Saturday, February 23, 2008
Off the top of my head, I believe the exact definition of close harmony to be (drum roll) four-part harmony in which the upper three voices remain within the confines of an octave--the bass can do what it wants, within reason. Close harmony tends to be regarded as old, old hat, but it's still very much around in pop music. Don't tell anyone, though. They might get upset.
Our vintage Barbershop mini-fest begins with A Little Close Harmony, composed by Geoffrey O'Hara in 1921 and eventually adopted (under the title The Old Songs) as the official song of the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America, a.k.a. The Harmony Society. As far as I can determine, it is no longer the official song. Those are the breaks.
We'll be hearing it in a ripped-from-shellac 1940 version by the New York Police Department Quartet, which sounds a lot like close-harmony quartets of the Twenties such as The Revelers and The Stamps Quartet. WAY like them. It could pass for a 1928 session, really. And we have the flip, When You Were Sweet Sixteen.
Things get more vintage (1911) with the Brunswick and Columbia quartets (er, quartettes). For these two dubs, I left a certain amount of hiss and crackle so as not to muffle the mix. I have the technology to silence nearly any kind of surface noise, but I'm not willing to do so at the expense of the music.
Maybe I'm too fussy. Probably so. But it's better to be too fussy than to be... um....
Hm. Anyway, to the close harmony:
Click the following link to reach Close Harmony for Saturday.
A LITTLE CLOSE HARMONY--New York Police Dept. Quartet, 1940.
WHEN YOU WERE SWEET SIXTEEN--New York Police Dept. Q., 1940.
DOWN BY THE OLD MILL STREAM--Brunswick Quartette, 1911.
I WANT A GIRL--Columbia Quartette, 1911.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
This round of early Burt starts with the lovely Boys Were Made for Girls, which Serene Dominic (in his Burt Bacharch: Song by Song) trashes completely. And imaginatively. To wit, he describes an "irritating cha-cha riff composed of dissonant diminished chords careering drunkenly downward in half steps," which actually turns out to be a II7-ii7-V progression. The dissonance in question is the Major 7th in the first chord (II7), which is quickly and harmlessly resolved. Note that neither II7, ii7, or V are diminished chords. Otherwise....
Everit Herter is exceptionally good, his light voice perfectly suited to the light material--keeping in mind that "light" is not an insult at this blog. Light is a type of music, and no more or less valid than any other. Simplicity can be the toughest thing to pull of in music. Composers and songwriters know this, anyway.
Rain from the Skies does very little for me--it seems to move in circles without getting anyplace. I won't go so far as to call it "all wet," but I guess I just did. To Wait for Love, however, is a gem, beautifully handled by Tom Jones. So far, I haven't heard any other renditions of this song, and I can't picture any of them living up to Tom's. I could be wrong, of course....
Moon Man is the most delightful of the early Burts. (Okay, along with That Kind of Woman.) Burt takes song-form liberties so subtle that they barely register as such--dig, for example, the unconventional phrase repetition ("Loosen the jacket of your space suit," etc.). The wonderful vaudeville-style bridge comes out of noplace, modulation-wise, but fits melodically and rhythmically--it's an abrupt segue, but we know we're in the same song. Musically, Moon Man is almost an earlier version of Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head.
I imagine that someone, if he or she tried hard enough, could concoct a crappy version of Make It Easy on Yourself, but it wouldn't be easy. With all due respect to Carole King and Cynthia Weill, this Burt classic is the finest example of its type, ever. If I Never Get to Love You sounds as if it were written for Marianne Faithfull, but I'm not aware that it was. I think I heard Gene Pitney's version of this classic, but it's not his tune--it's Marianne's.
These are all merely my stupid opinions, as ever. Feel free to disagree, as long as you don't call me bad things. More to come! Enjoy.
Click on the following link to reach the zip file: Early Burt Special, 2008--Part 6.
BOYS WERE MADE FOR GIRLS--Everit Herter, 1960.
RAIN FROM THE SKIES--Adam Wade, 1963.
TO WAIT FOR LOVE--Tom Jones, 1965.
MOON MAN--Gloria Lambert, 1959.
MAKE IT EASY ON YOURSELF--The Walker Brothers, 1965.
IF I NEVER GET TO LOVE YOU--Marianne Faithfull, 1965.
Your ears will swear that Spike Jones is backing Kitty Kallen on Choo'n Gum, but it's actually the orchestra of Harry Geller. This zip file also includes the orchestras of Mitch Miller and Pete Rugolo. But no Spike Jones.
To the 78s: Kitty Kallen and June Christy.
CHOO'N GUM (Mizzy-Curtis)--Kitty Kallen, Harry Geller O., 1950.
JUKE BOX ANNIE--Kitty Kallen, Harry Geller O., 1950.
WILLYA WONT'CHA (KINDA SORTA)--Kitty Kallen, Mitch Miller O., 1950.
GREAT SCOT--June Christy, Pete Rugolo Orch., 1953.
I LIVED WHEN I MET YOU--June Christy, Pete Rugolo O., 1953.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
I'd meant to post these closer to morning, but mid-afternoon is O.K., I reckon. After all, it's never too late to get going.
We have two space-age-sounding 1953 things by pianist Rosa Linda ("space-age-sounding 1953 things"??) and two 1932 recordings by the Massed Bands of the Aldershot Command. All four titles were ripped from 78s, and all four are loud. And energetic. So, I've concluded that they have the potential to get you going.
But only you will know whether or not these have gotten you going. No one ever got going who didn't want to get going.
(No, I'm perfectly fine. Why do you ask?) Anyhow, to the music:
Go to the following link: Music to Get You Going.
FLIGHT 88 (Linda)--Rosa Linda at the Piano, 1953.
TABU (Lecuona)--Rosa Linda at the Piano, 1953.
MARCHING THROUGH GEORGIA--Massed Bands of the Aldershot Command, 1932.
BLAZE AWAY--Massed Bands of the Aldershot Command, 1932.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I must be going....
P.S.--Does anyone know why Blogger's Spell Checker isn't worknig? I mean, working?
Sunday, February 17, 2008
I thrifted yesterday, finding a number of (what I consider to be) neat LPs and singles. I presently have them lined up in a row on the floor of my 150-to-160-year-old Media Room, where I can glance over and say, "Neat!"
None of the three shops I visited had their sound recordings displayed in a way that guaranteed reasonably easy access. Of course, I would have worried had this not been the case. It just wouldn't be thrifting if the records were easy to get to--at least, not thrifting as it is known on our planet.
(Me: "Excuse me, have aliens taken over this thrift store? I'm asking because the records are easy to get to. And it worries me." Clerk: "There is nothing amiss, Earth person. Return to the audio discs before we zap you.")
In all, a small price to pay for the privilege of paying a small price. This is my thrifting philosophy, and any philosophy that differs from it--to whatever the extent of the difference--is not my thrifting philosophy.
You'll be hearing The Swinging Soulful Sixties from the Ed Sullivan Singers LP of the same title, two terrific 1957 tracks by David Rose, a Jack Jones performance from 1959, The New World's version of Tramp on the Street, and Kurt Jensen and His Pops Concert Orchestra playing Leroy Anderson in very high hi-fi. Also, Nat King Cole's recording of Marnie (title song from the Hitchcock film, but not used in film), and Nelson Riddle's version of I Want to Hold Your Hand.
These are some of the fruits of my thrifting. Click here to hear: The Fruits of My Thrifting.
THE SWINGING SOULFUL SIXTIES--The Ed Sullivan Singers, 1969 or 1970.
SATAN AND THE POLAR BEAR (Rose)--David Rose Orch., 1957.
A FRENCHMAN IN NEW YORK (Rose)--David Rose Orch., 1957.
MARNIE (Herrmann-Jason-Shayne)--Nat King Cole, 1964.
THIS COULD BE THE START OF SOMETHING (S. Allen)--Jack Jones, 1959.
THE SYNCOPATED CLOCK (Anderson)--Kurt Jensen and His Pop Concert O.
TRAMP ON THE STREET--The New World.
I WANT TO HOLD YOUR HAND--Nelson Riddle and His O., 1964.