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!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

One Small Post For Mankind

Artist: William Allen and Orchestra
Song: Space Flight Freedom 7 (a-side) (b-side is Theme From Freedom 7)
Label: Laurie 3100
Number: ZTSP 68811
Songwriters: P. Aleuia
Time: 3:20
Released: June 1961 (?)

I had hoped to post this particular record about a week ago or so, on the actual 40th anniversary of man's first landing on the moon back in 1969. But, Blogger had other ideas. I finally got it working today and have been making a mad scramble to post some things and get caught up. This is one of those posts.
As to today's artist, I couldn't find a thing about him other than he released at least 2 albums and this single on the Laurie label. As to the single, it was released just after Alan B. Shepard became the first American into space, in May 1961. The record features recreations of the tower to astronaut communications spoken over an instrumental background. The flipside is an abbreviated version of just the instrumental by itself. To make up for the lack of information and artist picture I usually provide, here is a little bit about the actual flight the record commemorates and an image of the astronaut alongside the actual Freedom 7 space capsule. Be sure to download William Allen and Orchestra so you can listen to Space Flight Freedom 7 while you read the story below!

Mercury Freedom 7
Crew: Alan B. Shepard, Jr.
Mission Objective: The main scientific objective of project Mercury was to determine man's capabilities in a space environment and in those environments to which he will be subject upon going into and returning from space. A few of the basic flight problems included: The development of an automatic escape system, vehicle control during insertion, behavior of space systems, evaluation of pilots capabilities in space, in flight monitoring, retrofire and reentry maneuvers and landing and recovery.
Launch:May 5, 1961 9:34 a.m. EST The formal countdown for the preparation for launching MR-3 started on the day previous to launch day. The countdown was actually split into two parts because previous experience had shown that it was preferable to run the countdown in two shorter segments and allow the launch crew of both the spacecraft and the launch vehicle to obtain some rest before starting the final preparation. The countdown started at 8:30 a.m. EST on May 4, 1961. All operations proceeded normally and were completed ahead of schedule. A build-in hold of approximately 15 hours was called at T-6 hours 30 minutes. During this time the various pyrotechnics were installed in the spacecraft and the hydrogen peroxide system was serviced. The countdown was resumed at T-6 hours 30 minutes at 11:30 p.m. EST on May 4, 1961. A built-in hold of 1 hour had been previously agreed upon at T-2 hours 20 minutes. This hold was to assure that spacecraft preparations had been completed before the astronaut was transported to the pad. The countdown proceeded with only minor delays until T-2 hours 20 minutes. At this time, final preparation of the spacecraft was conducted and the astronaut was apprised of the continuance of the countdown and transported to the Pad. The countdown was continued after the hold at T-2 hours 20 minutes and, except for some minor holds, the countdown continued until T-15 minutes. At this time it was determined that photographic coverage of the launch and flight could not be obtained because of low clouds near the launch area. Weather forecasters predicted that visibility would improve rapidly within 20 to 45 minutes. During this time, one of the 400 hertz power inverters to the launch vehicle had regulation problems. The count was recycled to the T-35 minute and holding mark and the count picked up 86 minutes later after the replacement of the inverter.
Again at T-15 minutes it was necessary to hold the count again to make a final check of the real-time trajectory computer. The countdown then picked up and proceeded until liftoff at 9:34 a.m. EST on 5/5/1961. Landing: May 5, 1961. 75deg 53min longitude, 27deg 13.7min latitude in the Atlantic Ocean.

The Oklahoma Sweetheart

Artist: Jean Dee
Song: Day By Day Your Love Grows Sweeter (b-side) (a-side is Sweethearts On Parade)
Label: Decca 9-30927 (Pink Label Sample Copy Not For Sale)
Number: 107,435
Songwriters: Jean Dee
Time: 2:14
Released: ?

You might not recognize the name Jean Dee, but you still might have heard her voice. She was born Yvonne McGowan on Christmas Day in Oklahoma and has recorded and performed under a variety of many different names and genres. Some of the different names she has used include Yvonne O'Day, Vonnie Taylor, Vonnie Mack, Jean Dee and Yvonne DeVaney, which she still uses today. At the age of two, she began singing and yodelling, and by 11 she won a contest playing classical piano. She also played guitar and bass. While still in high school, she teamed up with her sister Mary, with Yvonne playing guitar and Mary on accordion, and had a duet song and tap dancing act. They performed with Roy Rogers and Trigger once!
Some of the labels she's worked with include Capitol Records, Columbia Records, Decca Records, Phillips Records, Spar Records, King Records, Chart Records, Compo Records and for her own YMD Music Group, which she founded. If that sounds like she really gets around, she does! But, by recording for all those different labels, she got to perform with a variety of artists. Some of those include Merle Lindsay's Western Swing Band, Red Foley, Pee Wee King, Minnie Pearl, Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys, Tommy Duncan, The Anita Kerr Singers and a former featured artist here on Music For Every Mood, The Jordanaires, who back her on today's song. If you listen closely, you can tell it's their trademark sound!
Her biggest claim to fame would probably be her songwriting talents. She's written songs that have been recorded by Dean Martin, Vic Dana, Pat Boone, Billy Walker, Dottie West, Wanda Jackson, Bonnie Guitar, Hank Snow, The Hardin Trio, Carl and Pearl Butler, The Wilburn Brothers and The Cheltenham Singers, out of England.
Some of the many songs she's recorded herself, under different names, include Snowflakes, I Just Want To Be With You, Love Is A Gamble, Does It Hurt You To Remember, I Live For You, Please Forgive Me, Blue Mountain Waltz, Slowly I'm Losing You, Open Arms, If You Don't Somebody Else Will, Sweethearts On Parade, My Greatest Hurt, Open Arms, Step Into My World, Dim The Car Lights, Pick Me Up On Your Way Down, Teach Me To Live Without You and Tell Me A Lie, among countless others. She's enjoyed a very full recording career!
She has received a BMI Citation of Achievement Award for her writing and holds the honorary Comission Rank of Commodore in the Oklahoma Navy. Some of her latest releases include The Yvonne DeVaney Collection of 2003.
Today's song, Day By Day Your Love Grows Sweeter, is a song that was recorded during her "Pop" period. In it she sounds like a cross between Patti Page and Patsy Cline, not a bad thing at all! The arrangement fits the mid- to late-1950's era, so that's when I would place the recording. It's a pleasant uptempo song about a love which grows stronger day by day. She has such a strong and confident voice while delivering the lyrics of which she herself wrote, that the song's theme becomes something very believable and likable. She interprets it perfectly! But, don't let me influence you on this delightful song, download it for your yourself and see if Jean Dee doesn't have an irresistably catchy voice while singing her own song Day By Day Your Love Grows Sweeter! She's such a treat to hear, it's too bad she didn't stick with the Jean Dee name and sing more songs like this!

There's Gonna Be A Catfight!

Artist: Nancy Sinatra
Song: Leave My Dog Alone (b-side) (a-side is In Our Time)
Label: Reprise 0514
Number: J 4470
Songwriters: Lee Hazelwood
Time: 2:06
Released: 1966

And now for Part 2 of my special Cats and Dogs themed posts.
I'm sure most everybody has heard of Nancy Sinatra. Born the first daughter of Frank and Nancy Sinatra in Jersey City, New Jersey, on June 8th, 1940, she went on to have a stellar career of her own. Most known for her big smash hit These Boots Are Made For Walkin', she also performed in motion pictures, television, night clubs and on records.
For her fourth birthday, Phil Silvers and Jimmy Van Heusen wrote the song Nancy (With the Laughing Face), which her father recorded. But, she began her own career as a singer and an actress in the early 1960's. At first, not achieving much success, although popular in Europe and Japan, she perservered and finally recorded the trans-atlantic smash pop hit These Boots Are Made For Walkin'. It was such a huge number that she performed the song, wearing white go-go boots, in front of our troops during the Vietnam War. In 1967, she paired with her father, Frank, for her second number one hit, Something Stupid. Other hits of hers include How Does That Grab You, Darlin'?; You Only Live Twice, from the James Bond film of the same name; Sugar Town, Friday's Child, Love Eyes and Lightning's Girl, among others.
Thanks to a highly celebrated appearance in Playboy Magazine, in 1995, she has kept her name in front of the public. She continues to record and perform and in fact, had a recent hit called Let Me Kiss You, in 2004.
Today's song was not a hit, but it's a-side was, #46 in 1966. This tune is a catchy little number where Nancy pleads for people to leave her dog alone. It's not about a pet dog, but is symbolic for her man, like the song Leave My Kitten Alone was about the singer's girl, so taken that way, it makes more sense. Despite the misleading title, though, it's the kind of song that has you bobbing your head up and down before you even realize the song has drawn you in. So, please go for this innocuous little ditty entitled Leave My Dog Along, by Nancy Sinatra and be sure listen to it. You'd better not mess with this girl!

Going To The Dogs

Artist: Little Willie John
Song: Leave My Kitten Alone (a-side) (b-side is Let Nobody Love You)
Label: King 5219 (White Label Complimentary Dee Jay Special)
Number: 45-K14045
Songwriters: John-Turner-McDougal
Time: 2:32
Released: 1959

I figured since Blogger is working as of this very moment, I'd better post some things while I had the chance. I'll start out with a little double post I've been meaning to do featuring songs about cats and dogs. The first one is called Leave My Kitten Alone, and the second one to follow will be Leave My Dog Alone. The titles were so similar in theme, the double post just suggested itself to me!
Little Willie John was born William Edward John, in Cullendale, Arkansas, on November 15th, 1937. His family moved to Detroit when he was four. Finding out that he had musical ability at a young age, he was signed to local King Records where he had a string of R&B hits, starting with the soulful All Around The World, in 1955. Other hits to follow were Suffering With The Blues, Need Your Love So Bad, Sleep and Talk To Me, as well as today's song. But his biggest hit was called Fever, a song which was covered by another fellow artist here on Music For Every Mood, Peggy Lee, who had a huge hit with it and who's version is probably more well known than any other artist's.
As was typical with recording stars of that day, he turned to alcohol and it affected his career. In 1966, he was convicted of manslaughter and sent to Washington State Prison for a fatal knifing incident following a show in Seattle. He appealed his conviction and was temporarily released from prison. While waiting for the appeal to be acted upon, he recorded what was to be his comeback album, but by losing his appeal and being sent back to prison and contractual obligations, the album wasn't released until 2008. By this time, however, Little Willie John was dead. In 1968, he had a heart attack while in prison and passed away. He was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996.
I'll admit that I probably wouldn't have even known about Little Willie John were it not for one little fact. His career started before I was born, had peaked and was winding down about the time I entered the world. But, a few years later, in 1964, a little band from Liverpool, England, known as The Beatles, recorded one of his songs which had been very influential to them. That song was called Leave My Kitten Alone. Although it wasn't officially released until 1995, it had been floating around on bootleg albums for nearly 20 years. That's how I became cognizant of it and the fact that it was a cover tune. But, the original version, written and performed by Little Willie John has a certain flair to it. It features him, backed with a chorus of voices and is pretty upbeat. It might lean more heavily towards R&B than Pop, like the music normally featured here, but the following song is by the daughter of Frank Sinatra, so how much more Pop can you get? It's a themed post, so as such, I hope you enjoy this song for it's own attractions. It's a catchy little number that features "Miaow" backups, so please download and listen to the original version of Leave My Kitten Alone, by Little Willie John. Let's just say you better get it or you'll get pounded on the top of your head! Oh, wait a minute.... that's what will happen if you don't leave his kitten alone. Enjoy!

Janice Harper Update

If you can see this, that means I fixed Blogger myself.

This is a Janice Harper follow-up, or sorts. Somebody was nice enough to send me scans of a promotional picture Janice was using in the mid-1960's and I have included one of the three images that was on it, below. The party that sent it to me was a husband and wife musical team that used to work in the same Pocono Pennsylvania resort clubs as Janice. The husband led a band that used to back up Janice and other artists that came through such as Bob Hope, Robert Goulet and others. Buddy Hackett played there, as well as the other big stars of the mid- to late-'60's. This couple also told me that the promo photo of her had her booking agent contact information on the back of it - address and telephone number. I tried calling the telephone number, but it just keeps ringing and nobody picks up. I don't know what this means. Obviously somebody still has that number, but it could be a new person or the same person who's had it for years. But, by nobody picking it up, I can't tell for sure which it is. But, I'm still trying to see if she can be traced, so I haven't given up yet!