Tuesday, November 27, 2012

If I Were A Bell!

Marlon and Jean Simmons looking beautiful-1955
"If I Were A Bell" has been a favorite song of mine ever since I first saw Guys and Dolls performed in Houston as a child. Songwriter Frank Loesser crafted a beautiful melody and wed it to a lyric that captures the overwhelming feelings of new love so vividly that even a kid can pick up on how it feels. Its been covered by many, perhaps best by Miles Davis on his 1958 album Relaxin' With The Miles Davis Quintet. Below you'll find the version from the 1955 film of Guys and Dolls with Marlon Brando and Jean Simmons, for those who haven't seen the movie, she's supposed to be drunk, hence the performance. I wish I could find Dinah Washington's version on youtube, but you'll have to make do with Jean Simmons, Miles Davis, Blossom Dearie, Amel Larrieux, and Doris Day. All told not too shabby! 

Smokin' and Relaxin' with Frank Loesser, he's got the phone off the hook.

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Long Goodbye

"A moral and decent man cast adrift in a selfish, self-obsessed society where lives can be thrown away without a backward glance ... and any notions of friendship and loyalty are meaningless."

The Long Goodbye Mix

1. Funny How Love Can Be- The Ivy League
2. Love is Lies-The Buzzcocks

3. I Wonder What She's Doing Tonight- Tommy Boyce & Bobby Hart
4. Needles & Pins- The Ramones
5. Last Night I Cried- The Beach-niks
6. The Long Goodbye- Jack Sheldon
7. Tina The Go Go Queen- Tav Falco & the Panther Burns
8. I Feel Good, I Feel Bad- Lewis & Clarke Expedition
9. Achin'- The Plugz
10. For Your Love- The Yardbirds
11. Thank You For Sending Me An Angel- The Talking Heads
12. Between the Lines- Flamin' Groovies
13. Free Again- Alex Chilton
14. Qualities of Mercy- Penelope Houston
15. Laughing- R.E.M.
16. Glad and Sorry- The Faces
17. Make Me Sad- Vic Godard and the Subway Sect
18. Ruby Tuesday (instrumental)- The Rolling Stones
19. Where Did the Spring Go?- The Kinks
20. Sixteen Tons- Tennessee Ernie Ford
21. Spanish Caravan- The Doors
22. Andalucia- John Cale
23. The Long Goodbye (trumpet version)- John Williams
24. Rhymes of Goodbye- Scott Walker
25. I'm Going In A Field- Ivor Cutler

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Four Kings Of EMI In Far Away Places

Magical Mystery 
Mother Nature's Son
In 1968 two prominent jazz musicians, Ramsey Lewis and Bud Shank (with Chet Baker in tow), both released albums centered around instrumental interpretations of Beatles' tunes. I don't have the exact release date for the Bud Shank album Magical Mystery, the first side of which is dedicated to songs from the Beatles' Magical Mystery Tour (natch)- the second side features prominent hits of the time such as "Never My Love" and "Windy"- but it's safe to say it was released before Mother Nature's Son, as Ramsey's album came out in December of 1968- amazingly only a month or less after the Beatles' White Album, on which it was based. 

Both records are pleasant and slightly psychedelic joining counter culture and lounge culture at a strangely comfortable halfway point. Nice album covers as well! Ramsey's giving the bunny rabbits and birds some love with his piano parked in some foliage, and Bud's caught up in a kaleidoscope of colors whilst deep in meditation with his sax. No big surprise that Ramsey's take is a bit funkier (though at times a little too heavy on the string arrangements) and Bud's a bit more West Coast Cool meets psychedelia. Nothing gets too out there, not enough to upset a party, though Bud's cover of "Blue Jay Way" probably comes the closest. Truth is both of these records could have been playing unobtrusively in the background at a thirty something party your parents attended in the late 60's. Which puts me in mind of the time I discovered Herbie Mann's great Memphis Underground record (featuring mind bending noise solos courtesy of Sonny Sharrock against a solid memphis backing) in my Dad's collection and him explaining to me that he bought it after hearing it at a party. Get a little taste of that record below, Sonny's solo starts around 5:36.

The title of this post references one of the best episodes of last season's Madmen, Far Away Places, in which, amongst other things, Roger Sterling takes LSD for the first time. This is handled in a fine realistic manner emphasizing the sense of dislocation and auditory hallucinations instead of the stereotypical swirling colors and patterns. I can imagine either of these records approximating the sounds inside the silver fox's head as he is slowly cast adrift, feeling the moorings of his madison avenue reality slipping away. As to the four kings of EMI reference all you Monkees fans and randy scouse gits ought to know!
Roger Sterling in Far Away Places