Posts Tagged ‘Easy Listening’

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #87 – Paul Mauriat: “Love Is Blue (L’Amour est Bleu)” b/w “Sunny”– Philips 40495

45-adapter-logo2PaulMauriat

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #87 – Paul Mauriat: “Love Is Blue (L’Amour est Bleu)” b/w “Sunny”– Philips 40495

Welcome back my friends, to the series that never ends…

We’ve all heard about the British Invasion in rock music that took place in the early 1960s, but what about the late ‘60s French Invasion?

Never heard of it? That’s because it consisted of only one record by one artist. OK, technically you could argue that Petula Clark was also part of the French Invasion, but her single “Downtown” is widely recognized as part of the British Invasion. But let’s not split hairs over facts…

The French Invasion took place in 1968 with an instrumental record called “Love Is Blue” by Paul Mauriat, which until recently with Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” was the only number-one hit by a French artist to top the Billboard Hot 100 in America.

But “Love Is Blue” was not Mauriat’s first American success. In the early 1960s, he co-wrote a hit song under the pseudonym Del Roma called “Chariot,” which became a big hit for the aforementioned Petula Clark. The record was successful all over the world, except in America. In America, the song was given English lyrics by Arthur Altman and Norman Gimbel and became “I Will Follow Him,” a 1963 number one single by Little Peggy March.

During the 1950s, Paul Mauriat was the music director for French singers Charles Aznavour and Maurice Chevalier and toured the world with both of them. In 1965, Mauriat established Le Grand Orchestre de Paul Mauriat and began to release what would add up to hundreds of recording for the Philips record label over the next 28 years. He also arranged 130 recordings for Aznavour between 1967 and 1972.

“L’amour est bleu (Love is Blue)” was written by French composer, André Popp and was originally sung by Greek singer Vicky (aka Vicky Leandros) where it won fourth place in the Eurovision Song Contest for Luxembourg in 1967.

Mauriat’s recording of the song featured a sweeping orchestral arrangement combining harpsichord with a hint of rock guitars and drums thrown in for good measure. The song was released on the Blooming Hits album in 1967 which topped the charts for five weeks, knocking The Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour out of the top slot. The album cover featured an attractive naked woman with a butterfly tattoo on her face. But let’s face it; nobody was really looking at that butterfly anyway…

The album was typical easy listening fare for the late ‘60s, featuring covers of current rock hits like The Beatles’ “Penny Lane,” Frank and Nancy Sinatra’s “Somethin’ Stupid,” Sandie Shaw’s “Puppet On A String,” Petula Clark’s “This Is My Song,” Sonny Bono’s “Mama” and Herman’s Hermits “(There’s A) Kind Of Hush.”

The original B-side to today’s single was called “Alone in the World (Seuls Au Monde)” which was replaced in January of 1968 for Mauriat’s cover of Bobby Hebb’s “Sunny” which appeared on the More Mauriat album.

Mauriat would only reach the singles charts two more times after “Love Is Blue,” with his recordings of “Love in Every Room” and the title theme from the movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Mauriat died on November 3, 2006 at the age of 81.

“The Jukebox Series” focused on the 80 records that currently inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over 14 years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within. Over the years, records have come and gone out of the ranks of the juke, but they were all at one time juke-worthy. I’ve decided to expand “The Jukebox Series” to include many of the “juke-worthy” records that are no longer currently in the mix, but at one time inhabited a coveted slot.

Edited: November 16th, 2015

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #20 – Frank Sinatra: “Summer Wind” b/w “Strangers In The Night” – Reprise “Back-To-Back Hits” 45 RPM Single GRE-0710 (S2/T2)

45-adapter-logo2FrankSinatraStrangers45FrankSinatraSummerWind45

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #20 – Frank Sinatra: “Summer Wind” b/w “Strangers In The Night” – Reprise “Back-To-Back Hits” 45 RPM Single GRE-0710 (S2/T2)

There was something magical about easy listening music from the early and mid-1960s. It was a strange confluence of male vocalists, some more talented than others, like Andy Williams, Jack Jones, Steve Lawrence, Johnny Mathis, John Davidson, John Gary, Tony Bennett and of course, the “Chairman of the Board,” Frank Sinatra. They were smooth singers with worldly good looks. The ladies were just as compelling, from the likes of Eydie Gorme, Vikki Carr, Julie London, Shirley Bassey and Barbra Streisand. There was a sophistication level in their craft that hasn’t been matched since that particular era.

1966 was a very good year for pop vocal music in general, and especially for Frank Sinatra. He broke through again on the pop charts with a number one album called Strangers In The Night and the number one single of the same name that appealed to both young and old alike. The album would go on to win Album of the Year at the 1967 Grammy Awards and Record of the Year for the title track.

The album was Sinatra’s last one with Nelson Riddle providing arrangements, and Riddle went out with a bang on the swinging “All or Nothing At All” featuring a driving arrangement not unlike the one he did for “I’ve Got You Under My Skin.” On top of that, there are masterful Sinatra versions of sixties easy listening staples like “Call Me,” “On A Clear Day (You Can See Forever)” and “Downtown.”

“Doobey Doobey Doo.”

For a while back in the late ‘60s, that’s all that could be heard pouring out of the mono AM radio speakers in the car my dad drove. At the time, that music was much better than rest of his automotive musical fodder which consisted of the kind of instrumental music that the “Beautiful Music” stations would broadcast.

“Strangers’” evocative melody was written by Bert Kaempfert (who was famous for writing such easy listening fare as Wayne Newton’s “Donke Schoen,” Nat King Cole’s “L-O-V-E” and “A Swingin’ Safari,” which was also known as “The Theme from The Match Game” TV game show. ) The melody was originally titled “Beddie Bye” and it was written for the film A Man Could Get Killed. The lyrics were written by Charles Singleton and Eddie Snyder, who both also wrote the lyrics to Al Martino’s immortal “Spanish Eyes.”

Jack Jones actually recorded the song before Sinatra got around to it, and Sinatra was said to hate the song calling it “a piece of shit” and “the worst fucking song that I have ever heard.” (Sinatra: The Life) However, he managed to warm up to its powers as it rose to the top of the charts, and it became a staple of his performances for the rest of his life.

On the flip of this double A-sided single is “Summer Wind,” which really is the essence of the classic summer single…light, warm and breezy, with a hint of the kind of ennui you can only feel as the summer comes to a close thrown in for good measure. The song’s intro sets the perfect mood with its mélange of Wurlitzer styled organ and sexy Nelson Riddle horn arrangements. “Summer Wind” sports lyrics by Johnny Mercer and music by Heinz Meier, and Wayne Newton had a #78 chart his with the song in 1965 before Sinatra got around to recording it also for the Strangers In The Night album.

The song has been used numerous times in advertisements, movies and in TV shows. One of the song’s greatest TV uses was in the summer-themed episode of The Simpsons called Bart Of Darkness which is based on the Alfred Hitchcock film Rear Window. In the episode the family gets a pool and the Simpson’s back yard attracts all of the neighborhood kids. Bart breaks his leg and spends his summer at his bedroom window looking at the festivities below until he thinks he’s witnessed a murder at the Flanders’ house.

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over 14 years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Edited: April 22nd, 2015

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #18 – Richard Harris: “MacArthur Park” b/w “Didn’t We” – Dunhill 45 RPM Single D-4134 (O2/P2)

45-adapter-logo2richardharrismacarhturpicsleeverichardharrismacarthur

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #18 – Richard Harris: “MacArthur Park” b/w “Didn’t We” – Dunhill 45 RPM Single D-4134 (O2/P2)

Along with Glen Campbell and Art Garfunkel, Richard Harris was one of a handful of great interpreters of the songs of Jim Webb. When he wasn’t acting in films like A Man Called Horse, Camelot and, of course playing the part of Albus Dumbledore in the first few Harry Potter films, he made records. While most of his records were dreadful, his first album of Jim Webb songs called A Tramp Shining was a winner, including today’s jukebox classic “MacArthur Park.”

Who knows what was really going on in songwriter Jimmy Webb’s mind when he wrote the somewhat nonsensical lyrics to this song, but one thing for sure is that it is a classic brought to the upper regions of the charts not once, but twice.

The song has its roots in a twenty minute cantata that Webb wrote that ended with “MacArthur Park.” When the cantata was offered to producer Bones Howe for The Association to record, the group declined because they didn’t want to give up that big a chunk of their album to such a long track.

The inspiration for the song came from a breakup between Jim Webb and Susan Horton who worked across the street from MacArthur Park in the Westlake neighborhood of Los Angeles where the two would meet for lunch. The very same relationship also spawned Webb’s song “By The Time I Get To Phoenix.”

The “cake in the rain” lyric of the song was recently explained by Colin McCourt who used to work for the publisher of the song. When Webb heard that Susan Horton was getting married in MacArthur Park, he attended the wedding but hid in a gardener’s shed so as not to be noticed by the bride. It began to pour during the ceremony and Webb saw the wedding cake through the rain running off the roof of the shed and it looked like it was melting. (songfacts.com)

The track was recorded at Armin Steiner’s Sound Recorders in Hollywood with backing from members of the Wrecking Crew including Hal Blaine on drums, Larry Knechtel on keyboards, Joe Osborn on bass and Mike Deasy on guitar, along with Jim Webb on harpsichord.

During the recording, Webb kept correcting Harris who continually uses the possessive form “MacArthur’s Park” throughout the song. After a while, Webb realized it was futile and let Harris have his way, resulting in many subsequent covers of the song carrying the incorrect possessive form in the lyrics. Like The Beatles’ “Hey Jude,” the single was also one of the longer songs to hit the top-ten of the singles charts during the late 1960s, clocking in at over seven minutes. The song also won a Grammy Award for Best Arrangement for Accompanying Vocalist in 1969.

The single was released in 1968 and reached the number two slot on the charts. It was subsequently covered by artists as diverse as Donna Summer (who took it to the top of the charts in 1978 with her disco version), Frank Sinatra, Waylon Jennings, Liza Minnelli, The 5th Dimension, The Supremes, Justin Hayward (of The Moody Blues), Ferrante & Teicher, Maynard Ferguson, Stan Kenton, Woody Herman and “Weird Al” Yankovic, who parodied it with his version “Jurassic Park.”

The flip of the single, “Didn’t We” was the opening track to A Tramp Shining, Harris’ album of Jim Webb compositions. Reviewer Bruce Eder had the following to say about this song: “Harris treaded onto Frank Sinatra territory here, and he did it with a voice not remotely as good or well trained as his, yet he pulled it off by sheer bravado and his ability as an actor, coupled with his vocal talents.” (Allmusic) The song was covered by a whole host of pop vocalists during the sixties and seventies including Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Thelma Houston, Matt Monroe and Jim Webb.

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over 14 years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Edited: April 20th, 2015

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – “The Alley Cat” by Bent Fabric

45-adapter-logo2bentfabricalleycat

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – “The Alley Cat” by Bent Fabric

Dance crazes come and go, but they are never forgotten.

Most recently there was Psy’s “Gangnam Style,” wreaking havoc across dance floors all over the world while the youth of America (and Myley Cyrus) began to twerk. In the 1990s, there was “The Macarena.” In the 1980s, country line dancing and “The Lambada” had their day in the sun, and the ‘70s gave us “The Electric Slide.” But in the early 1960s, there was only one communal synchronized dance that kids and adults alike shared in, making it a staple at weddings, proms and east coast Bar Mitzvahs.

That dance was “The Alley Cat.”

In actuality, “The Alley Cat” began life as a 1961 hit for Bent Fabricius-Bjerre in Denmark under the title “Omkring et Flygel” (“Under The Table”). The song was picked up for U.S. distribution by Neshui and Ahmet Ehrtegun and released on their Atco label in 1962, where it became a million-selling top-ten hit. The song also went on to win a Grammy Award for, get this, Best Rock and Roll Record of 1962!

Fabric released six albums on Atco between 1962 and 1968, with titles like The Happy Puppy, The Drunken Penguin and Operation Love Birds, with animal-centric album covers to match. He was also paired up with Atco’s other big instrumentalist, Acker Bilk, for a series of recordings. But no matter how many albums were released, in America he is still only associated with one thing, “The Alley Cat.”

Fabric got his start playing Jazz piano in Denmark before moving into the realm of film scores, where he wrote music for 27 different Danish films. He also founded Metronome Records in 1950, which went on to become one of the most successful Danish record companies. One of his signings was Jorge Ingmann who scored a #2 hit in America with his classic instrumental “Apache.”

While Fabric has seemingly faded from view in America, he’s continued to release recordings in Denmark over the years, most recently scoring two top-ten hits in 2006 from his album called Jukebox. That album’s title track also got airplay in dance clubs across America, where a remix of “Alley Cat” was also re-released.

Surprisingly, in Mexico, ice cream trucks co-opted “The Alley Cat” as their calling card, so when children hear it blaring through the streets, it means the ice cream man is in the neighborhood.

Edited: April 12th, 2015

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – “Watch What Happens” by Lena Horne & Gabor Szabo

SOTD-1lenahornegaborszabo

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – “Watch What Happens” by Lena Horne & Gabor Szabo

A funny thing happened when jazz vocalists like Lena Horne fell on the wrong side of the generation gap during the late 1960s. Suddenly, older classics like “Stormy Weather” and “Love Me or Leave Me” began to sound hopelessly out of date to a younger generation of listeners, who didn’t give artists like Horne the time of day, or worse, time on their turntables.

Changes would have to be made, and many of the artists began recording popular songs of the day and augmenting their once jazz or orchestral recordings with electric guitars, electric bass, organ and drums. Sinatra did it. So did Tony Bennett, Johnny Mathis and Andy Williams. It was a matter of survival, and at least Lena Horne had the talent and had been around the block enough times to attempt to adapt to the times.

While many of the pop vocalists didn’t have the wherewithal to update their sound and still retain credibility, Horne was a sympathetic and adept interpreter of song and managed just fine to survive with her career intact.

By 1969, Lena Horne hadn’t released a new album for four years and was pretty much considered yesterday’s news as a recording artist. At the same time, Gabor Szabo, who is one of the few guitarists whose stands comfortably beside Jerry Garcia when it comes to guitar sound, technique and improvisatory style, left Impulse Records to form his own Skye Records label along with vibist Cal Tjader and composer/arranger Gary McFarland.

Szabo was born in Hungary and came to America to study at the Berklee School of Music in Boston. He played guitar with the Chico Hamilton Quartet between 1961 and 1965, before recording a series of classic jazz albums for Impulse that melded his modal psychedelic guitar style with choice covers of contemporary hits. His 1966 album Sorcerer is one of the seminal jazz guitar recordings of the 1960s. Concurrent with his own recording career, Szabo also toured and played as a member of Horne’s live performance band. So it only seemed natural that Gabor and Horne would eventually record an album together.

The album they recorded was appropriately called Lena & Gabor, and it featured a who’s who of great jazz session players of the time including Eric Gale and Cornell Dupree on guitar, Richard Tee on organ, Chuck Rainey on bass and Grady Tate on drums. Many of these artists also recorded albums for the Skye label as well.

The album’s repertoire included Horne’s first chart hit in some time with today’s Song of the Day, “Watch What Happens,” which was written by Michel Legrand. The record also featured no less than four Beatles covers including versions of “In My Life,” “The Fool on the Hill,” one of the best covers of “Something” ever, and a fairly ridiculous take on “Rocky Raccoon.” Rounding out the record were versions of Fred Neil’s “Everybody’s Talkin’,” “Bacharach and David’s “Message to Michael” and the Charles Aznavour classic “Yesterday When I Was Young.”

Szabo’s hypnotic and funky guitar work throughout this album is nothing short of stunning. While the Skye label only lasted two years and 21 releases, Szabo went on to write the song “Gypsy Queen” which became a hit for Santana in 1970. He continued to record records for a variety of labels until his death in 1982.

Horne never really revived her recording career with this record, but continued to be a concert draw in supper clubs and on Broadway in her 1981 revue Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music for which she won a Tony Award. She died on Mother’s Day 2010 at the age of 92.

Edited: February 16th, 2015

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Bond Street” by Enoch Light

45ADAPTEREnochLight

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Bond Street” by Enoch Light

Shagadelic indeed! Literally hundreds of records were released during the 1950s and 1960s carrying the Enoch Light name. Light was born in Ohio and led The Light Brigade, which was a big band that primarily played on the radio and in theaters that scored the 1937 hit “Summer Night.” After they disbanded, they became a studio-only entity.

Light was a vice president of the Grand Award easy listening record label before founding Command Records in 1959. Light’s stock in trade was state-of-the-art mood music records pressed on virgin vinyl that took full advantage of the capabilities of stereo hi-fi systems of the day by featuring ping-pong stereo effects. The albums were some of the first to use 35mm film as a recording method instead of tape, providing crystal-clear distortion free sound.

The packaging on his records, like the classic Persusasive Percussion and Provocative Percussion albums, featured minimalist modern art usually designed by Josef Albers on the covers. The covers were designed to stand out in record bins with heavy cardboard gatefold sleeves featuring copious liner notes about the recording techniques employed within. When you saw one of the covers, you automatically knew it was a Command release.

Light sold the label to ABC in 1965, who in turn sold it to MCA. MCA proceeded to run Command as a budget label, reissuing the records on cheap vinyl with abbreviated single-pocket sleeves minus the original high-gloss art. Light continued to run the label under the new ownership where his later recordings were still recorded, packaged and marketed with the same attention to detail as they were from before the sale.

Today’s Song Of The Day comes from one of Light’s later Command projects, the 1969 album Enoch Light Presents Spaced Out – Exploratory Trips Through The Music of Bach, Bacharach & The Beatles – Integrating The Moog, The Guitar Scene, Electric Harpsichord, Flugel Horns, etc…. The album included super swingin’ stereo versions of the Burt Bacharach and Hal David songs “Walk On By,” “What The World Needs Now Is Love” and “Knowing When To Leave,” plus Beatle covers of “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da,” “Get Back,” “Norwegian Wood” and “Eleanor Rigby.” The cover had some of the coolest period graphics I’ve ever seen on any record cover ever.

By 1970, the label was no longer profitable and MCA shut it down. Light continued working, both as an arranger/conductor and headed up an all new audiophile record label, Project 3 Records, which was marketed by London Records.

Edited: September 21st, 2014

Song Of the Day by Eric Berman – “The Alley Cat” by Bent Fabric

45ADAPTERbentfabricalleycat

Song Of the Day by Eric Berman – “The Alley Cat” by Bent Fabric

Dance crazes come and go, but they are never forgotten.

Most recently there was Psy’s “Gangnam Style,” wreaking havoc across dance floors all over the world while the youth of America (and Myley Cyrus) began to twerk. In the 1990s, there was “The Macarena.” In the 1980s, country line dancing and “The Lambada” had their day in the sun, and the ‘70s gave us “The Electric Slide.” But in the early 1960s, there was only one communal synchronized dance that kids and adults alike shared in, making it a staple at weddings, proms and Bar Mitzvahs.

That dance was “The Alley Cat.”

In actuality, “The Alley Cat” began life as a 1961 hit for Bent Fabricius-Bjerre in Denmark under the title “Omkring et Flygel” (“Under The Table”). The song was picked up for U.S. distribution by Neshui and Ahmet Ehrtegun and released on their Atco label in 1962, where it became a million-selling top-ten hit. The song also went on to win a Grammy Award for, get this, Best Rock and Roll Record of 1962!

Fabric released six albums on Atco between 1962 and 1968, with titles like The Happy Puppy, The Drunken Penguin and Operation Love Birds, with animal-centric album covers to match. He was also paired up with Atco’s other big instrumentalist, Acker Bilk, for a series of recordings. But no matter how many albums were released, in America he is still only associated with one thing, “The Alley Cat.”

Fabric got his start playing Jazz piano in Denmark before moving into the realm of film scores, where he wrote music for 27 different Danish films. He also founded Metronome Records in 1950, which went on to become one of the most successful Danish record companies. One of his signings was Jorge Ingmann who scored a #2 hit in America with his classic instrumental “Apache.”

While Fabric has seemingly faded from view in America, he’s continued to release recordings in Denmark over the years, most recently scoring two top-ten hits in 2006 from his album called Jukebox. That album’s title track also got airplay in dance clubs across America, where a remix of “Alley Cat” was also re-released.

Surprisingly, in Mexico, ice cream trucks co-opted “The Alley Cat” as their calling card, so when children hear it blaring through the streets, it means the ice cream man is in the neighborhood.

Edited: July 28th, 2014

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Cry Me A River” by Julie London

45ADAPTERJulieLondonCryMeARiver

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Cry Me A River” by Julie London

It would be hard to think of Julie London without all of the sexy cheesecake album covers, but behind all of the va-va-voom was the va-va-voice which was soft, supple and sexual.

Today’s Song Of The Day was written by Arthur Hamilton specifically for Ella Fitzgerald to record. However, Ella didn’t get around to recording it until her 1961 album called Clap Hands, Here Comes Charlie.

Julie London recorded the song in 1955 for her Julie Is Her Name album and sang it in the film 1956 The Girl Can’t Help It which propelled it up to the #9 position of the charts. Backing London on this recording was the great guitarist Barney Kessel and bassist Ray Leatherwood.

Barbra Streisand waxed the song for her 1963 debut album The Barbra Streisand Album, and it has also been covered by a who’s who of singing stars including Dinah Washington, Shirley Bassey, Ray Charles, Etta James, Sam Cooke, Sammy Davis Jr., Nina Simone, Cher, Anne Murray, Linda Ronstadt, Olivia Newton-John, Rick Astley, Harry Connick Jr., Diana Krall, Susan Boyle, Michael Bublé, and somewhat improbably by Jeff Beck and Aerosmith.

To most people my age, “Cry Me A River” is probably best known by Joe Cocker’s indelible rockin’ version from 1970’s Mad Dogs And Englishmen album and tour. Cocker’s version is great, but it doesn’t hold a candle to the original.

Edited: July 22nd, 2014

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #87 – Paul Mauriat: “Love Is Blue (L’Amour est Bleu)” b/w “Sunny”– Philips 40495

45ADAPTERpaulmauriatloveisblue45paulmauriatsunny45

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #87 – Paul Mauriat: “Love Is Blue (L’Amour est Bleu)” b/w “Sunny”– Philips 40495

Welcome back my friends, to the series that never ends…

We’ve all heard about the British Invasion in rock music that took place in the early 1960s, but what about the late ‘60s French Invasion?

Never heard of it? That’s because it consisted of only one record by one artist. OK, technically you could argue that Petula Clark was also part of the French Invasion, but her single “Downtown” is widely recognized as part of the British Invasion. But let’s not split hairs over facts…

The French Invasion took place in 1968 with an instrumental record called “Love Is Blue” by Paul Mauriat, which until last year with Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” was the only number-one hit by a French artist to top the Billboard Hot 100 in America.

But “Love Is Blue” was not Mauriat’s first American success. In the early 1960s, he co-wrote a hit song under the pseudonym Del Roma called “Chariot,” which became a big hit for the aforementioned Petula Clark. The record was successful all over the world, except in America. In America, the song was given English lyrics by Arthur Altman and Norman Gimbel and became “I Will Follow Him,” a 1963 number one single by Little Peggy March.

During the 1950s, Paul Mauriat was the music director for French singers Charles Aznavour and Maurice Chevalier and toured the world with both of them.  In 1965, Mauriat established Le Grand Orchestre de Paul Mauriat and began to release what would add up to hundreds of recording for the Philips record label over the next 28 years. He also arranged 130 recordings for Aznavour between 1967 and 1972.

“L’amour est bleu (Love is Blue)” was written by French composer, André Popp and was originally sung by Greek singer Vicky (aka Vicky Leandros) where it won fourth place in the Eurovision Song Contest for Luxembourg in 1967.

Mauriat’s recording of the song featured a sweeping orchestral arrangement combining harpsichord with a hint of rock guitars and drums thrown in for good measure. The song was released on the Blooming Hits album in 1967 which topped the charts for five weeks, knocking The Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour out of the top slot. The album cover featured an attractive naked woman with a butterfly tattoo on her face. But let’s face it; nobody was really looking at that butterfly anyway…

The album was typical easy listening fare for the late ‘60s, featuring covers of current rock hits like The Beatles’ “Penny Lane,” Frank and Nancy Sinatra’s “Somethin’ Stupid,” Sandie Shaw’s “Puppet On A String,” Petula Clark’s “This Is My Song,” Sonny Bono’s “Mama” and Herman’s Hermits “(There’s A) Kind Of Hush.”

The original B-side to today’s single was called “Alone In The World (Seuls Au Monde)” which was replaced in January of 1968 for Mauriat’s cover of Bobby Hebb’s “Sunny” which appeared on the More Mauriat album.

Mauriat would only reach the singles charts two more times after “Love Is Blue,” with his recordings of “Love In Every Room” and the title theme from the movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Mauriat died on November 3, 2006 at the age of 81.

“The Jukebox Series” focused on the 80 records that currently inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over twelve years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within. Over the years, records have come and gone out of the ranks of the juke, but they were all at one time juke-worthy. I’ve decided to expand “The Jukebox Series” to include many of the “juke-worthy” records that are no longer currently in the mix, but at one time inhabited a coveted slot.

)

)

Edited: March 11th, 2014

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #34 – Dusty Springfield: “The Look Of Love” b/w “All I See Is You” – Stardust 45 RPM Single 45-URC-1258 (I4/J4)

45 adapterDustySpringfieldLookOfLove45

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #34 – Dusty Springfield: “The Look Of Love” b/w “All I See Is You” – Stardust 45 RPM Single 45-URC-1258 (I4/J4)

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over twelve years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Her voice was smooth, and her delivery was as sultry as it comes. She was the British version of Dionne Warwick, Martha Reeves and Mary Wells all wrapped into one. While she was a much bigger star in her native England, Dusty Springfield sent numerous singles up the charts on these shores as well, including “I Only Want To Be With You” (#12/1963), “Wishin’ And Hopin’” (#6/1963), “I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself” (#3/1964 UK), “You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me” (#4/1966), “Son Of A Preacher Man (#10/1969), “The Windmills Of Your Mind” (#31/1969) and “What Have I Done To Deserve This” with The Pet Shop Boys (#2/1987).

She was also credited with introducing the Motown Sound to English music fans by helming a special edition of the British music TV show Ready Steady Go!, that featured the first UK TV appearances by Martha Reeves And The Vandellas, The Temptations, The Supremes, the Miracles and Stevie Wonder. She also covered her share of Motown hits for consumption by the UK market.

Mary Isobel Catherine Bernadette O’Brien (aka Dusty Springfield) got her start as a member of the “sister” act The Lana Sisters performing on TV and as part of shows on military bases around the UK. From there, she joined the family folk group called The Springfields with her brothers Tom and Tim who were best known by their recording of “Silver Threads And Golden Needles.”

“The Look Of Love” is one of Dusty Springfield’s signature hits. It was written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David for the James Bond film parody Casino Royal and was originally conceived as an instrumental. It is the epitome of sophisticated song craft coupled with Dusty’s slightly removed smooth and soulful croon atop a light an airy samba beat. It’s no wonder that it was nominated for Best Song in the 1968 Grammy Awards, but lost out to Bobby Russell’s “Little Green Apples,” as recorded by O.C. Smith. Springfield recorded the song twice. The first version was released on the Colgems Records soundtrack to the film Casino Royale.

Burt Bacharach: “When I’m scoring a picture, whether it’s Butch Cassidy or Casino Royale or What’s New Pussycat?, all those melodies that turned into what became hit songs came from what I saw on the screen when I was scoring and what I heard. The first thing is you service the motion picture. If you’re lucky enough and you have a theme that turns into a hit whether it was Dusty (Springfield) singing ‘The Look Of Love’ in Casino Royale, what was most important there was the sexuality of Ursula Andress wearing very little clothes and making very sexy theme with the saxophone playing the melody of ‘The Look Of Love.’ Then we put Dusty on. First and foremost is it’s written for the picture, you don’t force it in.” (Record Collector via Songfacts)

Springfield then rerecorded the song for the Philips label in 1967, where it was relegated to the B-side of the “Give Me Time” single. It also appeared on The Look Of Love album, which was her last U.S. album for Philips Records in 1967 before signing with Atlantic and releasing the landmark Dusty In Memphis album. (Tracks for her last Philips album entitled Dusty Definitely in England were not released in America until the 1990s under the title Dusty In London.)

The song has been covered by a myriad of artists including Sergio Mendes and Brasil ’66 (whose version charted at #4 on the pop charts), Nina Simone, Shirley Bassey, Isaac Hayes, Ahmad Jamal, Claudine Longet, Diana Ross and the Supremes, Dionne Warwick, Andy Williams, The Delfonics, Tony Joe White, The Meters, The Vanilla Fudge, The Zombies, Diana Krall (whose recording made it into the top ten of the Canadian charts), Anita Baker and literally dozens more.

The flip is Springfield’s 1966 single “All I See Is You”, written by Ben Weisman & Carl Westlake, which also reached the US Top 20. The record itself is kind of an oddity in my collection as I have no recollection as to where I got it, and I’ve never heard of the record label either. (That will be for another day’s research…)

Edited: November 21st, 2013

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #18 – Richard Harris: “MacArthur Park” b/w “Didn’t We” – Dunhill 45 RPM Single D-4134 (O2/P2)

45 adapterrichardharrismacarhturpicsleeverichardharrismacarthur

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #18 – Richard Harris: “MacArthur Park” b/w “Didn’t We” – Dunhill 45 RPM Single D-4134 (O2/P2)

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over twelve years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Along with Glen Campbell and Art Garfunkel, Richard Harris was one of a handful of great interpreters of the songs of Jim Webb. When he wasn’t acting in films like A Man Called Horse, Camelot and, of course playing the part of Albus Dumbledore in the first few Harry Potter films, he made records. While most of his records were dreadful, his first album of Jim Webb songs called A Tramp Shining was a winner, including today’s jukebox classic “MacArthur Park.”

Who knows what was really going on in songwriter Jimmy Webb’s mind when he wrote the somewhat nonsensical lyrics to this song, but one thing for sure is that it is a classic brought to the upper regions of the charts not once, but twice.

The song has its roots in a twenty minute cantata that Webb wrote that ended with “MacArthur Park.” When the cantata was offered to producer Bones Howe for The Association to record, the group declined because they didn’t want to give up that big a chunk of their album to such a long track.

The inspiration for the song came from a breakup between Jim Webb and Susan Horton who worked across the street from MacArthur Park in the Westlake neighborhood of Los Angeles where the two would meet for lunch. The very same relationship also spawned Webb’s song “By The Time I Get To Phoenix.”

The “cake in the rain” lyric of the song was recently explained by Colin McCourt who used to work for the publisher of the song. When Webb heard that Susan Horton was getting married in MacArthur Park, he attended the wedding but hid in a gardener’s shed so as not to be noticed by the bride.  It began to pour during the ceremony and Webb saw the wedding cake through the rain running off the roof of the shed and it looked like it was melting.

The track was recorded at Armin Steiner’s Sound Recorders in Hollywood with backing from members of the Wrecking Crew including Hal Blaine on drums, Larry Knechtel on keyboards, Joe Osborn on bass and Mike Deasy on guitar, along with Jim Webb on harpsichord.

During the recording, Webb kept correcting Harris who continually uses the possessive form “MacArthur’s Park” throughout the song. After a while, Webb realized it was futile and let Harris have his way, resulting in many subsequent covers of the song carrying the incorrect possessive form in the lyrics. Like The Beatles’ “Hey Jude,” the single was also one of the longer songs to hit the top-ten of the singles charts during the late 1960s, clocking in at over seven minutes. The song also won a Grammy Award for Best Arrangement for Accompanying Vocalist in 1969.

The single was released in 1968 and reached the number two slot on the charts. It was subsequently covered by artists as diverse as Donna Summer (who took it to the top of the charts in 1978 with her disco version), Frank Sinatra, Waylon Jennings, Liza Minnelli, The 5th Dimension, The Supremes, Justin Hayward (of The Moody Blues), Ferrante & Teicher, Maynard Ferguson, Stan Kenton, Woody Herman and “Weird Al” Yankovic, who parodied it with his version “Jurassic Park.”

The flip of the single, “Didn’t We” was the opening track to A Tramp Shining, Harris’ album of Jim Webb compositions.  Reviewer Bruce Eder had the following to say about this song:  “Harris treaded onto Frank Sinatra territory here, and he did it with a voice not remotely as good or well trained as his, yet he pulled it off by sheer bravado and his ability as an actor, coupled with his vocal talents.” (Allmusic) The song was covered by a whole host of pop vocalists during the sixties and seventies including Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Thelma Houston, Matt Monroe and Jim Webb.

Edited: October 30th, 2013

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 8/29/13 – “Apeman” by The Esso Steel Band

45 adapteressosteelband

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Apeman” by The Esso Steel Band

My parents married in 1953 and chose Bermuda as the destination of their honeymoon. Like many folks of their era, they came back with souvenirs from their dream vacation. In my parents’ case, they returned with the pregnancy of my older sister, and a souvenir LP by The Esso Steel Band.

The Esso Steel Band began in 1942 as The Tripoli Steel Band which was named for the “Marine’s Hymn” (“On the shores of Tripoli”), and beginning in 1951 the group was led by Hugh Borde.

The steel pan as an instrument rose out of the poorest sections of Trinidad where discarded oil barrels were fashioned into musical instruments, affording the natives an artistic outlet. Once the sound caught on, it became central to the annual Carnival celebration where musicians competed for supremacy on the instruments.

In 1964, the Tripoli Steel Band won the first official Steel Band competition, and the following year, the Esso Oil Company (later Exxon) agreed to sponsor the group which took on the name of The Esso Tripoli Steel Band which was later shortened to The Esso Steel Band.

By 1967, the group was 27 strong and toured the world on Esso’s dime playing at Montreal’s Expo World’s Fair. After Esso dropped sponsorship of the group, they toured for several years as part of Liberace’s show and recorded a Grammy-winning album called Liberace Presents the Trinidad Tripoli Steel Band.

In 1971, Van Dyke Parks rediscovered them and took them into the studio to record an album for Warner Bros. Records including covers of then-current pop songs including Simon & Garfunkel’s “Cecilia,” The Jackson Five’s “I Want You Back” and today’s Song Of The Day, The Kinks’ “Apeman.”

The group splintered in 1976 after Borde relocated his family to the United States, however a new version of the group was organized by Borde’s son Emile, recording the album Momentum in 1985. The group performed well into the 2000s.

Most recently, Parks had the group re-record the song “Aquarium” from the 1971 Warner album for his latest release Songs Cycled.

Edited: August 28th, 2013

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 8/9/13

45 adapterherbalptertsummertime

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “The Nicest Things Happen” by Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass

By 1971, the non-stop run of hit albums and singles by Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass was becoming a distant memory.  In fact, Alpert was more intent on producing other artists and running his mega-successful A&M record label than going into the studio to record new material, especially if it was under the Tijuana Brass moniker.

However, the Tijuana Brass brand was a potent one, and there was still great demand for more product. So a compilation of singles and previously unreleased off cuts was assembled to meet the demand of the masses. While the resultant album is nowhere near the greatness of albums like Whipped Cream, Going Places or SRO, the Summertime release does have several tracks that would sit comfortably next to anything on those aforementioned classics.

Case in point is today’s Song Of The Day, the warm and pastoral “The Nicest Things Happen.” The song was written by Julius Wechter (with his wife Cissy) who was the writer responsible for several indelible Tijuana Brass hits including “Spanish Flea” and “Brasilia.” In the spectrum of great easy listening instrumentals, this one is every bit as good in creating a pleasing mood as “Pet Sounds” by Brian Wilson (The Beach Boys), “Theme From A Summer Place” by Percy Faith, “Quite Village” by Martin Denny and The B-52’s “Follow Your Bliss.”

The album’s title track pointed in the direction Alpert would take in the future, leaning farther into the jazz idiom with an arrangement of the Gershwin classic from Porgy And Bess inspired by the recordings of Miles Davis, Lambert Hendricks & Ross, and Ahmad Jamal. It is also the first Tijuana Brass track to feature vocals by Alpert’s wife and Sergio Mendes & Brasil 66 member, Lani Hall.

Rounding out the album are TJB takes on current pop tunes of the day including versions of The Beatles’ “Martha My Dear” (marred by Alpert’s flat vocals), Gordon Lightfoot’s “If You Could Read My Mind,” a spirited take on The Beach Boys’ “Darlin’,” and a great version of Little Anthony & The Imperials’ “Hurt So Bad.” And no Tijuana Brass album would be complete without a few nostalgic gems thrown in for good measure, including a version of Perry Como’s “Catch A Falling Star” and another Gershwin classic, the rousing march “Strike Up The Band.”

The only other track of note on this album is “Montezuma’s Revenge,” which was written by Sol Lake who was also responsible for writing the TJB classics “The Lonely Bull,” “The Mexican Shuffle” (aka “The Teabury Shuffle”), “More And More Amor” and “Bittersweet Samba.”

Summertime closes the era of Alpert recording pure pop confections. It was also the last album to carry the Tijuana Brass name. His next album of all new material, You Smile, And The Song Begins, followed three years later and was credited to Herb Alpert & The TJB. It was also the beginning of the next phase of his career, finding Alpert leaving pop music behind and recording more straight ahead jazz albums.

Edited: August 8th, 2013

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 5/4/13

45 adapterlawrencewelk

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Calcutta!” by Lawrence Welk

Instrumental week continues…

Wunnerful…wunnerful…this groovetastic little number conjures visions of Gomez and Morticia dancing up a storm in their creepy parlour while Lurch serenades them on the harpsichord. I’m not sure if this Lawrence Welk ditty was ever used on The Addams Family, or if it’s just something I’ve yanked from the cobwebs of my mind, but if it never happened, it probably should have.

From 1951 through 1982, Lawrence Welk brought his special brand of bubbly “Champagne Music,” complete with an accompanying bubble machine, into the living rooms of millions of mood music loving viewers. Welk’s band focused on popular standards, polkas, and novelty songs, delivered in a smooth, easy listening style befitting his mature family-oriented audience. Welk’s show, in essence, was the direct opposite of American Bandstand.

Welk was central to the show’s appeal and his unusual accent led to “Welk-isms” like “Wunnerful, Wunnerful,” the “And-A-One-And-A-Two” count-off, and the term “Champagne Music,” all becoming part of pop culture. But it was the music that audiences really tuned in for, and Welk’s orchestra featured some of the best musicians of the day including Dixieland clarinetist Pete Fountain, longtime accordionist Myron Floren, guitarist Buddy Merrill and violinist Dick Kesner.

Today’s Song Of The Day was originally titled “Tivoli Melody” and was written in 1958 by Heino Gaze and Hans Bradtke. “Calcutta!” was released as a single by Dot Records in 1961 and soon after topped the charts, knocking The Shirelles’ “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” out of the top position. Dancers Bobby Burgess and Barbara Boylan worked up a dance routine to accompany “Calcutta” and performed it on the show many times helping to propel the record to the top position on the charts.

Welk, who was then 57 years old, earned the somewhat dubious distinction of being the oldest artist at the time to top the pop charts. (That record would be broken three years later by Louis Armstrong who was 62 years old when “Hello, Dolly!” topped the charts in 1964.) The Calcutta! album was also a 1961 chart-topper.

The television medium helped Welk score numerous easy listening hit singles including “Moritat (A Theme From Threepenny Opera),” “The Poor People Of Paris,” “Weary Blues,” “Tonight You Belong To Me” (with The Lennon Sisters), “Last Date,” “Theme from My Three Sons,” “Yellow Bird” and “Baby Elephant Walk.” He even tried his hand at several Champagne versions of rock era favorites like “Green Tambourine” and “The Beat Goes On,” which really need to be heard to be believed. He also landed several albums into the top ten of the charts including Last Date, Yellow Bird, Moon River, Baby Elephant Walk and Theme from The Brothers Grimm.

Lawrence Welk died at the age of 89 in 1992.

Edited: May 4th, 2013

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 5/2/13

45 adapterPaulMauriat

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Love Is Blue” by Paul Mauriat

We’ve all heard about the British Invasion in rock music that took place in the early 1960s, but what about the late ‘60s French Invasion?

Never heard of it? That’s because it consisted of only one record by one artist. OK, technically you could argue that Petula Clark was also part of the French Invasion, but her single “Downtown” is widely recognized as part of the British Invasion. But let’s not split hairs over facts…

The French Invasion took place in 1968 with an instrumental record called “Love Is Blue” by Paul Mauriat, which is the only number-one hit by a French artist to top the Billboard Hot 100 in America.

But “Love Is Blue” was not Mauriat’s first American success. In the early 1960s, he co-wrote a hit song under the pseudonym Del Roma called “Chariot,” which became a big hit for Petula Clark. The record was successful all over the world, except in America. In America, the song was given English lyrics by Arthur Altman and Norman Gimbel and became “I Will Follow Him,” a 1963 number one single by Little Peggy March.

During the 1950s, Paul Mauriat was the music director for French singers Charles Aznavour and Maurice Chevalier and toured the world with both of them.  In 1965, Mauriat established Le Grand Orchestre de Paul Mauriat and began to release what would add up to hundreds of recording for the Philips record label over the next 28 years. He also arranged 130 recordings for Aznavour between 1967 and 1972.

“L’amour est bleu (Love is Blue)” was written by French composer, André Popp and was originally sung by Greek singer Vicky (aka Vicky Leandros) where it won fourth place in the Eurovision Song Contest for Luxembourg in 1967.

Mauriat’s recording of the song featured a sweeping orchestral arrangement combining harpsichord with a hint of rock guitars and drums thrown in for good measure. The song was released on the album Blooming Hits in 1967 which topped the charts for five weeks, knocking The Beatles Magical Mystery Tour out of the top slot. The album cover featured an attractive naked lady with a butterfly tattoo on her face. But let’s face it; nobody was really looking at that butterfly anyway…

The album was typical easy listening fare for the late ‘60s, featuring covers of current rock hits like The Beatles’ “Penny Lane,” Frank and Nancy Sinatra’s “Somethin’ Stupid,” Sandie Shaw’s “Puppet On A String,” Petula Clark’s “This Is My Song,” Sonny Bono’s “Mama” and Herman’s Hermits “(There’s A) Kind Of Hush.”

Mauriat would only reach the singles charts two more times after “Love Is Blue,” with his recordings of “Love In Every Room” and the title theme from the movie “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.”

Mauriat died on November 3, 2006 at the age of 81.

Edited: May 1st, 2013

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 4/7/13

45 adapterEnochLight

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Bond Street” by Enoch Light

Shagadelic indeed! Literally hundreds of records were released during the 1950s and 1960s carrying the Enoch Light name. Light was born in Ohio and led The Light Brigade, which was a big band that primarily played on the radio and in theaters that scored the 1937 hit “Summer Night.” After they disbanded, they became a studio-only entity.

Light was a vice president of easy listening record label, Grand Award, before founding Command Records in 1959. Light’s stock in trade was state-of-the-art mood music records pressed on virgin vinyl that took full advantage of the capabilities of stereo hi-fi systems of the day by featuring ping-pong stereo effects. The albums were some of the first to use 35mm film as a recording method instead of tape, providing crystal-clear distortion free sound.

The packaging on his records, like the classic Persusasive Percussion and Provocative Percussion albums, featured minimalist modern art usually designed by Josef Albers on the covers. The covers were designed to stand out in record bins with heavy cardboard gatefold sleeves featuring copious liner notes about the recording techniques employed within. When you saw one of the covers, you automatically knew it was a Command release.

Light sold the label to ABC in 1965, who in turn sold it to MCA. MCA proceeded to run Command as a budget label, reissuing the records on cheap vinyl with abbreviated single-pocket sleeves minus the original high-gloss art. Light continued to run the label under the new ownership where his later recordings were still recorded, packaged and marketed with the same attention to detail as they were from before the sale.

Today’s Song Of The Day comes from one of Light’s later Command projects, the 1969 album Spaced Out. The album included super swingin’ stereo versions of the Burt Bacharach and Hal David songs “Walk On By,” “What The World Needs Now Is Love” and “Knowing When To Leave,” plus Beatle covers of “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da,” “Get Back,” “Norwegian Wood” and “Eleanor Rigby.” The cover had some of the coolest period graphics I’ve ever seen on any record cover ever.

By 1970, the label was no longer profitable and MCA shut it down. Light continued working, both as an arranger/conductor and headed up an all new audiophile record label, Project 3 Records, which was marketed by London Records.

Edited: April 7th, 2013

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 3/15/13

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Whipped Cream” by Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass

Before forming the Tijuana Brass and a record company (A&M) that still lives today, Herb Alpert was best known for co-writing Sam Cooke’s “Wonderful World” and producing tracks for Jan & Dean.  All that changed in 1962 when he recorded “The Lonely Bull” in his garage and gave birth to one of the biggest recording acts of the 1960s rivaling The Beatles.

The first few Tijuana Brass albums were recorded with a cadre of Los Angeles studio musicians. For the group’s fourth album, Whipped Cream & Other Delights, Alpert recruited future Tijuana Brass members John Pisano (guitar) and Bob Edmondson (trombone) and augmented them with Wrecking Crew members Hal Blaine, Carol Kaye, Chuck Berghofer, and Russell Bridges (aka Leon Russell). Once the album took off, Alpert solidified the TJB lineup by adding Nick Ceroli (drums), Pat Senatore (bass), Tonni Kalash (trumpet), Lou Pagani (piano), and Julius Wechter who played marimba and vibes only on studio recordings.

The food-themed album featuring such tasty tunes as “Tangerine,” “Butterball,” “Peanuts” and “Love Potion No. 9,” topped the charts and sold over 6 million copies in the United States. It also won five Grammy Awards, three for the single, “A Taste of Honey.’ Sol Lake, who contributed numerous original songs to the TJB repertoire, wrote “Green Peppers,’ “Bittersweet Samba” and “El Garbanzo” for the album.

Today’s Song Of The Day is an Allen Toussaint-penned creation (under the pseudonym Naomi Neville) that was heard regularly on the TV game show, The Dating Game, as bachelorettes were being introduced to the audience.  Three other songs from the album, “Lollipops And Roses,” “Lemon Tree” and “Ladyfingers” were also used on the show as musical cues, as well as “Spanish Flea” from the TJB’s follow-up album, Going Places!.

And then there’s the album cover…the most iconic in all of recorded music…the cover that launched millions of young adolescent boys sex lives!

The model on the cover, Dolores Erickson, was three months pregnant when the photo was taken!  It was parodied by such artists as Pat Cooper (Spaghetti Sauce & Other Delights), Soul Asylum (Clam Dip & Other Delights), Cherry Capri and the Martini Kings (Creamy Cocktails & Other Delights), The Frivolous Five (Sour Cream & Other Delights), plus on Herb Alpert tribute albums by Peter Nero and Dave Lewis.

Thanks to my buddy Kent, I am the proud owner of not one…not two…but 151 copies of this record…can you really ever get enough “Whipped Cream & Other Delights?”

Edited: March 14th, 2013

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 3/6/13

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “A Lot Of Livin’ To Do” by Sammy Davis, Jr.

It’s the wham of Sam, from the musical Bye Bye Birdie.

Without Sammy Davis Jr., there wouldn’t have been a James Brown or Prince. He was clearly the most talented of the Rat Pack by a mile…could sing circles around Frank and Dino…and had the moves and comedic talents to make him the total entertainment package. He was in a word, a dynamo!

Davis was born into a family of vaudevillians, and he began his career dancing as part of the family act at the age of three. Over the years, he gained popularity as a standout in the act which led to a recording contract with Decca Records and the lead role in the Broadway Musical, Mr. Wonderful.

By the late 1950s, Davis was rubbing shoulders with Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Joey Bishop and Peter Lawford, and the media began referring to them as The Rat Pack. Together, they all had a jolly old time while breaking down the racial barriers in the entertainment world. When Sinatra formed his own Reprise record label in 1961, Davis was one of the first artists he signed.

This swingin’ gem comes from Sammy’s 1962 Reprise album What Kind Of Fool Am I. The album, a collection of twelve songs from the Broadway stage, proved to be one of his most popular landing at #14 on the album charts. The album included  “Once In A Lifetime,” “Begin The Beguine” with a spare percussive arrangement, and the very groovy “Gonna Build A Mountain,” songs that would remain amongst his most requested performances for the rest of his career.

The album’s title track would go on to become one of Davis’ signature songs, but it is today’s Song Of The Day that is the essence of cool hipness, as Sammy effortlessly swings against a sturdy Marty Paich arrangement. This album was issued on CD, along with most of the rest of his Reprise recordings, in 2004 by Collectors’ Choice Music.

Edited: March 5th, 2013

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman –3/4/13

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Savoy Truffle” by Ella Fitzgerald

About a month ago, I featured Fats Domino’s recording of “Lady Madonna” from the 1969 album Fats Is Back. That record was produced by Richard Perry for Reprise Records, and today’s Song Of the Day follows Perry to the very next project he worked on, Ella by Ella Fitzgerald.

Reprise records of the late ‘60s was an artist’s haven due in no small part to the approach label head Mo Ostin took towards nurturing his roster. As a result, the label attracted top-shelf folk and rock attractions like Neil Young, Frank Zappa, Joni Mitchell, Jimi Hendrix, Fleetwood Mac, Ry Cooder and Arlo Guthrie.

But let’s face it, Reprise was once Frank Sinatra’s label and it always had a sweet spot for its easy listening releases. Under Sinatra’s leadership, the Reprise roster featured records mostly by him and cronies like Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney and Jo Stafford. When Sinatra sold the label in 1963 to Warner Bros., the label came under the direction of Mo Ostin.

Under Ostin’s tutelage, the label’s easy listening roster grew hipper and included releases by Theo Bikel, Petula Clark, The Vogues, Gordon Lightfoot, Rod McKuen, Randy Newman, Dion, Harper’s Bizarre, Lee Hazelwood, Tom Lehrer, Mike Post Coalition and Kenny Rogers & The First Edition.

One of the label’s early strategies was to find worthy artists who had fallen out of the spotlight, and match them up with a sympathetic producer who could give their recordings a contemporary sheen. For Ella Fitzgerald’s Reprise debut, Ostin matched her up with producer Richard Perry.

Perry booked time at Olympic Studios in London and had Ella record no less than three tunes by Smokey Robinson, including a sumptuous take on “Ooh Baby Baby,” The Temptations’ “Get Ready” and a sultry and soulful version of “The Hunter Gets Captured By The Game.”  And under Perry’s direction in choosing repertoire, she also turned in more than credible versions of songs by Randy Newman (“Yellow Man” and “I Wonder Why”), Bacharach and David (“I’ll Never Fall In Love Again”), STAX men Steve Cropper and Eddie Floyd (“Knock On Wood”) and Harry Nilsson (“Open Your Window”).

However, no late ‘60s career resuscitation could be complete without a couple of Beatle tunes thrown in for good measure, and on this album Ella sings “Got To Get You Into My Life” which had been covered by numerous artists, and George Harrison’s “Savoy Truffle,” which was covered by almost no one, making Ella’s version such a treat. Although Ella sang well throughout the album, no hits ensued and the album quickly went out of print.

For her second and last album for Reprise, Things Ain’t What They Used To Be (And You Better Believe It), Ella teamed up with arranger Gerald Wilson and producer Norman Granz to record a record with far more traditional jazz arrangements, while still offering some outstanding cover choices like “Sunny,” “Mas Que Nada,” “I Heard It Through The Grapevine,” “A Man And A Woman” and “Days Of Wine And Roses.”

Edited: March 3rd, 2013

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 2/19/13

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Watch What Happens” by Lena Horne & Gabor Szabo

A funny thing happened when jazz and pop vocalists like Lena Horne fell on the wrong side of the generation gap during the late 1960s. Suddenly, older classics like “Stormy Weather” and “Love Me Or Leave Me” began to sound hopelessly out of date to a younger generation of listeners, who didn’t give artists like Horne the time of day, or worse, time on their turntables.

Changes would have to be made, and many of the artists began recording popular songs of the day and augmenting their once jazz or orchestral recordings with electric guitars, electric bass, organ and drums. Sinatra did it. So did Tony Bennett, Johnny Mathis and Andy Williams. It was a matter of survival, and at least Lena Horne had the talent and had been around the block enough times to attempt to adapt to the times.

While many of the pop vocalists didn’t have the wherewithal to update their sound and still retain credibility,  Horne was a sympathetic and adept interpreter  of song and managed just fine to survive with her career intact.

By 1969, Lena Horne hadn’t released a new album for four years and was pretty much considered yesterday’s news as a recording artist. At the same time, Gabor Szabo, who is one of the few guitarists whose stands comfortably beside Jerry Garcia when it comes to guitar sound, technique and improvisatory style, left Impulse Records to form his own Skye Records label along with vibist Cal Tjader and composer/arranger Gary McFarland.

Szabo was born in Hungary and came to America to study at the Berklee School Of Music in Boston. He played guitar with the Chico Hamilton quartet between 1961 and 1965, before recording a series of classic jazz albums for Impulse that melded his modal psychedelic guitar style with choice covers of contemporary hits. His 1966 album Sorcerer  is one of the seminal jazz guitar recordings of the 1960s. Concurrent with his own recording career, Szabo also toured and played as a member of Horne’s live performance band. So it only seemed natural that Gabor and Horne would eventually record an album together.

The album they recorded was appropriately called Lena & Gabor, and it featured a who’s who of great jazz session players of the time including Eric Gale and Cornell Dupree on guitar, Richard Tee on organ, Chuck Rainey on bass and Grady Tate on drums. Many of these artists also recorded albums for the Skye label as well.

The album’s repertoire included Horne’s first chart hit in some time with today’s Song Of The Day, “Watch What Happens,” which was written by Michel Legrand. The record also featured no less than four Beatles covers including versions of “In My Life,” “The Fool On The Hill,” one of the best covers of “Something” ever, and a fairly ridiculous take on “Rocky Raccoon.” Rounding out the record were versions of Fred Neil’s “Everybody’s Talkin’,” “Bacharach and David’s “Message To Michael” and the Charles Aznavour classic “Yesterday When I Was Young.” 

Szabo’s hypnotic and funky guitar work throughout this album is nothing short of stunning. While the Skye label only lasted two years and 21 releases, Szabo went on to write the song “Gypsy Queen” which became a hit for Santana in 1970. He continued to record records for a variety of labels until his death in 1982.

Horne never really revived her recording career with this record, but continued to be a concert draw in supper clubs and on Broadway in her 1981 revue Lena Horne: The Lady And Her Music for which she won a Tony Award. She died on Mother’s Day 2010 at the age of 92.

Edited: February 18th, 2013

Song Of the Day by Eric Berman – 2/12/13

Song Of the Day by Eric Berman – “The Alley Cat” by Bent Fabric

Dance crazes come and go, but they are never forgotten.

Today there’s Psy’s “Gangnam Style,” wreaking havoc across dance floors all over the world. In the 1990s, there was “The Macarena.” In the 1980s, country line dancing and “The Lambada” had their day in the sun, and the ‘70s gave us “The Electric Slide.” But in the early 1960s, there was only one communal synchronized dance that kids and adults alike shared in, making it a staple at weddings, proms and Bar Mitzvahs.

That dance was “The Alley Cat.”

In actuality, “The Alley Cat” began as a 1961 hit for Bent Fabricius-Bjerre in Denmark under the title “Omkring et Flygel” (“Under The Table”). The song was picked up for U.S. distribution by Neshui and Ahmet Ehrtegun and released on their Atco label in 1962, where it became a million-selling top-ten hit.  The song also went on to win a Grammy Award for, get this, Best Rock and Roll Record of 1962!

Fabric released six albums on Atco between 1962 and 1968, with titles like The Happy Puppy, The Drunken Penguin and Operation Love Birds, with animal-centric album covers to match. He was also paired up with Atco’s other big instrumentalist, Acker Bilk, for a series of recordings. But no matter how many albums were released, in America he is still only associated with one thing, “The Alley Cat.”

Fabric got his start playing Jazz piano in Denmark before moving into the realm of film scores, where he wrote music for 27 different Danish films. He also founded Metronome Records in 1950, which went on to become one of the most successful Danish record companies. One of his signings was Jorge Ingmann who scored a #2 hit in America with his classic instrumental “Apache.”

While Fabric has seemingly faded from view in America, he’s continued to release recordings in Denmark over the years, most recently scoring two top-ten hits in 2006 from his album called Jukebox. That album’s title track also got airplay in dance clubs across America, where a remix of “Alley Cat” was also re-released.

Surprisingly, in Mexico, ice cream trucks co-opted “The Alley Cat” as their calling card, so when children hear it blaring through the streets, it means the ice cream man is in the neighborhood.

Edited: February 11th, 2013

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 10/6/12

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Love (Can Make You Happy)” by Mercy

This slice of easy listening splendor hit the number two slot on the Billboard charts in 1969. At the time Mercy consisted of artists signed to the small Sundi Record label from Florida, and centered around member Jack Sigler, Jr. Once the song began to take off on the charts, Sundi rush-released an album with this song as the title track credited to “The Mercy” that featured none of the original members of the group. Such was the stuff of record companies in the 1960s. The record was quickly withdrawn due to litigation and Mercy was signed to Warner Bros. Records where another group centered around Jack Sigler, Jr. was formed. The Warner Bros. album managed a respectable #38 chart placing on the Billboard Album Charts. Another Sigler-led group still tours today and released an EP back in 2009. On a side note, I’ve been single-handedly trying to bring the expression “Mercy” back into popularity. I have been using it to show exasperation and surprise since the beginning of the summer, but it doesn’t seem to want to gain traction amongst my circle of influence…mercy…

Edited: October 5th, 2012

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 7/24/12

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Swinging On A Star” by Bing Crosby

This Academy Award winner for Best Original Song was composed by Jimmy Van Heusen and Johnny Burke for the 1944 film “Going My Way” in which Bing Crosby plays a priest. The song’s genesis came out of a meeting at Crosby’s house between him and Van Heusen to discuss music for the film. Crosby son came into the room to complain about going to school the next day. Van Heusen replied that if he didn’t go to school, he may turn out to be a mule. The song grew from there. While Crosby’s smooth delivery makes this the definitive version of the song, it has been recorded by numerous artists including Burl Ives, Frank Sinatra, Rosemary Clooney, Tony Bennett, Shari Lewis and Little Eva. The backing vocals on Crosby’s version are supplied by The Williams Brothers Quartet including a young Andy Williams.

Edited: July 23rd, 2012

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 7/6/12

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “1-2-3” by Len Barry

After singing during his military career for a few years, Leonard Borisoff changed his name and joined Philadelphia vocal group The Dovells in 1958 singing lead vocals on their million selling hit “Bristol Stomp,” plus “You Can’t Sit Down,” “The Continental” and “Hully Gully Baby.” Barry struck out on his own and within a short time struck gold with this classic AM radio staple from 1965 that went all the way up to number two on the Billboard charts. Soon thereafter, Motown Records’ lawyers came knocking on songwriters Len Barry and Dave White’s door, suing them both for plagiarizing the Holland-Dozier-Holland Supremes hit “Ask Any Girl.” Barry and White admitted that they did use part of the song as a basis for their song and H-D-H received a settlement and a writing credit for the song. After the hits began to dry up, Barry worked on a few projects with a local up-and-coming R’n’B group called Gulliver that featured Daryl Hall in its ranks.

Edited: July 5th, 2012

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 5/8/12

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “MacArthur Park” by Richard Harris

Who knows what was going on in songwriter Jimmy Webb’s mind when he wrote the somewhat nonsensical lyrics to this song, but one thing for sure is that it is a classic brought to the upper regions of the charts not once but twice. Richard Harris was known primarily as an actor and not a singer which can be evidenced on any of his albums, some of which are quite the embarrassment. Some of his most popular acting roles included King Arthur in the musical “Camelot” and Albus Dumbledore in the first few Harry Potter films. The song was originally intended for The Association to record, but they rejected it. Harris’ version of the song was released in 1968 and reached the number ten slot on the charts. It was included on his 1968 album “A Tramp Shining,” which is a bona-fide easy listening classic with all of the songs penned by Jimmy Webb. The song was subsequently recorded by artists as diverse as Donna Summer (who took it to the top of the charts in 1978 with her Disco version), Waylon Jennings, Liza Minnelli, The 5th Dimension, Justin Hayward (of The Moody Blues), Ferrante & Teicher and numerous others.

Edited: May 8th, 2012

Song Of The Day – 2/15/12

 

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Cowboy” by The Neon Philharmonic

There’s nothing like the kaleidoscopic sound of West Coast Pop Music from the late 1960s. Groups like The Neon Philharmonic could have only happened in a world nurtured by an artist-friendly record label like Warner Bros. and its sister label Reprise with label mates like Randy Newman, Van Dyke Parks, Harpers Bizarre, the Association and Mason Williams. The group consisted of producer and music publishing executive, Don Gant, and advertising man, actor, writer, session musician and classical composer, Tupper Saussy. They scored only one top twenty hit with 1969′s “Morning Girl,” and released only two albums and a clutch of 45s. This song is from their 1969 debut album called “The Moth Confesses – A Phonographic Opera.” I first became aware of The Neon Philharmonic from those wonderful $2.00 “Loss Leader” double albums that Warner Bros. Records used to sell off of their inner sleeves to promote their catalog. As a kid, I discovered all kinds of cool music from those records and I cherish the almost complete set I still possess to this day.

Edited: February 15th, 2012

Song Of The Day – 2/12/12

 

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” by Whitney Houston

While I was never a huge fan of Whitney Houston, it’s hard to deny that she was superbly talented. Once again, the star making machinery brought someone to the highest of highs and then seemingly jettisoned her to the gutter when the world was through with her. Whether it was Elvis, Michael Jackson, Amy Winehouse and now Whitney Houston, the combination of super stardom, substance abuse and the tell-all tabloid culture we all live in, led to their undoing. With Houston, the decline was slow and steady after the hits stopped coming. Even though Clive Davis seemingly stood by her and was behind numerous attempts at a comeback for her, the world was not having it…and she was not having it either. Whatever her demons were, it is a shame that another bright talent has left the building too early. It kind of leaves me feeling empty and disgusted…

Edited: February 12th, 2012

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 2/1/12

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Bond Street” by Enoch Light and the Light Brigade

Shagadelic indeed! Literally hundreds of records were released during the 1960s carrying the Enoch Light name. Light was born in Ohio and was a vice president of easy listening record label, Grand Award, before founding Command Records in 1959. Light’s stock in trade was state-of-the-art mood music records that took full advantage of the capabilities of stereo hi-fi systems of the day by featuring ping-pong stereo effects. The packaging on his records, like the classic “Persuasive Percussion” album, featured minimalist modern art on the covers designed to stand out in record bins with heavy cardboard gatefold sleeves. This song comes from Light’s 1969 album “Spaced Out” with some of the coolest period graphics I’ve ever seen on any record cover.

Edited: February 1st, 2012

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 1/25/12

 

 

 

 

 

 

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go” by Miley Cyrus

Yup…you got that right…Miley Cyrus…and not only that, but a credible cover of this Dylan classic from the just released Amnesty International 4 CD collection “Chimes Of Freedom.” At 76 tracks, this collection of Dylan covers is all over the map with as many cool additions to the canon…”Most Of The Time” by Bettye Lavette, “One Too Many Mornings” by Johnny Cash & The Avett Brothers using an unreleased Dylan-Cash outtake for source material, “No Time To Think” by Belle Brigade, “The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll” by Cage The Elephant and “Love Sick” by Mariachi El Bronx …as there are clunkers “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright” by Ke$ha, “Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You” by Sugarland, “Desolation Row” by My Chemical Romance, “Just Like A Woman” by Carly Simon and “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” by RedOne & Nabil Khayat. Along the way you get good versions of Dylan songs by some of the likely suspects who always show up on this type of collection: Elvis Costello, Sting, Steve Earle, Lucinda Williams, Billy Bragg, Patti Smith and Bob Dylan himself. You bet it’s a mixed bag…but when you consider the source material, you could do worse…

Edited: January 25th, 2012

Song Of The Day – 1/22/12

 

 

 

 

 

 

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Save The Country” by Laura Nyro

Laura Nyro was one of the greatest songwriters of the 1960s responsible for many hits recorded by others. Even though she will finally get her due this year by being inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall Of Fame, she is still relatively unknown to most people until you survey some of the songs she’s written: “Stone Soul Picnic” and “Wedding Bell Blues” by the 5th Dimension, “Eli’s Comin’” by Three Dog Night, “And When I Die” by Blood Sweat & Tears, “Stoney End” by Barbara Streisand are just some of her gold standard compositions. There is precious little footage of Nyro performing her own songs since she suffered from bouts of stage fright particularly during the 1960s. I was fortunate enough to see her once in 1976 at the Garden State Art’s Center in New Jersey and once in the early 1990s at The Bottom Line in New York City where in both instances she was in fine voice. Nyro’s own versions of her songs are still, in my mind, the definitive versions.

Edited: January 21st, 2012

Song Of The Day – 1/16/12

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “It Must Be Him” by Vikki Carr

Ms. Carr was born Florencia Bisenta de Casillas Martinez Cardona in El Paso Texas and was a humanitarian regularly entertaining the troops in South Vietnam. Phil Spector heard her recording her first hit, “He’s A Rebel” in the studio in 1962 and quickly cut a cover version with The Crystals bringing it to the top of the charts. Many of her hits were cut in Spanish as well as English, a move that was unusual for its time making her a popular Latin American entertainer. She appeared on countless TV variety and talk shows throughout the 1960s and early 1970s and took this song to the number one position in 1967 scoring three Grammy Nominations along the way. She is still very much active on the entertainment circuit as well as with her fundraising activities for various charities.

Edited: January 16th, 2012

Song Of The Day – 12/11/11

 

 

 

 

 

Song Of The Day – “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” by Frankie Valli

This 1967 solo hit by Valli was written like most of the Four Seasons hits by Bob Crewe and Bob Gaudio. This song was a big hit for Valli (#7) and has spawned over 200 cover versions by such artists as The Lettermen, Gloria Gaynor, Jay and The Americans, Pet Shop Boys and Lauryn Hill. This one is by far the best version. Just watched the movie “The Deer Hunter” tonight for the first time since it came out in 1978, and this song is used to great effect by the gang before they go off to Viet Nam.

Edited: December 11th, 2011

Song Of The Day – 11/7/11

Song Of The Day – “Yellow Bird” by Arthur Lyman

Picture yourself on a balmy Hawaiian island and get your week off to a pleasant start with Arthur Lyman. Lyman was originally a member of fellow Exotica artist, Martin Denny’s group. He left the group and scored this top five hit in 1961. Lyman’s replacement in Denny’s group was none other than Julius Wechter who went on to form the Baja Marimba Band.

Edited: November 7th, 2011

Song Of The Day – 9/2/11

Song Of The Day – “I Think It’s Going To Rain Today” by Randy Newman

This classic originally from his 1968 debut album is miles ahead of the stuff he’s been writing for Disney over the last 20 years. A guy’s gotta make money…and the kiddies do like those songs however trite they may be. There was a time when ol’ Randy was an acerbic, witty and keen observer — like in this often-covered song.

Edited: September 2nd, 2011

Song Of The Day – 8/2/11

Song Of The Day – “Summer Wind” by Frank Sinatra

It’s all about the groovy organ work in this song…and, of course, that voice! This classic originally from the 1966 album, “Strangers In The Night,” features lyrics by the great Johnny Mercer. It was originally a chart hit by Wayne Newton…but the song is most closely identified with Sinatra…and Bart Simpson…

Edited: August 2nd, 2011

Song Of The Day – 6/30/11

Song Of The Day – “Cry Me A River” by Julie London

It would be hard to think of London without all of the sexy cheesecake album covers, but behind all of the va va voom was the voice. Soft, supple, sexual.  She sang this song in the film “The Girl Can’t Help It” and starred in many other films and on TV. While this song became famous in the rock era by Joe Cocker, it doesn’t hold a candle to the original.

Edited: June 30th, 2011

Song Of The Day – 6/20/11

Song Of The Day – “Walls” by Glen Campbell

In a musical world rife with comebacks and reformations that are letdowns at best, comes a welcome return in the form of the 2008 album “Meet Glen Campbell.”  When paired with a collection of fine songs including this Tom Petty cover, Campbell became relevant again almost overnight. His takes on tunes by Lou Reed, The Replacements, John Lennon and Bono aren’t bad either.

Edited: June 20th, 2011

Song Of The Day 6/12/11

Song Of The Day – (They Long To Be) Close To You by The Carpenters

Herb Alpert signed Karen & Richard Carpenter to his A&M Record label in 1969. For the first year they barely sold any records.  This song was intended as the follow up to Herb’s #1 hit “This Guy’s In Love With You.” Alpert recorded his own version of this song before giving it to The Carpenters. The rest is history…

Edited: June 12th, 2011

Song Of The Day – 6/11/11

Song Of The Day – “The Lonely Bull” by Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass

It all started with a bullfight in Mexico and a make-shift recording studio in a garage in California.  It was 1962 and young Herb Alpert launched his recording career and the A&M Record label at the same time. They were my first concert in 1973 at the Garden State Arts Center in Holmdel, NJ, and I’ll be seeing the man with the horn again tonight appear with his wife Lani Hall!

Edited: June 10th, 2011

Song Of The Day – 4/29/11

Song Of The Day – “Wedding Bell Blues” by Laura Nyro

Most people are familiar with The 5th Dimensions hit version of this song, but here is the original by the artist who wrote it.  Nyro also wrote “Stoned Soul Picnic,” “Eli’s Comin’,” “And When I Die,” “Stoney End,” “Sweet Blindness,” and many more made famous by other artists.  Oh…is there a wedding going on or something today…

Edited: April 29th, 2011

Song Of The Day – 4/28/11

Song Of The Day – “A Lot Of Livin’ To Do” by Sammy Davis, Jr.

A little wham from Sam today originally from the musical “Bye Bye Birdie.” Without Sammy, there wouldn’t have been a James Brown or Prince. He was clearly the most talented of the Rat Pack by a mile…could sing circles around Frank and Dino…and had the moves and comedic talents to make him the total entertainment package. This song comes from Sammy’s 1962 album “Sammy Davis Jr. Sings What Kind Of Fool Am I.”

Edited: April 28th, 2011

Song Of The Day – 4/12/11

Song Of The Day – “Ce Matin La” by Air

This lush piece of 1960s pop actually was released in 1998 by the French group Air on their wonderful “Moon Safari” album.  With strings reminiscent of Glen Campbell’s “Wichita Lineman” and Brian Wilson-esque arrangements that would fit comfortably on a Beach Boys recording, Air really hit the bull’s-eye with this pastiche.

Edited: April 12th, 2011

Song Of The Day – 4/8/11

Song Of The Day – “Man In The Mirror” by Jacob Lusk

American Idol has found the real deal this season in the form of singer Jacob Lusk. With a voice like Antony of Antony And The Johnsons but with a lot more range, Lusk can sing anything and make it sound good…and being on Idol means he’s singing all kinds of songs ill-suited to his immense talents. He probably won’t win the contest…but he’ll win in the form of a long career ahead.

Edited: April 8th, 2011

Song Of The Day – 4/5/11

Song Of The Day – “Alley Cat” by Bent Fabric

No wedding or Bar Mitzvah in the early 1960s was complete without a round of dancing to “Alley Cat”…there was even a special line dance associated with the song. It even won a Grammy for Best Rock & Roll Record in 1962 for the Danish born pianist. Go figure…

Edited: April 5th, 2011

Song Of The Day – 4/1/11

Song Of The Day – “The April Fools” by Dionne Warwick

Another slice of pop perfection compliments of the team of Burt Bacharach, Hal David and Dionne Warwick. This early ’60s gem will help you to forget what a disaster Dionne’s appearance on “The Celebrity Apprentice” has been…

Listen: April Fools

Edited: March 31st, 2011