Week 6 - Fri 10 Feb
Welcome to the RPM Record Club Seven Day Soundtrack, week ending Friday 10th February 2023...here's another 'eclectic mix' of music to make your world go round; over to...
"Hi RPMers, thanks for your tracks….keep ‘em coming. Here is my offering for this week."
"Hi RPMers, hope all is good with you. Here’s my 3."
"Three 'wha' da fug' choices this week: I'm sure there was a good reason for buying these but.......?"
Les Baxter, his chorus and orchestra- "Oasis of Dakhla" (from 'Tamboo' 10" LP released December 1955. Capitol label)
"Variously described in the nineties as 'exotica' or 'Space-age Bachelor music', this album actually hit number 6 in the Billboard charts two weeks after release..... and disappeared two weeks later!!! Baxter studied piano at the Detroit Conservatory before moving to Los Angeles for further studies at Pepperdine College and, concurrently, beginning a career as a concert pianist. He then joined Freddy Slack's big band in 1943.... as a saxophonist, before becoming a vocalist alongside Mel Torme in the Mel Tones and appearing on several Artie Shaw recordings. He was signed by Capitol in 1950 as an arranger (* see below) and composer and arranged hit recordings for Nat King Cole, including the timeless 'Mona Lisa'. His career then swerved to the left when he started to record with Yma Sumac and scored his first movie, the travelogue 'Tanga Tiki', in 1953. This coincided with a string of hit singles with his orchestra and singers including million selling versions of 'Unchained Melody' and 'The Poor People of Paris' and a string of successful 'concept' albums (eat yer heart out Pete). Never one to rest on his laurels, Baxter then formed The Balladeers in the early 60's, whose line up included a clean shaven, suited David Crosby, before updating the line up and renaming them the Forum, a studio only outfit who hit the US charts in 1967 with the Spectoresque 'The river is wide'. Baxter then concentrated on film scores and worked on several notable 'beach' and horror movies including House of Usher, The Pit and the Pendulum, The Raven, Muscle Beach Party and Beach Blanket Bingo, the latter two including appearances by The Hondells, Dick Dale and Little Stevie Wonder. His career petered out in the eighties with Baxter being reduced to composing music for theme park rides before passing away in 1996.
* His skills as an arranger, and the veracity of the work he did has, in recent years, become the subject of controversy with several instrumentalists and even Andre Previn and Nelson Riddle saying that many of Baxters arrangements were the product of Albert Harris and Peter Rugolo, Baxter, of course, refuted this, stating these were 'sour grapes... by people who had a grudge against him'. It should be noted that Baxter Baxter went on to write symphonies for the Los Angeles Philharmonic and guest conduct at the Hollywood Bowl and many of his manuscripts (in his own handwriting) are held at the University of Arizona."
The Master Singers- 'The Highway Code' (7" single released April 1966. Parlophone label)
"Unbelievably, this was produced by George Martin at exactly the same time he was recording The Beatles 'Taxman', 'And your bird can sing', 'Paperback Writer' and the proto psychedelic 'Rain'!!! Even weirder is that this disc, and its follow up, 'The Weather Forecast' both hit the charts, numbers 26 and 50 respectively, although the almost as essential 'The Telephone Directory' failed to score with the public! The original 'version' was performed as a spoof set to an Anglican chant by John Horrex, a teacher at Abingdon School with three other teachers, George Pratt, Geoff Keating and Barry Montague, in front of Princess Margaret to celebrate the schools 400th anniversary in 1963. A copy of the recording reached broadcaster and humourist Fritz Spiegl, who in turn passed it to the BBC where it was played on a radio show hosted by Winston Churchill, the grandson of the former prime minister and this led to the group being contracted to record for Parlophone Records. They first appeared on record in late 1965 with Peter Sellers on his version of the Beatles' "Help!", which was released as the B-side of his version of "A Hard Day's Night," also produced by George Martin. The group also recorded Christmas carols with Cliff Richard, although the recordings were not released, and arranged carols for the King Singers seasonal releases. Following various TV appearances, a 'greatest hit' (sic) EP and a charity record for Keele University, the group returned to their more prosaic day jobs and the recording career was quietly put to rest."
The Cambridge Strings- 'The Desperados' (7" single released March 1963. Decca label)
"Those with a long memory may well remember I posted a version of this song by the Eagles (UK) exactly two years ago. Although the group (orchestra?) recorded several singles and at least three LP's, with releases in the USA too (including one chart entry in early 1961 which peaked at number 60 on Billboard), frustratingly I can't find any info on the line up etc at all. It's puzzling as the disc has all the right sonic ingredients to be a Joe Meek production ('outer space sounding Theremin, plenty of echo etc) but none of the album sleeves or record labels carry a producer credit. Hmmmmm!!"
Bonus Track - "Burt Bacharach, composer of so many fantastic songs which were made even greater thanks to the lyrics of Hal David. Here's perhaps the greatest cover version of a B&D song from 18th June 1966, a great (and very rare) TV appearance by the full, original line up of Love. Amongst other recordings of the song are the original by Manfred Mann, great garage versions by Litter, Standells and the Wild Ones (original recorders of 'Wild Thing'!), UK versions by Rockin' Berries, Episode Six and, later, ex Brinsleys and Graham Parkers backing group The Rumour. Then there's an MOR version by Mel Torme and more recent covers by The Last Shadow Puppets and, gasp.... Ronan Keating!!! And there's even more................!!!!"
"So, Boris 'earns' around £5,000,000 (yep, that's 5 million pounds) between September and January, that's around £1400 per hour, and yet he still needs a 'loan' of £800,000 from a (very) distant relative!!! Wonder how he'd manage on £180 per week pension?
Stay well and thanks for all the great music..."
"Two for Valentine's Day!!!!!"
"And here's another version..."
Make You Feel My Love performed by Bryan Ferry -
"Oh well, another music legend has left us. I expect I may be the only one to make this week’s theme Burt Bacharach. My first albums included Dionne Warwick , Dusty Springfield and Jack Jones and they all had huge success with Burt’s songs. Here’s my choices. Take care everyone."
Alfie performed by Jack Jones - "Wanted to play Wives and Lovers (which was a film theme) but not at all appropriate nowadays."
Walk On By, I Say A Little Prayer, Do You Know The Way To San Jose performed by Dione Warwick with Burt Bacharach - "I always thought she did the best versions of his songs."
The Look Of Love performed by Dusty Springfield - "What a gorgeous rendition. Her voice is so smooth."
"It's been an interesting week with announcements, awards, demises etc. so no problem about inspiration for picking tracks. So here's my 3 but it could have been many more and I did get a bonus track last week so mustn't be greedy! Best wishes to all you lovely RPMers as always."
Just Like That by Bonnie Raitt - "I had to smile when a little piece of news popped up on my phone following the 'shock' announcement that Bonnie Raitt had won song of the year at the Grammys. The headline was something like ' shock as unknown blues singer wins......'. This is a typical reaction when the current vogue is usurped by an oldie that the present generation has never heard of because they rarely look back except to buy 'Rumours' etc. The song is poignant but I have to admit that winning song of the year might be a bit of a stretch - maybe it's just the fault of yet another inept journalist writing for the Daily Mail not bothering with research. Hankies at the ready then..."
Papa Was A Rolling Stone by The Undisputed Truth - "I was very sad to hear of the passing of Barrett Strong who wrote or co-wrote many favourite tracks of mine and in particular this one. I think during lockdown I already picked this as performed by The Temptations saying that my own dad just happened to die on 3rd September and although | really wish he had been a Rolling Stone I acknowledge that he would never have held an audience under his spell belting out 'Get offa my cloud'. Here's the original version produced by Barrett's co-writer Norman Whitfield."
A House Is Not A Home performed by Dionne Warwick - "To mark the passing of Burt Bacharach I've chosen a favourite of mine by Burt's (I believe) favourite singer. I have a fascinating book called 'Always Magic In The Air' which tells the story of all of the writers who worked out of The Brill Building and 1650 Broadway in New York - Lieber and Stoller, Bacharach and David, Sedaka and Greenfield, King and Goffin, Pomus and Schuman, Mann and Weil and Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich. All of those writing couples were notably jewish apart from Greenwich who was only half jewish and between them they churned out a steady stream of brilliant noise in the 50's and 60's. Bacharach and David were giants even among this stellar line-up of talent. The book is by Ken Emerson and I can recommend it to any of you in RPM who, like me, are fascinated by the detail around the history of our favourite popular music.
Burt was a perfectionist as we witnessed when he was putting Cilla Black through the mill when she recorded 'Alfie' and no doubt he was the same with others but he co-wrote many songs with Dionne in mind. Saw her in Kings Lynn in 2005 from centre front row seats and she was everything I'd hoped to see and hear."
"Hi RPMers, hope you are all keeping safe and well. Here are my three tracks for this week...."
"Here's my 3 for this week. Have a great weekend everyone.
You Gotta Move performed by Mississippi Fred McDowell - "Although writing credits are quite often attributed to Fred McDowell, this song first turns up on shellac in 1948, recorded by The Two Gospel Keys. It's notably absent on Fred McDowell's First Recordings album from 1959, but rounds off the 1965 You Gotta Move album, which for me is his best work; pure elemental blues."
Breakthrough by Mark McDowell & Friends - "Surname coincidence, there. Piers put me onto Mark McDowell and might have had this track as one of his choices, as I think I already have as well...like, ages ago. Most of Marks work comprises folky psychedelia pop songs, which are all very pleasant, but I think it a pity he didn't follow the folk-collides-with-Hawkwind path a bit more, as this is great."
Da Lounge Bar performed by Keven Lees (fiddle and half of The Good Tune) & Friends - "Here's the session earworm from Tuesday night...a jig written by the Norwegian fiddler, Annlaug Børsheim. The Lounge is a real place, famous for it's sessions and can be found in Lerwick, Shetland, btw. I wonder if Jayne and Piers have been there on one of thier trips to the far North...?"
'Til Next Time...