Posts Tagged ‘Connie Francis’

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.

Annette & The Afterbeats

Monday, May 13th, 2013

AnnetteTaulPaul, Annette Funicello, Annette & The Afterbeats, Disney

Listen: Tall Paul / Annette & The Afterbeats

Who were The Afterbeats? I’ve never been able to find out.

Being 1959, I’m guessing studio musicians the lot. But it’s nice to think that maybe soon-to-be members of The Standells or some such band, that five or so years later would try posing as teenagers during the crossover from Surf to English Invasion, were actually the players.

Annette was my first crush, probably like every other little kid who watched THE MICKEY MOUSE CLUB. Her singles are some of my earliest memories of owning records, once I graduated from those 5″ yellow shellac nursery rhyme jobs. It wasn’t long before I’d move on to Phyllis McGuire, I can now see where it was all heading. Meanwhile, ‘Taul Paul’ had to have driven my parents mad. Who knows how many millions of times I played it.

Not a singer with any power or confidence, it was Disney staff producer Tutti Camarata who coaxed her into recording stardom, according to Annette herself. Having worked with Billie Holiday, among others, his greatest innovation may have been the creation of what became ‘The Annette Sound’. His solution to the limitations of her teenage voice was to record her vocals twice, the second time with large amounts of echo thrown in; a technique apparently so successful that others like Connie Francis, Shelley Fabares and even The Beatles began to borrow it.

Correct, George Martin did not invent the wheel. More importantly, he destroyed The Action with his shit production. See my post on that one.

Tell me, do you ever, ever hear Annette on oldies radio, bar Sirius?

AnnetteFirstNamePS, Annette Funicello, Annette & The Afterbeats, Disney

Listen: First Name Initial / Annette & The Afterbeats

Predating the surf craze that seems to have musically started around ’61/’62 by about two years, you can definitely detect ‘First Name Intital’ moving into that direction. Sounding undeniably RnR 50′s style, it still reaked of sock hops and malted shakes, but in a good way.