News for the ‘Pop Vocal’ Category

Groovy Ghouls and Haunted Hits – The Ultimate Halloween Playlist by Eric Berman


Groovy Ghouls and Haunted Hits – The Ultimate Halloween Playlist by Eric Berman

For your Halloween party pleasure, cue this ghoulish playlist up in Spotify!

  1. This Is Halloween from the Nightmare before Christmas
  2. Monster Mash – Bobby Boris Pickett
  3. Boris the Spider – The Who
  4. Haunted House – Sam the Sham & the Pharaohs
  5. I Put a Spell on You – Screamin’ Jay Hawkins
  6. Theme from the Munsters – Billy Strange
  7. The Blob – The Five Blobs
  8. The Adams Family Main Theme – Vic Mizzy
  9. Purple People Eater – Sheb Wooley
  10. Witch Doctor – David Seville
  11. They’re Comin’ to Take Me Away – Napoleon XIV
  12. Frankenstein – Edgar Winter Group
  13. Welcome to My Nightmare – Alice Cooper
  14. Witchy Woman – The Eagles
  15. Season of the Witch – Donovan
  16. Hocus Pocus – Focus
  17. Don’t Fear the Reaper – Blue Oyster Cult
  18. Thriller – Michael Jackson
  19. Ghostbusters – Ray Parker Jr.
  20. Dead Man’s Party – Oingo Boingo
  21. Ghost Town – The Specials
  22. Twilight Zone – Golden Earring
  23. Somebody’s Watching Me – Rockwell
  24. Abracadabra – Steve Miller Band
  25. Werewolves of London – Warren Zevon
  26. Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps) – David Bowie
  27. The Creature from the Black Lagoon – Dave Edmunds
  28. Pet Semetary – Ramones
  29. Zombie Zoo – Tom Petty
  30. Devil Inside – INXS
  31. I Want Candy – Bow Wow Wow

Edited: October 30th, 2014

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Graduation Day” by The Beach Boys


Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Graduation Day” by The Beach Boys

The Four Freshman took this song to the top twenty back in 1956 and the Wilson brothers were listening. And while The Beach Boys certainly were influenced by the Freshmen, the Freshmen were in turn influenced by vocal groups of the Big Band Era like The Pied Pipers and The Modernaires, as well as the close harmonies employed by numerous Barbershop Quartets that came before them. The song celebrates a rite of passage that many are embarking upon as we speak. I was torn between choosing this vocal group gem, or to let it all hang out and go with “School’s Out” by Alice Cooper.

Edited: June 5th, 2014

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 8/31/13 – “That Old Black Magic” by Tony Bennett with The Dave Brubeck Trio

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Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “That Old Black Magic” by Tony Bennett with The Dave Brubeck Trio

Every so often the reissue gods bestow upon us a truly special recording that music fans never knew existed.  Recently, one such recording was unleashed upon an unsuspecting public by our friends at Sony Legacy, featuring a musical summit that took place between Tony Bennett and Dave Brubeck on August 28, 1962 at The White House.

The event was a special concert recorded at the Sylvan Theater (at the base of the Washington Monument) welcoming a new group of volunteers (or interns as they are now called) that had come to Washington DC to work for the government.

The show captures the two entertainers at the height of their powers. Bennett’s “I Left My Heart In San Francisco” had been released 17 days prior to the event and was climbing the charts. Brubeck was basking in the afterglow of his classic “Take Five” recording. It was also the first time of two, that Bennett and Brubeck shared the stage together in concert. Fans would have to wait until the 2009 Newport Jazz Festival to see them perform together again on the same stage.

How a recording this vibrant and important remained in the vaults for over fifty years is a mystery to me. According to the liner notes, the recording of “That Old Black Magic” from the show had been used on a compilation album over 40 years ago, lending credibility that a tape of the whole show might exist somewhere within the vaults of Sony Music. After many years of super sleuthing by Sony archivist Matt Kelly, a tape of the concert labeled “An American Jazz Concert” was found filed among classical recordings from the era, with no reference to whom the performers were.

The show begins with introductions by radio personality William B. Williams, followed by a set performed by The Dave Brubeck Quartet. At the time, the Quartet consisted of Brubeck on piano, Paul Desmond on alto sax, Eugene Wright on bass and Joe Morello on drums. The group launches into a quick tempo version of “Take Five,” and follows it with three Brubeck originals, “Nomad,” “Thank You” and “Castilian Blues.” The group is captured in fine form, particularly Morello whose drum solo on “Castilian Blues” is a highlight.

Next up is a set by Tony Bennett backed by his longtime accompanist Ralph Sharon on piano, with Hal Gaylor on bass and Billy Exiner on drums. Bennett’s set includes fan favorites “Just In Time,” “Small World” (from the musical Gypsy, “Make Someone Happy,” “Rags To Riches,” “One For My Baby (And One More For The Road)” and “I Left My Heart In San Francisco.” He still performs most of these songs when he takes the stage today at the tender age of 87.

What next ensues was a truly special, totally unrehearsed set by Bennett backed by The Brubeck Trio (Paul Desmond sat this set out) featuring the two sparring together on “Lullaby Of Broadway,” “Chicago (That Toddlin’ Town),” “There Will Never Be Another You,” and today’s Song Of The Day, “That Old Black Magic,” featuring a terrific piano solo by Brubeck.

“It was very spontaneous – a real jam session, where you really don’t plan what you’re going to sing or how you’re going to play it,” said Bennett, “I just gave Dave the key and the song, and we just went for it.”

The sound quality of the recording is in-your-face crystal clear, giving the listener the immediacy of traveling back in time and being there for the actual event. It’s is indeed amazing that a recording of this vintage and of such high quality has remained unreleased in the vaults so long. Who knows what other gems may lurk in the deepest and darkest crevices of the record company vaults.

Only time will tell…

Edited: August 30th, 2013

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 1/18/13

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Waters Of March” by Art Garfunkel

Art Garfunkel certainly missed his calling during his post Simon & Garfunkel solo career. If ever an artist was better suited to cut a Bossa Nova album, it was Art Garfunkel who possesses a gentle, smooth voice and impressive octave range to match. Proof positive is his recording of the Antonio Carlos Jobim classic “Waters Of March” from his second solo record, 1975’s “Breakaway.”

“Waters Of March” was written by Antonio Carlos Jobim in both English and Portuguese (“Águas de Março”) and appeared on his 1973 album called “Jobim.” Although, the Bossa Nova craze was in the early 1960s, the song has since become a standard part of the repertoire, covered numerous times by the likes of Sérgio Mendes & Brasil ’77, David Byrne and Marisa Monte, Al Jarreau, John Pizzarelli, Rosemary Clooney, and dozens of others.

“Breakaway “was a high water mark for Garfunkel that generated three top 40 singles: “I Only Have Eyes For You” (US #18, UK #1), “Breakaway” (US #39) and the Simon And Garfunkel reunion duet, “My Little Town,” which peaked at #9. Further driving the popularity of the record was the Simon And Garfunkel reunion that took place on TV’s “Saturday Night Live,” which at the time was the hip epicenter of the media world.

The Richard Perry produced album was an all-star affair featuring a who’s who of backing talent including appearances by David Crosby, Graham Nash, Andrew Gold, Nicky Hopkins, Jim Keltner, Jim Gordon, Barry Beckett, Larry Knechtel, Russ Kunkel, Joe Osborne, Bill Payne, Klaus Voorman, Toni Tennille, Stephen Bishop and Leland Sklar.

Not only were the hits great, but there were quite a few non-singles that have become central to Garfunkel’s repertoire, including the Bruce Johnston penned “Disney Girls,” “99 Miles From L.A.” with lyrics by Hal David and a terrific cover of Stevie Wonder’s “I Believe (When I Fall In Love It Will Be Forever.”

Word is that Garfunkel’s voice isn’t what it used to be, so I guess a Bossa Nova album coming from him today would be too much to ask…however, I’ll bet he could still pull it off…

Edited: January 17th, 2013

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 1/5/13

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “So In Love” by Patti Page

Patti Page was different things to different people. To some, she was the first cross-over country star whose plaintive country hits reached an even wider audience by crossing over into the pop charts (“The Tennessee Waltz”), to others she was a sugary-sweet singer who recorded a lot of dross (“Doggie In The Window”), and yet, to others she was a pioneer of multi-track recording, painstakingly recording her voice numerous times over existing recordings of her voice to create layered symphonies of sound with breathtakingly perfect harmonies (“Old Cape Cod”).

She was also an adept vocalist comfortable with belting out big brassy arrangements (“Confess”) and silky smooth pop confections (“You Belong To Me”). Page was all of these things, and on today’s Song Of The Day, she was also a sultry and sophisticated jazz vocalist capable of manipulating her precious pipes to fit the nuances of songs less talented vocalist couldn’t possibly pull off. Patti’s version of “So In Love,” from the musical Kiss Me Kate, was recorded in 1948.

“The Singing Rage, Miss Patti Page” was the best-selling female artist of the 1950s, selling over 100 million records. Her recording of “Tennessee Waltz” sold 10 million copies alone, even though it started its life as the B-side of the Christmas novelty song “Boogie Woogie Santa Claus.” Once DJ’s flipped the record, the rest was history!

Page benefitted by working under the tutelage of record producer, Mitch Miller, who urged her to tackle music of all different kinds of genres resulting in hits like “Down The Trail Of Aching Hearts,” “Detour,” “Conquest” (mariachi flavored novelty, covered by The White Stripes of all groups), “Changing Partners,” “Cross Over The Bridge,” “Let Me Go, Lover!,” “Allegheny Moon,” and “Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte.”

It was Miller who introduced her to Les Paul and multi-track recording when background vocalists were unavailable during a recording strike in the late 1940s, resulting in monster hits like “Confess,” “Mockin’ Bird Hill,” “Old Cape Cod” and “With My Eyes Wide Open, I’m Dreaming.”

In addition to her music career, Page was a mainstay of TV variety shows, most notably “The Patti Page Show.” On the movie screen, she appeared opposite Burt Lancaster in “Elmer Gantry” (1960) and co-starred with David Janssen in “Dondi” (1961). She also had a supporting role in the comedy “Boys’ Night Out” (1962) with Kim Novak and James Garner.

While working with Reader’s Digest back in 1995, I had the pleasure of anthologizing Patti Page’s career into a 63 track, 3-CD collection including every one of her important chart hits, called “Patti Page: Her Greatest Hits and Finest Performances.” All of the above named hits are on the collection, and if I may say so, it is well worth seeking out.

Edited: January 5th, 2013

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 10/29/12

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Buckets Of Rain” by Bette Midler with Bob Dylan

Here’s one from those of us who are watching Sandy from afar…good luck to you all! This great duet/cover comes to you from Bette Midler’s 1976 album “Songs For The New Depression.” The session came about because Dylan had hoped Midler would join him on the Rolling Thunder Revue with an eye towards her being a part of his film “Renaldo And Clara” which was filmed on the tour. The duo’s original intention was to cut a new version of the Moogy Klingman (later a founding member of Todd Rundgren’s Utopia) song “Friends,” that Midler had recorded on her debut album several years earlier. When that didn’t work out, they worked up this rough and ready version of a song that was from Dylan’s then-current album “Blood On The Tracks.” While there’s no topping Dylan’s own version of the song, I’ve always thought this one had a lot of personality and it sounds like they were both having a hoot recording it. Dylan and Midler would find themselves together in the studio one more time in the 1980s during the USA For Africa sessions for “We Are The World.”

Edited: October 28th, 2012

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 10/24/12

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate The Positive ” by Johnny Mercer

With a resume that includes writing the lyrics to some of the greatest songs of the 20th century including “Goody Goody,” “I’m An Old Cowhand,” “Too Marvelous For Words,” “Hooray For Hollywood,” “You Must Have Been A Beautiful Baby,” “Jeepers Creepers,” “And The Angels Sing,” “Sweet Georgia Brown,” “G.I. Jive,” “Day In Day Out,” “I Thought About You,” “Fools Rush In,” “Blues In The Night,” “Tangerine,” “That Old Black Magic,” “Trav’lin Light,” “Skylark,” “One For My Baby (And One More For The Road),” “Dream,” “On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe,” “Come Rain Or Come Shine,” “Any Place I Lay My Hat Is Home,” “Autumn Leaves,” “Satin Doll,” “In The Cool Cool Cool Of The Evening,” “Something’s Gotta Give,” “The Glow Worm,” “Moon River,” “Days Of Wine And Roses,” “Charade,” “I Wanna Be Around,” “The Summer Wind,” “Drinking Again,” and hundreds more, the fact that he also founded Capitol Records in 1942 – and it still exists today – kind of takes a back seat to his accomplishments. Southern-born and well to do, Johnny Mercer relocated from Georgia to New York City in the 1930s where he got his first taste of success collaborating with Hoagy Carmichael and singing with Paul Whiteman’s Orchestra. But it wasn’t until he moved to Hollywood and began to write songs for RKO films starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers and the numerous Bob Hope-Bing Crosby “Road” pictures that his career was assured. Here we have his original recording of “Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate The Positive” from 1944 with backing vocals by The Pied Pipers (featuring Jo Stafford) and Paul Weston and his Orchestra. Numerous people have covered and had hits with this song including Bing Crosby and The Andrews Sisters, Kay Kyser, Artie Shaw, Ella Fitzgerald, Aretha Franklin, Sam Cooke, NRBQ, and most recently Paul McCartney on his latest record “Kisses On The Bottom.” This past April, Stephen Colbert sang this song on his TV show duetting with none other than Julie Andrews.

Edited: October 23rd, 2012

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 8/9/12

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Life On Mars” by Barbra Streisand

Here’s one for fans of NASA and its latest Curiosity mission on Mars. I love the photos that are coming out of the red planet so far and can’t wait to see more. Now, on to this cover of one of David Bowie’s prettiest melodies and greatest songs…Like most people, I think Barbra Streisand has a great voice…like buttuh! Where my opinion differs is when it comes to her interpretive “talents.” In this area I think she is appalling, over emoting and wringing every ounce of subtlety from every song she takes on until the listener comes up begging for mercy. Yet, every so often Streisand gets it right as in the case of this 1974 cover of David Bowie’s “Life On Mars.” While she doesn’t come close to bettering the original (who could?), here Streisand brings just the right amount of panache to the song to carry it off. This one comes from Streisand’s “Butterfly” album which has one of my all-time favorite album covers.

Edited: August 8th, 2012

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 5/11/12

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Jericho” by Rufus Wainwright

As if it weren’t enough that Obama has finally come out supporting same-sex marriage…now Rufus Wainwright is back…and in full-on ’70s pop songsmith mode with his new Mark Ronson-produced album, “Out Of The Game.” This truly is a good day for America! For those who don’t know, Mark Ronson was the guiding force behind Amy Winehouse’s album “Back To Black,” and while Wainwright is his own artist, Ronson does move him back into the pure pop direction he’s turned away from over the last couple of years. Gone is the over-the-top Judy in drag of his “Carnegie Hall” album…also gone is the orchestral and operatic flair that set the two rococo “Want” albums apart from the rest of his discography. Although all of his releases have something worthwhile to offer, it is nice to hear an album that harks back to his most song-oriented records, “Release The Stars” from 2007 and “Poses” from 2001…especially after the dark, bummer that was his previous album “All Days Are Nights: Songs For Lulu.” Over the past decade, Wainwright has become one of the finest singer-songwriters on the planet and a true artist in every sense of the word.

Edited: May 10th, 2012

Song Of The Day – 8/27/11

Song Of the Day – “The Best Is Yet To Come” by Tony Bennett

At 85 and in fine form…the best is still surely yet to come indeed. Just saw him tonight at Ravinia in Highland Park, Illinois…same band as this video…even the same jacket! The artistry and the voice is still intact and still going strong! See him when you can!

Edited: August 26th, 2011