Posts Tagged ‘Peter Nero’

Saturday Single No. 720

Saturday, January 16th, 2021

As it often does as I sit here on the seventh day of the week, the tune “Come Saturday Morning” popped into my head today.

Written for the 1969 film The Sterile Cuckoo, the song was first recorded by the film’s star, Liza Minelli, as the title track of an album released in February 1969, according to Second Hand Songs. The film came out in October 1969, and it was the Sandpipers’ cover of the song that was used on the film’s soundtrack and released as a single. The record went to No. 17 on the Billboard Hot 100 and to No. 8 on the magazine’s Easy Listening chart.

Other covers followed, of course, and a few of them have ended up on the digital shelves here, by artists like Joe Reisman & His Orchestra & Chorus, the Fifty Guitars Of Tommy Garrett, the Mystic Moods Orchestra, and Mark Lindsay, one-time lead singer for Paul Revere & The Raiders.

Other familiar names show up on the list of covers at Second Hand Songs with Johnny Mathis, Tony Bennett, Patti Page, Robert Goulet, Ray Conniff and Scott Walker found among the vocal list, and artists like Percy Faith, Andre Kostelanetz, Peter Nero, Roger Williams, and Jackie Gleason listed among the instrumental covers of the song. The most recent of all of those was Walker’s take on the song, which came in 1972, and more followed.

Only five of the thirty-eight versions of the song listed at SHS have been released later than 1974: Vocal versions by Charles Tichenor (1996) and a female vocalist called Rumer (2010), and instrumentals by the Keith McDonald Trio (1986), Jim Hudak (2000), and the Dave McMurdo Jazz Orchestra (also 2000).

So there are lots of versions to sample and choose from. But I’m going to take the easy way out and find Peter Nero’s version of the tune because he’s one of the very few artists I’ve written about who has left a note here. (He responded a few years ago to a post about “The Summer Knows,” the theme from the movie Summer of ’42.) Nero’s version of “Come Saturday Morning” is from his 1970 album I’ll Never Fall In Love Again, and it’s today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 577

Saturday, February 10th, 2018

I was messing around yesterday with a bundle of mp3s I gained access to, mostly easy listening stuff from the Sixties and Seventies (a sweet spot for me, as readers might know), and I started work tagging the mp3s from an album titled Peter Nero Plays Born Free and Other Movie Themes, slapped with a date of 1966, which was when the film Born Free was released.

It didn’t take long to determine that the CD from which the mp3s came had seen tracks added as bonuses, as among the tracks were “Theme from ‘Summer of ’42’,” which came out in 1971 and which I already had. It was Nero’s sole Top 40 hit, going to No. 21 in Billboard. (The record was once the subject here of a piece that spurred Nero to leave a comment, which – along with my love for easy listening – might easily be the reason I tend to collect his music.)

I compared the list of the original 1966 release that I found at Discogs – it then had the title Peter Nero Plays Born Free And Others – with the mp3s I was studying, and I found three others that didn’t belong, “Theme from ‘Love Story’,” ‘Theme from ‘Jesus Christ, Superstar’,” and “Mack the Knife.” I dug a little further, and found that I already had “Mack the Knife” from a 1963 album titled Hail the Conquering Nero. “Love Story,” which was new to my collection, was released as a single in 1971 (and showed up on a couple of LPs as well).

Which left the track “Theme from ‘Jesus Christ, Superstar’.” (Never mind that the original rock opera did not use the unnecessary comma.) I dug through the content listings of a few of Nero’s albums from around 1970, when the rock opera came out, preferring not to use the sometimes balky search function at Discogs. No joy, so I used the search and learned that “Theme from ‘Jesus Christ, Superstar’” seems to have been issued on vinyl only as the B-side of “Theme from ‘Summer of ’42’.”

I wrote the other week of my renewed affection for the original release of Jesus Christ Superstar. Finding an unknown version of the rock opera’s main theme by one of my favorite easy listening performers is reason enough for a small celebration, so Peter Nero’s 1971 take on “Theme from ‘Jesus Christ, Superstar’” is today’s Saturday Single.

‘I’m Gonna Make You Love Me . . .’

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

A couple of years ago, while playing around with the CD burning software here in the EITW studios, I put together a CD of tunes that have touched me deeply over the years, most of them love songs of one form or another. A good number of the twenty or so tunes on the CD can be attached in my memory to one specific woman or girl; some of them can’t. (The last two tunes on the CD belong to the Texas Gal: “Don’t Dream It’s Over” by Crowded House and “Into the Mystic” by Van Morrison. I’m not sure how I missed Darden Smith’s “Loving Arms.”)

One of the tunes on that CD that isn’t attached to a specific young lady is “I’m Gonna Make You Love Me” by Diana Ross & The Supremes and the Temptations, a No. 2 hit in early 1969 (No. 2 on the R&B chart as well). I was still some months away from being a devoted Top 40 listener, but I know I heard “I’m Gonna Make You Love Me” from radios around me often enough for the record to get inside me and certainly enough for me to wonder how it would feel to feel that way and to be so assured that the object of one’s affection could be won over.

The song was written in 1966 by Kenneth Gamble, Leon Huff and Jerry Ross, one of those things that Gamble and Huff came up with, as my pal jb says in a recent post at The Hits Just Keep On Comin’, “before they were Gamble and Huff.” The first to record the song, according to SecondHandSongs, was Dee Dee Warwick. Her version, released in late 1966, went to No. 88 on the Billboard Hot 100 and to No. 13 on the R&B chart.

Versions from 1967 by Jerry Butler and Madeline Bell also pre-dated the Supremes/Temptations version. Butler’s version did not chart; I don’t know that I’ve heard it although I may have it on one or more of the two hundred or so anthology LPs that have never been indexed. Bell’s version went to No. 26 on the pop chart and to No. 32 on the R&B chart. I like it better than Warwick’s but not nearly as well as I do the Supremes/Temptations’ cover, which is not surprising; it seems that the first version of a song we hear frequently is the version that stays with us.

SecondHandSongs lists twenty additional versions since the Supremes and the Temptations recorded their cover of the song; there are additional versions listed (and available) at Amazon and other emporia, I’m sure. The list at SHS includes some expected names: Gladys Knight & The Pips, the Chi-Lites in 1969, Candi Staton (with Dave Crawford) in 1978, B.J. Thomas, the Lettermen, Michael McDonald and Nancy Wilson, to name a few. There are some unfamiliar names, too: Shane Richie, Lucy Hale and Mica Paris are three of them. (I imagine I should perhaps know those names, but there’s too much music out there for even one seriously addicted man to hear.)

The song also attracted some of the easy listening crowd. An indifferent cover by Paul Mauriat showed up quickly this morning on YouTube, and a few pages back, there was a 1969 cover of the tune by Peter Nero. That one I liked quite a lot:

A Note From Peter Nero

Thursday, June 28th, 2012

In one of those cool things that occasionally happen with a blog, Tuesday’s post elicited a response from one of the featured musicians. I wrote a little about Peter Nero’s version of Michel Legrand’s “Theme from ‘Summer of ’42’,” and I looked at a few other covers of that beautiful song.

And late Wednesday evening, a comment came in from Peter Nero himself, noting that he’s long thought the words to the song – written by Alan and Marilyn Bergman – were superfluous. Here’s some of what he said:

While I love the work of the Bergmans, I thought they missed the mark with their lyrics to Michel Legrand’s poignant melody, heard throughout the film.

There are certain melodies that speak for themselves and are meant to convey the feeling evoked by the score AND film and Michel’s theme is as good an example as there is. . . .

Maybe I’m way off base but that was my reaction the first time I heard the lyric. . . .

As a theme that has a life of its own and exudes the mood and aura of the motion picture, the theme from The Summer of ’42 needs to be left as is.

As I pondered those words overnight, I realized I agree with Nero’s assessment, and that’s likely why – without really thinking about it beforehand – all four of the versions of the “Theme from ‘The Summer of ’42’” that I featured were instrumentals (including the not-particularly-serious disco version by the Biddu Orchestra). Here, again, is a link to Nero’s version.

And, because I love saxophone, here’s Dave Koz and his take on “The Summer Knows (Theme from Summer of ’42)” from his 2007 album At the Movies.

I’ll be back tomorrow with a look at what actually was on the Billboard chart on that long-ago rainy day when I helped unpack filing cabinets.

‘The Summer Smiles . . .’

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

Whiling away an hour the other evening, the Texas Gal and I sat in the living room with the television playing one of the forty or so available music channels. We listen to maybe ten of them, including adult alternative, current country, classic country, blues and the Seventies. We’d chosen the latter on that recent evening, as the Texas Gal puttered on her laptop and I made my way through Catching Fire, the second volume of the Hunger Games trilogy.

Then from the speakers came the first strains of Peter Nero’s version of the “Theme from ‘Summer of ’42’,” and I looked up from my book and looked back at a summer day in 1971. I wrote here once – in a post that has not yet found its way into the archive site – that on a rainy day during that summer, my workmates and I were told to remove from boxes about two hundred new file cabinets intended for use in St. Cloud State’s new Education Building. That is true.

I also wrote that we had a radio playing as we tore open boxes and set up file cabinets, and that, too is true. But I wrote that we heard on the radio the Peter Nero version of “Theme from ‘Summer of ’42’.” And that was probably not true. Nero’s single first reached the Billboard Hot 100 in October of 1971, eventually peaking at No. 21 in December. (It went to No. 6 on the Adult Contemporary chart.) So it’s extremely unlikely that we heard it that June day in the Education Building, where our radio was almost certainly tuned to the Twin Cities’ KDWB.

But something in my memory links that rainy day of unboxing file cabinets with the theme from The Summer of ’42. I’m still not certain after puzzling over this for a few days, but I think I’d seen the movie the evening before – I know I did see it that summer – and was still playing Michel Legrand’s elegant and melancholy main theme in my head.

I recall thinking as I left the theater that I should find the soundtrack to the film. I never did. I bought two records that summer: Stephen Stills and the rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar. And the soundtrack to The Summer of ’42 fell from my memory. I might have thought of it finding it when Nero’s version of the theme hit the charts in the latter portions of the year, but that’s doubtful. Although my fondness for mellow instrumentals and movie themes would never go away entirely, my eyes and ears in 1971 were mostly pointed at current and historical pop and rock. I wouldn’t buy an album that didn’t fit into those categories until late 1975, when I picked up a Duke Ellington anthology. And, as I said above, I never did buy Legrand’s soundtrack. (I did get Nero’s Summer of ’42 LP in 1992; I doubt it’s been on the turntable more than once.)

I went looking today, and learned – unsurprisingly – that the album is out of print. What did surprise me is that the price for a used copy of the CD can range from about $35 to more than $180. I also learned at Amazon that the album sold as the soundtrack to The Summer of ’42 isn’t really the soundtrack at all. Two customer reviews at Amazon point out that only two of the tracks on the album come from The Summer of ’42: The main theme in the video above and the end titles music. The commenters said that the remaining ten tracks on the CD come from Legrand’s soundtrack for a 1969 film, Picasso Summer. Given that and the price, I likely won’t bother with the CD.

Whether I have the CD or not, Legrand’s theme – also titled “The Summer Knows” after the lyrics by Alan and Marilyn Bergman – remains a beautiful piece of music, and hearing Nero’s version the other day not only spurred me to look for the soundtrack, but it made me wonder about other covers. Most of the names that pop up are not too surprising: Frank Sinatra, Jessye Norman, Barbra Streisand, Nana Mouskouri, Johnny Mathis, Andy Williams, Vicki Carr, Mantovani, Henry Mancini. Some are unknown to me: Yuri Sazonoff, Bengt Hallberg and Arne Domnérus, Ali Ryerson and more. And Legrand did his own cover version on what seems to be a solo piano album, Michel Legrand by Michel Legrand, which came out in 2002. The most recent covers seem to be those from 2011 by singer Melissa Errico and jazz duo Roger Davidson & David Finck.

A couple of the covers were more interesting than most. An Indian-British producer by the name of Biddu Appaiah – he produced Carl Douglas’ 1974 hit “Kung Fu Fighting” – discofied Legrand’s tune in 1975 and released it under the name of the Biddu Orchestra. The record went to No. 14 in the U.K. and to No. 57 on this side of the pond.

And Maynard Ferguson recorded a – for him – fairly subdued version of the theme for his 1972 album MF Horn, Vol. 2. The LP went to No. 6 on the Jazz Albums chart.

As to which cover I prefer, I should note that I’ve not heard many of them in full. As I did some wandering around this morning, I was prepared to like Frank Sinatra’s cover, but I found it kind of lifeless. Legrand’s 2002 cover is a bit too ornate for the simplicity of the melody, with flourishes and runs that remind me of the piano style of the late Roger Williams (who released his own cover of Legrand’s theme in 1971). None of the covers I heard this morning really knock me out. But I do like Ferguson’s take on the tune.