Friday, April 26, 2019
Born Free/Strangers in the Night/A Day in the Life of a Fool--Dean Franconi and his Orch. (International Award AKS-271; 1967)
I had a sarcastic essay all ready to go for this one, but the tracks are a pleasant surprise--fine easy-listening music in the Andre Kostelanetz/Percy Faith style. And good stereo sound. Exceptions: the mono Oh Marie and Londonderry Air--but both nice, and nice-sounding, tracks--and Treasure Waltz, a bit out of place in style, and sounding like a bad attempt at faked stereo. Espani Cani is similarly out of place, but it's an excellent performance in nice stereo, so I do not complain. Do you hear me complaining? Nope.
Actually, since all of the tracks, except the three then-current hits, are filler, I guess there's no objective floor for deciding what fits and what doesn't. Just my judgment call. I guess, to my ears, Treasure Waltz and Espani Cani lack the dreamy, mood-music feel of the rest, though I like Cani, anyway.
A dollar-bin LP worth its price, and then some. Imagine that. I don't feel like figuring out which LPs in the Pickwick catalog yielded the filler tracks--it doesn't matter much. And this is Pickwick, of course--KM Corp. I figured there had probably been a Design Records version of this, as well, mainly because the cover design is very Design. I was right. From Discogs:
Not quite the same cover--different upper portion for the titles, different font, Strangers in the lead, and "The Lush String Sounds of, etc." up topside, but the same photos in the same soap-opera-montage style. If you spotted both jacket versions while flipping through a row of thrift vinyl, you'd think they were identical. In fact, I thought my LP was the Design label--until I pulled out the LP and saw the white label and "International Award." That was my first clue.
We have the standard junk label scheme at work here: exploiting a few current hits, and packing the rest of the playing time with filler. Typically, filler grabbed from here and there in the label's catalog. Except this time the filler is good stuff and mostly by the same orchestra. Junk label filler is typically by a host of folks under false names or none at all. This fine effort in no way excuses what usually passed for an LP from the Pickwick group, but it does prove the outfit could produce good material, whether by luck or design. Actually, I reckon the credit should go to Dean Franconi and his orchestra, and a sound engineer who went well above and beyond the dollar-bin call.
La Mer, by the way, is Beyond the Sea. It's the original French title. This version is particularly lovely. This disc is full of surprises--ten in all. Most on-line sources give this a year of 1967, so 1967 it is.
DOWNLOAD: Born Free, Strangers in the Night--Dean Franconi and his Orch.
Strangers in the Night
A Day in the Life of a Fool
Over the Waves
Born Free/Strangers in the Night/A Day in the Life of a Fool--Dean Franconi and his Orch. (International Award AKS-271; 1977)