Posts Tagged ‘Mitch Miller’

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #50– Johnny Mathis: “Chances Are” b/w “The Twelfth Of Never” – Columbia 45 4-40993 (U5/V5)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #50– Johnny Mathis: “Chances Are” b/w “The Twelfth Of Never” – Columbia 45 4-40993 (U5/V5)

Fluff piece…or Pure Pop for Then People? Neither of the above…just another great jukebox classic.

Smooth and intimate. Those are adjectives you don’t hear that often to describe much of the music being made today. But there was a time when smooth and intimate was the basis for an entire genre of music. I’m talking about Pop Music…The Pop music of the pre-rock era…Pop music your mom and pop listened to. Real pop music…Mitch Miller Pop…Ray Conniff Pop…Pop music that came from unforgettable singers like Doris Day, Bobby Vinton, Rosemary Clooney, Tony Bennett and, of course Johnny Mathis.

Sure, there were many more accomplished vocalists back then too, vocalists like Ella Fitzgerald, Nat Cole, Frank Sinatra, Mel Tormé and Carmen McRae, who worked with some of the finest jazz players and arrangers of the day. But, with the exception of Sinatra and Cole, they really didn’t rule the airwaves.

So, if Michael Jackson was the King of Pop of the ’80s and beyond, then Johnny Mathis was his predecessor, the king of late 1950s and early 1960s pop. (I guess that leaves Barry Manilow for the 1970s.)

“Chances Are” was written by the songwriting team of Robert Allen and Al Stillman. They were the same team that also wrote Mathis’ “It’s Not For Me To Say,” The Four Lads’ “Moments To Remember,” “No Not Much,” “Enchanted Island,” and the holiday classic “Home For The Holidays.”

It’s all pillow talk from Mathis. The first thing that gets you is the fabulous echo-laden sound that puts the listener smack dab in the middle of cloud nine, provided courtesy of producer Mitch Miller. Then there’s the piano, gently caressing and embellishing the melody. But it all wouldn’t mean a hill of beans if it wasn’t for the gossamer-smooth Mathis magic on the vocals. “Chances Are” is one of the iconic records of the late 1950s. It’s a heavenly slice of pop production and much more than just a great song, it’s a great record. It’s the culmination of songwriting craft, performance and production that creates the whole sonic picture, and makes this record one for the ages.

When released as a single back in 1957, “Chances Are” soared all the way to the number four spot on the charts, while its flip side, “The Twelfth Of Never” also became a big hit.

“The Twelfth Of Never” was written by Jerry Livingston and Paul Francis Webster and when it was released as the flip of “Chances Are” in 1957, it rose to the #9 position of the pop charts. The song’s melody (minus the bridge) was based on the old English folk song called “The Riddle Song” which is also known as “I Gave My Love A Cherry.”

The song was also brought to the charts by Cliff Richard who scored a #8 UK hit with it in 1964 and Donny Osmond who rode the song to the #8 position in the US, while topping the UK charts with the song in 1973. Others who have had their way with the song include Nina Simone, Cher, Andy Williams, Glen Campbell, Johnny Nash, Roger Miller, The Chi-Lites, Tammy Wynette, Roger Whittaker, Olivia Newton-John, Dolly Parton, Barry Manilow and Jeff Buckley.

“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: July 12th, 2015

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #50– Johnny Mathis: “Chances Are” b/w “The Twelfth Of Never” – Columbia 45 4-40993 (U5/V5)

johnnymathischancesare45johnnymathischancesarepicjohnnymathistwelfthofnever45

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #50– Johnny Mathis: “Chances Are” b/w “The Twelfth Of Never” – Columbia 45 4-40993 (U5/V5)

“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.

Fluff piece…or Pure Pop For Then People? Neither of the above…just another great jukebox classic.

Smooth and intimate. Those are adjectives you don’t hear that often to describe much of the music being made today. But there was a time when smooth and intimate was the basis for an entire genre of music. I’m talking about Pop Music…The Pop music of the pre-rock era…Pop music your mom and pop listened to. Real pop music…Mitch Miller Pop…Ray Conniff Pop…Pop music that came from unforgettable singers like Doris Day, Bobby Vinton, Rosemary Clooney, Tony Bennett and, of course Johnny Mathis.

Sure, there were many more accomplished vocalists back then too, vocalists like Ella Fitzgerald, Nat Cole, Frank Sinatra, Mel Tormé and Carmen McRae, who worked with some of the finest jazz players and arrangers of the day. But, with the exception of Sinatra and Cole, they really didn’t rule the airwaves.

So, if Michael Jackson was the King of Pop of the ’80s and beyond, then Johnny Mathis was his predecessor, the king of late 1950s and early 1960s pop. (I guess that leaves Barry Manilow for the 1970s.)

“Chances Are” was written by the songwriting team of Robert Allen and Al Stillman. They were the same team that also wrote Mathis’ “It’s Not For Me To Say,” The Four Lads’ “Moments To Remember,” “No Not Much,” “Enchanted Island,” and the holiday classic “Home For The Holidays.”

It’s all pillow talk from Mathis. The first thing that gets you is the fabulous echo-laden sound that puts the listener smack dab in the middle of cloud nine, provided courtesy of producer Mitch Miller. Then there’s the piano, gently caressing and embellishing the melody. But it all wouldn’t mean a hill of beans if it wasn’t for the gossamer-smooth Mathis magic on the vocals. “Chances Are” is one of the iconic records of the late 1950s. It’s a heavenly slice of pop production and much more than just a great song, it’s a great record. It’s the culmination of songwriting craft, performance and production that creates the whole sonic picture, and makes this record one for the ages.

When released as a single back in 1957, “Chances Are” soared all the way to the number four spot on the charts, while its flip side, “The Twelfth Of Never” also became a big hit.

“The Twelfth Of Never” was written by Jerry Livingston and Paul Francis Webster and when it was released as the flip of “Chances Are” in 1957, it rose to the #9 position of the pop charts. The song’s melody (minus the bridge) was based on the old English folk song called “The Riddle Song” which is also known as “I Gave My Love A Cherry.”

The song was also brought to the charts by Cliff Richard who scored a #8 UK hit with it in 1964 and Donny Osmond who rode the song to the #8 position in the US, while topping the UK charts with the song in 1973. Others who have had their way with the song include Nina Simone, Cher, Andy Williams, Glen Campbell, Johnny Nash, Roger Miller, The Chi-Lites, Tammy Wynette, Roger Whittaker, Olivia Newton-John, Dolly Parton, Barry Manilow and Jeff Buckley.

Edited: December 22nd, 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