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
Five Foot Two Eyes of Blue (Has Anybody Seen My Gal)
It's Sunday Down in Caroline