Jo Stafford- Sings American Folk Songs

This was all of $1.  When I bought it, there was some tie in or something notable about the record, but whatever that was escapes me now.  It does have a bunch of good folk tunes on it.  Today, as I write this, the Great 2017 eclipse happened, which by now must seem like a distant memory to most.

Truly a historical day in Houston if one likes looking a clouds.

Well anyway, here is this by singer Jo Stafford (1917-2008).  Born in what is not a dirty word, Coalinga, California, Stafford was a singer who started in a group with her sisters before joining the Pied Pipers and then parlaying this into singing with Tommy Dorsey. She went solo in 1944 and her biggest hit was 1952’s “You Belong To Me”.  She retired in the mid-60’s with a few pop ups here and there until her death of heart failure at age 90.

During her solo career, many of Stafford’s works were backed by the Paul Weston Orchestra. Stafford and Weston would marry in 1952 and remain in union until Weston’s death in 1996.  The two did perform in a comedy routine, at first for friends and then for a bigger audience.  As two incompetent lounge performers Johnny and Darlene Edwards, the duo released five records.

This record was a 1962 re-release of an earlier record by Stafford.  The original released came out tin 1948, making it one of her earlier solo recordings.  Two years later a second version came out adding two songs.  Then in 1962, this came out with an additional 4, bringing the total to 12. With these songs conducted and arranged by her hubby, Weston, it should be noted that although these are conventional songs, none of these are conventional arrangements.  And I think that is what gives the album its charm.  Consequently, Judy Collins lists this album as highly influential in terms of her getting into folk music.

Lot of good choices on this album.  I really liked “Cripple Creek”, “Single Girl” ,and my perennial favorite, “Poor Wayfaring Stranger”.  However, I decided to go with “Sourwood Mountain”.

Good record.  Satisfactory.

Julie London- Julie Is Her Name

This was $1.00 Probably the red hair against the green back drop drew me towards this purchase which was more than likely made at Sig’s Lagoon.  Ah, poor Sig’s.  I used to go there once a month but since I have to many records as it is and I usually walked away from Sig’s with 30 or so per trip, I have stopped going.  Some of the best cheap records were procured there (* they also have a great selection of regular priced records as well).  Someday I will return Sig’s, some day.

Anyway, here is this from Julie London.  London, born in Santa Rosa, CA in 1926, was a singer, turned film actress, turned tv star.  She is best known for the 32 pop/jazz records she put out mostly during the 50’s and 60’s but she did some film work of note as well as time on the small screen with a 6 year run as nurse Dixie McCall on the show Emergency!.

It should be noted that she started with her husband at the time, Bobby Troup while the show was produced by her ex-husband, Dragnet’s Jack Webb.  So much for keeping your family life away from your work life.  Anyway, London, who was a chain smoker since age 16, suffered a stroke in 1995 and passed on in 2000, at age 74.

This was London’s first record, released by Liberty records in 1955.  It went to #2 on the US charts, driven by the strength of what would become her signature song, “Cry Me A River”.  Pretty decent album of 50’s jazz type numbers.  

Barney Kessel lends his guitar to the album along with bass from Ray Leatherwood. The sparce instrumentation   makes for a good effect.  Most of the songs if not all are love ballads and are pretty slow.

For a sample, I went with the one up tempo song on the album, the b-side to “Cry”, “S’Wonderful”.

Not exactly my cup of tea, but not a bad record either.  Satisfactory.

Barbara Mandrell- The Midnight Oil

This was one dollar.  Back to reasonable prices this week.  I got it for the country music. This and one more post and I am done for the week.  Trying to gun thru this but I am getting a lot of red marks for misspelling. Apparently from a story I read over the week, the current White House also struggles with spelling.

This was a young Barbara Mandrell’s third studio record and the most successful one she released for Columbia, coming out in 1973.  It would go to # 8 on the US Country charts.

The record is a bit strange for me as it is clearly before her breakout success in the late 70’s. Produced  by the legendary Billy Sherill, the record (and her time with Columbia) is more country-soul. a sound more in tune with the late 60′ country, and one that I do not associate with Mandrell. Columbia continued to press Sherill as to why he was sticking with an artist who wasn’t selling records.  This question became moot when Mandrell jumped labels in 1975 and developed a more pop-country sound, which would ultimately make her a great success. That being said, it is a good album and she was clearly a rising star in country at the time.  The record yielded five singles, the most successful being the title track.

For a sample, I went with one of those singles, “Tonight My Baby’s Coming Home”.

Despite not being representative of Mandrell’s sound, this is still a pretty good album and shows the beginning of her rise in Country.  Satisfactory.

VA-The Golden Record

This was $3.00.  Quite a golden record of hits indeed.  Lot of stars on this one.

Last night I watched Jacques Demy’s The Young Girls of Rochefort for the first time.  I was greatly familiar with its predecessor, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, having posted the soundtrack on this webpage (you can search for it to check it out). Whereas Umbrellas was a straight out musical, Rochefort was more focused on dance routines. Anyway, both films were highly inspirational to the writer/director of La La Land.  This was evident in the opening scene.

 

Anyway, it was a great movie that starred Catherine Deneuve and Francoise Dorleac (sisters in real life) as twin sisters looking to find true love and free passage to Paris.  The film also stars Jacques Perrin and Danielle Darrieux as well as Americans’ George Charkris, Grover Dale, and the king of musical dance, Gene Kelly. All the vocals with the exception of Darrieux, are overdubbed.

 

The music was pretty good, the dance numbers were excellent, and the story was a great interweaving narrative the resolved well.   If you like La La Land and do not mind subtitles (or can read French), you should definitely check out both movies.

Anyway, back to this. this was a collection of stars with Gold records from Capitol Records .  Quite a list if luminaries on here.  Nat King Cole, Peggy Lee, Les Paul and Mary Ford, Dean Martin, Tennessee Ernie Ford, among others.  The songs are pretty good.  I mean, they were all gold records so it is kind of expected.

I had a lot of choice for a sample, I wanted to use an artist who I normally don’t highlight on this blog.  Kay Starr’s “Wheel of Fortune” came to mind.  Kay Starr, born in Dougherty, Oklahoma, in 1922 was a singer who hit it big with this song in 1952.  She would have considerable success in the 40’s and 50’s and although she crossed over into pop and country at times, she best known as a jazz singer in the Billie Holiday vein. She passed this last November (2016). Anyway, here is her big hit, “Wheel of Fortune” and yes I know there is a skip in the end.  Deal with it.

Good record but I kind of new that when I bought it.  I would have been more surprised if this sucked.  But it is good enough.  Satisfactory. Odd that this post is mostly about the film and not the record.

 

The Supremes- Sing Holland-Dozier-Holland

Keeping Black History Month going with this piece of work from the Supremes.  This came from Big Al’s collection of records.

A lot has been written about  the Supreme’s de facto leader, Diana Ross.  A considerable amount has also been written about Mary Wilson.  Not so much about Florence Ballard.  That is probably due to the fact that she died of  a heart attack in 1976, on the heels of a comeback.  A founding member of the Supremes, she was removed from the group in 1967 when she showed up drunk to a performance.  

This was not the first time nor the last time she would struggle with alcoholism. After a few solo efforts, Ballard would sink lower in the bottle as well as the state of poverty that normally accompanies it.  But Ballard was on her way to turning her life around before her death. She completed rehab, got on some solid financial footing, and was starting to sing again.  She was 32.

Fun fact of the day; the same housing projects which were home to the members of the Supremes, the Brewster-Douglass Housing Projects , was also home to Lily Tomlin.

This was the Supremes’ tenth record, released in 1967. It was pretty successful, going to #6 in the US and #1 on the US R&B chart.  The album is a collection of songs written by Motown’s chief song writing-production team; Lamont Dozier, and brothers Brian and Eddie Holland.  

The album is  a good collection of previously released songs by the Supremes as well as other H-D-H songs previously done by other artists such as the Four Tops and Marvin Gaye.  So in that way, this album is as much a celebration of both the singers as well as the writers.

Lot of really good moments on this album but I decided to go with Martha and the Vandellas’ hit, “Love Is Like  A Heat Wave” as this was highly inspirational to various (well, two) mod musicians in the UK.

Are you kidding me?  This is a top rated album for sure.

Marlene Dietrich- Wiedersehen mit Marlene

dscn5528This was $1.60.  Not sure why I got this for sure though.  I am not a super huge fan of cabaret music.  Oh, well.  For what ever reason, I bought this and for what ever reason now, I am posting it.annex-dietrich-marlene-morocco_01

Marlene Dietrich, born in the Schoneberg district of Berlin in 1901, wasw an international film star and singer.  After work on stage and in silent film, Dietrich’s big break came in 1929 with the role of Lola Lola in the film The Blue Angels.  The film was shot in both German and English.  Due to the fact that the English is very much broken, the German version is generally acknowlegded as the best.

Fame and stardom followed until … well it didn’t.  By the end of the 30’s, she was considered box office poison.  It was also during this time, while in London, that she was approached by Nazi officials who offered her a big contract to return to Germany and become a Star of the Third Reich.  She refused and became an American citizen instead.  Pretty bold statement considering her fortune at the time.marlene_dietrich_in_shanghai_express_1932_by_don_english-1

Well, her fortunes would rebound and her career would evolve and revive.  Although she would continue to star in decent roles, (including playing a Mexican madame in Orson Wells’ A Touch Of Evil), in the 1950’s, she became a high paid cabaret singer, which this album captures.  p02qs0l6

Dietrich’s showbiz career pretty much ended in 1975 when she broke her thigh falling off a stage in Sydney.  Her last film role, a cameo, came in 1979 in the film Just A Gigolo, which featured David Bowie.  She would die in 1990 of renal failure.  She was 90.

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During her cabaret period, Burt Bacharach served as her arranger.  His arrangements hid Dietrich’s limited vocal range.  For the first half of the show, Dietrich would usually appear in a body fitting elegant gown where as she would wear tux and tails for the second half.  Songs consisted of both her early favorites as well as popular songs of the day.dscn5529

This album was released in 1960 on the heels of what was a tour of Germany.  Also according to the back cover, she had not played for a German audience in 29 years.  According to Wikipedia, this tour was met with a mixed reception.  Some Germans felt she had betrayed her homeland and as a result, bad press, protests, and bomb threats followed.  Many Germans, however, welcomed Dietrich back and the shows were well attended.  For some reason, the she was well received in East Germany as compared to  West Germany.  Regardless, the effort was a success in artistic terms but not in financial ones.

Despite being a live album, Wikipedia says this album was recorded in a German studio with applause being added in.  That might well be the case.  It is hard to say.  According to the cover, it was recorded in Cologne and Munich.  Apparently, there is a CD version without the audience sounds.  Anyway, this is a collection of cabaret style tunes sung in German with accompanying banter from Dietrich.  np670901289672743dietrich-540x304 tumblr_m4byb5hctu1rw3fqbo1_1280

For a sample, I went with her most famous number from The Blue Angels, “Ich bin die fesche Lola” (I’m Naughty Little Lola).  marlene_dietrich_by_kraljaleksandar-d4ha7ew

For the most part, this album is meh for me.  Like a lot of live albums, I am betting that this performance falls flat because there is no visual to go with it. Also, there is not a whole lot radical in Bacharach’s arrangements on this album.  Kind of standard stuff.

Judy Collins- Fifth Album

dscn5300-800x778This was $1.  Just as with Ray Price, I can no longer remember how many Judy Collins’ albums I have posted.  I feel that this is the third.  Of course, a simple search on this blog would answer this question, but I am not in the mood for that today. This album formerly belonged to Dale Charles Adamson who lived in Bellaire (Texas) in what is now a close to $1 million home.exhibit_judycollins_920_210_3

As the title would infer, this was Collin’s fifth album (her fourth studio effort).  Released in 1965, it was also her last true folk record as her next effort would start leaning more into pop.  Featuring songs by Bob Dylan, Richard Farina, Gordon Lightfoot, Phil Ochs, and Malvina Reynolds, Allmusic.com calls this her definitive folk statement. John Sebastian and Farnia play on a few tracks. A poem of Farina’s is also on the back cover.  The front cover blinds you with those famous headlights a bit (I’m talking about her eyes).dscn5301-800x778

There are a lot of good songs on here.  I really liked “Pack Up Your Sorrows”, “Thirsty Boots”, “Mr Tambourine Man”, and “Lord Gregory”.  This is a little specious as I like almost any cover of “Mr Tambourine Man”.  Two songs that I also like are the ones that are most topical in nature and the ones that I will use for samples.

First, there is the Phil Ochs tune, “In The Heat of the Summer”.  Ochs’ songs had a composure all there own.  His style shows through even though it is Collins singing.  I also went with Reynold’s “It Isn’t Nice” which was recorded live at Town Hall in New York .

Judy Collins - Judith Marjorie "Judy" Collins, American singer and songwriter known for her eclectic tastes and for her social activism. Photographed in New York 1/7/2015

Good record.  Satisfactory.

Sammi Smith- Lonesome

r-1233371-1266499472-jpegThis was a dollar.  I like Sammi Smith.  This would be the third album of hers that I have posted.  Maybe fourth.  Too lazy today to check. You can search for them if you like. If you have note heard Smith before, you should do that anyway.sammi-smith

This was Smith’s second album, fresh off the heels of her biggest hit, “Help Me Make It Through The Night”. Released in 1971, the album contained the second of her three top ten singles, “Then You Walk In”.  It also contained some interesting covers; Jerry Jeff Walker’s “Mr Bojangles”, James Taylor’s “Fire and Rain”, and The Band’s “The Weight”. I am sure these are a big reason why I got the record.

Smith had started to cement herself as the leading lady in the Outlaw Country movement.  Two years later, she would move to Dallas to be near Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings.  Additionally, Merle Haggard wrote the linear notes on this album. Not too bad of company to keep, especially in the 70’s.dscn5285-800x776

For a sample, I went with “He Makes It Hard”.sammi-smith-charles-miller

This record has all the things that make Sammi Smith a great yet underrated country singer.  Satisfactory record.

Vikki Carr- Nashville by Carr

DSCN4828 (800x797)This was $1.00.  I like Vikki Carr.  I like country.  Should be pretty straight forward.vikki-carr-king-of-cool

This was Vikki Carr’s country album, recorded in Nashville as the title.  On the back, there are pictures of Carr doing Nashville things; sitting in a field, standing in front of a wagon wheel, hanging with a horse, sitting in church, talking to producers, and having a beer. DSCN4829 (800x767)

This album came out in 1970, just qualifying for 70’s country, which I am generally ambivalent about.  It features such Nashville session players such as Pete Drake, Charlie McCoy, Buddy Harmon, Larry Butler, and Pig Robbins.  It also features songs written by Billy Sherrill, Burt Bacharach, Buck Owens, Mac David, Merle Haggard, and Kris Kristofferson.  The songs are ok.  I could have used a better selection. Perhaps because this record was a leading indicator where country was headed in that decade, perhaps, this is why I am less than ecstatic about it.  Carr’s vocals are good as usual but perhaps mismatched for this genre. 26422818134_b1752c3b1b_h

For a sample, I went with Kristofferson’s classic “Sunday Morning Coming Down”.  Comedy Central’s Drunk History did an excellent story about this song.

I like a lot of Carr’s stuff, but this has to go into meh territory for me as I feel Carr’s talent was limited by the material on this album. Perhaps I expected more out of this album.  Perhaps I woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning.

Skeeter Davis- The End of The World

DSCN4677 (800x777)This was $3.00.  Pretty classic female vocal 60’s album. Hard to pass up.skeeterdavis

Mary Francis Penick, known to the world as Skeeter Davis, was born in Dry Ridge, Kentucky in 1931.  She started in the business of show as a teenager in the country  vocal duo, the Davis Sisters (despite being neither sisters or a Davis).   The duo had a bonafide #1 hit single with “I Forogt More Than You’ll Ever Know”.  However, tragedy struck in 1953 when a car accident killed Betty Jack Davis and injured Skeeter. She would continue the duo with Betty’s sister Georgia until 1956 when she decided to retire from music and get married.sk11

Retirement was short and Skeeter returned to country music in 1958, this time as a solo artist.  She gained success working with Chet Atkins on several hit singles.  Her biggest success, however, was the pop country crossover, “The End Of The World”, a millions seller.  It would become Skeeter’s signature tune.  She would record for RCA up until the mid 70’s.  From there it is unclear what happened other than a few albums for smaller labels and appearances here and there. As a member of the  Grand Ole Opry since 1959,she made her final appearance in 2002.  She would pass away from breast cancer in 2004. She was one of the first female country solo stars.  Both Tammy Wynette and Dolly Parton acknowledge Skeeter as an influence.

This was Skeeter’s  forth solo studio album, released in 1963.  Produced by Chet Atkins and Anita Kerr, the album was her biggest success.  In order to get a full sound as well as mimic her Davis Sister’s sound, Skeeters vocals were double tracked.  Furthermore, the Nashville Sound complete with strings and piano is evident here. The songs are good, Skeeter’s vocals are great, and overall, the production values are good.DSCN4678 (800x798)

For a sample, I went with “Once Upon A Time”.skeeterdavis02-430x250

Satisfactory Record.