Francis Wayne "Frank" Sinatra, better known as Frank Sinatra Jr, died March 16th 2016 aged 72 of a heart attack while on tour in Florida. [more inside]
Harry Warren and Al Dubin wrote it for the smooth harmonies of the Mills Brothers in the 1935 film Broadway Gondolier. Fats Waller popularized it with more spark and swing soon after, and Art Tatum performed a blistering yet tuneful version that same year. Young heartthrob Frank Sinatra crooned it in 1945, and 11 years later Mel Tormé crooned it some more. Thelonious Monk had a humorous take on it in 1964, while 1968 saw two wildly different versions from Oscar Peterson and an actual Lulu. Need more? Here's The Four Freshmen, Leon Redbone, and Ellis and Branford Marsalis. TV loves Lulu too! Sanford and Song on Sanford and Son, and Circe on the Justice League (voiced by Broadway singer Rachel York). But here's what happens when Lulu's back on Sesame Street. (With introduction by Mr. Hooper, Bob, Susan, Matt Robinson's Gordon, and a very orange Oscar.)
Bing Crosby is something of the unofficial "classic voice of the Christmas season," but his most popular piece in recent years is the unlikely duet from 1977, the same year he passed away. The Washington Post provides the odd story of holiday harmony, how David Bowie joined Crosby at the piano for their duet, "Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy". If you like the classics, here's some Bing over the years: a fan-made abbreviation of Frank Sinatra's Christmas Show from 1957, Bing sings "White Christmas" in 1961, Bing & Kathryn Crosby take you on a trip to "Christmas Island" from his 1971 Crosby family special, and from his final Christmas special, Bing Crosby's Merrie Olde Christmas, Bing and Twiggy singing "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas." If you'd like a full period piece, here's an all-star 1958 USO Christmas show (program history and overview). If that's all a bit too sweet for you, let Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Waylon Jennings, June Carter-Cash, Jessi Colter, John Carter-Cash, and more regale you in the Christmas On The Road TV Special (1984).
The Music of Jacques Brel is an article by music journalist Amy Hanson about the career of pop music legend Jacques Brel and his effect on popular music in the English language. A lot of songs and covers are mentioned in the article, below the cut are links to the songs that I could find videos of online. [more inside]
Ahmet Ertegun was profiled by George W. S. Trow in The New Yorker in a classic piece back in 1978. Ertegun was the son of the Turkish ambassador to the US and he remained behind in D.C. studying medieval philosophy at Georgetown. Instead of devoting himself to his studies he founded Atlantic Records with his friend Herb Abramson. Trow charted how Ertegun moved from tramping through muddy, Louisiana fields in search of hot new sounds to the whirl of Studio 54. Below the cut are links to the songs mentioned in the article, as best as I could find, in the order in which they appear. [more inside]
"Window in the Sky" is a YouTube style video synch mash-up done on a professional budget with the magic of copyright clearances. "It's a triumph of postmodern reconstruction" says the Washington Post.
When Bad Singers Happen To Good Songs: The Songicides! In today's Spectator Markus Berkmann amusingly raises the deadly spectre of the worst covers ever recorded. We're talking assassins here. I nominate Phil Collins's massacre of Holland/Dozier/Holland's "You Can't Hurry Love", as originally sung by Diana Ross and the Supremes; U2's goring of Cole Porter's "Night and Day", best sung by Sinatra or Ella and, worst of all, though he's my favourite artist, Leonard Cohen's mangling of Irving Berlin's classic "Always". What's the worst cover version you'd like to report to Musical Homicide?
Now, I've never been a BIG fan of either Frank Sinatra or Robbie Williams. Sure, I've a lot of respect for the former, and the latter's a great singer and entertainer from the UK. But last nite, I was converted. Anyone see A Night With Robbie Williams on TV in the UK last night? (more inside)