Posts Tagged ‘Salsoul Orchestra’

One Chart Dig: February 1976

Friday, February 12th, 2016

It’s a little bit disconcerting to realize that it’s almost forty years since I graduated from St. Cloud State. That happened at the end of February 1976, after my one-quarter internship in the sports department of an independent television station based in a Minneapolis suburb.

I know I’ve mentioned the internship frequently over the past nine years, just as I’ve mentioned fairly frequently the stunning redhead who was interning in the station’s promotions department and indicated a clear interest in me. There are reasons those things remain large in my rear-view mirror, I think.

First, I was good enough at the internship that after the first couple of months, I was occasionally – five or six times, I would guess – asked to assemble the entire evening sports segment and hand the script to the on-air talent. I was listed those five or six times as a producer in the broadcast’s credits, and that’s pretty heady stuff at the age of 22.

And the redhead? Well, even though I was seeing a young woman in St. Cloud, the other intern’s obvious interest in me was flattering and, frankly, gave me confidence in what we might call today my social game. I didn’t really follow up on her interest beyond a little flirtation, but it boosted my ego a little bit, and at that time, that was a good thing.

Anyway, that’s what comes to mind when I think of that February now forty years gone: Writing a script, choosing visuals for that script and taking a few minutes most days to grab a cup of coffee in the break room with that lovely young lady.

And, of course, music. There was none in the newsroom, of course. There, we had televisions that tracked our own programming and the programming of the three other stations in the market; music would have been a distraction. But I heard tunes driving between the station and my shared apartment in a nearby suburb, and my roommate and I – he was another young St. Cloudian, working his first job out of school – had the radio on a lot during those three months.

So the top ten in the Billboard Hot 100 from this week forty years ago was very familiar:

“50 Ways To Leave Your Lover” by Paul Simon
“Love To Love You Baby” by Donna Summer
“You Sexy Thing” by Hot Chocolate
“Theme From S.W.A.T.” by Rhythm Heritage
“Sing A Song” by Earth, Wind & Fire
“I Write The Songs” by Barry Manilow
“Love Rollercoaster” by the Ohio Players
“Love Machine (Part 1)” by the Miracles
“Breaking Up Is Hard To Do” by Neil Sedaka
“Evil Woman” by the Electric Light Orchestra

That was pretty much what we heard. At the Airheads Radio Survey Archive, there is a KDWB survey from February 10, 1976, and six of those ten show up in the top ten, with “You Sexy Thing” topping the survey. The Earth, Wind & Fire track and the bottom three from the Billboard Top Ten are gone. (Three of those four show up lower among the twenty-five records on the KDWB survey; the only one missing is the Miracles’ record.)

Taking their place were Eric Carmen’s “All By Myself” at No. 3, C.W. McCall’s “Convoy” at No. 4, the Who’s “Squeezebox” at No. 9, and Foghat’s “Slow Ride” at No. 10. The Carmen record is especially evocative of those days; there were at least two weekends when my roommate went back to St. Cloud and I was working, and I think I heard the record on the radio late at night both weekends, and yeah, I was a bit lonely.

But we’re going to find today’s nugget further down in the Hot 100 from forty years ago today, at – appropriately – No. 40. It’s “Tangerine” by the Salsoul Orchestra. (I took a look a few years ago at the song’s history in posts found here, here and here.) The record was the first of a couple of Top 40 hits for the Philadelphia-based orchestra (which included for a while, says Wikipedia, musicians who’d previously been part of Philadelphia International’s MFSB). Eight other records reached the Hot 100 or bubbled under it until the string ran out in 1979.

“Tangerine” peaked at No. 18, and went to No. 11 on the Adult Contemporary chart and to No. 36 on the R&B chart. And it no doubt got a lot of folks out of their chairs and out onto the dance floor.

‘Lips As Bright As Flame . . .’

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

As I mentioned yesterday, I’ve been listening to various versions of the tune “Tangerine,” a song that came to the attention of my generation via the 1975 version by the Salsoul Orchestra. Pulled from the orchestra’s first, self-titled album, a single of the tune went to No. 18 in early 1976.

The song came to mind earlier this week when I followed a link to that YouTube video provided by jb of The Hits Just Keep On Comin’. As I listened, I nodded in recognition, knowing that I most likely heard the single by the Salsoul Orchestra in early 1976, but I had an inkling that I’d heard the song before that, in a much slower tempo. So I went digging.

The song, as I also noted yesterday, was written by Johnny Mercer and Victor Schertzinger for a 1942 movie. In that movie, The Fleet’s In, the song was performed by the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra with vocals by Bob Eberly and Helen O’Connell.

(I don’t care much for Eberly’s crooning, but among at least some singers, that was the style in vogue at the time. On the other hand, given the aesthetic of the times, I thought O’Connell nailed it. And although this arrangement didn’t give him much room to work with, Dorsey could play.)

Since then, “Tangerine” has been covered frequently. The listings at Second Hand Songs and at ASCAP show more than 140 performers and groups who have recorded the song. The listing at ASCAP isn’t searchable by year, but the earliest version of “Tangerine” listed at Second Hand Songs is the 1941 recording by Vaughn Monroe and His Orchestra; the most recent recording listed is the 2007 version by saxophonists Harry Allen and Joe Temperley with John Bunch, Greg Cohen and Jake Hanna on the album Cocktails for Two. Among the performers whose names I recognized were Ferrante & Teicher, Tony Bennett, Dave Brubeck , Harry Connick Jr., Al Caiola, Dr. John (who covered the tune on Mercernary, his 2006 album of songs by Johnny Mercer), Stéphane Grappelli, George Shearing, Lawrence Welk, Bobby Troup, Peter Nero and Toots Thielemans.

I’ve heard a few of those. I like Bennett’s version, but I don’t care for Connick’s. What I heard of Dr. John’s take on the tune (and Mercernary has gone on my want list) was good. Brubeck released numerous live versions of “Tangerine,” and I think the one I heard was from a 1958 performance in Copenhagen, Denmark. I wasn’t blown away, but that says more about me and my relationship with 1950s jazz than about anything else. I do like Grapelli’s 1971 version and, of course, I like the version I posted yesterday by Eliane Elias. And one of the best among the covers I found is the version that Frank Sinatra did for his 1962 album, Sinatra and Swingin’ Brass.

Still, I knew that none of those was the version of “Tangerine” that I’d heard first, and I kept scanning the lists at Second Hand Songs and ASCAP until I finally noticed a name that made sense. And that brought me back to the languid, tropical version of “Tangerine” that I first heard in 1965 or so when I listened to my copy of Whipped Cream & Other Delights by Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass.

Video by Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass replaced November 11, 2013.

‘With Her Eyes Of Night . . .’

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

Inspired by the inclusion of a sweet 1975 track from the Salsoul Orchestra in Monday’s post by my pal jb at The Hits Just Keep On Comin’, I’ve been peeling tangerines for the last day or so. Too bad they’re musical and not real, as I could use the Vitamin C right now.

Anyway, while I snuffle off to the drugstore, here’s a preview of some of the stuff you might find here when I present my collection of “Tangerine” covers tomorrow (I hope). This one finds the tune – written for a 1942 movie by Johnny Mercer and Victor Schertzinger – taken on by Brazilian-born and New York-based pianist/vocalist Eliane Elias. It’s from her 2004 album Dreamer, and I like it quite a bit.

Video replaced November 11, 2013.