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, October 15, 2008

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!

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