The Neon Nights- Sounds Like The Bee Gees

Normally I really hate Pickwick sound-alike records.  My philosophy is that you had an opportunity to do something, no, anything and you chose to do something totally derivative.  However, this was 80 cents and I like the Bee Gees.  I also figured this would make for either an interesting post or a chance to really crap on something.

Keeping with the theme of running down last month’s trip to Phoenix, we took a stop at the Aquarium and Butterfly enclave in town.  Pretty good little tour.  A lot of interesting fishes and the like inside.  Took a lot of pictures.  My aunt was in town from the New Brunswick and I found it odd when I saw her taking pictures of lobsters, being from the Maritimes and all (they got a lot of them up there).  I then , being from Texas, proceeded to take many pictures of the catfish (which are abundant in the state).  Well, I guess it is man’s ability to be hypocritical that separates us from the animals.  That and a couple inches of glass.

The butterfly enclave was pretty neat as well as you walked inside while they flew around in all directions.  Tried hard to get a picture of the blue butterfly’s but they really either proved to be elusive or were really old and worn.  I remember going thru the same thing at the zoo in Amsterdam , the only difference was I was so glad at the time to be inside with the butterfly as it was freezing outside.

I know nothing about the Neon Nights, who most certainly, were whatever studio band and singers Pickwick was using at the time.  As the title would greatly suggest, it is a collection of Bee Gee tunes done by a copycat group and released on the cheap, something Pickwick did a lot of at the time.  The songs on the album are pretty representative of the band’s big hits from the seventies.  I found it odd to include “Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club Band” as it is less representative of the Bee Gees and more reminiscent of a huge commercial and artistic flop which nearly ruined the careers of everyone involved. I did like the inclusion of “Nights on Broadway” which was used by SNL on the Barry Gibb Talk Show which I can only link to (damn you NBC).

Link to NBC/SNL skit in question

 

So how does one critique a copycat album like this?  Simple.  For me, this album came down to the start of the second verse of “Stayin’ Alive”.  This was make or break point. How did the two compare?  Well you can see for yourself as that is the sample I used.

Or I can save you the suspense and just tell you, the Neon Nights fell flat. And that is why this is a low rated album.

Eddie Layton- No Blues On This Cruise

It is your hump day in the middle of Continental Week.  I think I got this because of the Hi Fi organ advertised on the front.  The song selection was not bad either.

Eddie Layton was born in Philadelphia, PA in 1925.  Having learned organ at age 12, he got his hands on a Hammond during his stint with the Navy in WWII.  Upon his return, he composed scores for soap operas for CBS.  During this time, he released 27 or so records as well as toured countless music stores demonstrating his organ skills on the Hammond product.  According to Allmusic.com, he was on Hammond’ payroll for 50 years.

Layton’s Page on Spaceagepop.com

Layton’s crowning achievement perhaps was his work with the New York Yankees. Under pressure to compete with the Mets’ organist Jane Jarvis, Layton took the organist job with the Yankees in 1967, despite knowing nothing about baseball and never setting foot in a stadium prior.  He held the job until 2003 (with a small break between 1971-1977). Apparently, he popularized both “Charge” and ” The Mexican Hat Dance” at sporting events.  He also worked games for the Knicks, Rangers, and Islanders. Layton would pass of natural causes in 2004 at the age of either 77 or 79.

This was released in 1957 before his sports gig.  It is from Mercury Records.  Pretty decent album.  Nice arrangements and songs that I know.  I always get a kick out of good organ albums.  I think because I always wanted to play the organ as a kid.  Layton’s work is well regarded among space age pop fans and this album doe snot disappoint.

For a sample, I was  stuck between “Song of India”, “Under Paris Skies”, and “El Relicario”.  All fine songs but after some thought, I went with “El Relicario”.

Satisfactory Record.

Jack Jones- Curtain Time


DSCN4835 (800x789) (2)This was $1.00.  I like Jack Jones.  Also, since I was going with a sub theme this month of show tunes, I felt this was a good album to round it out.  MI0001412566

Jack Jones, born in Hollywood in 1938 to actor parents, was a straight pop/ standards singer who won two Grammy’s.  Known as a singer’s singer, his career choice became clear when a high school friend, Nancy, got her father, Frank, to sing at a school auditorium (that is Sinatra if you can’t read between the lines). He got his break in 1959 when he put out a record for Capitol Records.  From there, he was signed by Kapp, while he was still working his day job as a gas station attendant.  According to his web page bio, he was cleaning a customer’s window when he heard one of his songs on the radio.

He put out almost twenty records for Kapp, most of which standards with some forays into pop, country and big band swing. He would later put a slew of albums out for RCA and then MGM.  He also made numerous appearances on TV, stage, and film.  Most notably, he sung the theme to TV’s Love Boat. He also made several appearances.

As of late, Jones has been recording sporadically,  performing musical theater on stage, and performs concerts, most notably in Las Vegas where he is still popular.  He also starred as a singer in the movie American Hustle.

Jack Jones Web Page

This album was his 22nd album I believe.  It is nothing but show tunes.  It features work from Rodgers, Hart, Hammerstein, Gershwin, Porter, and Loesser among others.  It is a pretty good collection.  Jones has a smooth Las Vegas style delivery.  Highlights include “Luck Be A Lady”, “A Lot Of Living To Do”, “People Will Say We’re In Love”, and “People”.DSCN4836 (800x784)

For a sample, I went with the Cole Porter tune, “I Love Paris”.jjones_lg

Satisfactory.

Pickwick Label- Misc Songs from the Late 60’s

DSCN1004This was in the $1 bin. The cover caught my eye and I am always curious about Beatles cover’s, especially “Hey Jude”.

Pickwick Records, founded by Cy Leslie in 1950, specialized in the budget record. Lou Reed started his musical career there as a staff songwriter, writing and occasionally recording novelty songs such at “The Ostrich” before writing 100 songs about heroin. I get it Lou; you know junkies. Regardless, it was during this time he met session musician John Cale and Velvet Underground was born. Back to Pickwick, besides novelties and re-issues, they were known for producing sound-alike records. These records used session musicians, and in house bands to produce songs that sound as close to the original as possible.

That is what this album is. And that IS WHY I HATE IT SO. You had an opportunity to do something and you chose to just shamelessly copy what has been done. If this album took anything even remotely close to a risk and failed, I would like it more. This must have came out in 1968 or 1969 based on the songs on it. And it has songs I really like (“Those Were the Days”, “Both Sides Now” and the Ohio Express’s follow up to “Yummy, Yummy, Yummy”: “Chewy, Chewy, Chewy”). However, I would rather listen to the original. Granted, this greatly takes into account the ease in which music is available today. But still, this could have done anything, and akin to burying gold, it does nothing.DSCN1005

Of the copy songs, there are a few that are okay. But after much internal struggle, I can not reward these. Instead, I am going with “Kansas City” a #1 single in 1959 for Wilbert Harrison. It sticks out like a sore thumb on this record as it is not a copy nor from the swinging 60’s, the obvious theme of the record.

Boo. Low Rating. Most likely never buying another Pickwick album again. (Note: Accidently bought one last week).

Rev James Cleveland and the Charles Fold Singers- Vol III

NOTE:  ALBUM COVER IS NOT ALBUM REVIEWED

DSCN0993When I saw this in the $1 dollar bin, I nearly wet myself. The Rev. James Cleveland is the King of Gospel Music and the track listing looked awesome. You can imagine then the great disappointment when I got home and pulled out the record to find that it was different. What I actually got was Rev Cleveland and the Charles Fold Singers. Serves me right for not checking this is the store. What are you going to do? I mean I paid a dollar for it and the Metro costs $1.25. I don’t want to be the asshole who tries to return a dollar record.

http://www.jcchorus.com/Biography.htm

Besides boasting great songs, the tracks on the album cover were short. In contrast, the album I got are long. And I would say the album focuses more on the Charles Fold Singers than the Reverend. He pokes his voice out on this from time to time but it is mostly the choir doing the majority of the work. From what I can tell, this record was released in 1978 whereas the one I wanted was closer to his prime in the 50’s/ 60’s. Despite two upbeat numbers, the majority of the tracks are slow movers. I feel the original album would have a better mix of tempos. I have listened to a few tracks from what I thought I was getting on You Tube which only confirm these beliefs

Anyway, disappointment aside, I got to walk away with something, so here is “God’s Not Dead” which along with “Tell it to Jesus” is one of the two most up-tempo songs on the album . It should be noted that the Reverend is not prominent on this cut.DSCN0994

I hate to give this a low rating, but again, it was heartbreaking for me to pull this out of the jacket. What I got was not representative of his early great works. I will be on the lookout for the original album and hope to post this someday.

Jacques Darieux Orchestra- The Music Man and The Mikado

 

IMG_4917This album was $1.00 and I really like both the Music Man and the Mikado. How could this go wrong?

Well, it does. Horribly. I guess I was expecting more horns and more daring arrangements. The songs on this album are bland and uninspiring. The album notes brag a unique interpretation but that is not the case. The first side plays some selections from the Music Man. The vocals on it are awful. Real white-bread stuff. The second side has taken excerpts from the Mikado and rolled them into a few single songs. But again, there is nothing real unique or daring about any of this. And for this reason, this album falls flat.

I do not know much about Jacques Darieux, the band leader. From what I could find on the net, he started music early at age 7, his parents were disappointed with his choice of career, he entered WWII, and spent time in a Russian Prison camp where he organized a twenty piece band in what I can only imagine in a Stalag 17 context. I can only find this and another album that he put out. I did, run across this picture on Sleeveface.com .

http://www.sleeveface.com/?cat=861  

I picked an excerpt from the Mikado side which features “The Sun and I”, which is my favorite song from the Mikado. If you ever get a chance to see the movie “Topsy-Turvy”, about the making of the Mikado, there is a very sad sub-plot regarding the actress Leonora Braham and her struggles with alcoholism and being a single mother in Victorian England. She sings this song at the end and it makes for a touching scene.

IMG_4918

Regardless, I hate this album and will not likely ever play it again. Low rating all the way.