Archive for the ‘Chet Atkins’ Category

The McGuire Sisters / Connie Francis

Sunday, January 19th, 2014

Sugartime / The McGuire Sisters

Listen: Sugartime / The McGuire Sisters

My Dad’s cousin, Dominic Bruno, owned a nightclub in the 50′s/60′s called the Three Rivers Inn, somewhere near Syracuse. I suppose it was that period’s version of today’s Casinos, but on a way smaller scale. The acts would do a week or so. The many headliners included Jayne Mansfield, Sammy Davis Jr, Mae West, Paul Anka, Tony Bennett, very lounge and nowadays known as Bachelor Pad stuff.

The first act I ever saw live, at the Three River Inn, were The McGuire Sisters. They scored big (#1 in ’57) with ‘Sugartime’, and it appealed to all little kids for years to follow. My Mom and Dad had a copy. It was probably my first discovery of music. How was I to know then that the “sugar in the morning, honey in the evening” being referred to was about sex. Other than their ballads, most of the uptempo ones, like this, were completely rock and roll, especially those clean Chet Atkin’s hollow body solos.

They were the first victims of my record collecting as well. I pestered my parents, even aunts and uncles, to buy me every last record they had out. Anytime a present was due, I wanted a McGuire Sisters record. Whether it be Easter, Halloween, birthday, Christmas, getting a passing report card, you name it, The McGuire Sisters were the gift that kept giving in my world.

Then Mom and Dad faithfully took me along to see them, all arranged through Uncle Dominic, as we knew him. His house was mad, never will I forget the all pink kitchen, including appliances, that he and Aunt Elia had. Whew.

I don’t really know the year of that show, I may have been five, it was the mid 60′s. They were most likely running out of steam career-wise by then. Clearly out of obligation, The McGuire Sisters invited me up on stage. I froze but couldn’t let my folks down, so trembled onwards. I sang along to ‘Sugartime’, probably spoiling everyone’s reason for attending. And the cherry on top was a visit to their dressing room afterwards, a motel room actually, part of the club’s complex, where the three of them were playing cards and eating sandwiches between shows.

Pretty good start, right? My first taste.

Don't Ever Leave Me / Connie Francis

Listen: Don’t Ever Leave Me / Connie Francis

Shortly thereafter, I got into Connie Francis. This all preceded The Ronettes and Shangri-Las fixations which were just around the corner. Suggestive women in tight skirts was the common thread I guess.

I’m not quite sure what my infatuation with Connie Francis was all about but I went off her pretty quickly, probably due to a chilly and quick dressing room visit right after the show. Hey I was a little kid, lighten up lady. Still, to be fair, it was probably cramping her style. She absolutely made many, many great records.

‘Don’t Ever Leave Me’, her one and only attempt at the girl group sound, written and produced by Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich, the team you went to for just this type of material then, is a keeper. A classic single in fact. (#42, 10/64).

She wore a very nice blue chiffon ensemble that night, that I do remember, and she smelled great.

Kenny Burrell

Saturday, March 13th, 2010

KennyBurrell1, Kenny Burrell, Blue Note, Stanley Turrentine, Ray Barretto

Listen: Wavy Gravy (Part 1) / Kenny Burrell KennyBurrellWavy1.mp3

KennyBurrellWavy2, Kenny Burrell, Blue Note, Stanley Turrentine, Ray Barretto

Listen: Wavy Gravy (Part 2) / Kenny Burrell KennyBurrellWavy2.mp3

When I was a kid, we went to see Chet Atkins play the State Fair. I couldn’t believe I was being dragged to this horribly unhip show, why weren’t some British Invasion bands booked instead?

April ’69, Humble Pie played that very stage on their first US tour: Steve Marriott and Peter Frampton. Seemed like an eternity, but it was only three or four years later that those former members of The Small Faces and The Herd stood where I had suffered through Chet Atkins.

Now in hindsight, I wish I’d have paid more attention. And to be honest, it did leave a lasting impression. I can still hear his clean, electric hollow body technique. It’s what connected me to jazz guitarists.

I never bought the albums, not ever. But I sure did look at them in the shops. The Blue Note sleeves in particular were pretty stunning. Once the 70′s and my college radio years began, suddenly all those jazz albums became accessible: Wes Montgomery and Kenny Burrell.

Give me a clean, fast jazz player any day of the week. The horns and brass, I can’t take it, but guitarists, never get tired of them.

Skeeter Davis / Personal Effects

Monday, October 5th, 2009

skeeterendusa, Skeeter Davis, Chet Atkins, RCA

Listen: The End Of The World / Skeeter Davis SkeeterEnd.mp3

skeeterhesaysus, Skeeter Davis, Chet Atkins, RCA

skeeterhesays, Skeeter Davis, Chet Atkins, RCA

Listen: He Says The Same Things To Me / Skeeter Davis SkeeterSaysSame.mp3

Can you believe these records were originally considered country instead of pop? Even though they made the Billboard Top 100 (‘End Of The World’ #2 in ’63, ‘He Says The Same Things To Me’ #47 in ’64), being produced by Chet Atkins probably meant Skeeter Davis and her releases were always found in the country section at the stores. Now sounding way more like early Blondie than Kitty Wells, I’m pretty sure the double tracked vocals were exclusive to country productions at the time. Check any Loretta Lynn, Dottie West or Patsy Cline single if you feel the need to verify that bit. Despite her record store geographical placement, she was certainly a successful crossover act, as I clearly remember both of these singles being played on my local Top 40′s.

pepressrelease, Personal Effects, Skeeter Davis

Listen: The End Of The World / Personal Effects PersonalEffectsEnd.mp3

Years later, indie bands were unearthing great singles from, in the 70′s, only ten or so years prior. A lost art these days, but then hearing a favorite band pulling out an old gem and recording it was not unlike a DJ doing a slamming set, littered with snippets of classics, in a club come the late ’90′s.

A 7″ single that should have been, Personal Effects’ version of ‘The End Of The World’ was one Roger McCall and I played a lot on WCMF around ’84, back when we did what would be referred to nowadays as a ‘specialty show’. Not one to toss anything related to records, I found the above flyer inside the album THIS IS IT, from which the track comes. And given that it’s promo only, I definitely saved it.