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!

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!