Sunday, February 04, 2024

A variation on the standard twist-ploitation album: "New Twists on Old Favorites"---Sammy Kaye and His Orchestra, 1962


Finally, my promised Sammy Kaye post--1962's New Twists on Old Favorites--and sorry it took so long.  And, the big question: Do I like it?  Did it please your blogger?  I'm not sure, really.  However, I am impressed by how brilliantly this succeeds in its primary mission: The merging of Sammy Kaye's "sweet band" (aka, "Mickey") style with that 1960 and 1962 dance craze which heralded a new era of popular music.  That is, if you believe in the contemporary hype.  In my mind, the question remains: Why was this particular dance, the music for which was standard eight-to-the-bar boogie-woogie (instrumental blues), greeted as an epic moment in pop music history?  Most answers offered in this regard are classic tautologies.  Such as, "It was a dance which crossed generational lines."  Which I find weird, since the chief objection to r&r dances (on the part of grownups) was their absence of close contact. Rewind back to the 1830s, and the waltz was scandalous BECUASE of its close-contact nature.  Yes, such perceptions often do a 180 over time.  What is correct becomes incorrect, and what is is incorrect, etc.

But any answer which generates further whys (such as, "The twist crossed generational lines") is tautological.  Circular, even.  X is so because x is so.  In a word, "Because."  To me, the vastly over-the-top reaction to the twist makes no sense.  If there was a perceived cultural need for a style which put grownups and teens on the same page, why this one?

And could that be Barbara Nichols posing on the cover?  I can easily imagine Barbara taking such a gig.  At any rate, the model is Barbara Nichols-esque, anyway.  Here's Barbara Nichols.  A nice picture of her, um, face:

For vocals, we get the Kaydets and SPC great Laura Leslie, typically with spoken intros by Kaye.  And, again, these tracks are a remarkable marriage of Kaye's brand of big band and the twist beat (eight-to-the-bar with a backbeat, a la Chuck Berry and the Beatles).  But... Kaye started recording in 1937 (according to Brian Rust), and so why does the song list focus on the 1910s and 1920s (exception: 1939's We'll Meet Again)?  The arrangements are true to his style (if we make allowance for the boogie-woogie twist pulse), but the titles are not true to his era.  Was Decca expecting listeners to associate Kaye with the Victor Military Band, Paul Whiteman, and the Original Dixieland Jazz Band?

There are the questions which haunt us as we travel along this mortal coil.  So, my verdict for the moment: This effort accomplishes precisely what it sets out to do as far as expertly merging a "sweet band" style with Chubby Checker (and with impressive musicianship), its song choices are anachronistic, and Laura Leslie should have been given more chances to shine on vinyl.  Her brief discography doesn't befit her talent.  I may grow to love this, but at the moment I'm very impressed by its originality and expert presentation.  Clever title, too, though I would have liked "Twist and Sway With Sammy Kaye."  

Enjoy!  Oh, and I neglected to note that this was another thrift gift from Diane.  Thanks, Diane!

DOWNLOAD: New Twists on Old Favorites--Sammy Kaye and His Orch. (Decca DL 4247, 1962.

Alexander's Ragtime Band

After You've Gone

Doodle Dee Doo

Who's Sorry Now

We'll Meet Again

I Wish I Could Shimmy Like My Sister Kate

That's My Weakness Now

The Darktown Strutters' Ball

Somebody Stole My Gal

Nobody's Sweetheart

Five Foot Two Eyes of Blue (Has Anybody Seen My Gal)

It's Sunday Down in Caroline



Ernie said...

Thanks, Lee.

As I get older, I hate to see the things I remember from my younger years being labelled as old. So perhaps Sammy wanted to make sure he was labeling tracks as old that were truly before his time. Just a thought. :)

Lee Hartsfeld said...


Very reasonable. Many folks, come 1962, had firsthand memories of the 1910s and 1920s hit parade. Thus, using songs from those eras would only help to serve the "old favorites" theme. Excellent point!

And I was recently considering the obvious fact that the postwar Art Mooney/Frankie Carle/Del Wood 1920s-style material (peppered with ragtime-era numbers) was a revisitation of recent history. In 1947, "I'm Looking Over a Four Leaf Clover" was only 20 years old! To the earliest Boomers, 1947 would become "ancient" history, but not to those who had experienced it.

musicman1979 said...

Excellent collection! Better than I thought it was. To my ears, it sounds like a mash-up of the original Sammy Kaye sound and a foreshadowing of the exciting sound that arranger Charles Albertine would bring to the band in the mid-'60's; their take on "After You've Gone" is a stunning example of this. It could have worked without the vocal.

Sammy Kaye pulled off the unthinkable and created a version of "Doodle Dee Doo" that I actually like. And the Twist versions of "We'll Meet Again" and "I Wish I could Shimmy Like My Sister Kate" are very good as well. "Nobody's Sweetheart" is just as good as Doris Day's on the I'll See You In My Dreams soundtrack, while "Somebody Stole My Gal" is good, but not great. I prefer the late-'50's version that Benny Goodman originally recorded for Capitol Records on his BG in HI-FI album:

I never heard of "It's Sunday Down In Caroline", however, it is a good tune and I actually like it. Although he has no solos on this, I do think that Kaye vet Ray Michaels is among the Kaydets singing on this album.

Lastly, concerning the archaic song list: it could have been either Kaye or Decca's idea to have him do these songs. This was the Songs Everybody Knows album series era of Decca, of which the Art Mooney LP posted on the back cover is just one of many. (BTW, the best track on the Art Mooney LP in my opinion, not uploaded to YouTube, alas, is his quasi-Dixieland take on Honeysuckle Rose.) If Decca had their way, this could have been called Twist to the Songs Everybody Knows.

Overall, this album is very good and a step up from one of his final Decca albums, the '30's Are Here To Stay. A solid four out of five stars from me.

gimpiero said...

Impossible access download site ...

Lee Hartsfeld said...


The link is working for me, so maybe it was down for some reason when you tried it. Please try again!

gimpiero said...

Always a text appears: Impossible find this page ...

Lee Hartsfeld said...


I don't know why this would be happening--I'm able to access the page. But I moved the file to Let me know if this link works:

Sorry for the problems!

gimpiero said...

Perfect! Thank you very much.

Ernie said...

For what it's worth, I suspect PixelDrain is blocked in some countries. I've seen it with other download hosting sites, so I wouldn't be surprised if that's what is happening here.

Lee Hartsfeld said...


The same thought occurred to me. I'm glad the migration to worked!

musicman1979 said...

Pixeldrain links worked Monday when I listened and commented here.

Lee Hartsfeld said...


Thanks. So Ernie is likely correct.

And I still promise to comment on your excellent review! Your feedback is appreciated--and often informative.

gimpiero said...

Yes PixelDrain is blocked in Italy, I don't know why ...

musicman1979 said...

Thanks! Glad you enjoy the little tidbits of musical knowledge I weave into my reviews.

Diane said...

Always happy to help you restore these gems, Lee. Although, truly, I almost kept it just for that crazee cover.

Lee Hartsfeld said...


Thanks again, and I wouldn't have blamed you keeping it! I'm still wondering if that's possibly Barbara Nichols; I wish the cover shots were larger.