.
I’m Over 25 – But You Can Trust Me – A message song. Duh
Singin’ In The Rain – This is waaaay too happy…
I Want To Be Happy
Willoughby Grove
Have A Little Talk With Myself – A hit for Ray Stevens


One recording I was never able to find was a 45 released by a Saskatoon group in 1967. The group was called Witness Inc and the record was their version of "Jezebel"; I remember when it was in the Canadian Top Five on our local top 40 station (CKRC).

I've been able to find some pretty obscure stuff in used record stored and places like the Salvation Army Thrift store, where I found their 45 "Visions Of Venessa." I don't remember hearing that song on the radio.
But it was at Pyramid Records that I found the Herman's Hermits album There's A Kind Of Hush All Over The World and there right in the middle (I can't remember if it closed out side 1 or began side 2) was "Jezebel" in all its glory, exactly the way I remember Witness Inc doing it, and I marvelled at the fact that this famous English band was covering an obscure Canadian group whose records hadn't even been released outside Canada.

Well yes I know it was the other way around; still I didn't give up looking for it. I found records by The Fifth, Gettysburg Address, The Eternals, The Shondels, all Winnipeg groups, (the Shondels not to be confused with Tommy James and the Shondels), but "Jezebel" has existed for me only in my memory.

Until now. I found it. Unfortunately I didn't find a physical copy - not on vinyl, not on CD, not even on mp3. But here it is on YouTube. So I can't pick it up and take it with me. But I know now that there is at least one other person in the world that not only remembers this record, but actually has a copy, and treasures it enough to upload it and share with weirdos like me. Not just that, but now I'm sitting listening to all these Witness Inc that I never heard and never even knew existed, and man, I am GROOOOOOVIN….

Thursday, January 1, 2009

January 1, 2009

I'm not about to provide you with a list of the best of 2008. I couldn't if I tried.

So instead here is a random list of 10 records that I am especially partial to. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Maybe I'll do again in a month...

Count Me In - Gary Lewis & The Playboys

Gary Lewis couldn’t really sing his way out of a paper bag, but put him together with Glen Hardin, and Snuffy Garrett, and whoever else helped on this…
Listen to how the piano plays against the ting ting ting thing. Listen to the drum rolls between lines in the verse, the syncopated piano, whatever it is that zings, and you will not get a more heartfelt expression of devotion.

Flying On The Ground Is Wrong - The Guess Who

This song was written by Neil Young, and Buffalo Springfield put it on their first album, with Ritchie Furay singing, and it’s beautiful, though nobody ever seemed to realize it, the song not having been included on any BS compliation.

But then fellow Winnipegger Burton Cummings thought that it wouldn’t be a bad single. And so the pre-famous Guess Who recorded it, back in 1967, and it’s one of those songs that I sang to each one of my kids when they were babies, and I still sing it, and I will sing it to my grandchildren. And how those lines take on a new meaning: “I wish I could have met you in a place where we both belonged..”

The Night Has A Thousand Eyes - Bobby Vee

I learned this from the first Gary Lewis & The Playboys album, and I didn’t hear the original until I was an adult. Bobby Vee was one of those teen idols, and his songs could be silly, and this one is silly too, but in a transcendent kind of way.

The tune is beautiful, Bobby sings it well, and the tinkling on the cymbal on the chorus perfectly reflects those nighttime musings...

One More Heartache by Marvin Gaye

Gold Park is just a playground really, and it was a night in September, 2006, and I was walking thru there and my Walkman was playing this song, the version by The Butterfield Blues Band, and I just got into that bass riff, and where my personal life was at right about then, the song found a deep place to live.

So I think of Gold Park, and scraps of my life, and where I’m headed, and the way Marvin Gaye sings of heartache, it’s almost physical pain we hear, and that groove…

Forget Him by Bobby Rydell

I learned this from the same Gary Lewis album. The song is so darn sad, so pleading, and so real.

Reason To Believe - Rod Stewart

Tim Hardin wrote this, and he recorded it with a typically low-key arrangement. And everyone had a crack at it: The Youngbloods, Cher, Gary Lewis & The Playboys, Bobby Darin, Peter, Paul & Mary, The Carpenters, etc.

Rod Stewart came along and blew all the competition out of the water. “If I listen long enough to you” he sings while the piano pounds the truth behind him. “I’d find a way to believe that it’s all true.” The electric violin provides the beauty, the serenity, the poetry, and Rod’s voice provides the heartache, the pain, the reality, his heroic efforts to sing the a capella notes on key mirrored by the efforts to believe in the lie, to make something out of something other.

Midnight Train To Georgia by Gladys Knight & The Pips

tap tap tap tap tap …tap
It’s those six taps on the drum that make this a great record. That and the bass.

Lover's Cross by Jim Croce

I’ve been a Croce fan since the time I bought his first two albums from The Record Club Of Canada, just before it disappeared off the face of the earth. I could probably pick any of 2 dozen songs for this list, and undoubtedly I will. This is for anybody who has been in a relationship where the expectations were too high.

Castles In The Air by Don McLean

Don McLean did this on his first album, which was called Tapestry, and he redid it later, but the remake sucks. But the original, McLean delivers it with such elegance and beauty and honesty that it’s easy to miss the “I’m a lowlife” message in the lyrics.

Hooked On A Feeling by B. J. Thomas

Another one where all the elements meld – the tune, the lyrics, the sitar, the percussion, B.J.’s great baritone…
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