Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Dancetime--Sammy Kaye and His Orchestra (Decca DL 4655; 1965)


Sammy Kaye, of course, was one of the most popular "sweet" bands of the swing era, along with Guy Lombardo and Freddy Martin.  And I personally have nothing against such outfits, but rest assured that Kaye's 1960s style had nothing to do with his "roots."  For some of these tracks are fit for a Henry Mancini LP, while a couple others practically rock (in the "and roll" sense).  And we get a Latin sound for Red Roses and Willow Weep for Me (maybe my favorite track of the bunch).  I'm anything but an authority on Latin and/or Afro-Cuban beats (there are too many!), but I would describe Roses as a cha-cha without the "cha-cha-cha."  And Willow as bordering on a Bo Diddley groove (in eighth notes, 123-456-78, with an accent on 1, 4, and 7).  Maybe we'll just go with "Latin."

Overall, Kaye swings in a gentle fashion, which by itself is a departure from his trademark non-swing style.  Meanwhile, the truly fine Eight Days a Week almost rocks, and the album's brilliant arranger, Charles Albertine, has Blue Prelude sounding like a Peter Gunn-style detective show theme.  And the triplet-ballad sound of If I Loved You would seem to be from the Peter and Gordon recording of the same year, though the George and Ira Gershwin Sophia sounds nothing like Dean Martin's version, as used in Kiss Me, Stupid.   As for the inclusion of Cry, keep in mind that this number has remained popular to this day, especially in Spain around the time of this LP.

Dear Heart, from one of my favorite films, is given a Henry Busse-style shuffle beat, while Goldfinger receives an as-played-by-Glenn-Miller atmosphere, with a brief foray into dance-club r&r.  (These descriptions are sounding sillier by the track!)  The number gets the big sound it requires, and Vic Mizzy's The Night Walker is first-rate Halloween background.  It slinks along in perfect "Look out!" fashion.  Which might explain its inclusion in my Oct. 31 slaylist.

I suppose this LP ultimately falls into a category whose moniker I dislike--MOR (Middle of the Road).  And MOR has a "don't bother" vibe to it, as if medium-tempo instrumental fare can't be any good.  But this outstanding LP is nothing less than superbly musical, whether used for dancing or for pleasant relaxation.

DOWNLOAD: Dancetime--Sammy Kaye and His Orch. (Decca DL 4655; 1965)

Red Roses for a Blue Lady

Dear Heart


If I Loved You


Eight Days a Week

You're Nobody 'Til Somebody Loves You


Blue Prelude

My Love Forgive Me (Amore, Scusami)

Willow Weep for Me

The Night Walker



groovylounge said...

Next you need to seek out the stereo version. 😀

Lee Hartsfeld said...


I hope to come across it!

Ernie said...

Interesting, very interesting! Thanks Lee!

Lee Hartsfeld said...


My pleasure! The music on this LP provides an amazing contrast to the cover art, which suggests a conventional experience...

musicman1979 said...

my copy of this record is Stereo, however, it is not the best of shape, which is keeping me on the lookout for a pristine upgrade 20 years later.

A little more info on Charles Albertine: he is perhaps best-known for his work with the Les and Larry Elgart band, for which he also contributed several original songs in addition to arrangements, primarily on the albums that just bear Les' name alone. His best-known composition as a writer was "Bandstand Boogie", which was heard every week for several years as the theme song of the classic Dick Clark series American Bandstand; it made its initial LP appearance on Les' Columbia LP the Band of the Year.

Charles Albertine came to Sammy Kaye after a productive season arranging several excellent albums for The Three Suns, including such classics as Movin' And Groovin', Warm and Tender, Fever and Smoke, and Fun In the Sun. if you listen closely, Albertine's arrangements are very similar to the ones he created for Les Elgart, with the only difference being the groovy organ solos that take these songs to the next level, musically speaking.

The best cuts that depart from the Easy Listening formula are "Goldfinger", one of the best covers of Dame Shirley Bassey's hit, "Blue Prelude", which is perhaps one of the more livelier covers of a song that Gordon Jenkins co-composed, with an excellent organ solo, the almost cha-cha with a touch of the discotheque-sounding take on Dean Martin's "You're Nobody Till Somebody Loves You", with some great organ licks interspersed throughout, and, most notably, "Eight Days A Week", probably the only traditional Pop cover version of that Beatles classic with some great organ licks in amongst the mostly Elgart sound. Of the ballads, "My Love Forgive Me", a big hit for Robert Goulet, and the aforementioned "Dear Heart" are real standouts.

I need to re-listen to the album in its entirety for a more fuller review. This is one of the best from Sammy Kaye's hip period. At least it is livelier than most of the stuff that he created during the '40's and '50's that almost bordered on Western Swing and had Don Cornell doing vocals on such tunes as "It Isn't Fair", which helped to launch his solo career. A solid four out of five stars from me.

Lee Hartsfeld said...


Thanks for that information! Once upon a time, I had a couple Les and Larry Elgart LPs I liked quite a lot. They were victims of downsizing. Didn't know Don Cornell sang with him! And it's interesting that I came across a non-stereo copy, since Columbia was three years away from abandoning mono. I share your high opinion of "Eight Days a Week."

Diane said...

So great to see this kind of music here! I have a soft spot for interesting MOR/EZ. As a boomer rock kid, I mocked it, of course, but now I've come to appreciate the great musicianship behind a lot of it. So many talented arrangers/bandleaders did their best to make something fresh with it, to keep themselves amused and/or working, I guess. I'll keep my eyes peeled for stereo!

Lee Hartsfeld said...


Thanks! And I had the same boomer dislike of EZ--"store music," I called it.