Sunday, January 31, 2010

Beyond the Sea

I don't know why but, I am really diggin' this song right now. Have been for the past week. It's so good. And he's such a good singer, this song was simply made for his voice.

And here's a slightly funnier live version.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Music Goes 'Round and 'Round!

Tommy Dorsey's Orchestra Accompanied by Edith Wright's vocal talent.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Shuffle off to Buffalo

An old but very masterful arrangement

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Classic Music Artist of the Week

Jo Stafford is admired by singers for her extremely pure voice. However, she may be most fondly remembered not as Jo Stafford but as Darlene Edwards, one half of a husband-and-wife singer-pianist act. Jo as Darlene was a pioneer in the music industry as one of the very first singers to parody songs and even release an entire album of parody ("Darlene and Jonathan Edwards in Paris").

Jo is known for her traditional pop music but, she grew up wanting to become and Opera singer. This was a dream of hers until the Depression hit and instead joined her sisters Christine and Pauline in forming the Stafford Sisters, who would regularly appear on local radio in Los Angeles. In 1937, the group helped arrange songs for the Frad Astaire move "A Damsel in Distress" and provided the back-up vocals for "Nice Work if You Can Get It", which appeared in the film.

After her sistered were married off, Jo joined a realatively new group called the Pied Pipers. She was the only girl amongst eight men. Their music appeared on radio and in movies. Eventually, they caught the ear of Paul Weston, an arranger for Tommy Dorsey. Dorsey signed them to a ten week contract for his radio show but, the sponser heard them and greatly disliked them. They were fired. Half of the group returned to Los Angeles but everybody found it hard to find work. In 1939, the group was signed with Tommy Dorsey to join his Big Band. This led to tremendous success for Jo, who was given many solo performances. They left the Band after an argument with Dorsey in 1942.

Not long after they left the Dorsey Band, they were signed to Johnny Mercer's new lable, Capitol Records. Capitol's musical director was none other than Paul Weston, who had been instrumental in introducing Jo to Dorsey. The two began a romance and married in 1952.

In early 1944, Jo left the Pied Pipers for an exlusively solo career. During that year she had a stint in the USO, entertaining troups stationed overseas where she earned the nickname "G.I. Jo". Later that year, she began hosting the Tuesday and Thurday broadcasts of the Chesterfield Supper Club, a musical variety show. Her musical success continued into the early 1960s.

Stafford also tried her hand at comedy under the name "Cinderella G. Stump". Here, she recorded a hillbilly version of "Temptation" (pronounced "Tim-tayshun"). This was not a successful recording. Comedic success would come to her but, only when she wasn't trying for it.

Through the 50s, Jo and Paul would entertain guests by performing a skit with the identities of Darlene and Jonathan Edwards, a bad lounge act. Jo (as Darlene) would sing with an off-key and extremely high-pitch voice and Paul would play an untuned pian with bizzare rhythms. In 1957, after she finished a recording session early, Jo and Paul recorded a song as the Edwards. Those who heard the song responded very positively. The next year the couple recorded an entire album as the bad lounge act called "Jo Stafford and Paul Weston Present: The Original Piano Artistry of Jonathan Edwards, Vocals by Darlene Edwards". As a publicity stunt, Jo and Paul claimed to have discovered the lounge act in New Jersey and denied any personal connection. This lead to a public sensation as the public tried to uncover the identities of the bad musicians. Some even suggested Maraget and Harry Truman. Some years past before people realized (and Jo and Paul adimitted) that Stafford and Weston were indeed the Edwardses. Their success as this act would continue for years until the released their final Edwards single, a cover of the Bee Gees "Stayin' Alive".

Stafford went into retirement in 1975, coming out for the occasional performance. In the early 90s, she won a lawsuite against her former record labels, recieving the rights to all her recording, including the Darlene and Jonathan Edwards recording. She would start the Corinthian Records label with Paul. Under this label, she released many Edwards compilation albums. Paul died in 1996 of natural causes. Jo continued to operate the Corinthian lable until her death on July 16, 2008 at the age of 90.

Here is a sample of Jo's marvelous voice. A sample of the Edwards music can be found in the pervious blog post.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Darlene and Jonathan Edwards

I was recently poking around Youtube and discovered this musical gem.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Anything Goes

Written in 1934, Anything Goes is the title song of the Cole Porter musical of the same name. Over 75 years later and it's a song many people still hum to themselves. This is amazing to me, considering how full of references to things specific to the period some versions are. That should immediately date the song and send it into obscurity. The only reason this hasn't happened, I believe, is because of the genius of Cole Porter. I suppose I'm biased in this opinion because, truth be told, he really is my favorite song writer; even when considered with his contemporaries (those being Irving Berlin and Oscar Hammerstein and the like) he still seems to me to be the top.

Of all the songs he wrote, this one is most certainly my favorite. Mostly because it has so much truth in it. Times, even when he wrote the song, had changed drastically from when he grew up. People were (to certain standards) much more loose than before. And he put this sentiment into song wonderfully. And, what makes this song still resonate with people today is that times continue to change. This song will never go out of style for that one reason. It was relevant in 1934, it's relevant in 2010, and it will still be relevant in 2085. Times will never stop changing. Times may start changing to the other direction (getting more morally centered instead of losing our morals) but they'll be changing none the less.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Classic Musical Artist of the Week

From 1937 to 1952 they were one of the most popular singing groups in the United States and Europe. From Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen to Underneath the Arches they had more number one hits than Elvis and The Beatles put together. They have garnered much fame and adoration over the years. They are: The Andrews Sisters.

They started as a Boswell Sister's tribute band. The lead singer (and the youngest sister), Patti, was only seven when the group was formed. They performed in local talent competitions and did vaudeville acts. In 1937, when they were in their twenties, they had their first major hit: Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen. Actually, an interesting story is tied to that song:

They were sleeping one night when their dad woke them and their mother up. He was talking but, with his thick Greek accent, he wasn't completely understandable. He made them all get some decent street clothes on and took them out of their apartment. They went to the corner of a street where a large crowd of people were amassed and shouting "Play it again! Play it again!". Then, music was heard filling the street. It took the girls a minuet but they recognized it as their own recording of Bir Mir Bist Du Schoen. The girls and their mother broke down in tears at this.

And from here, they only became more popular. They were bit hits during WWII, when they extensively entertained the troops and recorded hit songs like Rum and Coca-Cola, Shoo Shoo Baby, Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree, Ac-cent-u-ate the Positive, and Pistol Packin' Mamma. During this time, they recorded many songs with Bing Crosby. Actually they collaborated more than any other two acts in musical history. Perhaps the most well known song they recorded was Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, which was such a hit with people during war time they were actually taken to Hollywood to perform the song in the Abbott and Costello film "Buck Privates".

Their last really successful recording was I Wanna Be Loved in 1950. In 1952, they seperated when Patti decided she wanted to go solo. This probably wouldn't have been a problem but, Maxene and LaVerne found out from a tabloud rather than from Patti herself. The strain this took wasn't helped by Patti's lawsuite against LaVerne for a larger share of their deseased parents estate. Patti had mild success as a solo artist.

They eventually did get back together but, only after LaVerne had died. In 1974, the two surviving sisteres starred in a Broadway show called "Over There!", which was a nastolgic look at WWII and would turn out to be their last hurrah. It was actually a very successful show and launched the careers of such performers as John Travolta and Ann Reinking but, a lawsuite against the producers initiated by Patty's husband squashed a huge national tour that was planned for the group.

They influenced many singers including Mel Torme, The MaGuire Sisters, The Four Freshman, Manhattan Transfer, Bette Midler, and even Elvis Presley. They're legacy as one of the most successful musical groups is so huge, the're have even been muppets that appeared on "Seasame Street" as the "Androoze Sisters". Their songs have been featured in movies and tv shows (like "Mamma's Family" "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wordrobe" and "Gilmore Girls") and even on a few video games.

If you ask me, The Andrews Sisters are the 1940s in America. And, what would music be like had they not been around? They were really the first jazz artists. Well, it was more big band but, big band is a building block for jazz. I don't know what it would be like but, I'd just like to say: Bei mir bist du schoen, Patty. Bei mir bist du schoen, Maxene. Bei mir bist du schoen, LaVerne. And thanks. Thanks for all your wonderful music.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Hello, Classic Music Fans!

Well, seeing as how all those classic movie and TV show blogs are riddeling the internet, I was wondering 'why is classic music being ignored?'. I love classic music. Now, understand, I'm talking about classic music not classical music. Sure, Bach and Beatoven(?) are enjoyable sometimes but, I'm talking about The Andrews Sisters, Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald, Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, and so many other wonderful artists that have virtually dissappeared from public recognition, with only few people actually knowing who they are and even more few people liking them.

So, this is for all those classic music fans out there. And, honestly, a little for The Andrews Sisters.