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

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: