The Soundtrack For The Baby Boomer Generation

Step back to a time when singers were as bright as the stars in the heavens
and the music they sang was really swingin'. Stacks of wax to fit every occasion!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Alert!

Artist: Santo and Johnny
Song: Twistin' Bells (a-side) (b-side is Bullseye)
Label: Canadian American Records, Ltd. 120
Number: 6004
Songwriters: Farina, Farina, Farina
Time: 2:15
Released: 1960

Today's post is a special Christmas recording. Since it's Christmas Eve as I post this, I thought it quite appropriate. Everyone will remember Santo and Johnny from their greatest hit, Sleepwalk. Santo and Johnny Farina, brothers, were born in Brooklyn, New York on October 24th, 1937 and October 30th, 1941 respectively. It was Santo who played steel guitar and Johnny who mostly played rhythm guitar, along with the steel guitar. Their record label, Canadian American, and the publicity they released about them at the time referred to a third composer, Ann Farina, who was supposedly a sister. This was a mistake as they did not even have a sister! Their father, a serviceman, had found that the sound of the steel guitar on country and western records was quite soothing and so he encouraged them to learn this instrument. They learned the instrument and then wrote an instrumental featuring the sound of the steel guitar called Sleepwalk, which was released on the Canadian American label. With it's haunting sound, it topped the US charts and went on to sell 2 million copies. Needless to say, this solidified their position in music!
In their later years together, they tried to shake their "easy listening" tag by adding fuzz guitar and doing songs by Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin. They also recorded many Italian tunes as they established a huge following there, being awarded 33 gold discs. They continued to record popular albums until finally splitting up in 1976. They have since released their own solo albums. In 2002, the duo were inducted into the Steel Guitar Hall of Fame.
Today's song has a familiar melody - you might recognize it. It is the familiar classic Jingle Bells, speeded up and given the Santo and Johnny instrumental treatment. The Twist was popular in 1960, so they added this onto the name and before you can say Jingle Bell Rock, you've got a best selling song for the holidays - an instant classic. So, while you're welcoming faithful friends and family who are dear to you, please play Santo and Johnny's song for the Christmas season, Twistin' Bells and have an eggnog on me.
Merry Christmas to all my faithful blog readers!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Sister Act, Part Two

Artist: Paulette Sisters
Song: Your Love Captured Me (b-side) (a-side is Lips That Lie)
Label: Decca 9-30496 (Black and Silver Label Sample Copy - Not For Sale)
Number: 103,330
Songwriters: Gregory Carroll
Time: 3:02
Released: 1956

And now, part two of my special sister groups extravaganza. I posted this one last because, as far as available information there was to be found out about them on the internet, the Paulette Sisters were something of an enigma.
I know their names were Gloria, Jane and Betty and that Jane sang the low harmonies in the group and Gloria is known by the affectionate nickname of "Tootie" to her relatives. Apparently they are all still living because each year for the holidays, a young woman of 22 named Alyssa goes to visit her Aunt Tootie, Aunt Jane and Aunt Betty. And now, for what little professional information I was able to dig up about them.
Their one and only chart hit was in 1955, and it was a cover of the classic Hank Williams song You Win Again. It made it as high as #91 on the Billboard Hot 100 in November of that year. Also, it seems they might have started out their career lending their voices as backing harmonies to other singers of the day. I know they added background vocals on a couple songs by Connee Boswell, who herself started out as a member of the Boswell Sisters (more sister acts!). These included There Must Be A Way and Who Told You That Lie. I believe this was probably in the mid-1940's. Also in 1945, July 12th, to be precise, they made a guest appearance on The Kraft Music Hall radio program. Connee Boswell was also on that episode, so it's a pretty good chance the Paulette Sisters were backing her up for this as well.
After their own recording career began in earnest, they seem to have bounced around to a lot of different labels. For we see them on Columbia in 1952 and 1953, recording such songs as Put That Foot Down, Oh Johnny Oh Johnny Oh, Glow Worm, Sui Sin Fa, You'll Never Get Away, My-Na Shay-Na Ty-Ra, Following The Leader and Never Smile At A Crocodile. This latter song was from the soundtrack of the Walt Disney movie Peter Pan and their version itself was featured on the soundtrack to the motion picture You've Got Mail, from 1998. They also recorded Tell Me You Don't Love Me, Shalimar and Everybody Loves Saturday Night, for Columbia, the latter for the Percy Faith Orchestra featuring them and Burt Taylor, in 1953.
Later in 1955, we see them recording at Capitol, which was the period for when their main chart success for You Win Again took place. While on Capitol Records, they also recorded Dream Boat, backed with Leave My Honey Be, Ring-A-Ding-A-Doo, backed with Lonely One, Mama, El Baion, In Madrid and Now Is The Time. Then they recorded a song called Jody, for Decca, which is the label today's post is found on. I suspect this was in the 1956-1957 period, for 1958 found them working on the Aamco label and recording Calla, Calla (The Bride, The Bride) and Why. 1960 found them recording tracks for yet again another label. They released an answer song to the Fireflies 1959 hit recording of You Were Mine, entitled I Was Yours, for the Ribbons Record Label in 1960, which was the b-side of Poor Me. And that's all I could track down about them except a photocopied, autographed picture of them, which you can see below.
Today's great song is from their Decca period and for some reason, it always picks me up when I hear it. Your Love Captured Me is the flipside of Lips That Lie, which the single was promoting, but I like the b-side better. It features an orchestra directed by Sy Oliver, who was a jazz arranger, virtuoso trumpet player, composer, singer and bandleader. Listening to this song makes me wonder why they weren't big stars. Their delivery is spot on and their harmonies are tight and smooth. From this one recording, I would have bought more of their songs when they were in their prime. They have that great of a sound. But, yesterday's history is our loss today. Although I don't know much else about them, I do have this one entertaining moment they left behind for me to listen to. I hope the Paulette Sisters are happy wherever they are and whatever they are doing in this day and age, and I can truly say that their singing captured this fan totally. So be sure to judge for yourself as to their abilities when you listen to The Paulette Sisters as they sing Your Love Captured Me. These lips of mine don't lie when I say they're mighty infectious singers!

Sister Act, Part One

Artist: Shepherd Sisters
Song: Congratulations To Someone (b-side) (a-side is Alone [Why Must I Be Alone])
Label: Lance T-125
Number: T-3002
Songwriters: Frisch - Alfred
Time: 2:29
Released: 1957

Today's post is another in my line of themed offerings. It will include two songs by groups of sisters. And you thought this was going to be about the Whoopi Goldberg movie! Well, it's not.
The Shepherd Sisters, Martha, Gayle, Judy and Mary Lou were indeed sisters and were from Middletown, Ohio. Initially they performed as a trio with Martha, Gayle, and Mary Lou. Later they added sister Judy to their lineup. All are still alive and well except Martha, who passed away in 1998.
One of their first recordings, Gone With The Wind, got them a call from Dick Clark and subsequently they made many appearances on his American Bandstand show. They also appeared on Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts in the late 1950's. In New York, Morty Craft had a song he wanted them to record, Alone (Why Must I Be Alone), which they did and it was released on Craft's own Lance label. In 1957, Alone would become their biggest hit and their signature song. In the U.S. it reached No.18 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart; in the UK it made No.14. It may have climbed higher had it not been up against several rival cover versions on both sides of the Atlantic.
Morty also introduced them to the DJ Alan Freed, the man who first coined the term "rock and roll." The Shepherd Sisters played the Brooklyn and Manhattan Paramount Theaters and toured with Alan Freed's "America's Greatest Teenage Recording Stars"- The Everly Brothers, Paul Anka, Buddy Holly and the Crickets, Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers, Jerry Lee Lewis, Fats Domino, Danny and the Juniors, Lee Andrews and the Hearts, The Twin Tones, Little Joe Dubs, Thurston Harris, Terry Nolan, and Jo Ann Campbell. Besides rock and roll, the Shepherd Sisters were also a stage and cabaret act. They performed at big hotels, nightclubs, NYC's Apollo Theater and casinos in Reno and Las Vegas. They also sang in the Philippines, Canada, South America and parts of Europe. Later on, they were often on the road performing in venues from Cincinatti to Buenos Aires, instead of focusing on their recording career.
Some of the many songs they recorded are the aforementioned Gone With The Wind, Love's Not A Dream, I'll Be There, Rock 'N Roll Cha Cha Cha (!), Remember That Crazy Rock 'N Roll Tune, I Walked Beside The Sea, Gettin' Ready For Freddy, Eatin' Pizza, Is It A Crime, I Think It's Time, How Softly A Heart Breaks, Schoen-a Schoen-a, Hapsburg Serenade, Lolita Ya-Ya, What Makes Little Girls Cry, Heart And Soul, Finders Keepers, I've Got A Secret, Our Town - recorded in 1976. From looking through some of these song titles, it seems like rather than compete with the new Rock and Roll music, they embraced it.
Today's song, Congratulations To Someone, was the flipside to their monster smash hit Alone, Why Must I Be Alone. I'd be willing to bet that not many people remember turning over their record if they had it all those years ago and playing the b-side. Fortunately, you don't have that problem because it's here today for your listening pleasure. It features their impeccable harmonies and sounds like they were reaching for the young Rock and Roll market in their arrangement. It has nice little combo of guitar, stand-up bass, drums and piano and let's the sister's voices shine through in front of the backing. So, relive the great Shepherd Sister's era of music while they sing Congratulations To Someone. You won't be alone in admiring their smooth voices and grand harmonies!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Jazzy Lady

Artist: Helen Merrill
Song: Listen (b-side) (a-side is Blue Guitar)
Label: Mercury 71166X45
Number: YW14187
Songwriters: Broussolle - Becaud - Sydney
Time: 2:35
Released: July 23rd, 1957

Helen Merrill was born as Jelena Ana Milcetic in New York City on July 21st, 1930. She is an internationally known jazz artist and has had success in Japan, Italy (where she lived for many years), and the United States. In a career that has spanned 6 decades, she has recorded and performed with some of the most notable figures in the American jazz scene. Helen has been married three times, first to musician Aaron Sachs, second time to UPI vice president Donald J Brydon, and third to arranger-conductor Torrie Zito. She has one child, a son, Allan P. Sachs, also a singer, who is professionally known as Alan Merrill.
She began singing in jazz clubs in the Bronx at the age of fourteen when she was with the Reggie Childs Orchestra during 1946-1947. By the time she was sixteen, Merrill had taken up music full time. In 1952, Merrill made her recording debut when she was asked to sing A Cigarette For Company with the Earl "Fatha" Hines Band. At this time she was married to musician Aaron Sachs. They divorced in 1956. As a result of the exposure she received from this song and two subsequent singles recorded for the Roost record label, Merrill was signed by Mercury Records for their new Emarcy label. In 1954, Merrill recorded her first (and to date most acclaimed) LP, an eponymous record featuring legendary jazz trumpet player Clifford Brown and bassist/cellist Oscar Pettiford, among others. The album was produced and arranged by Quincy Jones, who was then just twenty-one years old. The success of Helen Merrill prompted Mercury to sign her for an additional four-album contract.
Merrill's follow-up was the 1956 LP, Dream of You, which was produced and arranged by bebop arranger and pianist Gil Evans. Other albums by her include Helen Merrill With Strings (1955), Merrill At Midnight (1957), The Nearness Of You (1958), You've Got A Date With The Blues (1959), and American Country Songs (1959). After recording sporadically through the late 1950's and 1960's, Merrill spent much of her time touring Europe, where she enjoyed more commercial success than she had in the United States. She settled for a time in Italy, recording an album there and doing live concerts with jazz notables Chet Baker, Romano Mussolini, and Stan Getz. Merrill returned to the U.S. in the 1960's, but moved to Japan in 1967 after touring there. Merrill developed a following in Japan that remains strong to this day. Another aspect of her career is that the consistently challenges herself stylistically and records in different musical genres. She has recorded a bossa nova album, a Christmas album, and an album's worth of Rodgers and Hammerstein, among many others. In 1970, she even released Helen Merrill Sings The Beatles. I'll have to check that one out myself! In all, Helen Merrill has recorded more than 40 albums. She returned to New York in 1972 where she now lives, making annual concert tours in Japan and Europe. She will be appearing at various Billboard Clubs of Japan - Tokyo, Nagoya and Fukuoka, in 2009, so if you happen to be overseas next February, you might want to look her up.
Today's number is that finger-snapping type of jazz stylings that just goes down well. As far as I can ascertain, it was only a single release and never appeared on an album when it was originally recorded. I suppose since she was near the end of her contract time with Mercury, they didn't include it on an album for one reason or another. But that's a shame, because it's a catchy little number and displays her vocal talents front and center. She is backed by Hal Mooney and His Orchestra and the track really swings. So, don't deprive yourself of this aural experience and get Helen Merrill as she exhorts you to Listen. You'll be glad you did!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Great Minds, Etc.

I was going through a stack of my old 45's and the phrase on this sleeve happened to catch my eye:

It was on a Mercury sleeve, and the record inside was by Johnny Jay. The songs were Tears (Keep On Falling) b/w Sugar Doll, and they were released on October 31st, 1957 - Hallowe'en no less! You'll probably get to hear it sooner or later here on Music For Every Mood. Because, what is it they say? Great minds think alike?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Pretty Kitty

Artist: Kitty Kallen
Song: I Never Was The One (b-side) (a-side is Crying Roses)
Label: Decca 9-30516 (Sample Copy - Not For Sale)
Number: 103,608
Songwriters: Johnny Graham - Frank La Motta
Time: 2:19
Released: 1958

Kitty Kallen was born in Philadelphia on May 25th, 1922, and while still a child sang on the radio program The Children's Hour. As a pre-teen she had her own program on Philadelphia's WCAU, and soon she sang as a vocalist with the big bands of Jan Savitt in 1936, Artie Shaw in 1938, and Jack Teagarden in 1940. After a short stay with Bobby Sherwood, she joined the Jimmy Dorsey band, replacing Helen O'Connell. Though only a teenager at the time, she was the vocalist for one of Dorsey's biggest hits, Besame Mucho. Most of her singing assignments were in duets with Bob Eberly, and when Eberly left to go into the service toward the end of 1943, she joined Harry James' band.
In the spring of 1949, Kitty Kallen had her first chart hit under her own name with Kiss Me Sweet, with Mitch Miller on Mercury Records #5265 which made it to the top 30. After the hits Juke Box Annie, with Harry Geller's orchestra, Our Lady Of Fatima, recorded with singer Richard Hayes and Jimmy Caroll's orchestra, and The Aba Dabba Honeymoon, things were looking up for Kitty Kallen. However she all but disappeared from the music scene, and there were many reports that she had lost her voice, or was tired of the business. In any event Kitty Kallen was absent from the music scene for more than two years.
In late 1953, a Decca release by Kitty, Are You Looking For A Sweetheart? charted into the top 30. That was just a warmup for the recently returned vocalist who was on the verge of a huge year in 1954. The song Little Things Mean A Lot was recorded for Decca in the spring of the year and was a monster hit, one of the biggest of the post war era. It stayed at the number one spot for nine consecutive weeks and remained on the charts for close to seven months. It sold more than two million copies and certainly cemented Kallen's place in pop music history.
1955 was the year that rock and roll took over and Kitty Kallen would seem to be just one more casualty from the pop music field, but she did have a couple more songs which charted. Go On With The Wedding was a top forty seller in early 1956. In 1959, she had a national hit with If I Give My Heart To You, which climbed into the top 35 best selling records. And in the early Sixties when the world was on the cusp of the British Invasion, RCA released My Coloring Book in early 1963 and Kitty Kallen was back on the hit charts. The recording lasted two months on the charts and got to the number 18 slot on the best sellers lists.
As of this writing, Kitty Kallen has retired from the world of show business and divides her time between her homes in New Jersey and Mexico where she spends the winter months. She has said that she had no gimmicks but sang from the heart. For her recording work, she received a "star" on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. To many people, Kitty Kallen will always be Pretty Kitty Kallen.
Today's offering was from her late 1950's career and is a very touching song indeed. She presents it with her usual warmness and you just want to hug her. With an orchestra directed by Jack Pleis, she sings about falling in love for the first time. So be sure to get Kitty Kallen singing I Never Was The One, and you'll fall in love with the voice of Pretty Kitty.

The Wheel Of Fortune Spins

Artist: Sunny Gale
Song: How Could You (a-side) (b-side is I Feel Like I'm Gonna Live Forever)
Label: RCA Victor 47-5216
Number: E2VW-7787
Songwriters: Bert Douglas - Bennie Martini
Time: 2:41
Released: 1953

Sunny Gale came out of nowhere on a small, independent label in the early 1950's to have a spectacular, if brief career, that ended too early with the onset of Rock and Roll. Born Selma Sega, she grew up in a neighborhood in Philadelphia from which several future singers that graced the American music scene in the fifties and early sixties also called home. Eddie Fisher, Al Martino, Buddy Greco, Frankie Avalon, and Fabian were some of the entertainers that hailed from the same area. By 1951, Selma decided that she would give show business a try and was soon known by the colorful stage name of Sunny Gale. She eventually found herself with a shot at a recording session for a New York independent label called Derby Records. Head arranger for the label Eddie Wilcox picked out a tune that had been recorded for RCA by Johnny Hartman in the spring of that year. Now at the end of 1951, the tunes Wheel Of Fortune b/w You Showed Me The Way were recorded and released on Derby #787.
By early January after only a few weeks of having been issued, Wheel Of Fortune started a run up the charts. Close to fifty thousand copies are sold which is out of the ordinary for a small independent label in the early Fifties. Soon a number of cover versions hit the market and one by Kay Starr for Capitol leaped out in front on the national pop charts. Sunny Gale's version with it's great arrangement by Wilcox scored in both the pop and R & B fields and was a huge plus for the independent label group. On the pop charts, Gale's version of the song got as high as the number thirteen position and had a stay of two months. Despite the hit status of this record, Derby Records ran into financial problems and it's future was uncertain. Sunny Gale, with a smash hit on her first try, decided to move to a big major label, RCA Victor.
A few months later Sunny Gale was back on the best seller charts for RCA Victor with the song I Laughed At Love. This was another good seller, got into the top fifteen, and stayed on the charts for two months. Some of the further hits she had for the label included Teardrops On My Pillow, A Stolen Waltz, Love Me Again, Before It's Too Late, Goodnight Sweetheart Goodnight, Smile and Let Me Go Lover, which was originally recorded by another artist already featured here on Music For Every Mood, Joan Weber. Gale's version of the song entered the top twenty in early 1955 and would be the last time she would appear on the best sellers charts.
Sunny made appearances on Dick Clark's American Bandstand, at the Amsterdam News 15th annual Midnight Benefit Show, which was held at the Apollo Theater and The Brooklyn Academy of Music All Star Show, which featured such artists as The Ink Spots, Red Buttons, Lena Horne and many others. Other songs she recorded were Send My Baby Back To Me, Meanwhile, An Old Familiar Love Song, Mama's Gone Goodbye, The Note In The Bottle, Just In Case You Change, Close To Me, Dream Dream Dream, Don't Cry Mama, Unsuspecting, Constantly, Certainly Baby, C'est La Vie, Looking Glass, Devotion, Rock And Roll Wedding, Winner Take All, Try A Little Prayer, Our Love Is A Sad Song, Georgie Porgie, Two Hearts, One Kiss Led To Another, Maybe You'll Be There, Let's Be Friendly, My Arms Are A House, Don't Worry 'Bout Me, Who Are We To Say, A Meeting Of The Eyes, I Don't Want Your Greenback Dollar, A Certain Smile, Just Friends, Oh What It Seemed To Be, The Gypsy Told Me So and today's song, from 1953, which featured a chorus and orchestra conducted by Ralph Burns.
After her hits stopped coming, she was mostly just a memory of the pre-rock fifties, but Sunny Gale came out of nowhere on a small independent label in early 1952 and stood the world of pop music on it's ear, and for a time was a solid hitmaker for RCA. Listening to How Could You, one can certainly hear the charms that her voice had. It's a peppy little number that should have had more chart action for her. It's one of those songs that, even though the theme is downbeat and the singer is talking about being treated wrong, it still picks you up when you listen to it. So download How Could You, by Sunny Gale and treat yourself to something special. Spin the wheel of fortune and I know you'll come up with a winner!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Brothers In Arms

Artist: The Kalin Twins
Song: The Meaning Of The Blues (a-side) (b-side is Why Don't You Believe Me)
Label: Decca 9-30977 (Pink Label, Sample Copy - Not For Sale)
Number: 108 044
Songwriters: Don Wolf - Ben Raleigh
Time: 2:10
Released: September 1959

And now, part two of a special sibling's post. This one features two brothers - two twin brothers, to be exact! The Kalin Twins, Harold (known as Hal), and Herbert (known as Herb, both born on February 16th, 1934), remain the archetypal one-hit wonders. Their only top ten chart hit - When - may have cruelly prophesied the question as to their further success. Originally discovered by Clint Ballard Jr, the sibling duo had a couple of early recording flops. However, in 1958, after searching through piles of writers' demo tapes, their management discovered the song called When, written by Paul Evans and Jack Reardon. It got to Number 5 in the U.S., and sold over two million copies in the process. They did manage to have a modest follow-up hit with Forget Me Not, which peaked at Number 12 later that year.
Eventually, disillusioned with no chart success, the brothers returned to their day jobs, with each pursuing college degrees. They did not perform again until 1977, when a mutual friend booked them to appear at his new night club. Sometimes they performed with their younger sibling, Jack, and thus appeared as the Kalin Brothers. They disappeared again as a performing act, until 1989. Then, their one-time support act, Cliff Richard, invited them to play at his Wembley Stadium The Event concerts, as part of a sequence paying homage to the 1950's TV pop show Oh Boy! Harold Kalin was killed in an automobile accident, on August 24th, 2005, at the age of 71, whilst his slightly younger brother, Herbert, died as a result of a heart attack less than eleven months later, on July 21st, 2006. They were still performing up to the time of Hal's death.
Some of their other records were Jumpin' Jack, Walkin' To School, Three O'Clock Thrill, Oh! My Goodness, It's Only The Beginning and Sweet Sugar Lips.
In today's record, perhaps in several of their others, too, they sound a lot like The Everly Brothers - both in voice and musical arrangements. Which was not necessarily a bad thing! The Meaning Of The Blues, an upbeat little number which contrasts with the style the title would have you thinking of, is an instant classic duet. The brothers' harmonies are perfect and their musical accompaniement is first rate. So, download and listen to a great song that could have climbed to the top of the charts, but didn't, The Meaning Of The Blues, by The Kalin Twins. So when are you going to do it? You know you have to have this one, too!

Two.... Two.... Two Sisters In One Song

Artist: Patience and Prudence
Song: Heavenly Angel (a-side) (b-side is Little Wheel)
Label: Liberty F-55125
Number: 45-LB-820
Songwriters: G. Motola - J. Marascalco
Time: 2:00
Released: 1958

This post is part one of a special sibling-related double header. The first one features sisters named Patience and Prudence - the next one will feature brothers. Most of you will remember their big hit entitled Tonight You Belong To Me. Their story begins in 1956.
14-year-old Patience and 11-year-old Prudence McIntyre were singing a song they had learned at camp the previous summer one day in April 1956, while the family was driving home from a visit to friends in Malibu. The song, written and recorded as a waltz in 1927, was Tonight You Belong To Me. Recalling her first exposure to the song, Patience explains, "Tonight was an around-the-campfire tune that was already in 4/4 when we picked it up. It was Mom's idea to record it for the grandparents." The demo they cut with their dad Mark came to the attention Si Waronker at Liberty Records. It was recut and then Mr. Waronker took possession of the tapes. The McIntyre family was going away for a two-week vacation, but in the meantime, Liberty Records pressed their single and it became a huge local hit. They were completely unprepared for the surprise that greeted them when they returned home. Thanks to a Boston disc jockey who had played the record fourteen times in one day, Tonight You Belong To Me had broken wide open. By September it was on Billboard magazine's national pop record chart, peaking at Number 4 on October 6th and selling 200,000 copies. This led to the follow-up hit of Gonna Get Along Without You Now b/w The Money Tree, which rose to a respectable Number 12 on the charts.
But, after recording several more singles in their vintage/pop style, Patience and Prudence would not have any more hits. In 1958, Liberty tried backing the sisters with a rock and roll combo, but these recordings didn't dent the charts. Later in 1959, they were paired with a young singer named Mark Clifford, also a Liberty Records artist. These recordings didn't fare any better. Then, in 1964, they had one more stab at recording and produced four sides for the Los Angeles-based Chattahoochee label. These songs failed to garner the attention they deserved and the sisters' career effectively ended. With the exception of a Dick Clark TV special in 1978, they never performed again.
Which brings us to today's song, one of their failed attempts to re-enter the charts in 1958. Several of their follow-up recordings to their two hits were great records, but just missed catching on with the general public at large for some unknown reason. Such is the music business, I suppose. Heavenly Angel is quite a good little tune. The combo backing them manages to convey the sound of a much larger band and the girls' themselves provided counter harmonies. So, if you remember these sisters from their hits in 1956, you're sure to like this recording of Heavenly Angel by Patience and Prudence. Download this great tune and tonight, they're impeccable harmonies will belong to you!

What Happens In Vegas....

Artist: Louis Prima and Keely Smith
Song: The Apple Core Song (b-side) (a-side is The Apple Core Song)
Label: Dot 45-16221
Number: MB-15893
Songwriters: Mustapha (?) - English words by Jackie Barnett
Time: 2:45
Released: June 23rd, 1961

Louis Prima and Keely Smith were stalwarts of the Las Vegas lounge-act scene in the 1950's; right there along with Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., and the rest of the Rat Pack. Louis' career started back in 1920's, with his seven-piece New Orleans style jazz band. Then, adapting to the changing musical climates, he successively led a swing combo in the 1930's, a big band in the 1940's, a Vegas lounge act in the 1950's, and a pop-rock band in the 1960's. In each of his musical endeavors, he incorporated his exuberant personality into his act. In 1949, he added Keely Smith as the girl singer in his big band, but times were again changing. The popularity of the big band sound had started to wane, so he asked a good friend to get him a gig at the Sahara Lounge in Vegas. Louis Prima met his backup band for the show for the first time once he arrived. Sam Butera was a saxophonist he knew and instructed him to gather a few musicians for the debut show. Once there, the backing band became known as Sam Butera and The Witnesses, who also provide the musical accompaniment on today's song.
Keely Smith showed a natural aptitude for singing at a very young age. At 14, she started singing with a naval air station band led by Saxie Dowell. At 15, she got her first paying job with the Earl Bennett Band. Keely made her professional debut with Louis Prima in 1949; they were married in 1953 and had two daughters. Smith played the straight guy in the duo to Prima's wild antics and they recorded many popular duets. Most famous of them being That Old Black Magic in 1958, which was awarded the first-ever Grammy Award for Best Performance by a Vocal Group or Chorus.
By 1961, according to Keely, the couple had begun to drift farther and farther apart. One night, he refused to conduct for one of her performances, delegating the task to Sam Butera instead. A few days later they were in court, petitioning for divorce. Today's song must surely have been one of the last recordings they made together! She then signed with Reprise Records, where her musical director was Nelson Riddle.
Louis Prima (born December 7th, 1910) died on August 24th, 1978 in New Orleans of brain tumor surgery complications. Keely Smith (born March 9th, 1932), continues to perform and release albums that are critically acclaimed.
Today's record is an anomaly, in that both sides are the identical same track. I have chosen one side, not absolutely sure it was the b-side or not. But, it doesn't matter - both sides sound identical to me. Despite the fact that this was probably their last record together, Louis and Keely sound tight and are working together as a team. It's a peppy little number from France, translated to English for our market. If the male voice in this record sounds familiar, it's probably because Louis also did the voice of the orangutan King Louie in the 1967 Walt Disney movie Jungle Book. So be sure and get this happy little number called The Apple Core Song, by Louis Prima and Keely Smith. I can almost guarantee you'll go "ape" over it!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Paradise Lost

I've been glancing through my record collection lately, scouring it for suitable songs to post here at Music For Every Mood. And it occurred to me that I had forgotten all about how nice it was when you could buy them and hold them in your hands and smell the newness on them. Do you remember when you would get it home and you pulled it out of the sleeve for the first time? How it glistened in the light? How perfectly round and black it was? And then you played it on your record player and it sounded just like how you had heard it on the radio. I miss those days, don't you? A 45 r.p.m. record was so personal. Just two songs and they were all yours to play and enjoy any time you wanted to. You could play it ten times in a row if you wanted to. I can remember playing a few that many times when I first got them because they were so good - unlike 99% of the music released these days - but that's another story. There was this store I used to go to where I bought singles, and every now and then they'd put them on sale. Who doesn't like a bargain? One time they seemed to be involved in a price war with somebody else that sold them because every week, they'd be just a little lower in price. Finally, they got down to about .19 cents apiece and I just went crazy and bought practically the whole top 40 because they were on sale. I didn't even like all the groups, it's just that they were so nice and cheap! I mean, Vangelis? All right, I suppose, but I don't seem to play that one much these days.
Back in the day they were sold, I can remember looking through the singles shelves in stores and seeing what was in the charts at that moment. Sometimes there would be a current recording that I hadn't thought would have been charted so high, so it was a pleasant surprise to find ones like that. Other times, the particular song I wanted would be sold out for the longest time. But, I would go back when they had a new stock in and finally get my copy. And some of them had picture sleeves - so nice!
Young people just don't know the joys of being able to buy singles. Sure, they used to have cassette singles and cd singles for awhile, but that practice seems to have been all but abandoned. Record companies these days only seem interested in getting you to buy a whole cd when you only want one song. And that is highly overpriced. I mean, $18.00 for one album? Those little silver discs all look alike and they have no personality to them. Yes, youngsters of today miss out on a phenomenon that drove the industry for nearly a century and I think it's a shame. They even offer music for download, at usually $1 per song, and the kids download them to their digital players and never have anything real. What's so great about that? If your player or computer crashes, you've lost all your music! But, with records - albums and 45's - you own them for life. I have scads of singles that are over 50 years old - they're older than I am and they still look practically brand new!
So, that is why I'm glad each and every time I can post a new song here on Music For Every Mood. Not only may it be one that most people have never heard or didn't get to buy when it originally came out, it's just such a pleasure handling them and recording them for all my devoted readers here. Like I said before, there's just something quite pleasureable about 45 r.p.m. records. If you ever bought one in your life, I'm sure you know what I'm talking about. One more quick story about a 45 I bought when I was young. I can remember buying it and finding out that it was actually a two-sided hit, so I got two great songs I had heard on the radio for the price of one. I was with my father while he ran some errands in the big city, so I couldn't play my new record until I got home. But, I sure took it out of the sleeve many times and fawned over it repeatedly. They were great songs - and now they were mine to play and enjoy whenever I wanted!
I think it's a shame that the days of the vinyl 45 r.p.m. record are past us. If you have fond memories of them of a particular one you might have owned or wanted to own like I do, please share your memories in the comment section for others. Maybe we won't be able to get record companies to bring them back, but perhaps we can at least keep their memory alive for others to know and learn about. I have one final memory to add to this post. Did anybody out there ever get a record, only to find out it was not black like all the rest? You know what I'm talking about - colored vinyl. Now these records were even more special because a lot of times, they were clear and you could see right through them! The world would take on the color of your record and what a glorious world it was, back then. In honor of those special moments, I'd like to share a picture of one that I got a long time ago. It's not a song I'll be posting here on Music For Every Mood, but I hope it brings back another memory or two of things past for all my readers here. Here is a Grand Funk Railroad 45 r.p.m. recording of We're An American Band - on colored, not black vinyl:

And here is a clear vinyl 45, something you don't see very often, by The Beatles:

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Switchblade Kid

Artist: Sal Mineo
Song: Party Time (a-side) (b-side is The Words That I Whisper)
Label: Epic 5-9246
Number: ZSP 42434
Songwriters: J. Sheldon - H. Lane
Time: 2:09
Released: 1957

And now for today's second post featuring Hollywood actors who sing. Sal Mineo also began his formal musical/recording career in 1957, but instead of attempting calypso, he chose (or his managers did) the relatively new genre of rock and roll. It seems to have suited him well, for he had what appears to have been at least three songs that charted.
Everyone knows about his short life and tragic death, (born on January 10th, 1939 – murdered on February 12th, 1976), and his greatest achievements, that of an actor in such memorable films as Rebel Without A Cause (1955), Giant (1956), the Disney adventure Tonka (1958), A Private Affair (1959), The Gene Krupa Story (1959), Exodus (1960), The Longest Day (1962 - also a film in which our other featured artist Robert Mitchum was in), Who Killed Teddy Bear? (1965), Krakatoa, East Of Java (1969), 80 Steps To Jonah (1969), and Escape From The Planet Of The Apes (1971), but what many don't know, he had a short stint as a pop idol, in the late-1950's.
Sal already had a solid acting career when he started putting out records. Before he released his first single, he had appeared in several major productions on Broadway and in films. When he turned to rock roll, his first efforts were equally as successful. In 1957, he released the singles, Start Movin' (In My Direction) and Lasting Love. The former broke into the Top Ten and remained in the Top 40 for more than three months, while the latter hit number 27. He proceeded to release an album through Epic in the U.S. and Philips in Great Britain. His other singles included You Shouldn't Do That, Little Pigeon, Love Affair, and today's song, Party Time.
Now, I'm not saying he had a voice that rivalled Elvis, or the ability to write classic songs such as Buddy Holly, but he did possess a fair amount of likability in his style of singing, and catchy songs seem to have been picked especially for him. You can't help but get into groove of Party Time as he sings about inviting a girlfriend over one night "to play records" at his house while his mother is away. So, if you like early rock and roll and catchy beats, you're sure to enjoy Party Time by Sal Mineo. Start movin' (in the direction) of the handy download link I've provided and make this single part of your lasting collection!

The Ballad Of Robert Mitchum

Artist: Robert Mitchum
Song: What Is This Generation Coming To? (a-side) (b-side is Mama Looka Boo Boo)
Label: Capitol Promotional Debut Record F3672
Number: 45-16598
Songwriters: Don Raye - Joseph Burke
Time: 2:41
Released: March 20th, 1957

Today's post is the first of two in a Hollywood-related theme. Both feature iconoclastic actors from Tinseltown's 1950's, when both performers took up recording for the first time. The first one features tough guy Robert Mitchum doing calypso. Calypso? Yes, you heard correctly! A little on the man himself first.
Robert Mitchum was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, on August 6th, 1917. His father, James, was crushed to death in a railyard accident in Charleston, South Caroline, in February 1919, when Robert was less than 2 years old. Throughout his childhood, he was known as a prankster, often involved in fistfights and mischief. After being expelled from high school, he travelled throughout the country on railroad cars, taking a number of jobs including one as a ditch-digger for the Civilian Conservation Corps and as a professional boxer. He experienced numerous adventures during his years as one of the Depression era's "wild boys of the road." He arrived in Long Beach, California, in 1936, and during this time he worked as a ghostwriter for the astrologer Carroll Righter. It was sister Julie who convinced Robert to join the local theater guild with her. In his years with the Player's Guild of Long Beach, he made a living as a stagehand and occasional bit player in plays. He also wrote several short pieces which were performed by the guild. After securing work as an extra in movies, he found steady work in the Hopalong Cassidy series of B-westerns. From this humble beginning, he graduated into bigger and more important roles until finally landing onscreen during the height of the Film Noir era. Here, his star shown brightly and he came into his own. He rode this wave of popularity into the 1960's, where his career was marked by a number of lesser films and missed opportunities. Some of his more memorable motion pictures include The Locket (1946), Out Of The Past (1947), Rachel And The Stranger (1948), The Big Steal (1949), Where Danger Lives (1950), My Forbidden Past (1951), His Kind Of Woman (1951), The Racket (1951), Macao (1952), One Minute To Zero (1952), Angel Face (1952), River Of No Return (1954), The Night Of The Hunter (1955), Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison (1957), Thunder Road (1958), The Sundowners (1960), Cape Fear (1962), The Longest Day (1962), El Dorado (1966), 5 Card Stud (1968), The Friends Of Eddie Coyle (1973), Farewell, My Lovely (1975), Midway (1976), The Big Sleep (1978), and many, many others. I'm sure readers of this blog will have seen about as many of these as I have - I've always been such a big fan of his movies!
Which brings us to one of the lesser known aspects of Mitchum's career - and that was his forays into music, both as a singer and composer. After hearing traditional calypso music while filming Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison in the Caribbean island of Tobago, he recorded Calypso - Is Like So... in March 1957. On this album, which the song in today's post hails from, he emulates the calypso sound and style, even adopting the style's unique pronunciations and slang. In 1958, he wrote and recorded a song for his film Thunder Road, entitled The Ballad Of Thunder Road, and it reached a respectable #69 on the Billboard Pop Singles Chart. He waited until 1967 to record another album, but the resulting follow-up, That Man, Robert Mitchum, Sings, produced a #9 Country hit called Little Old Wine Drinker Me. It's follow-up, You Deserve Each Other, also charted on the Billboard Country Singles Chart.
Robert Mitchum, the 20th Century Renaissance Man, died on July 1st, 1997, but not before being regarded by critics as one of the finest actors of the Golden Age of Hollywood. This post seems to have turned out a bit longer than normal, so I'll wind it all up by saying get Robert Mitchum doing calypso music as he sings about modern teenagers in What Is This Generation Coming To? I assure you, you won't be disappointed in it!

15 Minutes Of Fame - Or Tragedy?

Artist: Joan Weber
Song: Let Me Go, Lover (a-side) (b-side is Marionette)
Label: Columbia 4-40366
Number: ZSP 34068
Songwriters: Al Hill - Jenny Lou Carson
Time: 2:21
Released: 1954

Today's post is one I've been meaning to upload for a long time, but it's such a sad story when you know what happened behind the scenes, that I found it hard. Joan Weber was only 18 years old when she recorded this song and it was to be her only hit. Poor Joan didn't even get any part of her 15 minutes of fame.
She was born on December 12th, 1935, in Paulsboro, New Jersey, and she was just 18 when manager Eddie Joy escorted her to New York City's legendary Brill Building to audition for RCA Records. Only a few months before this, she had been happily singing weekend dates with her husband's dance band in and around her home town of Paulsboro (pop. 7,842). After recording a demo of the song Marionette, it somehow found the ear of Columbia Records A&R man Mitch Miller, who quickly signed her to a contract. Although Joan and her bandleader husband were due to give birth to their first child in late 1954, Miller nevertheless ushered her into the studio to record Let Me Go, Lover, a rewrite of Jenny Lou Carson and Al Hill's anti-alcohol screed Let Me Go, Demon. On November 15th, 1954, a visibly pregnant Weber performed the song on the television showcase Studio One, and it emerged as an overnight hit. A prescient Miller made sure Let Me Go, Lover was stocked in record stores across the U.S. prior to Weber's TV appearance, and the disc sold over 100,000 copies in it's first week of release. It eventually found it's way to the top of the Billboard pop chart in January 1955, where it spent 4 weeks at the number one spot. Here's where the story takes a horrible twist.
The birth of their daughter Terry Lynn nevertheless forced Weber onto the sidelines just as the single peaked and her fame was at it's highest apex and here she was, unable to promote her career through public appearances. Consequently, the song was the only recording of hers to chart, and she was dropped from Columbia's roster soon after. She released only a handful of follow-up efforts before abandoning her music career altogether. From that point on in her life, I couldn't locate any facts about her life, except one. Joan Weber died on May 13th, 1981, of heart failure while confined to an Ancora, New Jersey mental institution - she was just 45 years old. What a sad ending for a woman whose career had such a brilliant beginning. One can only assume that depression set in soon after the events surrounding Let Me Go, Lover unfolded and it led to her confinement in a mental home.
In spite of all that, please download and listen to this song. She has an impassioned style of delivery that really makes me believe she wants the man in the song to release her:

"Oh, let me go, let me go, let me go, lover,
Let me be, set me free from your spell."

Let Me Go, Lover was an immensely popular song and inspired many cover versions by such artists as Patti Page, Teresa Brewer, Peggy Lee and Sunny Gale. It was such a huge hit in early 1955, that Lucille Ball even did a few bars of it on her television program I Love Lucy, on March 18th. But, this is the original version, and as far as I'm concerned, the best. With all the tragedy that surrounded the singer's life and this particular song, how could you not want to hear her plaintive cry for release as Joan Weber pleads Let Me Go, Lover? Listen to this song and then remember a sad, young lady whose fate it was to leave the world too soon.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Der Other Bingle

Artist: Gary Crosby
Song: Cheatin' On Me (b-side) (a-side is Judy, Judy)
Label: Verve Black and Silver Label V-10153x45 B
Number: 22,494-12
Songwriters: Pollack - Yellen
Time: 2:07
Released: 1958

Yes, today's post is by, not Bing Crosby, but his son Gary. Born Gary Evan Crosby on June 27th, 1933, he was the oldest son of Bing Crosby and actress Dixie Lee. The stocky-framed, lookalike son of singing legend Crosby had that same bemused, forlorn look, fair hair and jug ears. Gary and his three brothers' childhood was an intensely troubled one with all four trying to follow in their father's incredibly large footsteps as singers and actors. As youngsters, they briefly appeared with Bing as themselves in the motion pictures Star Spangled Rhythm (1942) and Duffy's Tavern (1945). Gary proved to be the most successful of the four, albeit a minor one. As a teen, he dueted on two songs with his famous dad, Sam's Song and Play A Simple Melody, which became the first double-sided gold record in history. He and his brothers also formed their own harmony singing group "The Crosby Boys" in subsequent years but their success was fleeting.
In the late 1950's, Gary concentrated on a solo acting career and appeared pleasantly, if unobtrusively, in such breezy, lightweight fare as Mardi Gras (1958), Holiday For Lovers (1959), A Private's Affair (1959), Battle At Bloody Beach (1961) (perhaps his best role), Operation Bikini (1963), and Girl Happy (1965) with Elvis Presley. Making little leeway, he turned to TV series work. The Bill Dana Show (1963) and Adam-12 (1968) as Officer Ed Wells kept him occasionally busy in the '60's and early '70's, also guesting on such shows as The Twilight Zone (1959), The Rockford Files (twice, 1977 and 1979), and Matlock (1986).
In 1983, Gary published a "Daddy Dearest" autobiography entitled Going My Own Way, an exacting account of the severe physical and emotional abuse he and his brothers experienced at the hands of his overly stern and distant father, who had died in 1977. The tell-all book estranged Gary from the rest of his immediate family and did nothing to rejuvenate his stalled career. Two of his brothers, Dennis and Lindsey, later committed suicide. Gary was divorced from his third wife and was about to marry a fourth when he learned he had lung cancer. He died on August 24th, 1995, two months after the diagnosis. At the time of his death, Gary was working on an album in which he would be paired electronically with his late father, Bing, in much the same way Natalie Cole did with her father, Nat 'King' Cole, on her Unforgettable album.
After hearing today's song, you'll see that all comparisons between Gary and his more famous father Bing, are only minor. Gary had a singing style all his own, and he showed it with much verve and peruasion on Cheatin' On Me. It's a catchy little number with just a hint of rock and roll guitar during the solo that you'll be glad you downloaded. Here is Gary Crosby crooning Cheatin' On Me, doing it in his own way. It's a shame that he came along at the beginning of the rock and roll era, or he could have had an even bigger singing career.

Another One From My Julie

Artist: Julie London
Song: Evenin' (b-side) (a-side is Send For Me)
Label: Liberty Audition Record F-55300
Number: LB-1177
Songwriters: Parish - White
Time: 2:40
Released: 1961

Well, regular readers of this blog will note that Julie London is one of my favorite female singers of all time. Is it any wonder I've posted more of her songs than anybody else here on Music For Every Mood? Needless to say, here is another great one! This song was originally featured on the album Send For Me, which was released the year I was born, in 1961.
Today's track is a mid-tempo tune by the name of Evenin'. Listen to her mournful delivery and look at those sultry eyes in the picture below. Is there any wonder to know that guys used to regularly fall in love with that face? Include me among them. Here's another great song by the first lady of torch singing, Julie London as she performs Evenin'. Julie passed away in 2000, but I still have a crush on her.

Patti Page Time

Artist: Patti Page
Song: The Wall (b-side) (a-side is A Poor Man's Roses)
Label: Mercury Records 71059X45
Number: YW14652
Songwriters: Diamond - Owens - Dreyer
Time: 1:52
Released: February 4th, 1957

What else can I say about Patti Page but that she's incomparable? Born Clara Ann Fowler, she is known by her professional name and is one of the best-known female artists in traditional pop music. She was the best-selling female artist of the 1950s, and has sold over 100 million records to date. Her signature song, Tennessee Waltz, recorded in 1950, was one of the biggest-selling singles of the twentieth century, and spent 13 weeks atop the Billboard magazine's Best-Sellers List in 1950. Today, the song has come close to selling fifteen million copies.
Patti was born on November 8, 1927 in Claremore, Oklahoma, and became a featured singer on a 15-minute radio program on radio station KTUL, Tulsa, Oklahoma at age 18. Page toured with the Jimmy Joy Band throughout the country in the mid-1940s. The band eventually ended up in Chicago, Illinois in 1947. In Chicago, she sang with a small group led by popular orchestra leader, Benny Goodman. This helped her gain her first recording contract with Mercury Records the same year. Page became Mercury Records' "girl singer."
After her popularity began to decline in the 1960's, she left Columbia Records and returned to her old label, Mercury Records and shifted her career towards country music, in 1970. She achieved success in this field, also, singing with the likes of Tom T. Hall, on her #14 Billboard Country Chart hit Hello, We're Lonely, from 1973.
Now in her 80's, Page continues to tour, performing 50 select concerts a year across the United States and Canada. I'd say that if you get a chance to hear her, don't miss it!
Today's record is a catchy little upbeat number entitled The Wall. Patti sings about the developing space between two people in her own unique and inimitable style, so you have to check this one out. Here is the great Patti Page singing The Wall. Not to be confused with the Pink Floyd album of the same name.

He's Back....

Well, I'm back. After a short hiatus to deal with my new novel being published, I'm ready to upload more records. My record player had a slight speed problem which needed to be fixed, but now it's up and rarin' to go. Not only will I continue to post the great artists and songs like I have in the past, I have some theme posts coming up as well. These will consist of multiple posts at a time and include such themes as Hollywood actors who sing, sister acts, songs with Hawaiian themes, sibling acts, the Space Age, and things like that. It promises to be loads of fun for me, so I hope my regulars will enjoy it too! And as always, keep those cards and letters coming - you can always post a comment if there's something you liked or would like to hear. Plus, some of the artists are a little obscure, so if you happen to know something about them that I don't, please don't hesitate to post it in the comment section. I'm sure my other regular readers would like to know it too! Well, that's all for now - I have to post some more great records!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I've Been Busy Lately

I just wanted to apologize for not posting any new songs lately, but recently, another one of my manuscripts has been accepted to be published. It should be out in a month or two, so look for it. It will be called This Paradise, by Kenneth Dwain Harrelson. I'm really excited about this, my second novel to be published! If anyone happens to buy it and read it, please let me know what you thought about it and if you enjoyed it. It's a period piece, set in the Depression, and it's about a drifter that goes to work at a small husband and wife farm. It's in the same vein as John Steinbeck used to write, but no wonder - him and I share the same birthdate! (Just not the same year, however....) A gazebo is part of the central theme.
Here is the cover for it:

Thursday, July 3, 2008

The Joker (Not Batman)

Artist: Billy Myles
Song: The Joker (That's What They Call Me) (a-side) (b-side is Honey Bee)
Label: Ember Records E-1026
Number: E-2156
Songwriter: B. Myles
Time: 2:33
Released: 1957

This is a first for Music For Every Mood. Today's song is from a "one-hit wonder." Yes, according to what I can find on Billy Myles, he was a noted songwriter of many hits recorded by other artists, but the song The Joker (That's What They Call Me), was the only hit he himself sang. It rose to a respectable #25 on the US pop charts, but to an even higher #13 on the R&B charts.
Born on August 29th, 1924, he sadly passed away on October 9th, 2005. But, in between those dates, he wrote a lot of popular songs for many artists. Have You Ever Loved A Woman for Freddie King and Eric Clapton, If I Ever Fall In Love for Gladys Knight and the Pips, I Won't Cry Anymore for Big Maybelle, Nobody But Me by Lou Rawls, Your Love Alone for Brooke Benton, Your One And Only Love for Jackie Wilson and No Love (But Your Love) for Johnny Mathis. He seems to have had an extreme fondness for song titles with the word "Love" in them! His specialty was "love ballads," so go figure. The success of the song The Joker led to his appearing on the Ed Sullivan show, the very same episode that Buddy Holly and the Crickets were on in 1958.
Billy Myles eventually retired to Greenville, North Carolina, where he managed his music publishing company Selbon Music Publishing. (Nobles spelled backwards.) William Myles Nobles, a.k.a. Billy Myles, died there in 2005.
So, keeping with the Rhythm and Blues kick I've been on for my last two posts, here is that great uptempo recording of The Joker, by Billy Myles. This is not to be confused with the song of the same name by The Steve Miller Band, (another good song!) Listening to it, one wonders just why it was that Billy Myles never became a huge recording star. His voice is pleasant enough, in the same manner as the lead singer for The Platters, but I suppose the record company he worked for, Ember Records, preferred that he keep writing the hit records instead of recording them. That would take too much away from his time with pen and paper.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Miss Rhythm

Artist: Ruth Brown
Song: Honey Boy (b-side) (a-side is Taking Care Of Business)
Label: Atlantic 45-2075
Number: A-4874
Songwriters: Dixon-McCoy
Time: 2:11
Released: 1960

Music in the 1950's starting changing in a big way. We saw Popular music becoming even more popular, Country and Western became more mainstream and Jazz took tremendous strides toward mainstream popularity in that decade. We also saw the birth of new styles of music, namely, Rhythm and Blues and even later in the decade, Rock and Roll. With all this great music being produced in the 1950's, is it any wonder that so many singers and groups, no matter in what style they performed, are still fondly remembered even today? One such artist who flowered during this period, was Ruth Brown.
Ruth was born on January 12th, 1928, the oldest of seven children. Her father directed the local church choir, but she preferred to sing in nightclubs and USO shows. She eventually ran away from home, where she came to the attention of Ahmet Ertegun and Herb Abramson, the bosses at Atlantic Records. Although her repertoire at this time was mostly popular ballads, Ertegun convinced her to switch to rhythm and blues. Her first song, So Long, became a hit and it was followed by Teardrops From My Eyes, in 1950, which went on to become her first major hit. These were followed throughout the '50's with such classics as I'll Wait For You, I Don't Know, Daddy Daddy, 5-10-15 Hours, (Mama) He Treats Your Daughter Mean, Oh What A Dream, Mambo Baby and Don't Deceive Me. Such was her success at Atlantic, that it became known as "The House That Ruth Built."
As the 1960's dawned, the music industry was starting to change, and with it saw the decline in popularity for several pioneers in the R&B field. Ruth was dropped from the Atlantic label in 1961 and faded from public view to become a housewife and mother. To support her two boys, she took jobs as a maid, driving a school bus and as a Head Start teacher. It wasn't until the mid-1970's that her career was revived. She started recording for several different labels, starred on Broadway, appeared on television and toured again. And, if this wasn't enough, in 1987, her fight for musicians rights and royalties led to the founding of the Rhythm And Blues Foundation. In 1993, she was even inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.
Sadly, she passed away on November 17th, 2006, from complications following a heart attack and stroke she suffered after surgery in October of that same year. The likes of Ruth Brown are not likely to appear again and I feel she will be sorely missed.
Today's song, Honey Boy, is a lively tune encompassing her Rhythm and Blues stylings, as well as her leanings toward Rock and Roll. Whenever I hear this tune, it always gets me going - it has the ability to affect you in that manner. So, treat yourself to today's song and see if your foot doesn't start tapping along with Ruth Brown as she belts out Honey Boy!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

God, Country And My Baby - In That Order

Artist: Chico Holiday
Song: Fools (b-side) (a-side is God, Country And My Baby)
Label: Coral 62291
Number: 111,135
Songwriters: John Dolan - Chico Holiday
Time: 2:34
Released: 1961

Chico Holiday was born Ralph Vergolino in Waukesha, Wisconsin, on August 24th, 1934. When he debuted, he was apparently promoted as a teen idol. He even had one of his early hits written by Sonny James, Young Ideas. Other songs included Your Kid Sister, Lulu Had A Baby, God, Country And My Baby, Blue Tattoo, It Won't Be Me, I Believe I Believe, Rockin', Johnny Was Late For The Wedding, Cuckoo Girl and Rockin' Horse To Rockin' Chair. These were recorded for several different labels. Other than the fact that he later became a gospel singer and is now the head minister at Calvary Chapel Yorba Linda church, in California, I couldn't find out much about him. But, today's song is good.
Fools, was the flipside of a 1961 single and is a song he co-wrote. It features a very impassioned vocal, sang with a strong, teen idol kind of delivery. I can't find where it was ever a hit record, but one listen to it and you'll agree that it could and should have been. So, please give a listen to Chico Holiday as he sings Fool. You won't be a fool for doing so!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Heeeere's.... Jill!

Artist: Jill Corey
Song: I Love My Baby (My Baby Loves Me) (a-side) (b-side is Egghead)
Label: Columbia 4-40794
Number: ZSP 39414
Songwriters: B. Green - Warren
Time: 2:11
Released: November 12th, 1956

Jill Corey was born Norma Jean Speranza in Avonmore, Pennsylvania, on September 30th, 1935. She won a talent contest sponsored by the local Lion's Club, and this led to her singing the song on the radio. From this, she got her own radio show - all at the age of 13! By the ripe old age of 14, she was working 7 nights a week. By 17, she was a local celebrity. From a simple recording she made in her home town, her talents came to the attention of Mitch Miller. He was so impressed that he immediately telephoned her and the next day, she flew up to New York so he could hear her in a more natural studio setting. He was so enthralled by her voice that she was offered a Columbia recording contract that same day! From these beginnings, she started to appear on television programs of the era such as The Steve Allen Show, Person To Person hosted by Edward R. Murrow, The Robert Q. Lewis Show and Ed Sullivan's Toast Of The Town. She even became a regular for 9 months on Johnny Carson's show. She also appeared in motion pictures such as Senior Prom. In 1961, she married Pittsburgh Pirates baseball player Don Hoak and gave up her career. He died tragically 8 years later and she returned to her previous life of performing onstage. She still performs and loves to birdwatch in Central Park. Talk about a well-rounded career!
Her only album for Columbia was entitled Sometimes I'm Happy, Sometimes I'm Blue, from 1958. It featured songs grouped together by theme with a side of songs from the Roaring Twenties and a side of torch songs and ballads. Today's song is in the same style as side one of her album, and which she sang live on Ed Sullivan's show on January 20th, 1957. It is entitled I Love My Baby (My Baby Loves Me). It features Jimmy Carroll and his Orchestra backing her up and the arrangement is quite catchy. It was also her first major hit record. Thrill along with the voice that still thrills audiences to this day and download Jill Corey as she belts out I Love My Baby (My Baby Loves Me).

Monday, March 17, 2008

Peggy Lee Followup

Artist: Peggy Lee
Song: Ooh That Kiss (a-side) (b-side is Oh! No! [Please Don't Go])
Label: Decca 9-29534 (Pink Label Promotional - Not For Sale)
Number: 45-L 8178
Songwriters: Harry Warren - Mort Dixon - Joe Young
Time: 2:19
Released: June 6th, 1955

In a previous Peggy Lee post here, I posted one side of this single. Here is the other side of it - Ooh That Kiss, by Peggy Lee. This song has a nice Cha Cha Cha beat and is very appealing. Peggy Lee could really sell a song! I must say that this is one of my most favorites I've posted here so far, so by all means, you have to get it! I wouldn't lie to you - this one will have you swaying before you even realize it. Keep those requests coming!

Still Performing After All These Years

Artist: The Four Lads
Song: Oceans Of Love (b-side) (a-side is Giuggiola [Joo-Joo-Lah])
Label: Kapp K-412X (White Label Promotional Record - Not For Sale)
Number: K-5876
Songwriters: Carl Sigman
Time: 2:12
Released: 1961

The Four Lads formed in the late-1940's, and from what I can find on the internet, are still together to this day and performing live shows. That's 58 years they've been in the entertainment industry! The founding members were Corrado "Connie" Codarini, bass; John Bernard "Bernie" Toorish (born March 2nd, 1931), tenor; James F. "Jimmy" Arnold, (January 4th, 1932 - June 15th, 2004) lead; and Frank Busseri, baritone and group leader. They grew up together in Toronto, Ontario and were members of St. Michael's Choir School. This is where they learned to sing and worked hard at practicing their harmonies. By 1950, they began performing at local clubs and were noticed by scouts. Recruited to go to New York, the quartet were spotted by Mitch Miller, who immediately put them to work singing backup with some of the artists he produced. One such singer they backed was Johnny Ray and his big hit Cry, in 1951. This made them well known.
They released their first single, The Mocking Bird, in 1952. By 1953, they made their first gold record with Istanbul (Not Constantinople). This kept them busy throughout the 1950's and 1960's and was followed by such hits as Moments To Remember, No, Not Much, Standin' On The Corner and Who Needs You? Today's post comes just a few years after those hits.
The song Oceans Of Love, with Joe Sherman directing the orchestra, is a catchy little, guitar-driven ditty. As a guitarist myself, I can tell that this record features a guitar played on a Fender Twin Reverb amplifier, which is how it achieves it's particular sound. This guitar sound was later exemplified by such Surf-Rock groups as The Surfaris and The Ventures.
Codarini was replaced by Johnny D'Arc in 1962 and in the early 1970's, Toorish was replaced by Sid Edwards. Jimmy Arnolds died of lung cancer in Sacramento, California, aged 72. It is original member Frank Busseri who reconstituted the group and sings to nostalgia crowds to this day. But, this record is from when they were in their heyday, with all their original members. Download Oceans Of Love by The Four Lads and relive the wonderful times when you could hear those glorious vocal groups from the Fifties! Back when gasoline cost 20 cents a gallon and the music was priceless.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Warm Brandy

Artist: Dolores Gray
Song: My Mama Likes You (b-side) (a-side is I'm Innocent)
Label: Capitol F3774 (White Label Promotional Record - Not For Sale)
Number: 45-16839
Songwriters: Bill Olofson - Chris Miller
Time: 2:14
Released: August 16th, 1957

Dolores Gray was a Tony Award winning actress during the 1940's and 1950's, appearing in such productions as Annie Get Your Gun, Two On The Aisle, Carnival In Flanders, Destry Rides Again, Sherry! and 42nd Street. She even signed with MGM and acted on the big screen alongside other stars such as Howard Keel, Ann Blyth, Sebastian Cabot, June Allyson, Joan Collins Ann Miller, Ann Sheridan, Gregory Peck and Lauren Bacall, in such films as Kismet, The Opposite Sex and Designing Women. And, if that weren't enough, she had a successful music career as well! She signed with Capitol Records and recorded the album Warm Brandy, which was what her voice was compared to when she sang. Add in several television appearances, including her final role on the program Dr. Who, and it all added up to a mighty fine achievement for one person. Sadly, she died of a heart attack at age 78, in 2002.
The spotlight song for today. My Mama Likes You, features a Calypso beat, which was so popular in the late 1950's. That Dolores could handle it so easily is a great testament to her immense talents. There's just something catchy about this particular song that I think you're going to like. So, download My Mama Likes You, by Dolores Gray, and see if you don't agree. The shot of warm brandy to enjoy while you listen to this fine singer is optional.

The Blonde Bombshell

Artist: Mamie Van Doren
Song: Oo Ba La Baby (a-side, track 2) (b-side includes Go Go Calypso! and Rollin' Stone)
Label: Prep M1-1
Number: F1-1
Songwriters: Les Baxter - Lennie Adelson - Eddie Cochran
Time: 2:20
Released: 1957

This track and the three others on this mini-album 45 are all taken from the Warner Brothers movie Untamed Youth. The film starred the voluptuous Mamie Van Doren as one of two sisters who, while hitchhiking to Los Angeles, stop in a small rural town to go skinny-dipping. They get caught and sentenced to work on a cotton farm until they can pay off their debt. (I'm not making this up.) The producers of this film wasted little opportunity to show Ms. Van Doren in her underwear or while wearing tight-fitting sweaters. If this sounds like the makings of a teen-exploitation flick from the Fifties, you would be right. It was also one of the first motion pictures ever banned by the Catholic Church.
None of this, however, should detract you from the glories of the song Oo Ba La Baby, or Mamie Van Doren's singing. Both of them are catchy and forcefully delivered. If the name of one of the songwriters seems familiar, It should. It belongs to one of early Rock and Roll's lost pioneers - Eddie Cochran. Cochran was killed in 1960, involved in a limo accident while on tour in England. But, on this song, which he also plays guitar, it's quite evident he had something to say for the youth of America. I've never seen the film, but have read where Cochran had a small role in it. But, enough of him. If you saw the film in it's initial release, it was probably because of Mamie.
Mamie Van Doren is still around, and if possible, better looking than ever! If you don't believe me, go check out her website here. But, not until you've downloaded Oo Ba La Baby by Mamie Van Doren and given it a listen to!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Unsinkable Mary Frances

Artist: Debbie Reynolds
Song: I Can't Love You Anymore (a-side) (b-side is Love Is A Simple Thing)
Label: Dot 45-15937
Number: MW-12224
Songwriter: Allie Wrubel - Herbert Magidson
Time: 2:14
Released: 1960

Everyone knows Debbie Reynolds from such movies as Singin' In The Rain, Tammy And The Bachelor, Bundle Of Joy, The Singing Nun and The Mating Game, among some of her most popular roles. But Debbie, who was born Mary Frances Reynolds, enjoyed a sporadic recording career which saw her achieving some lofty chart positions through the years. Her first hit record was Aba Daba Honeymoon, top 3 in 1951. Her smash recording of the theme song Tammy went straight to the top of the charts and held the number one position for a total of five weeks. Other hits for her were A Very Special Love and Am I That Easy To Forget, from 1958 and 1960 respectively.
Today's song is one that was released in 1960 on the album Am I That Easy To Forget. I Can't Love You Anymore, with the subtitle of (Any More Than I Do), features an arrangement by Jerry Fielding, who also conducts the orchestra. The flipside was released the previous year on the album entitled simply Debbie. She was still riding the crest of popularity from her hit Tammy, so her recordings of both these songs are from that same period of time. What a great voice she had and still haves! She still performs regularly to packed houses and keeps making appearances on the big and little screens - she is one of America's treasures. Just ask any fan of hers. If you haven't heard her singing lately, be sure to get Debbie Reynolds performing I Can't Love You Anymore (Any More Than I Do) and reintroduce yourself to a voice that is oh so enchanting! You'll be glad you did.

Monday, January 28, 2008

The Opposite Sex

Artist: Julie London
Song: Now, Baby Now (a-side) (b-side is Tall Boy)
Label: Liberty F55032
Number: 45-FB-2087 (45-LB-630)
Songwriter: Sammy Cahn - Nicholas Brodsky
Time: 2:05
Released: 1956

As promised, here is another great song from Julie London, one of the all-time great female singers. You know how I adore her and that voice of hers! This particular track is from a 1956 motion picture that was a musical remake of The Women, entitled The Opposite Sex. The movie starred another past featured vocalist here on Music For Every Mood, Dolores Gray. Julie had quite a career up on the silver screen, but was not part of the cast of this movie.
Something I do remember her being in, because I watched it on television every week, was Emergency! I'm going to have to break down and get some of those season sets of that show, just so I can see her again. The group backing her up on this recording is Pete King and his Orchestra. Don't hesitate, you have to have this track of Julie London singing Now, Baby Now! Go get it - now, baby now!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Art Of Record Labels

In this short post, I just want to speak about something that comes as an added benefit from going through all my old records. And that is the records themselves - or at least the artwork of the label designs. They come in all manners of beauty. Some subdued, some extravagant, some plain or some overtly fancy. And in each and every one of them, I find something to marvel at. But I just have to say that my two favorite labels are the Sun Records label from the 1950's and the Beatles Apple label, starting in 1968. You can take one look at either of them and you know immediately what you're getting. With the Sun label, it seems to say "there's a bright, new day dawning and it's going to be filled with Rock and Roll!" The Beatles' Apple label just seems so stately and dignified, you know it's going to be classy if it's on Apple. (With only a few exceptions, everything was important on the Apple label. Despite such meanderings as pictured below.)
Since this blog feeds off comments from my readers, I welcome anyone to tell me their favorite record labels, and why. I have pictured two of my prized possessions of vinyl above and below for example. The only reason I used an album label for Apple was because it shows much more of the Apple itself. Due to the theme of this blog, however, I probably won't be posting anything from either label, I just wanted to show them to illustrate my point. But, please don't hesitate to tell me about your favorite label. Or even if you have something to say about one of the artists I've posted or to request something. I welcome any and all comments. You know you're just dying to say something about your favorites!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The World's Oldest Virgin

Artist: Doris Day
Song: Meditation (b-side) (a-side is How Insensitive)
Label: Columbia 4-43278 (White Label Not For Sale - Radio Station Copy)
Number: JRZSP 72152
Songwriter: N. Gimble - N. Mendonca - A. C. Jobim
Time: 2:55
Released: 1965

Doris Day is the consummate star. She had a really great voice and was a highly underrated actress. Pillow Talk, from 1959, is one of my most favorite movies she made and I seem to watch it at least once a year. As the 1960's unfolded, however, her popularity on the silver screen started to wane. Mainly because of the roles she was given, she became somewhat typecast playing characters that were naive and of purest virtue. This led to her getting the tag of "the world's oldest virgin."
Which brings us to today's post. The single featuring the song Meditation was from an album released in 1965 called Latin For Lovers, and was recorded on November 2nd, 1964, in a period of declining popularity. Not that her voice had lost any of it's abilities, far from it. If anything, with maturity, her singing was the best it had ever been. Her recording career was concluded by 1967 and the world lost another great voice. But, here you can hear her at a point before she had decided to stop making records. Download Meditation, by Doris Day, and see for yourself what a great talent she was to all her adoring fans.