Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Singles Going Steady 29-Easy Listening, Jazz And Pop

It's been a very busy time trying to keep up a blog, here and playing in a new band and of course the bargain hunts of finding old 45s but I continue to amaze myself and try to get things done.  Last weekend, a visit to BDW Records at the Marion Antique Mall I managed to find a few 3 for a dollar record plus one for a quarter and at the same time Goodwill had a couple of pickups as well.

It doesn't take much skill to find 45s in decent shape.  If you're feeling for a more simpler times of growing up like I do, then you search for them and see what you either missed or what you had for records.  Most of the records found have seen better days, but in rare occasions there have been 50 to 60 year old 45s still in sleeves.  The ones without sleeves tend to be a bit more rougher shape but the naked 45s that I have seen didn't have much scratches.  This time out, these records weren't exactly hard rock and rollers, I know there are collectors and EBAY hounds out looking for them as well.  There's plenty of jazz and middle of the road pop, perhaps the hardest rocker is the less likely of all. But once again, it's a hit and miss affair, the end results are that this version of the SGS series is the most uneven.  Perhaps the most fun.  We'll know more when the ratings come in.

1.  One Two Three-Ramsey Lewis (Cadet 5556) 1967  #67
Years ago when we moved to Waterloo for the second time, I ended up buying this when Ben Franklin was selling records for 9 Cents, surprising considering that this song was charted in February of 67 and we got the record about a half year later.  Down By The Riverside the B side got airplay and better consideration on a Best of, but this Afro-cuban rearrangement stands out even more, to the point of somebody remarking "boogaloo" after the beginning, something akin to Segio Mendes was doing.  I did find a replacement copy of this for a quarter, since my 9 cent copy was used for a Frisbee, but this record is poorly stamped, watching the needle bounce back and forth to the point that I have to re-position the  record so that it was wobble back and forth.   Somebody fucked up on the quality control of this record.

2.  Yesterday And You-Bobby Vee (Liberty F-55636)  1963  #55

Bobby Vee was excellent at teen idol pop, but he decided to do a big band number aka Mack The Knife and this song was written by Ross Bagdasarian or David Seville the guy behind the Chipmunks. But Ross was a expert song arranger.   B side Never Love A Robin is back to a teen idol ballad and is more up Vee's alley.  It popped in at number 99 for one week.  As for Yesterday And You, Bobby Darin did it better.

3.  Behind The Blue Horizon-Earl Bostic (King 45-4829) 1955

Bostic was one of best saxophone players of the 1950s and he basically recorded pop standards and sometimes blues jazz songs for King.  This song reminds me of Hurricane Smith's Oh Babe What Do You Say, cheesy pop arrangements and Bostic going through the motions.  The other side  For All We Know is a schmaltz ballad, I guess it was a hit but I couldn't listen to the whole thing all the way.

4.  What Kind Of Fool Am I-Billy Eckstine (Mercury 72022)  1962

The fabulous Mr. B hooks up with Quincy Jones on this song. Eckstine could jazz or blue or pop.  In a way I look at Mr B like I look at Sammy Davis Jr. great singer but most of his records I have no use of.  Tailored made for pop although it did not chart at all on the Top 100.

5.  Every Day-Count Basie With Joe Williams (Clef  89149-X45) 1955 #1 R and B
     Smack Dab In The Middle-Count Basie/Joe Williams (Clef  89169-X45)  1956

Every Day is one of more copied songs out there in blues land. Memphis Slim and BB King did it as Every Day I have the blues.  Clef Records was formed by Norman Granz, one of all time best jazz promoters out there (Jazz At The Philharmonic Series) who formed Clef and then later Verve.  Count Basie was the legendary jazz pianoist who lead a big band.  Usually the main vocalists would be Ella Fitzgerald or Joe Williams who sings on both songs I have posted.  In 1955, Granz somehow managed to put the whole 5 and half minute song on a 45, how he did that on a 78 I donno.  78s usually have a time limit at around 3 minutes, good idea in theory but 78s have always been cumbersome to tote around, and just plain too bulky.  The 45 of Every Day, you pop the needle on and song starts right up.  Stellar performance.  Smack Dab In The Middle  is not as long 3:35 and this copy was in better shape. Another top notch song, that Ray Charles would cover a few years later.  Written by the guy that gave us Shake Rattle And Roll too.

6.  The Silent Treatment-Ella Fitzgerald  (Verve Jazz V-2021-X45) 1956

When Norman Granz started up Verve Records, the jazz side had an orange and yellow label while pop and rock was black and sliver.  Fitzgerald had plenty hits on Decca but by the mid 50s rock was taken over and Ella's type of big band jazz was falling out of favor.  I think she's done better songs than this one.  B side is the slow pop of The Sun Forgot To Shine This Morning, the 50s answer to Love Will Tear Us Apart.

7.  Norwegian Wood-Sergio Mendes/Brasil 66 (A&M  1164)  1970

Sergio lasted a long time at A&M and while they would have sporadic hit or two, most were on the south side of the top 100, Night And Day I thought peaked higher than it's actual number 82 position.  They had a bit of luck with covering the Beatles.  Fool On The Hill peaked at number 6 but this one didn't chart at all.  Basically by the numbers Mendes arrangement of a soft beginning and picked up tempo a couple times and then back to a quiet fadeout.  I bought this for the 45 cover sleeve. Still in fairly good shape as with the record.  Which meant it spent 45 years gathering dust in somebody's collection.  Like it will be doing in mine.  Record hoarding at its best.

8.  Twilight Time-The Platters (Mercury 71289 X45)  1958   #1

One of the greatest vocal doo wop groups ever, The Platters classic years were the mid to late 50s.  They started out on King/Federal and making plenty of top 50 r and b hits before Buck Ram moved them to Mercury.  Only You was a remake of a Federal single that they did and it reached number 5 in 1955. Memories of my folks playing The Platters LPs  I recall quite well, the Platters Around The World a early 60s album and a cheap best of called Encore.  I've seen used copies but most were in beat up shape just like my folks.  Twilight Time is one of their best all time songs, Tony Williams doesn't push it over the edge like he would on Smoke Gets In Your Eyes, another number 1 later in the year.  Old fact:  the followup to T.T. was My Old Flame which Zola Taylor sang lead but You're Making A Mistake charted at number 50.  But I've never heard that on the radio.  Oldies radio seems to shortchange The Platters, outside of the number 1s of Smoke Gets In Your Eyes or Great Pretender, I seldom hear any other Platters songs.  But yet classic rock radio still plays 40 year old album cuts all the time.  Damn you I Heart radio.

9.  Secretly-Jimmie Rodgers (Roulette 4070)  1958  #3

Another victim of I Heart Corporate Radio hi jinx is Jimmie Rodgers, the pop singer of the 1950s and no relation to Jimmie Rodgers, the singing brakeman, and night and day, Honeycomb and Kisses Sweeter Than Wine still can be heard on oldies radio but not Secretly, another 45 that my mom had in her collection and shaped my warped views of an idea record collection.  The melody really borrows a lot from Silhouettes, a song done by The Rays, to a point that the songwriters could sue for song infringement but back then, everybody was trying help each other usher in a new era of music.  To which Born Too Late by the Poni Tales sounds somewhat familiar as well. Rodgers tended to rehash the Honeycomb hit single formula.  B side Make Me A Miracle (#16) is somewhat like Honeycomb, except at the end Rodgers ends on a high note and then the low hums that preceded it, which might be the second best song he ever did.  But for a fun sense of longing song, Secretly is my fave Jimmie Rodgers song overall.

10.  Do It Right-Brook Benton (Mercury 72365)  1964  #67

Out of all the singles for this blog, this one is the most rocking coming from an unlikely source. Brook Benton remains one of the best black R and B crooners but his time at Mercury was coming to an end, and the British Invasion took a toll on just about everybody, especially doo wop and R and B crooners.  This time out, Shelby Singleton Jr took over production and Luchi DeJesus (one half of the famed Hugo & Luchi producer duos) decided to add a swinging guitar intro to this song and a uptempo beat that one doesn't associate with Benton.   But right around this time, Mercury Records changed their famed black and sliver label to a all red label.  There are copies of the black and sliver laying around, but the one I have is the Red label.  Despite the swinging melody and guitar licks, this record stalled around number 67 (though it did chart higher on the regional radio stations before the black star that is I Heart radio and Corporate interests make things a distant memory) and Brook would make a couple more singles before leaving Mercury to other labels (RCA, Reprise) before getting a top hit for Cotillion with Rainy Night In Georgia, written by Tony Joe White.  Never heard Do It Right till this weekend and I do think it's my favorite Brook Benton song of all time.  Must be that guitar lick, or Benton's coy vocals. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rmrvIy4plGs 

The You Tube version of Do It Right actually has a few more seconds tacked on at the end, which is the UK version.  The US version is a few seconds shorter. 

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