78s, CAT NEWS, MERV GRIFFIN RECORDS, INCISIVE POLITICAL AND SOCIAL COMMENTARY. PLEASE NOTE THAT, DUE TO LIMITED STORAGE BANDWIDTH, MY MP3s HAVE A LIMITED SHELF LIFE--GET THEM WHILE YOU CAN! I DON'T KEEP MY MP3s (I HAVE THE ORIGINALS)--HENCE, THEY'RE NOT AROUND TO RESTORE. I AM NOT, NOR HAVE I EVER BEEN, AN EMPLOYEE OF THE INTERNET, PAID OR OTHERWISE.
Four years ago, I sent this very file to Ferrante and Teicher's manager, Scott W. Smith, at his request--he thought the duo might get quite a "lift" out of it. I hope they did.
This was put out by Sick magazine in 1961, and it's as lame as you might expect, considering the source, though lots of fun, since any number of major pop acts are referenced/mimicked, including Art and Lou. You see, it's a press conference in which musicians ask JFK various questions and receive various "funny" answers. This is the kind of ribbing the President received prior to his assassination, after which, suddenly, he had always been America's most revered president. History revised, part 5,678.
Ferrante and Teicher are imitated on Side 2. I sent this to Scott in two separate files, but I joined them for us. Why? Because I have the technology. Back then, I was using MusicMatch to rip things. At the time, simply being able to rip seemed too good to be true. I was so young.
All freshly ripped from my own shellac sides. The list includes my all-time favorite Nat Shilkret side, Me and My Shadow. And, speaking of favorites, Tea for Two is probably my favorite GAS (Great American Songbook) number of all. Just a lot of great stuff here.
Oh, and the Goldkette side features Bix Beiderbecke, among other jazz greats of the time. Meanwhile, I'll have to look in my Rust discography to find out who the singers are on the Joseph C. Smith number. Billy Murray and someone else....
BUT--Wilbur Sweatman 's Orig. Jazz Band, 1920. TEA FOR TWO--Benson Orch., Dir. by Don Bestor, 1924. GEMS FROM OH, KAY!--The Revelers, & Mixed Chorus with piano, 1927. I'LL ALWAYS BE WITH YOU--Perry Como, Ted Steele O., 1945. BARCELONA--International Novelty O. (Dir. Nat Shilkret), Voc: Billy Murray, 1926. ME AND MY SHADOW--Nat Shilkret and the Victor O., V: Johnny Marvin, 1927. I'M GONNA MEET MY SWEETIE NOW--Jean Goldkette O., 1927. SNAKES HIPS--The Orig. Memphis Five, 1923. HARMONICA HARRY--Ted Weems O., V: Parker Gibbs, 1929. THE VAMP--Joseph C. Smith, 1919. STOMP, MR. HENRY LEE--Eddie Miller Orch., 1944. ARABIAN NIGHTS--Columbia Band, 1916.
...protest Bush's Olympics-related visit to China. Our country must never--repeat, never--give so much as the impression of formally endorsing athletics. Otherwise, we're a few short steps away from becoming a sportsocracy.
Assuming we're not there already.
What's next? Presidents tossing baseballs? Politicians employing sports metaphors? Let's stop this before it gets out of hand. Join AU today. Our apologies to the African Union for borrowing their acronym....
"Ahhh... sports and business--a marriage made in Heaven!"--G.W.B.
Just a reminder that we're not supposed to like anything by Ferrante and Teicher except their prepared piano numbers. If you find yourself digging any of the following five MGM tracks from 1952, then you're only giving the space-age-popsters more cause to feel superior. Sure, these are superbly musical numbers, with Tiger Rag an especially fun show-stopper (we heard the 1965 version last time), but they have nothing to do with John Cage, in spite of any pauses between passages or tracks. If you so much as find your foot tapping along to Tiger Rag, you'll be instantly declared uncool--or, worse, mainstream. Worser, a lover of ordinary sounds. You probably like Chopin and Brahms, too. Admit it. Chopin and Brahms as played on a piano, of course, and not on a synthesized kazoo while people in clown suits read "passages" from upside-down Washington Post want ads.
Admit it--you're as unable to grasp art as I am. We squares need not even try to appreciate music--we're not up to it. Anyway, some great stuff by Art and Lou:
AFRICAN ECHOES (F&T), 1952. (Joe Davis Records) HIGH, HIGH, HIGH, 1952. (Joe Davis Records) JUNGLE DRUMS (E. Lecuona) AFRICAN ECHOES (F&T), 1962.
As for the final five tracks, they're the type of pop music that hip listeners try hard to avoid. I mean, come on--a four-hand piano arrangement of Rhapsody in Blue, two movie themes, and a MOR pop song? Ack! Gag! Cough!
Please keep in mind you're not supposed to enjoy these tracks. They are (according to the space-age-poppers) crowd-pleasing Muzak, unchallenging and uninteresting so far as the vastly sophisticated ping-pong-stereo crowd is concerned. And we care what they think, right?
It's okay to listen to these, but you're required to 1) grimace, 2) snore, 3) generally act above it all, 4) all of the above. Don't let me catch you liking these. (Yes, I'm kidding.)
Last time, I talked about the phony narrative rapidly devolving around Art and Lou's career: the old jazz/rock/VH1 folk tale of the rebel musicians forced to sell out to sell records. Art and Lou, you see, tossed out their art (i.e., their rubber string-muters, etc.) in return for chart success with 1960's Theme from The Apartment and Exodus. Gone were their avant garde "atonal modalities"--too challenging for Mr. and Mrs. Average Concertgoer, but pure music to the ears of the space-age-poppers. Who, thank you, are anything but average.
Never mind, by the way, that half of F&T's pre-1960 recorded output was of the unprepared type.
Yup, we're to believe Ferrante and Teicher switched to crowd-pleasing fare circa 1960. (Rhetorical question alert): Has it occurred to the space-age-popsters that the duo-piano tradition occupied by Art and Lou was, more than anything else, a crowd-pleasing tradition? Like their fellow twin-piano greats Whittemore and Lowe and Morley and Gearhart, F&T (starting in the mid to late 1940s) entertained with Classical works, light but flashy concert pieces, and concert-arranged pop. Music intended, more than anything else, to wow the audience. The whole tradition was based around that goal. Art and Lou started in, and remained with, that tradition. They didn't switch to it. Duh.
Today's playlist is populated by examples of the F&T stuff Spaceagepop.com tells us not to bother with. Too much like music to the ears of space-age-popsters, as my friend Steven Strauss suggests. Their ears don't like music.
MISSISSIPPI BOOGIE--Joe Davis Records, 1952. BOOGIE EXPRESS--Joe Davis Records, 1952. TIGER RAG, 1965. STEPHEN FOSTER MEDLEY, 1965. HOLLYWOOD RHAPSODY (F&T), 1955, Urania. THE LATE SHOW (F&T), 1966. EBB TIDE, 1966. A RAGE TO LIVE (N. Sherman, F&T), 1966. EXODUS (Ernest Gold), 1960. THEME FROM THE APARTMENT, 1960.
Thanks to the Internet, a process that used to take years has been shortened to a matter of hours. I refer to the simplifying of an historical account--in this case, the story of Ferrante and Teicher. F&T, as we all know, are space age pop heroes because of their John-Cage-inspired "prepared piano" material of the 1950s. The space age pop worldview being just another version of the rock worldview, it's inevitable that F&T would be cast as rock stars fighting against the forces of middle of the road pop. (The highest honor, you know, to be cast in that manner, with rock being so very, very important.) Thanks, space age pop scholars.
And it's inevitable that the narrative of their career would be simplified even further over time--folk narratives always are, since the folk details tend, over time, to crowd out the actual events. After all, when you break them down, folk narratives are little more than formulas--cliches to be fed by more cliches. Once F&T were inserted into the folk form of the musical innovators forced to sell out to sell copies, the facts of their career became dispensable.
And so we're at the point where F&T recorded nothing but exciting, avant garde, cutting-edge, anti-establishment, pre-Woodstock, (choose your adjective) pop, only to give it up for crowd-pleasing fare come 1961. The reality is way more complicated, of course. I'd guesstimate that no more than half of their Fifties recordings qualify as "prepared" (in the piano sense). Furthermore, their sophisticated, mini-concerto style was there from the start--check out their MGM material, their Hollywood Rhapsody on Urania (coming up), and the (so to speak) unprepared stuff they did for Columbia, Westminster and ABC-Paramount.
Okay, so I'm working against fate here. Obviously. You know, and I know, that we can't make a dent in the rumor mill that is electronic communication. The truth always gives way to simplification and cliche-ification. But at least we know not to buy into the dumb-and-getting-dumber account devolving before our eyes on the 'Net. Art Ferrante and Lou Teicher gave the public light concert fare of an extraordinarily high quality, and that's better than being a rock star any day of the week. Maybe not as lucrative, but true artists are mainly into the art part. F&T's music is a reminder that, even on a popular level, art matters. Shame on those folks who'd reduce it to the same old rock-hero narrative. Let VH1 be VH1 and the Internet a place for fact-finding and -preserving.
My thanks to Beware of the Blog, from which I learned yesterday morning about Lou Teicher's death. Lou, of course, was one half of the brilliant piano duo Ferrante and Teicher. And what a sweet tribute to the man and his partner:
"F&T were the 1,600-lb. gorillas of snoozemeistering schmaltz—non-intrusive musical wallpaper that was paradoxically ignorable yet sold billions."
Reference: the 800-pound-gorilla-in-the-room metaphor (times two; get it?), which doesn't quite work in the case of F&T, since no one (to my knowledge) ever labeled the duo as a serious social or political problem in dire need of being faced. Anyway, in space-age-pop-correct fashion, the piece points out that Art and Lou DID record some very interesting stuff--as in, their prepared piano material, which featured percussive effects and "atonal modalities."
Okay, I'm trying to go with that, but it's not easy. Modality, of course, typically refers to the ancient church modes (Dorian, Lydian, etc.), as distinguished from tonality (major and minor modes). Atonal vs. tonal is a whole other discussion, since it involves a different and very broad definition of tonality (tonal center vs. lack of one). Sorry. Nothing to do with Ferrante and Teicher.
But our playlist is everything to do with them. We know what we're supposed to think about the majority of their material, but we're cyber rebels. Wedecide for ourselves on matters of music. Is that allowed, you ask? Depends on where you go, I guess. Around these parts, it's required. (Now you know.)
I emailed Scott Smith, F&T's manager, and gave my condolences--and mentioned I'd be posting several tracks from 1964's The People's Choice. Scott wrote, "Please don't forget my favorites from that LP...Girl From Ipanema and Hello dolly!!!" I wouldn't dream of it.
CARAVAN, 1952. EVERYTHING'S COMING UP ROSES, 1959. I'VE GOT RHYTHM, 1959. WIVES AND LOVERS (Bacharach-David), 1964. THE SEVENTH DAWN, 1964. AND I LOVE HER (Lennon-McCartney), 1964. AFTER THE FOX (Bacharach-David), 1967. HELLO DOLLY, 1964. GIRL FROM IPANEMA, 1964. A FOGGY DAY, 1953/1961 (with orchestra added by Columbia label!). NO OTHER LOVE, 1953/1961 (with orchestra added by Columbia label!). PAPER MACHE (Bacharach-David), 1970.
Note: Something made me suspect (after I posted this post) that the Columbia label had added orchestra backing to the 1953 tracks A Foggy Day and No Other Love. I wrote Scott W. Smith, who said, "You are correct....Columbia added (without permission) the orchestra to those tracks originally recorded in 1953-4 for their SOLO LPs...Continental Holiday, Can-Can-Me & Juliet...now available on Collectables Records released on CD in their original form. ABC Records did the same...adding orchestra to their prepared-piano LPS and the Westminster LP Postcards From Paris. ALL bogus recordings were horrible...Art & Lou's attorneys back in the 60's filed injunctions against both companies!"
The Looper Trio returns with another terrific LP--Singing on the Way, their first. The jacket essay was signed by Coleman, Oral, and Brenda Looper, and it reads...
The Looper Family have been singing gospel songs for many years. There is a large family of the Looper's, all musically talented.
Coleman Looper began singing in a quartet in Indiana in the Fifties. He later came to Tennessee joining his brother Oral Looper in a quartet known as "Joyful Echoes."
In 1964 Brenda Looper, the daughter of Oral, joined Coleman and Oral to form this trio. With Brenda's high soprano voice, Coleman singing tenor and playing the electric guitar, Oral singing baritone and playing the flat top guitar.
In the many travels of the Looper Trio (revivals, singing conventions, etc.) they have been blessed with seeing souls saved.
This being our first album, we are pleased to bring it to you. We sincerely hope you enjoy this album, "SINGING ON THE WAY," as much as we enjoy singing for you. Our sincere thanks to Neal McCormick who played the bass guitar.
We wish to dedicate this album to our father, Mr. Alvin Looper, who is 73 years young. Also in memory of our mother who passed away in 1948.
Singing on the Way was a production of Gospel Records and Recordings, Dayton, Ohio. And we're about to hear it. Honest, tuneful, no-nonsense gospel--the best kind.
Never Die, Just Be Promoted Lord, Hasten That Day Give Up He Came a Long Way from Heaven I Want My Life to Be Pleasing to Him It Was His Life That Old Time Religion Wouldn't Take Nothing for My Journey Now Now It's Time to Pray My Heavenly Home Like to Talk it Over with Him Country Baptizing