Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Various Artists, Part 2, for May 2024--Red Prysock, The Regents, June Valli, Tony Bennett, and Samba Voodoo!

Today is my annual "No way I can be that old!" day (67, this time around), so I'm celebrating with more various artists.  That is to say, with another various-artists post.  "More various artists" is kind of awkward--it could suggest artists who are more various, whatever that might mean.  And, of course (and for what it's worth), variety can only exist within a group of things.  We had a manager who bragged that the company has "many diverse individuals," and I wondered if he meant people who exist simultaneously in multiple dimensions.

So... after I assembled this list, I searched for a common theme or two.  Or three.  As in, are there any?  And one theme is early rock and roll--The Dreamers' 535 (with that wonderful electric guitar distortion that graced so many blues and doo wop sides, and which Stan Freberg irreverently described as the "Howdy Doody button"); the Regents' Barbara Ann B-side, I'm So Lonely; and the honking-sax magic (always wanted to type that) of Red Prysock on the Mercury label, from the 1957 LP The Beat.  This is where rock and roll and R&B become the same thing--In fact, the honking-tenor-sax r&r of Hal Singer, Big Jay McNeely, Wild Bill Moore, and other 1940s rockers was enjoying a second wave in the wake of Elvis, or whatever I just typed.  If I'd had it handy, I would have snuck in Harry James' 1939 Back Beat Boogie, which would have fit like a glove with latter-'50s instrumental rock.  But my 45 rpm copy is stuck away someplace in my maze of 45 boxes.  In the closet.  Behind the row of records blocking the door.  In there somewhere.  Laughing at me.

And, speaking of rock and roll finding its way into the pop charts (we were?), we have some excellent examples of "pop" vocalists helping toward that objective, with both June Valli and Guy Mitchell touching on the style.  First, June (whom I've referred to at this blog as RCA's "pre-Elvis Elvis") with a rocking Strictly Sentimental and a habanera/tresillo (3-3-2 beat) Leiber-Stoller number, Will You Love Me Still, which anticipates Brill Building pop to come.  Very Under the Boardwalk-esque, even if Jerry and Mike had nothing to do with Boardwalk.  Then, Guy Mitchell plunging into rockabilly on Crazy With Love, the B-side of the magnificent 1956 Singing the Blues.  Didn't anyone notice, at the time, that Guy had taken that plunge?  Guy almost, but not quite, wandered into the same zone the next year with Hoot Owl, the flip of Rock-a-Billy.  Fourthly, Eileen Barton with a rock and roll remake of 1950's If I Knew You Were Comin' I'd've Baked a Cake.  (And that 3-3-2 beat, again.)

And there's the theme of Boomer Top 40 rendered in an EZ vein (yes, you can quote me), an area often covered here.  Namely, Paul Mauriat with a delightful beautiful-music rendition of Penny Lane (maybe the best EZ Beatles cover of all time), plus two selections which reveal the soul of Mauriat: In the Midnight Hour and I Heard It Through the Grapevine.  These can be regarded as skillfully rendered massed-strings soul, and therefore ingenious.  Or they can be regarded as skillfully rendered massed-strings soul, and therefore hilarious.  Same premise, two parametrically opposite conclusions.

In a category by itself, there's Jackie Lee's wonderful 1961 remake of Isle of Capri Boogie, with a Mysterioso organ to out-Mysterioso 96 Tears. A wonderful almost-rock-and-roll performance which ranks with the almost-rhythm-and-blues of Jimmy Dorsey's 1957 So Rare.  And I'll stand by whatever I just typed.

More mellow sounds with Engelbert Humperdinck delivering an excellent rendition of the Carole King-Gerry Goffin Yours Until Tomorrow (1967); the great Ray Charles Singers with their smash hit Al-Di-La, plus an interesting take on Do You Want to Know a Secret--one of the first adult-pop covers of the Fab Four; Freddy Martin and the terrific Artie Wayne presenting an ultra-smooth rendering of the Chopin-derived A Song to Remember (1945); and Martin's semi-mellow 1950 Misirlou, one of the very best big band/pre-surf interpretations of this Middle Eastern classic.

And three selections in a showtune vein: Don Cherry's I Don't Care If the Sun Don't Shine, Jo Stafford's If I Were a Bell (from Guys and Dolls), and a spectacular semi-Kostelanetz helping of Vincent Youman's Great Day by Russ Case and His Orchestra. Had Andre mixed swing with strings, he'd have sounded like this 1954 recording.

Carmen Cavallaro's 1951 Deep Night returns, and it's pure exotica, even if it's not from the islands.  It has that sound, nonetheless--the flute, female chorus, and the Afro-Latin rhythms do the trick.  Cavallaro, as always, is fabulous.  "Samba Voodoo With Female Sextette," explains the jacket.

Oh, and a 1959 Jean Goldkette recreation of My Pretty Girl, from the original charts (says the liner notes).  For once, a "'20s in hi-fi" attempt that sounds like the '20s in hi-fi.  To be fair, though, the Peep Hole 8 (!) deliver a not too anachronistic Diga Diga Doo from the 1958 Pickwick LP The 20's Roar Back.  So, the themes are: Retro 1920s, Samba Voodoo, showtunes, early r&r, "pop" which touches on r&r, and Jackie Lee's class-by-itself Isle of Capri Boogie.  Plus, Tony Bennett, Don Cherry, and a great 1956 rendition of Alfred Newman's 1931 Street Scene.

DOWNLOAD: Various Artists, Part 2--Red Prysock, June Valli, Guy Mitchell

I'm So Lonely--The Regents, 1961

How-Ja Do, How-Ja Do, How-Ja Do (If I Knew You Were Comin' I'd've Baked a Cake)--Eileen Barton, 1955

Strictly Sentimental--June Valli With Joe Reisman's Orch., 1957

Will You Love Me Still--Same

A Song to Remember--Freddy Martin Orch., V: Artie Wayne, 1945

Misirlou--Same, V: Stuart Wade, piano: Barclay Allen

Foot Stompin'--Red Prysock and His Orch., 1957

535--Dreamers, 1955

Crazy With Love--Guy Mitchell With Ray Conniff and His Orch., 1956

In the Midnight Hour--Paul Mauriat and His Orchestra, 1969

I Don't Care If the Sun Don't Shine--Don Cherry With Ray Conniff and His Orch., 1956

If I Were a Bell--Jo Stafford With Paul Weston and His Orch., 1953

Yours Until Tomorrow--Engelbert Humperdinck, 1967

Al-Di-La--The Ray Charles Singers, 1964

Great Day--Russ Case and His Orch. and Chorus, 1954

Street Scene--Joe Lipman and His Orchestra, 1956

Deep Night (Samba Voodoo With Female Sextette)--Carmen Cavallaro

My Pretty Girl--Jean Goldkette and His Orchestra, 1959

Penny Lane--Paul Mauriat and His Orchestra, 1967

I Heard It Through the Grapevine--Same, 1969

Isle of Capri Boogie--Jackie Lee, 1961

Happiness Street (Corner Sunshine Square)--Tony Bennett, 1956

He's a Real Gone Guy--Red Prysock and His Orch., 1957

Hoot Owl--Guy Mitchell With Jimmy Carroll, 1957

Diga Diga Doo--The Peephole 8, 1958



lafong said...

Thanks for this one Lee.

I was very surprised to hear that my mp3 of Don Cherry's "I Don't Care If The Sun Don't Shine" begins with the piano and does NOT include the first 25 seconds found on your version.

Weird; don't know exactly where I got my mp3. They are otherwise identical.

Now up to 17 versions of that tune, one of my favorites. A childhood friend of mine had EP's version on Sun 210. My first exposure to both him and the song. Earliest version I can find is Tony Martin's from 1949.

Ernie said...

Another great collection, Lee! The best part is always your explanatory explanations, so thanks for those!

Lee Hartsfeld said...


Glad to provide those missing 25 seconds! Of course, several questions arise in regard to your mp3: Did the maker of the mp3 delete the opening, or was it shortened for CD reissue, and so on. Also possible: The number was shortened for LP reissue, and that particular master (with the shorter version) was utilized for CD reissue. It would drive me nuts trying to solve that mystery... I listened to Patti Page's 1950 version, and I noticed it was in a country mode, a la EP's.


You're welcome, and thanks for the nice words. Essays are always more complicated when we've assembled a playlist with no particular plan--we have to review our own choices and find any unifying logic which might be hidden there.

musicman1979 said...

Happy Birthday (yours is the day after mine) and a really great playlist for me to sink my teeth into. When I was 10 years old (In 1989), I heard the Ray Charles Singers Al-Di-La on my Nana's favorite traditional pop radio station and liked it so much better than the Connie Francis version that was in her record collection. However, it was not until July of 1997 that I found a 45 copy to add to my collection. (BTW, you did not include Do You Want To Know A Secret, even though you mentioned it in your essay. However, it is a nice smooth and mellow version of that Beatles classic).

Thanks for including the flip info on the Guy Mitchell tunes in your essay so I would not have to. Both of these sides are not the best, yet they showcase a different side of his vocal range, particularly with Crazy with Love, which has a strong Rockabilly vibe to it. My personal favorite version is the bold brassy take from Teresa Brewer that was on the flip side to Mutual Admiration Society, which I have both on 45 and 78!

So glad that you included my favorite cut from Blooming Hits (Penny Lane) on here, plus two songs from The Soul of Paul Mauriat, which I told you a year ago would have been a good one to feature here on this blog. I Heard It Through the Grapevine is a good instrumental adaption of the Marvin Gaye #1 cover. Another great song off of there that you did not include here was Paul's take on Aretha's Respect. I shared it with someone on the Songs of the 50's and '60's Facebook groups and told me that Otis Redding would have turned over in his grave had he heard what Paul Mauriat did to it!

The Tony Bennett version of Happiness Street is kind of similar to the up-tempo take of One For My Baby that he did (I think) the following year and is very different from the way Georgia Gibbs interpreted it for Mercury Records'

The Jo Stafford cut included here is one of my new favorites from her, which I found on YouTube a few months before you posted here. Both her and hubby Paul Weston are outstanding on this number, as is (i think) Ted Nash on tenor saxophone. She could make the trite phrase "Ding Dong" into a classy work of art.

The Engelbert cut is one of my favorite cuts, penned by (I think) Goffin and King, om his Release Me. The song was also covered by Gene Pitney. However, I think Engelbert's is probably the better-remembered of the two versions:

Lastly, the Don Cherry cut is so good. I think it could be the only version that has a verse before it gets to the better-remembered lyrics. One of many great cuts on his only Columbia LP, Swingin' For Two.

Will eventually get to the Freddy Martin and Russ Case cuts. Plus, I will be looking for that 2-LP set pictured here. Thanks for sharing.

Lee Hartsfeld said...


You're welcome--and thanks for the birthday greeting! And I just now had to rescue your comment from the Spam folder, where it was improperly routed by Blogger. Not the first time this has happened.

Thanks for pointing out the playlist error--I ripped that track but forget to carry it to the folder, apparently. Haven't heard the Pitney recording of "Yours..." but I'm guessing I would favor the Humperdinck track, too. Engelbert was a fabulous Bacharach interpreter also, of course. Enjoyed your review, as always.

Lee Hartsfeld said...


And a belated Happy Birthday to you!

musicman1979 said...

Thank you so much! I had a great day.

Thanks also for rescuing my comment out of Spam; It posted here on Thursday night and was gone when I returned here on Saturday afternoon.