Archive for the ‘Sammy Davis Jr.’ 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.

The Rolling Stones

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

THE ROLLING STONES, NOW! / The Rolling Stones:

Side 1:

Listen: Side 1 (see label above for song titles) / The Rolling Stones

Side 2:

Listen: Side 2 (see label above for song titles) / The Rolling Stones

Another variation of the EP, in the US that is, was the two or three song per side jukebox pressing.

London Records issued four by The Rolling Stones, essentially compiling about half of a then current album configured as a 7″ replica of the full length 12″ version. The front covers literally lifted the album artwork, catalog number and all, while the back was left blank. These presumably were popular with the various Rock-Ola and Seeburg models that could switch speeds from 45 to 33. When a small holed EP hit the turntable, the disc would flatten down the large hole 45 center adaptor and flip the speed down to an accommodating 33rpm.

I don’t recall seeing the selections by The Rolling Stones in any of the local soda fountains we’d frequent after school, instead seeing Sammy Davis Jr. and Frank Sinatra options, both very underplayed if at all by the assembled teenagers we fantasized being like one day.

I do however remember getting up the nerve to visit a downtown Syracuse one stop, whereby we marched bravely to the front counter that separated customer from all records behind it. The jukebox operators and mom ‘n’ pop retailers would turn up weekly, maybe even daily, knowing what they wanted or needed and exactly who to ask for. My best friend Denny and I showed up as though we belonged there, not knowing what to expect or how to behave. We didn’t stay long, and got informed that the outlet was not open to the public but only for dealers. Good try.

The magnitude of seeing quantities, box lots and bulk copies of records on endless shelves left a lasting impression on me as a kid. I knew that someday, I wanted to have the chance to be on that side of the counter and literally dreamt about it for years.

What I do vividly remember during the minute or less we actually stood amongst the beehive of activity of this busy barter type scene were all four London Records Rolling Stones jukebox EP’s, sitting in a cardboard counter rack designed specifically for their display. It was when inquiring could we please buy one of each that we were denied and asked to leave. In addition to a job at a one stop, I left also wanting all four records badly.

Through the years, every one of those goals were luckily achieved. And like with the actual albums from which the EP’s originated (12X5, THE ROLLING STONES NOW!, OUT OF OUR HEADS and THEIR SATANIC MAJESTY’S REQUEST), it’s nearly impossible to pick a favorite. But if forced to before a firing squad, I’m pretty sure I’d choose THE ROLLING STONES, NOW!

Chris Montez

Sunday, August 14th, 2011

Listen: The More I See You / Chris Montez
The More I See You / Chris Montez

It was as if the guy who recorded ‘Let’s Dance’ a few years earlier was a completely different person. That song fit easily into both the surf and farfisa bubblegum spaces perfectly. A fit that suited The Ramones just fine, they covered it from nearly day one.

Along comes ‘The More I See You’ in ’66, and the first time I remember hearing it was at Carmen’s Barber Shop, the little dive my Dad took me for haircuts. The hour or so we’d spend there was rather fascinating, with me trying to figure out some of the coded adult talk amongst them all, yet with most attention being paid to the MOR station Carmen had permanently affixed on his little sound system. I believe the station call letters were WSEN or WSYR, but can’t be sure. What I am sure of is it would make for industrial strength hipster listening if only some of those shows had been air checked. Lots of Julie London, Ella Fitzgerald, Sammy Davis Jr. and Jackie Trent with husband Tony Hatch. Seems they were the British Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme, and most of their singles, both together and separately, are worth picking up if you stumble on them.

Tony Hatch in fact wrote ‘Call Me’, not only the Chris Montez single that preceded ‘The More I See You’, but the title of the album from which it came.

Turns out when switching to his A&M label in ’65, Herb Alpert suggested this more soft rock sound, possibly looking for his own version of Astrud Gilberto, who despite the slight technicality of being a different sex and therefore looked much better, sounded quite similar.