Sunday, March 8, 2015
Thursday, May 15, 2014
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
AND THE NUMBER ONE BEST HIT SONG OF THE PRE-ROCK'N'ROLL ERA IS.... (drum roll)....
From the same decade that gave the world probably more Christmas albums than any other (probably, it’s difficult to prove these things absolutely) comes “Mr. Sandman” a song in which a mystical creature, the subject of so many nursery rhymes and fairy tales, combines with the power of teenage hormones and a longing for love, to create a fluffy piece of perfect pop that no other song of the era can touch.
Specifically The Four Aces version, which, with its Technicolor “the hills are alive with the sound of music” opening, is so much better than The Chordettes version. Really it is. Even though history has smiled so much more kindly on The Chordettes. I blame feminist revisionists.
The Chordettes sound - in resorting to asking a mythological being for help with their love lives – like desperate middle aged women on their way to a Desperate & Dateless Ball (and besides, all that “bung, bung, bung, bung, bung”... is just annoying!). The Four Aces sound a bit more like the friendliest of game show hosts, not needily begging for affection – that would seem unmanly, and The Four Aces seem unmanly enough at the best of times – but charming putting themselves forward, selling themselves, as the best man for the “lonely nights are job” job. And when wearing tux’s like that, what girl could possibly say no?
But hey, you decide. Here’s The Four Aces:
Here’s The Chordettes:
Posted by Daniel Grimsey at 4:58 AM
Sunday, March 13, 2011
Which leaves us with a bunch of singles that are swell but not equal to the draw dropping brilliance that justifies being included in this list. “I’m Walking Behind You” comes close, but “Love And Marriage” is just a little too cute, and cute Sinatra… that doesn’t really sit well does it.
3. Johnnie Ray – Cry
Quite why Johnnie Ray isn’t quite a bit more of a pop icon that he is – if LastFM listening figures are anything to go by then he is only 5% as popular as Tony Bennett, 3% as popular as Dean Martin, 2% as popular as Nat “King” Cole and 0.5% as popular as Frank Sinatra, which just doesn’t quite seem fair – is a bit of a wonder. And his qualifications for being a pop icon are considerable: an impossibly depressed closeted homosexual (it was the 50s) with a giant hearing aid sticking out his ear for everyone to see, with arms flaying around, and songs that almost always appeared to end up in tears. A perfect icon surely for the angsty teenager in us all. If the title to this song isn’t enough of a give away then also note that his follow up single was called “The Little White Cloud That Cried”, possibly the most uber-sensitive new aged man song title ever concocted. Logically he should be blu-tacked up on every lonely teenagers bedroom between the James Dean and Morrissey posters (do kids stick up James Dean and Morrissey posters?) Instead all he gets is the opening line in “Come On Eileen.”
Gosh, I wonder what Number One will be!
Posted by Daniel Grimsey at 9:38 PM
Posted by Daniel Grimsey at 12:18 AM
Saturday, March 12, 2011
15. Patti Page – Old Cape Cod
Also known as the “if you’re fond of sanddunes and salty air/ quaint little villages here and there” song. And who isn’t fond of sand dunes and salty air? And quaint little villages here and there? Clearly the answer to that is: no-one. It is, after all, something of a universal love. Probably no tourism campaign tune has ever been delivered with quite as much love and affection, and the understanding that sand dunes/salty air/ quaint little villages, is really all any of us really want in our lives! Brilliant!!!
14. Johnnie Ray – Just Walking In The Rain
Five years earlier Johnnie had been such a troubled homosexual young man that he couldn’t sing without crying. Couldn’t record a hit single without having a nervous breakdown in the studio. Who had a giant hearing aid jutting out of his ear. He seemed to have, one could say, some issues to deal with. By 1956, when he had this particular hit, Johnnie still seemed to have issues (there are good reasons for people looking at you Johnnie, since walking in the rain is not a particularly sensible thing to do (you could catch a cold). But at least he had perked up enough to whistle a jaunty tune!
13. Rosemary Clooney – Come On A My House
I don’t know about you but there just isn’t enough harpsichord in today’s pop music. And not enough fake Italian accents. And not enough double entendres about Christmas trees and pomegranates. It’s a pity really. A shame.
12. The Four Aces – Love Is A Many Splendid Thing
Love. It’s pretty good y’know. It is, for example, not just a splendid thing (which in itself is pretty good, splendid being something of a pretty awesome, and ultimately under used word), but a MANY SPLENDID THING. Which leaves us with the question, why The Four Aces version and not the Nat “King” Cole version? This can largely be explained by the fact that whilst Nat sings it “Love Is A Many Splendid Thing” (note please the lack of exclamation marks or all caps) the Four Aces do tend to get over exciting about the situation, and in a very game show host kind of way sing it “LOVE IS A MANY SPLENDID THING!!!!!!!!!!!!!” Which of course it is!
11. Dean Martin – Sway
Dean Martin was a drunken charmer par excellence, capable of going up to a hottie slurring a couple of sentences together and going off to the balcony with her, with the moonlight in her hair… as was the fashion at the time. In “Sway” we see Dean at the top of his charming powers, and like most charmers his power lies in his confidence, meaning that there is the slight suspicion that the reason that he is “swaying” is not because of the lady that he is with. It’s because he just caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror and is stunned by how cool he looks. And probably because he’s drunk.
Posted by Daniel Grimsey at 9:37 AM
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Because everyone loves a good list, here we have the Top 20 Best Big Hit Songs Of The Pre-Rock’n’Roll Era! Some people call the Pre-Rock’n’Roll era the Traditional Pop Era. Basically it was a lighthearted period of time (from 1950 till around 1958, at about which time “pre rock’n’roll pop”, having managed to survive through three years of the rock’n’roll era, just shrugged it’s collective shoulders, decided to let the kids have their fun and retreated to Las Vegas), when naïve pop stars sung innocent pop songs that weren’t about sex or drugs and obviously weren’t about rock’n’roll because that didn’t even exist.
Specifically these are the Top 20 Best Songs that actually made the Top 20 in Australia. So before you complain about the lack of … I dunno… Big Joe Turner, Guitar Slim, Muddy Waters, or Big Mama Thornton, that is because nobody actually bought those records.
Instead they bought this stuff…
Lists like this are essentially cheat sheets, short cuts for people to get a crash course in stuff that is good. So it is only appropriate that we should start this list with a bit of a cheat sheet in itself: a pop star singing a bizarre little record full of impersonations of other pop and movie stars. Only once you can recognize each of the pop stars Sammy impersonates, and understand at least half of the in-jokes, can you truly claim to be a 50s pop connoisseur
For being so incredibly educational. When I first heard this song (teenage years, They Might Be Giants version) I was not aware of the Istanbul/Constantinople connect (shame on me I know). I was especially surprised about the New York/New Amsterdam connection, and actually though they made it up. But it’s all true! Which is especially impressive since I am certain that no-one connected with the song had ever gone to Istanbul in their lives, and did all their research by watching “I Dream Of Jeanie” (not actually released at the time, but you know what I mean).
Any song that starts with the words “scoobidy-dooby-dum” has got to be amazing. Any song where the same phrase (that would be “scoobidy-dooby-dum”) is the primary refrain has got to be annoying. And “Sweet Old Fashioned Girl” is indeed both amazing and annoying! There’s the petulant screams, in which she occasional eats the microphone as if it was a lollipop. There’s the contrast between her insistence that she is a hip rock’n’roller, whilst slipping repeatedly into her actual self (“you’ll really dig the flavor of our bubblegum”). There’s the fact that she started off her career in the 1940s as a Shirley Temple wannabe, and the ten years later had evolved into a … well evolution is over-rated anyway.
Obviously designed by masters in the art of getting teenage girls hearts a-flutter to achieve exactly that. Because the effect of having four constantly chirpy brothers all in love with YOU, all willing to submit to your every whim, like a gaggle of beau’s surround Scarlett O’Hara… with the possible exceptions of an icecream soda and a hula hoop, is there anything that a 1950s teenager could want more?
A bit of an anomaly in the world of pre-rock’n’roll pop music, a time when potential mates were largely judged on whether or not they were “true”, with the implication that if you managed to find a yourself a dolly who had never been kissed before, then you should feel pretty damn proud of yourself. Joni questions such conservative logic, breaking down the sexual taboos of her time, and doing it in a suitably pre rock’n’roll way: with politeness and grace.
Posted by Daniel Grimsey at 12:06 AM