Tuesday, October 25, 2005

History Lesson: A String of Pearls

October 25, 1991: Concert promoter Bill Graham dies in a helicopter crash. Graham sparked the San Francisco music scene by founding the Fillmore Auditorium in 1966, and the Fillmore East in New York in 1968. After closing the Fillmores in 1971, he operated San Francisco's Winterland, and helped organize the Live Aid concerts in 1985. The extent of his influence is best described this way: can you name another famous concert promoter?

October 25, 1974: Al Green is attacked by an ex-girlfriend, who sneaks into his apartment, finds a pot of boiling-hot grits on the stove, and dumps it on him while he's in the shower. She then finds a gun in his bedroom and commits suicide. The attack sparks Green's religious awakening.

October 25, 1964: The Rolling Stones spark an audience riot while appearing on The Ed Sullivan Show. Sullivan promises the band "will never be back on our show," although three years later, they would be.

Birthdays Today:
Jon Anderson and Taffy Danoff are both 61. Apart from that, they've got little in common. Anderson was the lead singer of Yes; Danoff was a member of the Starland Vocal Band.

Number One Songs on This Date:
1985: "Take on Me"/a-ha.
Better remembered now as a groundbreaking video--that morphing of pencil drawings into live action and vice versa--but a pretty good song, too.

1973: "My Ding-a-Ling"/Chuck Berry. "Maybelline." "Rock and Roll Music." "Sweet Little Sixteen." "Johnny B. Goode." Yet this is Berry's only Number One record. There is no God.

1964: "Do Wah Diddy Diddy"/Manfred Mann.
Manfred Mann became the third British act, after the Beatles and Peter and Gordon, to top the American charts in 1964. After this song dropped out of the top spot, American acts would top the charts for the next nine weeks--but only until a new Beatles record came out.

1961: "Runaround Sue"/Dion. One of those essential records that makes you wish you had a nickel for each time it's been played on oldies radio. Dion probably wishes that, too.

1942: "(I've Got a Gal in) Kalamazoo"/Glenn Miller Orchestra. A good rule when listening to Miller today is to stick to the instrumentals, like "In the Mood," "A String of Pearls," and "Tuxedo Junction." Most of the Miller Orchestra's vocals, featuring the likes of Tex Beneke, the Modernaires, and Marian Hutton, sound extremely cheesy and badly dated. In other words, like "(I've Got a Gal in) Kalamazoo."


At 10:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, great! Our country music station is now playing Martina McBride's remake of Lynn Anderson's "Rose Garden."

Went to the movie theatre the other day...saw the billboard for the new version of "Yours, Mine, and Ours" and "Cheaper By the Dozen -2."

Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the day and age of ZERO originality. ---Shark

At 1:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shame on you for saying, "There is no God," even if you were just trying to be cute.

At 8:51 AM, Anonymous Clark Ridune said...

I agree that Marian Hutton's and Ray Eberle's vocals sound cheesy. Glenn Miller, who was careful in so many other ways, hired his singers by looks and by hunch and did not keep good singers when he had them.

On the other hand, Beneke's vocals belong to an idiom that may be uncomfortable to modern ears, but is related more to his tex-mex blues background and are pretty good examples of what that idiom sounded like. One can find any number of vocals by singers who tried to portray the slightly bluesy, but relaxed, style that Beneke shares. In the big commercial hits it does come across as cheesy, but if you want to hear how effective it could be, find a live recording of Miller's cover of "Daddy."

As to the Modernaires, they were a ground-backing group which somehow or another ended up in Miller's stable. Their sound can be found most clearly on songs such "Seranade in Blue." A number of their vocal pieces have a high sound that foreshadows the Four Seasons. What they did was have their base sing shift up to a falsetto; it produced a sound of remarkable depth which Miller occasionally used.



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