Frank’s Faves on Fridays

December 3, 2010

Jay & The Americans – “Think Of The Good Times” (1965)

An enjoyable Big Ballad from the 60’s. (As opposed to Big Ballads from hair metal bands in the 80’s. Ugh.) When the music started, and before the vocals came in, I was hoping to myself: “Let it be a girl singing, please, please, please.” But then a man – presumably Jay – sang and I didn’t mind it being a non-girl singing. But this song screams out for someone like Beverly Bremers to give it the girl-ditched-at-the-altar-and-terribly-terribly-heartbroken treatment. I won’t get nitpicky about individual aspects of the song (overall it’s all pretty good I reckon), but I will mention one thing: I’m not entirely sure that the big note Jay sings at 2:14 was a wise move, as it invites comparisons to Roy Orbison (well, it did to me). I’m afraid that any comparisons to Roy Orbison will inevitably result in the other person coming off a remote second best. As far as I’m concerned, no-one – and I mean no-one – could sing Big Ballads like Roy Orbison.

The Rembrandts – “If Not For Misery” (1990)

For me, this song can be divided into two parts: the parts I liked (which were the choruses and all the vocal harmonies); and the parts I didn’t like (which were the verses and the sound of the bass guitar). One thing in particular I also didn’t like was the percussion thingy in the middle eight (at 1:51 – what was that? A poorly-recorded China cymbal? Or somebody breaking a small plate?). I couldn’t figure why it was put in there. I first thought it was to illustrate or expand upon the lyrics, but the lyrics there are “Now, it’s a game of chutes and ladders”, and I can’t for the life of me understand what that sound effect has to do with those lyrics. Or was that sound effect put in there because it was fashionable at the time (i.e., the producer says to the band: “Hey, guys, you know what sound people really like on records nowadays…?”)? If so, then I think it was a misguided effort at modernising a fairly regular song. But, on balance, I’d say that I liked half of the song. I’ve listened to it four times now, and have come to the conclusion that “If Not For Misery” sounds like a skinny-tie song that could have been written by any number of skinny-tie bands in the mid-80’s. And I’ve just listened to it for the fifth time. It sure does sound like a skinny-tie song to me.

By the way, I’ve noticed that the above paragraph contains the following:


Anyway you look at it, that is bad, bad punctuation.

I’ll try to tidy up my punctuation (and grammar) a little more from now on so you don’t get confronted with nonsense like …?”?.

Skeeter Davis – “I Can’t Stay Mad At You” (1963)

Until I looked it up, I thought that Skeeter Davis was the name of a band – specifically an 80’s bar band. But I’ve subsequently learned that Skeeter Davis was a female country singer who later in her career became a pop singer. (Ms Davis also had an eventful life.) Now that I’ve listened to “I Can’t Stay Mad At You”, I can quite categorically state: “Yep – not an 80’s bar band.” I can also say that before the singing started, I was convinced this song was going to be Neil Sedaka‘s “Breaking Up Is Hard To Do” (which, possibly not coincidentally, came out a year before the Skeeter Davis song). I noticed in the MP3 tag that this song was written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King. That would explain why “I Can’t Stay Mad At You” sounds like a Brill Building song – it’s because it’s a Brill Building song. That in itself is no bad thing, but I don’t think it’s one of the better songs to have come out of the Brill Building. I still found it enjoyable, though.

The Trammps – “Hold Back The Night” (1976)

Before this song started, I wondered to myself: “Hmm. I wonder if The Trammps were the band that did ‘Disco Inferno‘, the only disco song I ever remember liking.” A quick trip to the Internet will hopefully give me the answer… Yep. They did “Disco Inferno”. Okey dokey. Now that my curiosity has been satisfied, let’s turn to the song in question. When the song started, it reminded me a lot of a song you had previously suggested, “Give Me Just A Little More Time” by The Chairmen Of The Board (similar beat and chord progressions). But then the singing began and I realised, “Oh, I know this song. I haven’t heard it in years.” I was surprised when I found out that the song was released in 1976. It sounds more like a 60’s Soul song to me. And I enjoyed it.

Bonus instrumental:

Leroy Anderson – “The Typewriter (1950)

Great stuff. Or: excellent. Or: magnificent. Or: splendid. I’m a fan of the so-called ‘light classics’. My favourite Light Music comes from the English composers who excelled in this stuff (this album is wonderful), but I love Leroy Anderson’s music, too (as well as fellow American John Philip Sousa). I don’t know how much of Mr Anderson’s ouvre you’ve listened to (“The Typewriter” is his best-known piece, and that may be the only thing of his you’ve heard), but I think that almost all of it is well worth hearing. I reckon that anybody who likes Easy Listening will respond to the music of Leroy Anderson. As for “The Typewriter”: pure genius. Now, if you don’t mind, I’d rather play “The Typewriter” again than write about it. Pure genius.