Sunday, July 31, 2011

Kenny Ball

Judging by the popularity of Oasis, the best thing that happened to the 90s was the 60s. And judging by the popularity of Kenny Ball, the best thing that happened to the 60s was the 30s. Retro has become retro.

In the words of Paul Du Noyer (In The City, page 90):

…the country was swept by a zany fad for strangely dressed men in bowler hats and waistcoats, plucking banjos, blowing clarinets and generally wowing a self-consciously eccentric student audience.

It was great fun when taken in the right spirit.

This is an eight track collection called Midnight In Moscow, credited to “Kenny Ball” though the original recordings were by “Kenny Ball And His Jazzmen.” It’s a pre-recorded cassette, and I have no idea whether it was ever released in any other format.

Kenny Ball & His Jazzmen:

I Love You, Samantha – The 60s sitcom Bewitched co-opted the name "Samantha" for all time, so it’s well nigh impossible to hear this song without conjuring up images of the domestic witch married to the advertising agent. From the winter of 1961.
Someday (You’ll Be Sorry) – How we console ourselves we our hearts are broken. It’s bogus, she won’t be sorry.
March Of The Siamese Children – I hate to think where they may have been marching to. From the winter of 1962. This was one of Ball’s few North American chart entries – it reached number 88 in the US, number 3 in the UK.
Midnight In Moscow – His signature tune, a good eight years before McCartney weighed in with Back In The USSR. This was an actual Russian song, with Russian words, but Ball wisely rendered it as an instrumental, and it’s a catchy tune beyond words. From the fall of 1961 (UK) or the winter of 62 (US), this was a top 5 hit on both continents.
Sukiyaki – I’m not sure how this happened, but Ball’s cover of the Kyu Sakamoto hit was a hit before the original. From the winter of 1963.
Rondo – A jazzed up arrangement of the Mozart’s Rondo a la Turk.
I Still Love You All – Good. We were concerned. From the spring of 1961.
From Russia With Love – Ball tackles Bond.
When I’m Sixty-Four – Ball is just the guy to cover this oddball Beatle track from Sgt Pepper.

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