Sunday, March 31, 2019

Sunday morning gospel: The Statesmen with Hovie Lister: Stop, Look and Listen for the Lord

For years, I've been seeing the words "with Hovie Lister" on LPs by the Statesmen Quartet, not knowing who Hovie Lister was.  Seriously.  What can I say?  Well, Hovie was simply the man who formed the Statesmen in 1948 and who played the extraordinary piano accompaniments we hear on this disc (Stop, Look and Listen for the Lord--RCA Camden CAL 663; 1962).  That's all.  Well, half of the extraordinary accompaniments, at least--the label lists him as present on six of the twelve tracks.  Not sure why he's not on all of them, but half is much better than none.  The singing is possibly the most virtuoso southern quartet singing to be heard anywhere--at times, it's as astonishing as the keyboard work.  Here's Wikipedia's entry on the group, and despite the usual "This article needs additional citations for verification" template at the top of the piece, I suspect the info is reliable.  Wikipedia is good on stuff like this.  In the realm who fought what battle, who played banjo in which group, who starred in what season of what show, birth and death dates for presidents, and stuff like that, the joint is as good as any other source.  Anything beyond that, consult an expert.  Experts are all over cyberspace.

And fabulous southern quartet singing is all over this 1962 RCA Camden LP, lovingly restored by me.  I could say "lovingly declicked," but "restored" sounds so much more official.  I featured what is very possibly the best of today's offerings--1959's Get Thee Behind Me, Satan--back in January, ripped from my 45 rpm copy, but I'm happy to say the sound is much better here.  Googling, I was able to find the release dates for all but two of today's twelve tracks, and I put the years after the titles in the track list.  (Update: Buster has supplied those two dates.  Thanks, Buster!)  The latest year I found was 1959, just three years before this budget LP.  Such a quick turnover, reissue-wise, says something about the less than unlimited spending power of the gospel audience.  As far as I know, gospel, unlike rock, never became big-money stuff.  And rock is treated with way more respect in the media. Gosh, you don't think that has anything to do with the dough it rakes in?

LINK: Stop, Look and Listen for the Lord

Stop, Look and Listen for the Lord (1957), with Hovie Lister
What a Happy Day (1958)
Get Thee Behind Me, Satan (1959), with Hovie Lister
He's Got the Whole World in His Hands (1958)
Until You Find the Lord (1959), with Hovie Lister
Love Never Fails, with Hovie Lister (1956)
This Ole House (1954)
At the Roll Call (1958)
Until Tomorrow (1958)
My God Won't Ever Let Me Down (1958)
God is God (1957), with Hovie Lister
God Bless You, Go with God (1959), with Hovie Lister


Friday, March 29, 2019

Less Common Burt, Part 4--Love Bank; Wendy, Wendy; Fool Killer; Ten Times Forever More

A bunch of Burt (maybe that's what I should have called this series)--24 more tracks, to be precise.  Among the least-heard Burts are the rocking Love Bank (1957), the charming waltz I Need You (1957); the torchy Close (always wanted to type that) from 1960; Lost Little Girl (1964); and, perhaps for good reason, the Dick Van Dyke double-dose from 1961, Three Wheels on My Wagon and One Part Dog, Nine Parts Cat.  The awfulness of those last two titles can't be blamed on anyone but Burt and his lyricist Bob Hilliard, since it's their production.  Yikes.  I always figured both numbers had been written for a Disney comedy, or something along that line, which would have given the numbers an excuse, but no such luck.  At least the New Christy Minstrels did a much better, mildly amusing version of Three Wheels (only Dick Van Dyke can make Barry McGuire sound restrained and subtle in his comic approach), but no one could possibly do anything with One Part Dog.  Dick gets through the latter by channeling one of those broadly played, half-crazed grizzled prospector characters from Gunsmoke, a show I love but which couldn't do comedy to save its life.  And wouldn't you know it--I just turned on Matlock, and who's being cross-examined (in one of those "bottle," flashback-dominated episodes)?  Dick Van Dyke.

Matlock: "Did you not, in fact, record two of the worst Burt Bacharach numbers ever?"  Dick: "Yes."  Matlock: "I didn't get that.  You'll have to speak up so the jury can hear you."  Dick: "Yes!!"

I wouldn't be having to start this Burt post with Dick Van Dyke and Gunsmoke, but Bacharach and Hilliard gave me no choice.  I'll bet they even picked Dick to record the sides.  I can't take it.

Infinitely better Burts are waiting for us here, luckily.  Best of the bunch: 1965's Fool Killer, whose lyrics I don't completely understand but which move me, anyway.  Maybe it's the lovely melody, or Burt's splendid arrangement, or Gene Pitney's magnificent performance. And there's 1960's Close, which is very, very good, with Keely Smith's vocal terrifically so, but there's a slight disconnect between the jazzy, torch-style arrangement and the Burt lightness. It's like two eras clashing.  1961's Gotta Get a Girl doesn't have that problem--it's the best kind of Burt-light, with a memorable, minimalist bridge and a very nice vocal by Frankie Avalon.  Yeah, I know--Frankie Avalon.  But.... And Another Tear Falls, which totally failed to click with Gene McDaniels (not Gene's fault), is a miracle of a Walkers Brothers single--a single that somehow went nowhere.  I honestly regarded the tune as a total Burt misfire until I heard this recording.  I Need You, while another Burt song a bit out of its era, like Close, is an effective waltz with a lovely bridge, while The Last Time I Saw My Heart is an even more effective exercise in 3/4, with a brilliant arrangement and Marty Robbins at his best, which is kind of redundant, since when was Marty ever not?  And the slight but instantly touching Ten Times Forever More is maybe the ultimate example of Burt chord progressions that pause, change their minds, and go back to the tonic.  An effective device when used in tunes about separation and loss.  Unfulfilled hopes.

Wendy, Wendy is more interesting than I thought it would be, and maybe because I have another Four Coins Bacharach single that's pretty bad.  This one is halfway good, and I don't know if there's a name for the simple syncopated pattern the tune features.  Here it is in print--I happen to have it in a period song folio, only under the title Oh, Wendy, Wendy:

Just as in Promises, Promises, there's an accent (not marked as such here) on the fourth eight note, except that Wendy is in 4/4 (actually 2/2), whereas Promises is in 3/4.  Still, same general pattern: syncopated measure followed by non-syncopated measure.  I don't give much mind to what specific "beats" Burt uses--I find the different Latin types hard to memorize--nor do I notice his time-signature shifts unless they have a jarring effect, but that's mainly because of my piano-student days going through the first five volumes of Bartok's Mikrokosmos.  Once Bartok sounds normal to you, things have to be radically off to sound off.  That's my story, but back to Burt....

Billy Vaughn's Promises, Promises is way better than I thought it would be--I associate Billy with bland--but his version has a lot of energy, and it really brings back the era.  To me, at least.  Me Japanese Boy, I Love You, by all logic, should be one of the all-time incorrect AM radio hits, and not just because of its lack of PC, but because it's sung by Bobby Goldsboro, who gave us (gag!) Honey.  Indeed, he did, but despite that crime, the man has talent, and this Bacharach-arranged single is not only good, it's a minor Burt-Hal classic.  If we can excuse the "Me Japanese boy" part, it has a charming and sophisticated melody and much subtle rhythmic playfulness.

Pat Boone singing Burt?  Yup.  Looks like Say Goodbye was written for Pat, and he does well with it.  Pleasant, middling Burt.  Deeply is surprisingly good, and I say "surprisingly," because any 1961 Burt number by a duo called the Shepherd Sisters has "Of curio interest only" written all over it (took me a whole bottle of Goo Gone to get it off), but it's quite catchy and well done, and it's very 1961--full of treble and danceable.  Old-time theater organist Jesse Crawford signs in (on?) with a delightful version of Magic Moments, one of two contemporary covers that I know of, Johnny Mathis does a Math-terful rendition of the A+ Burt number Make It Easy on Yourself, and Gene Pitney would have even the most ardent skeptic convinced that True Love Never Runs Smooth.  ("I was sure that true love ran smooth.  Now, I just don't know.  I just don't know.")

Love Was Here Before the Stars is one of my all-time favorite Burts, and I think Engelbert Humperdinck was one of the ideal Burt-Hal interpreters.  Yet another recording that should have been a hit.  The lovely Come Touch the Sun is from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and it's performed by the Charles Randolph Grean Sounde, a group best known for its big 1969 hit, Quentin's Theme (from the Gothic soap Dark Shadows).  Sun appeared on the group's second LP, and we recognize the melody as that of Where There's a Heartache, which the Sandpipers recorded in 1970 (featured in the last Burt post).   Charles Grean, of course, was Eddy Arnold's manager for a time, and, in addition to writing The Thing and Sweet Violets, he produced Jim Lowe's Green Door and Merv Griffin's I've Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts.  I mean, everyone knows that.

Tom Jones' version of I Wake up Crying misses the mark, somehow, which surprises me, since he usually did so well with Burt's stuff, but great artists are allowed their off days.  I don't know what I think of Lost Little Girl.  I might warm it up to at some point, though I doubt it.  1964 seems a bit late for whatever style this is, though it does have a common, if soft-pedaled, kind of rock beat.  But it's not rock.  It's not folk.  It's a whole lot of nots.  If anything is lost, it's the song.  It's Burt, failing to cohere.  The quick fade-out had to be the engineer saying, "I don't know if you guys are done, but I know I am."

What can I say about Love Bank?  Musically, it's not a bad rocker, though the lyrics make about as much sense as the title. 

DOWNLOADLess Common Burt, Part 4

All titles by Bacharach-David, except where indicated:

Ten Times Forever More--Johnny Mathis, Arr. and Cond. by Perry Botkin, Jr., 1971

Love Bank (Bacharach-Melamed-David)--Bob Manning w. Sid Bass and his Orch. and Chorus, 1957
Fool Killer--Gene Pitney, 1965
Close (Bacharach-Sydney Shaw)--Keely Smith, Arr. by George Greeley, 1960
Deeply (Bacharach-Gimbel)--The Shepherd Sisters, Prod. by Leiber-Stoller, 1961
Gotta Get a Girl--Frankie Avalon,. Cond. by Jerry Ragavoy, 1961
Lost Little Girl--The Light Brothers, 1964
Odds and Ends--Tony Sandler and Ralph Young, 1969
A House Is Not a Home--Perry Como, Arr. Don Costa, 1970
Come Touch the Sun (Bacharach)--The Charles Randolph Grean Sounde, 1970
Another Tear Falls--The Walker Brothers, 1965
Say Goodbye (Bacharach-David)--Pat Boone, 1965
I Wake Up Crying--Tom Jones, 1968
The Last Time I Saw My Heart--Mary Robbins w. Ray Conniff and his Orch., 1958
I Need You (Bacharach-Wilson Stone)--Priscilla Wright w. Don Wright and his Orch.; 1957
Love Was Here Before the Stars--Engelbert Humperdinck, 1969
Promises, Promises--Billy Vaughn; 1969
Three Wheels on My Wagon (Bacharach-Bob Hilliard)--Dick Van Dyke, Prod. Hilliard and Bacharach, 1961
One Part Dog, Nine Parts Cat (Bacahrach-Bob Hilliard)--Same
Me Japanese Boy, I Love You--Bobby Goldsboro, Arr. Burt Bacharach, 1964
Magic Moments--Jesse Crawford, 1958
Make It Easy on Yourself--Johnny Mathis, Arr. D'Arneill Pershing, 1972
Wendy, Wendy (Bacharach)--The Four Coins, Orch. Dir. by Marion Evans, 1958
True Love Never Runs Smooth--Gene Pitney, Arr. by Burt Bacharach, 1963


Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Current Hits, Volume No. 11--Dominique (The Singing Nun) (Hit Records HLP-411; 1964)

Today, a 1964 album of fake hits from producer William Beasley's Hit Records label of Nashville.  This find is kind of cool, because this outfit typically released its LPs on its Modern Sound label--this is only my second or third 12-incher with "Hit Records" on the label and jacket.  The same folks, and everything, but I wonder why they were inconsistent.  Carelessness?  A plot to confuse vinyl collectors of the future?

These were engineered by Billy Sherrill, who later became a hugely successful country music producer.  I'd say "the legendary Billy Sherrill," but I hate that use of that word.  I never use "legendary" to refer to people who actually exist or existed.  Ray Charles was not legendary, for example.  Paul Bunyan, King Arthur, Robin Hood--legendary.  Gary Cooper--not legendary.  Et cetera.

So, despite the cut-rate vinyl, the audio is gorgeous, and a number of the covers are very good, with Louie Louie uncannily so.  And I just now discovered that Popsicles and Icicles writer David Gates co-founded the single most nothing group in the history of popular music, Bread.  I could have lived without knowing that.  Bread's hits made such AM-radio barf as What Have They Done to My Song Ma and I Was Kaiser Bill's Batman sound like, well, music.  I was going to add Leave Me Alone (Ruby Red Dress), but I don't think even Bread could make that sound like music.

Sorry--jumped off topic.  So, I've tried to track down the 1963 hits being faked here.  (This LP came out in January, 1964.)  Dominique was by singing nun Jeanne-Paule Marie "Jeannine" Deckers, who was played by Debbie Reynolds in the 1966 movie (you'll never guess), The Singing Nun.  I very vaguely remember all of that.  Sort of.  The rest are easier.  The great Buddy Johnson ballad Since I Fell for You was a big 1963 hit for Lenny Welch, so he must be our man.  Robin Ward (Jacqueline McDonnell) gave us Wonderful Summer, which I kind of, sort of remember from the day.  Be True to Your School was of course the Beach Boys, and Hit Records proved, with each and every attempt to cover the group, that they couldn't get anything close to Brian Wilson's sound to save their lives.  They had better luck with the Beatles, doing halfway decent Fab Four copies, even a My Bonnie that rocks harder than the original.  Anyway, Popsicles covers the Murmaids, Louie Louie covers the Kingsmen's own inept and pared-down (but lovable) cover of the 1957 Richard Berry original, You Don't Have to Be a Baby to Cry mimics the Caravelles, There! I Said It Again manages to sound a lot like the Bobby Vinton hit, Loddy Lo is a decent copy of Chubby Checker's hit, Quicksand falls with a splat, Drip Drop is dreadful (this was the best Dion impression they could manage?), and Midnight Mary is a less than superb copy of an infinitely better produced single by Joey Powers.  (The Powers 45 rpm label names Artie Wayne as the producer--the excellent Freddy Martin crooner?)

I do love the Kingsmen's Louie Louie, though it simplifies the Richard Berry original outrageously, in addition to garbling the lyrics.  Yes, that's much of the fun, but it's worth noting that the Beach Boys' 1964 version of the song does it as originally performed, and quite beautifully.  I wish the Beach Boys would have released Louie Louie as a single, but it likely would have tanked, since by then everyone knew the song as a garage-band three-chord wonder.

Despite the fact they never hit the mark, the Hit Records Beach Boys covers always entertain me.  I'm not sure why.  Be True to Your School, for instance, has a lot of drive, and you can tell they're trying hard to get the feel of the original.  I guess this label's BB copies could be labeled entertaining failures.  If you're going to do it wrong, do it badly in a fun way.

LINK:  Current Hits, Vol. No. 11 (1964)

Dominique (The Singing Nun)
Since I Fell for You
Wonderful Summer
Be True to Your School
Popsicles and Icicles
Louie Louie
You Don't Have to Be a Baby to Cry
There!  I've Said It Again
Loddy Lo
Drip Drop
Midnight Mary

Current Hits, Volume No. 11 (Hit Record HLP-411; 1964)


Sunday, March 24, 2019

Sunday morning gospel: Sing Along with the Stamps Quartet (Stateswood SWLP-401)

Twenty-five cents, and not in great shape, but well worth the effort it took to restore the awesome jacket art (I'm a sucker for the TV-screen motif) and the terrific tracks.  A good number of clicks and pops (or "ticks," to use the elitist term), but VinylStudio cured most of those, and the rest I spliced out on MAGIX.  The result is quiet, first-rate mono sound from, I'm guessing, the early 1960s.  The Stamps Quartet goes back to the 1920s, and this LP features the group's theme song, Give the World a Smile, near the start of side two, though it doesn't include the writer-composer credits (which are, Otis Deaton-words; M.L. Yandell-music).  This seems to have been standard gospel-LP practice when it came to public domain material--here, we get arranger credit but no authors for the out-of-copyright titles--and I don't know if playing dumb on the p.d. titles was laziness on the part of the labels or an attempt to give the impression that the older material in question was somehow specially associated with the group.

Anyway, I've added the text-music credits for all of the P.D. tracks, save for Amazing Grace, whose tune has no known authorship, and Everybody Oughta (sic) Know, a version of The Lily of the Valley which mostly uses Charles C. Converse's tune for What a Friend We Have in Jesus.  I've never known quite what to make of that one.  I have it in at least one songbook--one which I can't locate at this moment.

With these issues out of the way, here's a lot of terrific, old-style quartet singing, with an especially superb bass, performing in a style not massively far removed from the group's 1920s sound.  Three J.D. Sumner compositions, and Sumner is always the guy associated with this group, though his association appears to have only begun in 1962, some time after the outfit started.  Don't ask me.  My quartet knowledge isn't all it should be--I'm mostly busy making the surviving flea market and thrift examples look and sound as good as possible.  Hope I did justice to this gem.  Oh, and the piano solo version of When They Ring the Golden Bells is a classic--with its tempo shifts and dramatic flourishes, it could have served as a silent movie background.  Weird in a good-weird sort of way.

To the good ol' gospel....

LINK:  Stamps Quartet--Sing Along with

Everybody Oughta Know
Amazing Grace (text: John Newton)
Hide Me Rock of Ages (Brantley C. George)
When I'm Alone (J.D. Sumner)
Leave It There (Charles Albert Tindley)
While Ages Roll (Joe Roper)
Must Jesus Bear the Cross Alone (Thomas Shepherd--George Nelson Allen)
Give the World a Smile (Deaton-Yandell)
If We Never Meet Again (Albert E. Brumley)
When They Ring the Golden Bells (Daniel de Marbelle)
Keep Me in Thy Fold (J.D. Sumner)
From Now On (J.D. Sumner)

Sing Along with the Stamps Quartet (Stateswood SWLP-401)


Friday, March 22, 2019

The Twin String Orchestras Play George Gershwin--Warren Edward Vincent, Conducting (1960)

This "low priced popular" release got a good review in the November 21, 1960 Billboard, and I agree with the reviewer that these "Gershwin evergreens make for nice restful background."  My copy showed up with a split cover, but luckily the vinyl was housed in a sleeve, so the disc was unharmed.  The stereo sound is very nice--sort of on the level of 101 Strings stereo, only less shrill, less doctored.  A surprising amount of stereo separation for a Pickwick label of this era, really.  Maybe Pickwick was trying for some respectability.  If so, this would be the way to go.

At the moment, I'm listening to the pizzicato beginning to Liza, and the mood switched even before I got done typing this sentence.  Now, that's mood.  The audio is not Columbia-level, to be sure, but it's way better than the dollar-bin norm.  I praise the Design label engineer for not jacking up the treble, which would have robbed the string sound of its body, even if it might have made the less expensive rigs of the day sound more "hi fi."  Such restraint is admirable on a budget label, and the same goes for the lack of added echo.  Never thought I'd hear myself praising Pickwick, but here I am.

Yes, fine stuff, but we really have to wonder--are we in fact hearing two orchestras, one in each channel, or just a single orchestra in stereo?  Ah-haaa.

And what was the "uni-groove system"?   It's mentioned in the "Compatible Fidelity" sticker on the front jacket.  And was Design's "'TWO WAY' STEREO long playing record" really a "revolution in recording," as claimed  on the back jacket by Danton (I Believe in Ghosts) Walker?  And I'm no audio expert, but don't the words "flat from 30 to 15,000 cycles" describe the RIAA curve only when, and if, your amplifier is set to that curve?  "Listen--be amazed!"  Well, I'm reading, and I'm amazed.

These budget jackets deserve their own branch of pop culture analysis.  Luckily, for all the hype that went into the packaging, the audio is gimmick-free, tasteful, and downright un-Pickwick.  Pickwick should have tried the quality route more often.

LINK:  The Twin Strings Orchestras Play George Gershwin

Fascinating Rhythm
Love Walked In
Love Is Here to Stay
I Got Rhythm
For You For Me For Evermore
A Foggy Day
They Can't Take That Away from Me
Nice Work if You Can Get It
Strike up the Band

The Twin String Orchestras Play George Gershwin--Warren Edward Vincent, Cond. (Design DCF-1033; 1960)


Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Less Common Burt, Part 3--1954-1971: Tony Orlando, Peggy Lee, Brenda Lee, Fred X. Brown

This time around, we get some even less less common (less less common?) Burt, with 1) two outstanding Burt solo piano sides from 1957, 2) Burt's first appearance as performer on a record (Mama Don't Cry at My Wedding, as orchestra conductor, 1954), 3) Burt's own orchestra and chorus performing Juanita's Place (from On the Flip Side) and Nikki, and 4) Roger Williams' 1958 version of one of Burt's first hits, Magic Moments, significant as one of the first contemporary "covers" of a Burt-Hal number.  (Jesse Crawford covered it, also--his fine version is coming up next post.)  Nikki, of course, was named after Burt and Angie's daughter, who had Asperger Syndrome, and who tragically died by her own hand in 2007 at the age of 40.  We'll also hear the vocal version of Nikki in an excellent 1967 recording by Ed Ames.  In a different arrangement, Nikki served as the theme music for the ABC Movie of the Week, and I seem to remember it from there.

Jo Stafford had little regard for Underneath the Overpass, citing it in an interview as typical of the worst stuff Mitch Miller had her record at Columbia, though the title pun works for me, and I think the music and lyrics beautifully recall the big band era, the era that gave Jo her start.  Her husband Paul Weston, who directs this recording, often acted as her arranger in those days, so I think the results are quite authentic--very middle-of-the-road swing, 1944 style, only in 1957.  But it's her opinion which counts, since she was the one stuck with it!  Burt's superb piano chops are something to behold on Rosanne and Searching Wind, a single on the Cabot label (also from 1957), and though hearing him in Roger Williams mode might be a little jarring to some,  I was lucky enough to see Burt in concert in Zanesville, Ohio about twelve years ago, so I already know he's a concert-level ivory tickler.

No clunkers in the list, though Rome Will Never Leave You is pretty so-so, however nicely done (and however interesting in its metric quirkiness), and I'm still new to I Cry Alone (Vikki Carr), so I'm not sure yet what I think of it.  The rest are good to superb, starting with the phenomenally effective Accept It, which was somehow not a hit for singer Tony Orlando, who is superb.  Tony's equally good on the flip, To Wait for Love, which I previously knew only in Tom Jones' slightly later version.  I figured Tony's version wouldn't hold a candle to Tom's, but I stand humbly corrected.  British songstress Sheila Southern's superb version of Here I Am was released in the U.S. by the ultra-cheap Synthetic Plastics Co. on its Ambassador label as part of a 1970 reissue of a Marble Arch (U.K.) LP from 1969.  The Buckinghams' 1968 version of Are You There (With Another Girl) was the only version of this excellent number I heard for years, so when I finally got my hands on Dionne Warwick's original, it sounded wrong.  Diana Trask is superb on the lovely Long Ago Last Summer, Jackie deShannon is her usual terrific on A Lifetime of Loneliness (note the title screw-up--A Lifetime of Happiness--on the label scan above!), and the Sandpipers do their usual lovely job on 1970's Where There's a Heartache.  And though Fred X. Brown (Fred who??) isn't especially good on our third helping of The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, he does sound something like Gene Pitney--Gene Pitney on a really off day, but with that nasal twinge and semi-breathless sound.  Not one of the best fake versions to come from the Hit Records label.

Bobby Vee is his usual highly entertaining self on Be True to Yourself, and Brenda Lee proves to be an outstanding Burt interpreter with Wishin' and Hopin' and (There's) Always Something Left to Remind Me--I was very pleasantly surprised.  That'll teach me to underestimate Brenda.  I sort of wish she'd done an entire Burt-Hal LP.  Always Something, by the way, shows up in its different versions with the parenthesis either around "Always" alone or "Always Something."  I have no idea what the correct form is.  A great number, however punctuated.  Magic Potion is a very catchy fast tune, perfect for the Searchers and other Invasion groups, though it could have made its status as a follow-up to Love Potion No. 9 less blatantly obvious.  My Rock and Foundation is very catchy, and it's performed by another female big band era vet, Peggy Lee, though here there's no attempt at a swing era feel.  Very black gospel, and I have to wonder if it was rejected by Dionne.  Lee does a fine job, though her style always strikes me as a bit distant.  Barry Frank, former star singer for Sammy Kaye, is anything but distant, pouring his heart into 1954's Mama Don't Cry at My Wedding, a hit for Joni James, and I wonder if Burt F. Bacharach, who conducts the orchestra, also did the charts.

To the less common Burt:

LINK: Less Common Burt, Part 3

All selections by Bacharach-David, unless otherwise noted

Accept It--Tony Orlando, Arr. and Cond. by Garry Sherman, 1964
To Wait for Love--Same
Rosanne (Manning--Osser-Osser)--Burt Bacharach, piano, Orch. Dir. Marion Evans, 1957
Searching Wind (Heyman-Young)--Same
Nikki (Burt Bacharach)--The Burt Bacharach Orch. and Chorus, 1966
Underneath the Overpass--Jo Stafford w. Paul Weston, 1957
Juanita's Place--The Burt Bacharach Orch. and Chorus, 1966
Here I Am--Sheila Southern, Orch. Cond. by Paul Fenhoulet, 1969
Nikki--Ed Ames, Arr. and Cond. by Perry Botkin, Jr., 1967
My Rock and Foundation--Peggy Lee, 1971
Send Me No Flowers--Doris Day, Arr. and Cond. by Mort Garson, 1964
Long Ago Last Summer--Diana Track, Orch. Dir. by Glenn Osser, 1960
I Cry Alone--Vikki Carr, Arr. and Cond. by Bob Florence, 1964
Wishin' and Hopin'--Brenda Lee, Chorus and Acc. Dir. by Owen Bradley, 1965
(There's) Always Something There to Remind Me--Same
Where There's a Heartache--The Sandpipers, 1970
Magic Moments--Roger Williams, 1958
Magic Potion--The Searchers, 1965
A Lifetime of Loneliness--Jackie deShannon, Arr. and Cond. by Burt Bacharach, 1965 (reissue)
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance--Fred X. Brown (Hit Records 16)
Be True to Yourself--Bobby Vee, Arr. and Cond. by Ernie Freeman, 1963
Mama Don't Cry at My Wedding (Helen Hudgins)--Barry Frank, Burt F. Bacharch and Orch., 1954
Are You There (With Another Girl)--The Buckinghams, 1968
Rome Will Never Leave You--Richard Chamberlain, Orch. Cond. by Perry Botkin, Jr., 1964

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Sunday morning gospel: The Southern-Aires Gospel Singers--Heaven Is My Home (Westwood Record Co. 1016)

Whenever you see R.E. Winsett, Luther G. Presley, and Albert E. Brumley in the composer credits, and titles like Jesus Is Coming Soon, He Bore It All, and I'll Have a New Life, you know you're in for some country and/or bluegrass gospel.  But you have no way of predicting how country and/or bluegrass it's going to be until you lay the needle down.  In the case of the Southern-Aires Gospel Singers, a group the internet gives me no information about, the sounds are as down home as down home gets.  Anything more down home than this, and... I don't know.  It's impossible to imagine.

And it's impossible to imagine worse sound engineering.  If this material wasn't so fascinating, I wouldn't have bothered with it, because the voices are distorted, with an extremely exaggerated treble response.  Then again, we don't know what the engineer was handed in the way of a master tape--the singers could simply have been too close to the microphones during the taping.  At any rate, combining the channels and cutting the treble made for halfway listenable sound.  For significantly less terrible sound, at least.  I'm guessing early 1970s for the recording date--discogs has a very limited discography for the label (Westwood Record Co.), with no LP dates, right here.

You could easily believe these were recorded in 1928 or so--they have the sound of some of the family gospel quartets recorded during the early electrical era, if in somewhat better fidelity.  By "better fidelity," I mean a wider frequency range, though not much of one, considering.  All I know is that I've been astonished, ever since I thrifted this disc a couple decades ago, that a style of singing this old-fashioned would have survived into the 1970s.  I have a few other examples of stuck-in-place quartet singing, but this may be the example.  And, as for why there are five people pictured for a quartet, I believe the shyly smiling blonde is Bonnie Moore, pianist.  The singers are the older folks.  And if this LP has a handed-out-at-personal-appearances look, I'm sure it's because it was.  We usually call such LPs vanity projects, but these records were the bread and butter of these groups, so I don't think that term really applies.  "Very limited production" comes to mind as a phrase.

"The singers are originally from West Virginia," read the liner notes, and my reply is, No kidding!  These highly enjoyable and wonderfully old-fashioned (but not so skillfully recorded) performances make those of outfits like the Blackwood Bros., not to mention some of the smoother quartets of the 1920s, sound slick and urban by comparison, though, as is often the case with gospel, the biggest difference is in the delivery, not the material or even the actual harmonies.  I think it would be a mistake to categorize these performances as folk in any way, as Appalachian as they sound, because the popular gospel music of the 20th century is hugely a product of song books, the singing school tradition, and highly disciplined singing, regardless of the form in which it reaches us--either as a style that sounds fresh from the hills or, say, one that sounds more RFGH (ready for the Gaither Hour).  It's all from the same pool.  Anyway, to our offering.  Bad sound, but music that makes up for it.

LINK: Heaven Is My Home--Southern-Aires Gospel Singers

Heaven's Really Gonna Shine (Brumley)
He Bore It All (Baxter, Jr.-Stamps)
I'll Have a New Life (Presley)
Angels Rock Me to Sleep (Ramsey-Easterling)
Gonna Rise up and Shine (Eugene Wright)
Salvation Has Been Brought Down (Brumley)
Heaven Is My Home (Baxter, Jr.-Swilling)
Jesus Is Coming Soon (Winsett)
Hide Me, Rock of Ages (George)
When I Looked Up and He Looked Down (Brumley)
Echoes from the Burning Bush (Foust-Summar)
Shurley (sic), I Will Lord (Brumley)
Just a Little Talk with Jesus (Derricks)

Southern-Aires Gospel Singers--Heaven Is My Home (Westwood Record Co. 1016)


Thursday, March 14, 2019

The Four Coins (Epic LN-1104; 1955)

I did considerable clean-up on my cover scans, and naturally the shiny silver quality of the four "coins" (the silver areas showing the singers' heads--a little creepy, but effective) shows up as flat gray, but the scan still looks far less beat up than the jacket.  And I had to do a lot of track splicing on My Anxious Heart, where a major tonearm slip happened at some time in the past, back when playing a record meant dooming it.  But, to use collector jargon, this is a tough LP.  If it shows up, be happy.  If you get a great copy, you're in Vinyl Heaven, and you need to check your bank accounts.  You'll find out you are no longer among, to use the Bible term, the quick.

But, hey, you're in Vinyl Heaven!

I'm on oral Prednisone because of bad bronchitis (caught just in time, just as it was turning into pneumonia), so I might be a little weirder than usual this post.  Bear with me, please.  Anyway, the very talented Four Coins of Pittsburgh were of Greek-American heritage and were signed to Columbia (and released on Epic) after first putting out sides on the Corona label--and darned if I can find a single Corona side to listen to on line.  Or for sale.  Of course, there's much, much (I mean, much) more to their amazing history, and I can't begin to improve on the many on-line write-ups, so please take a cyber trip and learn about the Coins.  Nice to see amazing success go with amazing talent, and in the first three tracks of this six (!) track 10-inch LP, you'll hear masterful "pop" covers of R&B/R&R material that, certainly in the case of I Love You Madly, improves on the original (by Charlie and Ray).  Meaning that the Diamonds didn't start the improving-on-the-original-version trend with 1956's (released in 1957) Little Darlin'.  The Four Coins had them beat.

I usually go with the originals in such cases, but I'll happily admit when a "pop" cover does it better.  It did happen.  And there are many instances of doo wop versions improving on standard pop numbers--The Ravens, with Count Every Star, Lee Andrews and the Hearts with Maybe You'll Be There and The Bells of St. Mary's, and the poster child for this trend--the Marcels' Blue Moon.

If the Four Coins' superb handling of R&B/R&R material is surprising at all, it would be because their musical director was Don Costa!

I'm not up on the history of the other two Side One tracks--you try Googling "Maybe" and "Croswell"--but I'm guessing they're white covers, too.  And beautifully done.  The flip is more "conventional" material--you just know We'll Be Married (In the Church in the Wildwood) isn't early rock and roll, but it's very entertaining.  That last track is weird, but good-weird.

This only contains a little over thirteen minutes of music, but, nevertheless, in its day this was a great lesson, to all buyers still confused by the record size vs. speed issue, that you get a lot more on a 10-inch LP than on a 78 rpm single.  One big problem was that people were used to paying a certain price for a certain diameter, and this is where the cheapo labels made a mint--by selling dirt-cheap LPs whose prices seemed reasonable to buyers who made the price-size correlation error.  And I just read on line that 10-inch LPs were on their way out by 1955 (Buster would know much more on that subject), but there were still plenty of folks confused by the size-speed issue by the mid-1950s--I'm sure of it.  You had millions of people raised on 78s, and suddenly (commercially, at least) there are three speeds, three sizes, and EP and EP sets.  There were at least three varieties of "albums" or album sets.  I can understand their confusion.

But we're talking about the Four Coins.  Hello.  Here they are.  They're great!  And let me know if there are any issues with the link.  Box has done one of its sudden changes ("improvements"), and while I do think Box is a great site, its habit of constantly revising things is, to put it frankly, very annoying.  They're trapped in that we're-offering-you-new-ways-to-do-things cliche, and internet users just want to go on line and accomplish things.  I'm happy with a short, functional menu.  I don't lie in bed at night dreaming of new options.

LINK: The Four Coins (Epic LN 1105; 1955)

I Love You Madly (C.Jones) (1954)
Maybe (Croswell) (1954)
My Anxious Heart (Sanford-O. Jones) (1955)
Rio Rita (J. McCarthy-Tierney)
We'll Be Married (In the Church in the Wildwood) (1954)
That's the Way (R. Green-Kane)

The Four Coins (Epic LN-1104; 1955)


Saturday, March 09, 2019

Less Common Burt, Part 2--1955-1976

We--well, I--continue our series of less common Burt Bacharach sides, and included are some less-than-household titles and some well-known Burt numbers--the latter, however, in "alternate," lesser-known versions.  The famous titles include Blue on Blue; The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance; The Story of My Life; They Long to Be Close to You; The Windows of the World (Hal's Vietnam protest number); and What's New, Pussycat.  Famous numbers, only the performers are John Preston (who?), Jimmie Rodgers, Frankie Laine, Richard Chamberlain, Merv Griffin, and an unidentified singer (Pussycat).  Some of the lesser known titles are in the bad to mediocre range--Take Me to Your Ladder (terrible even by sex-hungry-women-aliens-on-other-worlds standards), Don't Unless You Love Me (maybe the most blah Burt number of all), Freddie and the Dreamers' I Fell in Love with Your Picture (which I can't picture anyone falling in love with), and Living Together, Growing Together, whose melody is pleasant enough but whose words are just dumb.  I don't know what I think of Little Betty Falling Star (you just know that's not a Hal title), except that I'm pleasantly surprised by the perfectly decent singing voice of George Hamilton (yes, that George Hamilton).

The Night That Heaven Fell is a near-classic, let down by its final section, which has a "Let's get this thing over with" feeling.  Too bad.  Send Me No Flowers, the theme from the Doris Day film, and Boys Were Meant for Girls are extremely pleasant numbers, and I'm not sure if I consider A Girl Like You a classic or something short of one.  It's quite lovely, and I'm assuming the lyricist, credited on the label as Anne Croswell with a single s, is this Anne Pearson Crosswell listed at IMDb.  At any rate, it's cool to see the "Burt Bacharach-Anne Croswell" credit on the label after encountering endless Burt pairings with Hal David, Wilson Stone, Paul Hampton, and Bob (The Coffee Song) Hilliard.  And novel to see Burt's name in first place, since typically the lyricist was listed first.  Such things are exciting to vinyl collectors.  We're weird people.  Oh, and I dig misspellings of Bacharach, though nothing quite matches this Columbia label snafu, in which Hal and Burt, by a typo, are turned into a three-man team:

Yup, H. David, S. Burt, and Bacharach.  This rivals anything I've encountered on the junk labels, so what was Columbia's excuse?

Back to topic, there are two masterpieces among the lesser-knowns, the first being It Seemed so Right Last Night, pretty much a more mature version of the infinitely better-known Carol King-Gerry Goffin Will You Love Me Tomorrow, which it predates by two years.  Same topic, and neither specifically mentions sex, so the earlier tune can't be charged with playing it safe by comparison.  If anything, Hal's words play it less safe--what else can "I loved you more than it was wise" possibly mean?  As much as I love Carole, her 64-bar mega-hit doesn't measure up to this overlooked gem, and Mary Mayo's magnificent performance may have a lot to do with that.  Burt toys with form to a dizzying degree (the lovely introductory chords pop up wherever Burt feels the need to put them), and Hal's words sound like less like rhymed lyrics than a heartbroken woman privately expressing her grief.  Extraordinarily eloquent, and so far ahead of the pop curve--absolutely brilliant, and anyone who can't feel the pain of the singer can't feel anything.

You might gather that It Seemed so Right Last Night is my favorite Burt-Hal.  It very well might be.  But there's also the run-over-by-a-speeding-train The Desperate Hours, featuring a performance by Eileen Rodgers that redefines the word "dynamic," with Eileen backed by a powerful Ray Conniff production and arrangement that rocks the needle off the record without pushing the dynamic level to the max and making everything uniformly LOUD--a practice that ruined many a rock single to come.  Conniff's expert use of echo, for me at least, makes it hard to endure some of the more echo-drowned rock discs of the 1960s.  Ray showed how to produce a rocking record (whether rock, jazz, or country) with artistry.  He showed that there's a lot you can do with sound in the studio without destroying it in the process.  Then came rock and sonic destruction became hip.  Smashing the guitars, amps, etc. was just the next logical step.  (No, I don't hate rock that much.  But it made a virtue out of deafening loudness.)

The very existence of this Eileen Rodgers disc seems to confuse some Burt discographers, because Burt and Wilson Stone apparently also wrote a promotional song, These Desperate Hours, for the 1955 movie The Desperate Hours.  Confused yet?  Mel Torme sang the latter title.  I've tried to piece together the facts behind this mess, but I gave up a while ago.  So where the hell does the Rodgers record fit in?  I have no idea, but I thank (insert deity of choice) for it.  UPDATE, 8/6/2023: See 8/5/2023 comment section entries: These Desperate Hours dates from 1960 and was not penned by Bacharach and Stone, nor was it connect to the 1955 The Desperate Hours!  My thanks to zeno.bardot for the info!

Merv singing The Windows of the World?  Why not?  I suspect he was no fan of the war.  Neither were Mitch Miller or, as mentioned before, Hal David.  The song touches me deeply, and if it's not a favorite of the Burt fans, it's their loss.  I've always considered 1965's What the World Needs Now a rather obvious anti-Vietnam song, and from the year when such songs were coming into vogue (though I hate to use a word like "vogue" in connection with war protest).  In 1965, Mitch Miller and the Gang, then on Decca, recorded the devastating A Ballad from Vietnam (The Rain on the Leaves).  Things that move our soul can come from the least expected sources.

Oh, and Blue Guitar, which I mentioned last time, though it wasn't in the playlist.  I absolutely love it, and it's corny, and Richard Chamberlain's singing is annoying, but the refrain is genius.  And if you didn't know that Richard did the first version (in 1963) of They Long to Be Close to You, you do now.  And the proof is in the playlist.  He doesn't do too badly, and the sluggish tempo can't be blamed on him--the conductor was Burt himself.  And, back to the subject of clunkers, I love the sheer awfulness of the anonymous Modern Sound label version of What's New, Pussycat (the title of which shows up in different punctuation, or none at all, from version to version), which makes me wonder if Modern Sound could actually have been that unable to find someone who sounded remotely like Tom Jones.  It's so bad.  BUT it retains the greatest part of the original single--the smashing glass in the intro.  The version on Jones' Decca Greatest Hits LP is a different version and far inferior to the single.  No smashing glass, for one thing.

Ian and the Zodiacs' garage-y version of This Empty Place doesn't hold a candle to Dionne Warwick's hit, but finding the single (at a long-gone flea market) alerted me to the phenomenon of British Invasion groups doing Burt.  Which is weird, because I'd grown up with Tom Jones' Pussycat and with the Beatles' version of Baby It's You.  It should have been old knowledge.  But I guess, when we forget something, we stop knowing it.  A deep philosophical question for a later post.

LINK: Less Common Burt, Part 2

All titles Bacharach-David, unless otherwise noted

April Fools--Aretha Franklin, 1972
This Empty Place--Ian and the Zodiacs, 1965
Send Me No Flowers--Doris Day, Arr. and Cond. by Mort Garson, 1964
In Times Like These--Gene McDaniels, Orch. Cond. by Felix Slatkin, 1960
Hot Spell--Margaret Whiting, 1960
The Night That Heaven Fell--Tony Bennett w. Ray Ellis and his Orch. and Cho., 1958
Boys Were Made for Girls--Everit Herter w. Orch. and Chorus Cond. by Hub Atwood, 1960
It Seemed so Right Last Night--Mary Mayo w. Ray Wright and his Orch., 1958
Don't Unless You Love Me (Bacharach-Hampton)--Paul Hampton, Orch. Cond. by Burt Bacharach, 1959
A Girl Like You (Bacharach--Anne Crosswell)--Larry Hall, Orch. Dir. by Al Caiola. 1960
Living Together, Growing Together--The 5th Dimension, 1972
Blue on Blue--John Preston (Hit Records 69)
What's New, Pussycat--No artist credited (Modern Sound MS 1012)
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance--Jimmie Rodgers, 1962
Little Betty Falling Star (Bacharach-Hilliard)--George Hamilton, 1963
The Desperate Hours (Bacharach-Stone)--Eileen Rodgers w. Ray Conniff and his Orch., 1955
Heavenly (Bacharach-Shaw)--Johnny Mathis, Arr. and Cond. by Glenn Osser
Blue Guitar--Richard Chamberlain, Cond. Bill McElhiney, 1963
They Long to Be Close to You--Richard Chamberlain,  Cond. Burt Bacharach, 1963
I Fell in Love with Your Picture--Freddie and the Dreamers. 1965
Faithfully (Bacharach-Shaw)--Johnny Mathis, Arr. and Cond. by Glenn Osser, 1959
The Story of My Life--Frankie Laine w. the Jimmy Bowen Orch. and Chorus. 1969
The Windows of the World--Merv Griffin, Arr. and Cond. by Stephen H. Dorff, 1976
Take Me to Your Ladder (I'll See Your Leader Later) (Bacharach-Hilliard)--Buddy Clinton, 1960


Sunday, March 03, 2019

Sunday morning gospel: Joe Emerson's Hymntime (RCA LSP-2190; 1960)

This is a thrift find from maybe ten years ago.  I'd never heard of Joe Emerson, but the track listing convinced me to plunk down 99 cents, or whatever the sticky label said.  I peeled it off long ago, so lost is the history of what I paid.

Anyway, familiar gospel hymns--Higher Ground, Near the Cross, and Under His Wings--and two pop-sacred numbers, including one I was vaguely familiar with: You Go to Your Church, and I'll Go to Mine.  It was the number that made this a must-have, and Emerson's version is very good.

You Go to Your Church is credited to Seth Parker and Phillips H. Lord, who were actually the same person--Seth was a character Lord played on the radio. The number dates from a period when evangelical Christianity, a.k.a. evangelicalism, was still a much more inclusive and progressive thing than anyone today might imagine unless he or she had studied its history.  The other pop-sacred number, (When They All) Get Together with the Lord, with words by Moe (Collegiate) Jaffee, is less distinguished, though it contains a great line: "Then the right go on livin', the wrong get forgiven, When they all get together with the Lord."  Well, it sounded great the first time around.  Anyway, a more forgiving and ecumenical type of everyday faith on display here.  Things would change.

As a singer, Joe Emerson displays the kind of emotional involvement we'd expect from someone who had his own radio and TV series, plus regular gigs with Billy Graham.  I like the line-up of mostly old standards, but I don't like the omission of author credits--what we get instead are arranging credits for Emerson and music director Lee Erwin.  So I looked up the words-and-music info and provided it below.

RCA's Living Stereo sounds good here, despite some minor disc wear,

LINK:  Joe Emerson's Hymntime (RCA Victor LSP-2190; 1960)

Closer Still (Beattie-Gabriel)
'Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus (Stead-Kirkpatrick)
On Jordan's Stormy Banks (Stennett-Durham)
My Jesus, I Love Thee (Featherston-Gordon)
Under His Wings (Cushing-Sankey)
You Go to Your Church, and I'll Go to Mine (Phillips H. Lord)
Near the Cross (Crosby-Bradbury)
Shall We Gather at the River (Lowry)
(When They All) Get Together with the Lord (Moe Jaffe-Bickley Reichner)
Lead Me Savior (Frank M. Davis)
Let Him In (Atchinson-Excell)
Higher Ground (Oatman, Jr.-Gabriel)


Friday, March 01, 2019

Less Common Burt, Part 1: 1952-1968

By request, some (actually, a lot of) less common Burt Bacharach recordings.  I almost typed "Bacharach numbers," but a small number of these are, in fact, little-heard versions of well-known titles.  Familiar titles, renditions you likely never heard.  I'm the man for that kind of thing, if I don't say so myself, he said.

I've included (toward the end of the list) what is, to the best of my knowledge, the first recording of a Burt song--Once in a Blue Moon, as expertly performed on piano by the brilliant Nat "King" Cole in 1952.  I ripped it from my scratched up copy of Cole's Penthouse Serenade EP, and VinylStudio did an extraordinarily good job on the surface noise--I only had to manually remove two or three pops on MAGIX.  VinylStudio is an amazing program whose makers should really consider fixing up--its bugs are a total pain, and an export problem I alerted them to a year ago remains unfixed.  What's up with that?  (Expression of annoyance.)  Oh, if Blue Moon sounds familiar, it's because it's from Rubinstein's Melody in F.

These numbers date from both before and during Burt's household-name period.  It's actually difficult to say exactly when that period started, because Burt and Hal's hugely successful Magic Moments dates all the way back to 1957 (and, therefore, me).  But it wasn't until about 1965 that he started his quick climb to super-stardom as a songwriter in the U.S., though the Brits were already nuts about him--hence, all the Burt tracks recorded by Invasion groups like the Beatles, Manfred Mann, and the Searchers.  And I should note these tracks are all from vinyl in my collection, ripped by me--no CD steals.  My quest for early Burt material started around 2000, a time when much of my thrifting was devoted to finding "wrong" versions of Beatles songs--Burt numbers were popping up along with them on LPs by Engelbert Humperdinck and Petula Clark, and Bacharach titles were showing up in various-artist boxes in a big flea market I visited weekly.  I loved what I was hearing, and I'd already had a group of favorite Burts from back in the day, so I had to find more of these, and I did.  I was completely unaware that I was operating slightly ahead of a trend, so I was slightly stunned, in the midst of my Burt-digging, to find an early-Burt discography on line.  I was thrilled and, to a degree, miffed that this information was easily available, because it took the sport out of my hunting.  But so it goes sometimes.  It took none of the fun out of the music.

About three or four years into this blog, I received a request from a Burt associate for a CD of early titles--for Burt himself!  I gladly ripped one, and I got a lot of cool promo CD sets in return.  Because my memory sucks, I can't tell you the year, but I started this blog in 2005, so it had to be circa 2008.

In terms of song quality, these titles run the gamut from why-didn't-it-become-a-hit? to oh-my-God.  In the former category, there's the magnificent That Kind of Woman, taken from the single (to fulfill David Federman's request), Saturday Sunshine (catchy song, great production), Moon Man (beautifully performed, and a lot more sophisticated than the title suggests), Come and Get Me (a minor chart hit but a great tune, and one of the Burt finds that convinced me to go Burt-crazy), Waiting for Charlie to Come Home (originally recorded by Etta James in 1962), Loving Is a Way of Loiving, and Blue Guitar (yes, it's Richard Chamberlain, and it's a bit corny, but it has that Burt brilliance).  (Oops.  Blue Guitar is in the next playlist. Sorry!) The clunkers hit the deck with the force of a falling bookcase, and for worst-of honors. I'm torn between Take Me to Your Ladder and Joanie's Forever, both of which happen to occur on the same single.  Ladder is coming next post, but we get to endure Joanie this time around.  Keep in mind that the same lyricist, Bob Hilliard, gave us I'm Late (from Alice in Wonderland, and recently featured here in its wonderful Alan Dale version) and Any Day Now, which is to say that he was a gifted person, and only human.  (Maybe he was half asleep here, with the deadline looming.)  Actual lyrics from Joanie's Forever: "My Joanie's forever was less than a week.  She loved me on Friday; by Monday, we didn't even speak."  Joanie's "forever."  Get it?  And the flip is, believe it or don't, far worse.

Other duds: Sad Sack sucks, and not just because Jerry Lewis is singing it, but that doesn't help.  And This Is Mine isn't bad, but Connie Stevens' pitch-straying nearly wrecks it.  Someone Else's Sweetheart is pretty throwaway as a tune, and it's sunk by the over the top production.  I guess we got off fairly easy, this time around, on the really bad sides.

And there are the numbers that rate as perfectly okay--the cute Perry Como single You're Following Me, Alan Dale's I Cry More, which I find simultaneously catchy and annoying, The Morning Mail (which misses its mark but doesn't bomb), and the very clever but too derivative Keep Me in MindKeep Me in Mind is the kind of number that has the critic expecting bigger and better (and more original) things from its writers.  And, in the case of Burt and Hal, that expectation would be majorly rewarded.

Rosemary Clooney's version of One Less Bell to Answer had some chart success, though of course the Fifth Dimension's version two years later was a monster hit.  (I will refrain from using the "hit the right buttons" cliche.)  I remember the latter disc being played almost nonstop on AM radio.  Great song, and Clooney is good, though her voice isn't all there.  This was close to the time of her breakdown, I believe.  I have issues with Let Your Love Come Through, despite my love for the song and Shani Wallis' absurdly over-arranged version.  It's one of my favorite Burt singles, but Burt had to have had Day Tripper playing in the back of his head when he wrote the melody--it's just too close to be a coincidence.  Granted, Burt does tricky things with rhythm throughout the song--that's part of its appeal--and Day Tripper is straight 4/4, but the main hook is still way too close to John Lennon's.  A good argument in Burt's defense, besides the fact that unconscious swipes happen all the time (the brain forgets where it heard a given phrase), is that the riff in question is little more than a a V7 arpeggio.  Personally, I never say "plagiarism" (in this case, accidental, I'm sure) over a single phrase--the similarities have to continue throughout the song, as in My Sweet Lord, for instance.

Anyway, 24 less common tracks by an uncommonly talented songwriter:

LINK: Less Common Burt, 1952-1968

All with lyrics by Hal David, except where noted

That Kind of Woman--Joe Williams, Orch. cond. by Jimmy Jones (Roulette 4185; 1959)
The Morning Mail--The Gallahads w. Billy Mure's Orch., 1956
I Cry More--Alan Dale w. Orch. and Cho. Dir. by Dick Jacobs, 1956
And This Is Mine--Connie Stevens w. Neal Hefti Orch., 1961
Sad Sack--Jerry Lewis w. Chorus and Orch. Dir. Sonny Burke, 1957
You're Telling Our Secrets--Dee Clark, 1961
One Less Bell to Answer--Rosemary Clooney, Arr. and Cond. by Shorty Rogers, 1968
Saturday Sunshine--Johnny Mathis, Arr. and Cond. by Tony Osborne, 1967
Hot Spell (Burt Bacharach-Mack David)--Ernie Felice w. Dennis Farnon Orch. and Cho., 1958
My Heart Is a Ball of String--The Rangoons, 1961
Keep Me in Mind--Patti Page w. Jack Rael and his Orch., 1955
Moon Man--Gloria Lambert, Orch. Cond. by Richard Maltby, 1959
Come and Get Me--Jackie deShannon, Arr. and Cond. by Burt Bacharch, 1966
Waiting for Charlie to Come Home (Bacharach-Hilliard)--Marlena Shaw, 1967
Cryin', Sobbin', Wailin' (Bacharach-Jonas)--Dane Hunter, Acc. by Les Reed, 1965
Loving Is a Way of Living--Steve Lawrence, Arr. and Cond. by Don Costa, 1959
Out of My Continental Mind (Bacharach-Shaw)--Lena Horne w. Anthony Morelli and his Sands Hotel Orch., 1961
Moon Guitar--The 50 Guitars of Tommy Garrett, 1966
Somebody Else's Sweetheart--The Wanderers, Arr. and Cond. by Teacho Wiltshire, 1961
Once in a Blue Moon (Burt Bacharach; based on Rubenstein's Melody in F)--Nat "King" Cole, Piano, 1952
You're Following Me (Bacharach-Hilliard)--Perry Como w. Ray Charles Singers, Mitch Ayres Orch., 1961
Liberty Valance--No artist credited (Top Tunes 2-33)
Let Your Love Come Through--Shani Wallis, Arr. and Cond. by David Whitaker, 1967

Joanie's Forever (Bacharach-Hilliard)--Buddy Clinton, 1960