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, March 22, 2011

They Work Out Of A Ramada Inn In Kansas City

Artist: Four Jacks And A Jill
Song: Master Jack (a-side) (b-side is I Looked Back)
Label: RCA Victor
Number: 47-9473
Songwriters: David Marks
Time: 2:46
Released: January 5th, 1968

I don't normally post anything this new, but a friend reminded me of this group today and so I thought I'd better get this up. Four Jacks And A Jill were formed by four young men in South Africa under a different name, The Nevadas. The lineup on today's record consisted of Glenys Lynne on vocals, Clive Harding on bass, Till Hanneman on guitar, Bruce Bark on guitar and Tony Hughes on the drums. They had several hits in their native South Africa before they finally broke into the American charts with a #8 Billboard single called Master Jack.
Some of their other hits included, Timothy, Mr. Nico, I Looked Back and Poor Lucy. They appeared on television variety shows, in motion pictures and even had their own tv show for awhile. On June 1st, 1968, Clive Harding and Glenys Hughes were married. In 1983, they became born-again Christians and broke the band up. They continued, but recording gospel music instead. They are referred to in the 1984 motion picture This Is Spinal Tap.
Today's song features a repetitive, droning guitar part that sets the foundation for Glenys' beautiful voice. Glenys herself relates the story of Master Jack: “In certain mines, the foreman is called ‘Master Jack,’ and the song tells the story of a labourer who works diligently for this master for years and years and then decides to go out on his own and exercise his desires and aspirations as an individual to be something other than a labourer.” They were an extremely popular group in their native South Africa and in many other countries all over the world, so please be sure to give a listen to Four Jacks And A Jill singing their classic Master Jack. It's a whole lot easier than fetching a pail of water down from a hill.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Lifeguard On Duty

Artist: Diane Ray
Song: That's All I Want From You (b-side) (a-side is Please Don't Talk To The Lifeguard)
Label: Mercury 72117
Number: YW27051
Songwriters: F. Rotter-H. Rotha
Time: 2:32
Released: 1963

Diane Ray was born September 1st, 1942 in Gastonia, North Carolina. She was considered a rock and roll singer in the early 1960's and is best known for her 1963 hit single, Please Don't Talk To The Lifeguard, which was the flipside of today's record. It was her only hit, (so far), and she is known as a "one-hit wonder" because of it.
Her hit record was a good example of the early 1960's solo girl sound of rock and roll, but her voice shows more promise than mere top-40 radio. She recorded several more singles in that vein, but they were not hits. Songs such as Slow Dancin' With Don, My Summer Love, You'd Be So Proud Of Me, That Boy's Gonna Be Mine, Just So Bobby Can See and No Other Arms are some of her other recordings. There is a collection that gathers up her non-charting songs, the lp album called The Exciting Years.
The b-side of her only hit, That's All I Want From You, however, reminds me more of the pop sound than rock and roll. It features an orchestra driven by a wailing saxophone and is a nice number for playing on your hi-fi stereo system on warm Summer days. So, put on your suntan lotion and please enjoy Diane Ray as she delivers That's All I Want From You. And remember: Walk, don't run at the pool! The lifeguard is watching you.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Chairman Of The Sandwich Board

Artist: Mike Figlio
Song: How Do I Know? (a-side) (b-side is More Than Anything)
Label: Payson
Number: P-105
Songwriters: Smash - Comfort - Figlio
Time: 2:21
Released: October 1958

Sometimes an artist will come along with talent on both sides of the microphone. Mike Figlio seems to have been such an artist. What little information I could find about him suggests that he started out as a singer and ended up becoming a record producer of some renown.
He burst onto the scene in the late 1950's with songs such as today's tune and the flipside More Than Anything. I couldn't find many more songs attributed to him, but I did see where he began to work in recording studios by the mid-1960's. He gravitated to Nashville, Tennessee, where he produced such groups as R.E.O. Speedwagon, Marty Robbins, Jack Teagarden, Oar, John Hiatt, Joe Wise, David Clayton Thomas, Brothers Of The Southland, Skip Spence and Flatt and Scruggs. Quite an impressive resume.
Today, Mike seems to have retired from the music business and hangs out with friends in an Italian restaurant located in Nashville called Savarino's. Savarino's has the vibe of a Brooklyn social club, where a group of Nashville Italians and Italian food fanatics while away hours gabbing, laughing, reminiscing. The most hallowed regulars have been immortalized with sandwiches named for them, sort of a Nashville Italian Hall of Fame. These include retired recording engineer/restaurateur Mike Figlio, Oh Boy Records head Al Bunetta, musician/producer Nick Pellegrino, rock legend Felix Cavaliere (of The Rascals) and health care executive Doug Shaugnesso. Mike's namesake sandwich is called the Mike Figlio and consists of grilled sausage, lettuce and tomatoes. It sounds pretty tasty to me.
Billboard had this to say about today's release, back in their October 27th, 1958 issue: "Bouncy ballad with beat is given a cheerful warble by the lad with group and plucked string backing. Pleasant side can attract." I can also add that from the first notes, it comes across as an old, forgotten melody that you once knew and immediately recall. It's peppy arrangement is quite nice will leave you humming it's secondary melody by the chorus behind him long after it's stopped playing. It's the kind of song that leaves you with a happy feeling; and those are the best kind! So, don't miss Mike Figlio as he warbles How Do I Know? I do know that you'll be pleasantly surprised and you'll enjoy it "more than anything."

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Linda Leigh: A Special Reprise

Artist: Linda Leigh
Song: Please (a-side) (b-side is Someone Special)
Label: Reprise R-20,060 A (Promotion Copy)
Number: 856
Songwriters: Rotella - Sanicola
Time: 2:22
Released: 1962

Today's post is a very special one indeed! Thanks to one of my readers here on Music For Every Mood, I was able to get in contact with an artist that has previously been featured on here. Namely, one Linda Leigh. In that previous article found here, I wasn't able to relate much of her story or even locate a picture of her. Well, that has all been rectified! I spoke with Linda herself a few moments ago and found out she is a very, very nice person. And what an interesting career she had. Sadly, for all of her fans, she no longer performs anymore, but when she did, she had one heck of a great voice. And now for a little on her life and career, from the person who lived it.

She was born and performed under her birth name of Lucille Vanelli. She must have always been talented for, by the age of 14, you can see from the bill above that she was a stalwart of the early Las Vegas scene, this in 1952, and still going by her own name. It was just after this period when she decided to adopt the stage name of "Linda Lee," before settling with "Linda Leigh." But, at the beginnings of her career, she performed at Las Vegas in such shows as Calvalcade Of Stars. You'll have to remember that in the early days of Vegas, it wasn't the huge tourist attraction it is now. When she played there, Las Vegas had only about 10 hotels, she said.
During the 1950's, she was signed to Verve Records. While with them, she released songs such as What Good Does It Do Me; I Cry; Let Me and What Good Is A Memory. They also released an album called Songs For Your Boy Friend. It was right after this period that she shared the bill with Frank Sinatra, at his own Cal Neva Lodge in Nevada. She told me that for three summers in a row, she performed with him there. It was due to Frank's manager that they were introduced and Frank himself chose her to move to his own recording label, Reprise. It was during this period, which she said lasted for about a year, that she was signed to Reprise. After awhile, she began to want to perform where she wanted to go and on her own schedule so she broke away from Reprise and Frank. But as you've heard on the other side of this record and today's song, she had her full vocal powers in command and therefore could do it "her way." Another factor that caused her to go her own way was that Marilyn Monroe had spent a weekend at the Cal Neva Lodge the week before she died, Linda had also been at the Lodge that weekend and after that, she felt she needed to break away for awhile and have a family, "raise babies," as she called it.

She said it was all interesting that it had been "a great life" to have been in show business and to experience the career she had had. Now she likes to devote her time to her family and help with her grandkids. This brings us to today's record. It is actually the a-side of the single that was used on her other post and is just as strong a cut as that one. Her powerful voice, which she attributed to "all the garlic" in the Italian dishes, just commands your attention and with this particular arrangement, from the moment the song starts you're hooked. It's a very wonderful song and should have made her a household name, but time has it's own course and things didn't turn out that way. Despite that, you can still hear her in her glorious prime once again. Do get Linda Leigh singing this massive ballad called Please. Please do and then enjoy! Below is Linda and her husband Michael Tisbo today; looking just as amazing as she always did. One classy lady, indeed:

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

A Hippopotamus For Christmas?

Artist: Jamie Horton
Song: Hands Off! He's Mine! (b-side) (a-side is What Should A Teen Heart Do)
Label: Joy 45NS-245
Number: L9OW-9662
Songwriters: G. Goehringm F. Wise, K. Twomey
Time: 2:13
Released: 1960

Almost everyone remembers the Christmas ditty entitled I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas by 10-year-old Gayla Peevey, from 1953. What most people don't realize is that she matured and had a marvelous voice in her later, (teen) years. After recording her first big single and few others such as Got A Cold In The Node For Christmas and Angel In The Christmas Play, Gayla did a few "serious" songs like Too Young To Have A Broken Heart and decided to make a big career move by singing under a pseudonym. She chose the name of Jamie Horton and was signed to a new record label, Joy. Her first and only American hit using that name was called My Little Marine, which she co-wrote. It made it to #84 on the 1960 Billboard charts and became the #507 song for the year. She recorded several other sides for the label, Where's My Love?; Heartbreakin' Doll; Robot Man, which was popular in Australia and was recorded by Connie Francis; Dear Jane; Go Shout It From A Mountain and others, but never hit the charts again. She graduated from San Diego State University with a teaching degree. Later she left teaching to go into advertising.
For some unknown reason, I think this young lady should have been a bigger star; for she oculd write her own songs and knew how to use her voice to great effect. I suppose her record company, Joy, must not have had complete faith in her abilities, for although she recorded over a half-dozen singles for them, they never let her release a full, proper album. Perhaps if she had, her career could have taken off. It's a shame, really, for her talent shows in everything she did. Today's song reminds me of Connie Francis, with it's exhuberant small combo backing her and it's upbeat tempo, but her voice is all her own. Maybe not strictly "pop" styling, but probably very radio friendly for 1960. Anyhow, if you like toe-tapping songs while you're at the drive-in restaurant, please download Jamie Horton as she belts out Hands Off! He's Mine! You might enjoy her singing enough to look up the modern-day collection of her Joy tracks entitled The Joy Collection. What a way to keep the new year rockin'!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Just Say No

Artist: Dodie Stevens
Song: No (a-side) (a-side is No) (Double a-side)
Label: Dot MB-15012-RE (for broadcast purposes only)
Number: 45-16103
Songwriters: Pockriss-Vance
Time: 1:53
Released: 1960

Born Geraldine Ann Pasquale, Dodie Stevens burst onto the scene with the million-selling novelty song Pink Shoe Laces in 1959, when she was only 13. When her family moved to California when she was 3, she soon started taking singing lessons and by the ripe old age of 8, she recorded her first song, called "Merry-Go, Merry-Go Round." After her first hit, Pink Shoe Laces, which had been released on the Crystalette label, Dot signed her to a recording contract. She scored a couple other minor hits, among which were Yes, I'm Lonesome Tonight; Merry, Merry Christmas Baby and today's catchy tune, simply titled No. She married at the age of 16, quite the music business and moved to a farm in Missouri. By 1966, her marriage had ended and she resumed her singing career where she toured with Sergio Mendes and Brasil '77. The 1970's saw her performing as a backup singer with such acts as Boz Skaggs, Frankie Avalon and Loretta Lynn. For 12 years, she was a backup singer with Mac Davis. In the 1990's, she toured with Fabian and recently has performed with her daughter Stephanie and appears at oldies concerts across the nation. She also teaches singing and stage performance.
Today's catchy little song, it's less than 2 minutes long, unfortunately, is called No. It was released by her label Dot at the time when they just didn't know what to do with her marketing-wise. For her albums, they had her singing '40's pop standards and Judy Garland's catelogue because of her strong, adult-sounding voice. But her fans wanted more of the type of songs she was famous for like her first hit. I think if they had released more songs in the style of No, she would have been able to sustain her career for a longer time. She really knows how to get her voice wrapped around this type of arrangement. Backed up with an orchestra conducted by Gerald Dolin and some male background singers, she really commands your attention. I won't give away the twist in the lyrics of the song, but rest assured it will draw you in with her charming execution of it. So be sure to download Dodie Stevens as she sings No. You'll have to get it, because you just can't say no!