Thursday, March 31, 2011

Bert Kaempfert

Bert Kaempfert This would be another of those “other people’s greatest hits” – he does songs by Sinatra, Al Martino, Nat King Cole, Wayne Newton – but for the fact the Kaempfert actually wrote these songs, co-wrote them actually; someone else wrote the words.

You can look him up on Wikipedia to get a list of his impressive musical accomplishments. But what the article doesn’t say is that Kaempfert was the first to record The Beatles. He used them as a backup band for second string singer Tony Sheridan, while they were in Hamburg. He let them do two songs without Sheridan – Ain’t She Sweet with John singing, and Cry For A Shadow, an instrumental.

The album, The Very Best Of Bert Kaempfert, is a double, and it has 7 of the 11 songs that made the Billboard top 100. It has been reissued on CD with a shorter running order.

Bert Kaempfert:

  • Strangers In The Night – This could be taking place in a singles bar, but that would take all the romance out of it. This K original single-handedly rejuvenated Frank Sinatra’s career in 1966.
  • Red Roses For A Blue Lady – The song was written in 1948 and was a hit by Vaughn Monroe. Winter of 1965 saw three competing versions: one by Vic Dana, one by Wayne Newton, and this one. Odd that K’s biggest hits were songs he did not write. I did not understand, being 8 years old and hearing this, why the lady was blue. I did not know then that “blue” meant “sad.” This is, in any event, great ballroom stuff.
  • Lady – Back to originals here. A hit for Jack Jones in 1967. Not the Styx song.
  • Bye Bye Blues – From the winter of 1966, very jaunty. Bye bye blues indeed.
  • Wiederseh’n – Goodbye by any other name…
  • L-O-V-E – Love in the abstract and love by letters, a hit for Nat King Cole in 1964. It’s better without the words.
  • Remember When (We Made These Memories)
  • The World We Knew (Over And Over) – Another one that Sinatra ran away with. That was in the summer of ’67.
  • That Happy Feeling – Tell me about it…From the summer of 1962.
  • Three O’Clock In The Morning – Another hit that he didn’t write, from the spring of 1965.
  • Caravan – By Duke Ellington. This song took on a life of its own, with versions strung as far afield as Nat King Cole (with words) on one end, to The Ventures on the other. Not the Van Morrison song.
  • Danke Schoen – You’re welcome. Another of K’s creations, this one became Wayne Newton’s signature song, in the summer of 1963.
  • Spanish Eyes (Moon Over Naples) – And they keep on coming. This one was a hit for Al Martino in the summer of ’66, and it was recorded by thousands. The original was a hit in the summer of 1965.
  • Hold Me
  • Sweet Maria
  • Hold Back The Dawn – I used to have a version of this by Al Jurreau.
  • Afrikaan Beat – It’s been suggested that this was the beginning of World Music. Maybe. From the winter of 1962.
  • Wonderland By Night – His first and biggest hit. He had competition from Louis Prima (a similar trumpet arranged recording) and from Anita Bryant (with words) but K won hands down, his version reaching number 1 in the winter of 1961. I Can’t Help Remembering You
  • You Are My Sunshine – He gives it his best effort but it’s still You Are My Sunshine.
  • Balkan Melody
  • Steppin’ Pretty
  • A Swinging’ Safari – A winner. Billy Vaughn did a note for note copy and put the song into the top 20 in 1962.

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