Posts Tagged ‘Guy Lombardo’

‘When’

Thursday, January 25th, 2018

So we return after a long break to Journalism 101, our exploration of tunes that include in their titles the five W’s and one H of reporting: who, what, where, when, why, and how. Today’s subject is “when,” and the RealPlayer brings us an initial harvest of 761 tracks.

We’ll winnow that down, of course. We lose a few tracks with “whenever” in their titles, and a 1998 track from the band When In Rome goes by the wayside. So do several albums (except for some title tracks) including Glenn Yarbrough’s For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her, Trisha Yearwood’s The Song Remembers When, Rory Block’s When A Woman Gets The Blues, Snow Patrol’s When It’s All Over We Still Have to Clear Up, Traffic’s When The Eagle Flies, the Sutherland Brothers’ When The Night Comes Down, Carolina Story’s When The River Met The Sea, John Mellencamp’s Whenever We Wanted, and When Harry Met Sally by Harry Connick, Jr.

There’s plenty left, of course, and we’re going to do things a little differently today, picking one track from each of four decades of the 1900s, starting with the 1940s. (Just for the record, the earliest recorded track that popped up was “When a ’Gator Holler, Folks Say It’s A Sign Of Rain” recorded by Margaret Johnson with the Black & Blue Trio in 1926, while the most recent track offered by the RealPlayer was “When I Saw Your Face” from Soul Of A Woman, Sharon Jones’ final album with the Dap-Kings.

The mystically romantic “Where Or When” was introduced in the 1937 musical Babes In Arms, created by the team of Richard Rodgers and Lorenzo Hart and quickly became a popular standard. The website Second Hand Songs lists 225 versions of the tune, and it’s apparent that there are more versions uncounted, as we’re listening today to the 1942 cover of the song by Guy Lombardo & His Royal Canadians, which SHS does not cite. Lombardo’s version of “Where Or When” is a little stiff, perhaps, but the buttery smooth reeds still sound nice, as does the similarly smooth trombone solo. The Decca release went to No. 19 in 1943, according to David A. Jasen’s book A Century Of American Popular Music.

So we move into the 1950s and find a charming gem: “When You Dance” by the Turbans, a black doo-wop group from Philadelphia. Released on the Herald label in 1955, the record went to No. 33 on the Billboard Hot 100 and to No. 3 on the magazine’s R&B chart. Six years later, the Turbans re-recorded the song for a release on the Parkway label, but the record only bubbled under at No. 114. The original version showed up in 2005 on the stellar two-CD set The Only Doo-Wop Collection You’ll Ever Need on the Shout Factory label.

If ever a No. 18 hit can be called a forgotten record, it might be “Shake Me, Wake Me (When It’s Over)” by the Four Tops. The 1966 single has everything you might want in a Four Tops joint, from an arresting tale and a strong lead vocal to the work of Motown’s Funk Brothers. But I think it tends to get lost among the stellar singles the group released on either side: “I Can’t Help Myself” and “It’s The Same Old Song” charted in 1965, “Reach Out I’ll Be There” hit later in 1966, and 1967 brought “Standing In The Shadows Of Love” and “Bernadette.” Small wonder that “Shake Me, Wake Me,” as good as it is, stands in shadows itself. As I noted, it peaked in the Hot 100 at No. 18, and it went to No. 5 on the R&B chart.

The short-lived British band McGuinness Flint managed one appearance in the Billboard Hot 100 when “When I’m Dead And Gone” went to No. 47 in early 1971, and as I listen today to that track and to “Malt and Barley Blues,” a 1971 Capitol promo single, I wish I had a lot more from the band on the digital shelves. I have Lo and Behold, a 1972 album by the group’s successor band, Coulson, Dean, McGuinness and Flint, and that’s fine, but I suppose I’m going to have to shell out some cash for the original group’s 1970 album. The group’s tangled history is best left to Wikipedia. (Oddly enough, I also have on the digital shelves a cover of “When I’m Dead And Gone” by an American artist named Bob Summers that pretty much copies the original arrangement, slows the song down just a titch, and misses the magic entirely.)

‘I’ll See You In My Dreams . . .’

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

As noted in a couple of recent posts, the lovely Isham Jones/Gus Kahn song “I’ll See You In My Dreams” first showed up in 1925, recorded by Jones with the Ray Miller Orchestra, with Frank Besinger handling the vocal. According to Joel Whitburn in A Century Of Pop Music, the record was No. 1 for seven weeks starting the first week of April and wound up as the No. 3 record for the year (behind “The Prisoner’s Song” by Vernon Dalhart and “Yes Sir, That’s My Baby” by Gene Austin).

Covers naturally followed. While I don’t think that “I’ll See You In My Dreams” is necessarily one of the most-covered songs of all time, it’s nevertheless a song that’s stayed in the public ear: The list of covers at Second Hand Songs – a listing that’s not necessarily comprehensive but which probably provides a good cross-section and starting point – shows versions of the song from every decade since but the 1940s, and I’m not sure if there’s a reason for that gap or not. Add to those versions the other covers I’ve found at YouTube, and the song is clearly one that’s remained popular.

Since the middle of last week, I’ve been wandering through many versions of the song, and I’ve found quite a few I like. My pal Larry, who hangs his hat at the fine blog, Funky 16 Corners, recommended the 1930 cover by Ukulele Ike, otherwise known as Cliff Edwards. (Edwards, perhaps better known as the voice of Jiminy Cricket in Disney’s Pinnochio, covered the song again in 1956 on his album, Ukulele Ike Sings Again.) Another early cover that caught my ear was the 1937 version by Guy Lombardo. And jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt  gave the song a whirl in 1939.

Perhaps the most surprising of the covers I found was the nimble-fingered instrumental version by Jerry Lee Lewis, recorded during a session for Sun Records in 1958; the take was finally issued on a Sun collection LP in 1984 and since then on CD. Other versions I generally like from the 1950s and 1960s included covers by Henri René & His Orchestra (1956), the Mills Brothers (1960), The Ray Conniff Singers (1960), Cliff Richard (1961), the Lettermen (1963) and my man Al Hirt (1968).

The only version of the song to hit the modern charts was an unsurprisingly bland take from Pat Boone, whose 1962 cover went to No. 32 on the Billboard Hot 100 in and No. 9 on what is now called the Adult Contemporary chart.

Some versions baffle me (and you can easily find these – and others mentioned but not linked – at YouTube). I mean, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir (1980)? Then there’s some very odd percussion and production in a 1965 effort by Vic Dana. And in 1975, the Pearls took the song to the disco.

There were some other interesting versions. I found a cover by the Paul Kuhn Orchestra that was released on LP in 1980, but it sounds very much like something Bert Kaempfert would have released in 1965 or so. (Kuhn passed on in September, and his death inspired one of the great headlines: “Paul Kuhn, German jazzman who lamented Hawaii’s lack of beer, has died.”) Chet Atkins, recording with Merle Travis, did a nice cover for the 1974 album, Atkins-Travis Traveling Show, although the linked video offers what seems to be a shorter version of the tune, as included on a later compilation.

Howard Alden did a very nice guitar version of “I’ll See You In My Dreams” ghosting for Sean Penn’s character Emmet Ray – a 1930s jazz guitar player – in Woody Allen’s 1999 film, Sweet and Lowdown.

And finally, one version that I like among the more recent covers is the faux-vintage and slightly rough-edged take from 2005 by folk singer Ingrid Michaelson along with singer (and ukulele player) Joan Moore.