Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Skyliners

The Skyliners 40 odd tracks seems like a lot for a group that were only ever known for 1 song, and it’s true, it is a lot of tracks. The group actually placed 6 songs in the top 100, 3 of them in the top 40.

For many years I only had that one track in my collection; recently I found this double CD at the downtown library. It’s called 40th Anniversary Edition, though edition of what isn’t clear. Still, with all those tracks, one is missing, though it’s easily explained – it’s on Capital, the rest are on Calico (one on Jubilee, but it’s here). It’s also much later, 1975.

It’s a bit much, all this, the group’s style didn’t vary much from one song to the next, and at the end they tack on outtakes, which, honestly, don’t sound much different from the non-outtakes.

But they are here, in all their glory…

The Skyliners:

Since I Don’t Have You – Tin Pan Alley meets 50s R & B, though this was a white group. Poor Jimmy, his whole world is crumbling, and all he can do is sing about it, and sing he does, amidst the collapse of his dreams, the shattering of his pride, the pizzicato of the violins, and the otherworldly beauty of the orchestration. It’s all a little nuts but it not matters not a whit. From the spring of 1959.
One Night, One Night – The old theme. It’s not the Elvis song (One Night With You) but it may as well be.
This I Swear – Musically this is Since I Don’t Have You redux, lyrically it’s about the eternity of love. To hear Jimmy and the group sing it, I believe every word. From the summer of 1959.
Tomorrow – Not the Little Orphan Annie song, not the The Strawberry Alarm Clock song. This is same idea as Will You Love Me Tomorrow, but it’s a guy singing, and it’s got a honking sax.
It Happened Today – What did? He got a job? He hit puberty? He won the lottery? No of course not. Why, his dreams came true. That’s all. From the fall of 1959.
My Lonely Way – Just another heartbreak song, except for that falsetto at the end…
Lorraine From Spain – Very Coasters-like
How Much – There was a commercial once, with a guy trying to buy a duck call, and he kept asking the store guy how much, but they guy kept firing questions back, cash or credit, take it with you or delivery, but the customer kept saying how much! I can’t remember what it was a commercial for. And… oh yeah, this is a love song.
Pennies From Heaven – Pure Tin Pan Alley, done in Tin Pan Alley style. An actual hit in the summer of 1960.
I’ll Be Seeing You – Another old standard, done old standard style. They are better when they do the R & B stuff, though the harmonies are nice here.
Happy Time – Not about drinking. Really it’s just another love song. You know, maybe it’s my imagination, but it seems that there’s a very subtle undertone of melancholy here, but it may be, as I said, my imagination.
Believe Me – Not The Royal Teens song. Bells here, though I’m not sure why.
Stardust – Oh my, what next. Another oldie, this revived in the early 60 by Nino Tempo & April Stevens, who put it back on the chart.
Footsteps – I don’t think this is the same song that Steve Lawrence did, but it’s hard to tell with all that stuff going on in the background. It definitely sounds like the group is singing “shut up shut up” in the background.
Tired Of Me – An odd way to express a broken romance, but it’s hard to keep the idea fresh I suppose.
When I Fall In Love – It’s the girl singer that takes the lead on this, which is appropriate, but she doesn’t stand up to Doris Day. Sorry. The Lettermen put this on the chart in 1962.
Zing Went The Strings Of My Heart – Totally old fashioned, the song, the performance. Done famously by Judy Garland, but check out The Coasters’ version for the definitive version (copied later lick for lick by The Move and The Trammps).
Warm – The wonders of falling in love presented as a weather report.
If I Loved You – From Carousel. It was recorded by about a million people; I have Perry Como, and Chad & Jeremy, who put it on the chart in 1965.
I Can Dream, Can’t I – Yet another old standard.
Blossoms In The Snow – About how love grows in the most trying of circumstances, set in an arrangement that suggests the easiest of circumstances.
The Door Is Still Open To My Heart – A hit for Dean Martin.
I’ll Close My Eyes - … and dream it’s you, sings our hero. Love as blindness.
Close Your Eyes – A hit for The Five Keys. These guys, and especially the Janet girl, stick pretty close to the original. A hit later for Peaches & Herb.
Our Love Will Last – Jimmy takes a break on this, hands over the vocal to Janet, and the result is more of an R & B feel, but less idiosyncricity. On lead vocal she loses that ethereal quality.
Comes Love – I bet it does.
Tell Me – One of the most pathetic self-pity song ever. Tell me, he asks, when’s it all gonna end? My goodness. Not The Rolling Stones song.
I’d Die –A bit too morbid for my liking.
Since I Fell For You – A song that turns up here and there, originally by The Harptones in the early 50; a hit for Lenny Welch about 10 years later.
The Loser – Suitably morose. From the summer of 1965. You didn’t think the group was still around then, did you? The style on this is very much in keeping with what mid tempo R & B sounded like in the mid 60s.
I Could Have Loved You So Well – Not so, you did the best you could.
Where Have They Gone – A song of nostalgia, complete with bird sounds.
The Day That The Clown Cried – Stand in line behind Smokey Robinson, Lou Christie, The Platters etc etc.
You’re My Christmas Present – A Christmas based on the Since I Don’t Have You idea. They uses the Dickens idea, doing a pun on “present.”
Another Lonely New Year’s Eve – I know that sad music is supposed to be sad, but this is just too sad.
Since I Don’t Have You (Outtake) – Virtually indistinguishable from the released version., as are all the following…
One Night, One Night (Outtake)
This I Swear (Outtake)
My Lonely Way (Outtake)
Tired Of Me (Outtake)

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