For straight-forward, late 50’s country with all the twangin’, fiddlin’, and general “hurtin'” that invariably comes with it, Ray Price’s Greatest Hits is a deserving catch-all for those able to stomach the early genre (early being the optimal word, here). With 12-tracks, including the #1 Country Hit, Crazy Arms, RP’s GH has both feet firmly planted within this country legend’s early material (the album having been released in 1963), and is a pretty good representation of the time, and the talent.
Two singles emerged from Bobby Hatfield and Bill Medley, together known as The Righteous Brothers, on their 1963 debut, Now!. (My Babe, and the charted Little Latin Lupe Lu.) The group would find the ear, and subsequent success with legendary murderer and occasional record producer Phil Spector in ’65 for Spector’s label, Phillies Records (no association with the Philly Phanatic is known to exist). The Righteous Brothers would go on to tour with some lesser known bands (The Beatles, The Rolling Stones), until their breakup in 1968. They would reform in 1974, then again in 1981 through to Hatfield’s death in 2003 of an apparent drug overdose. Now that everyone’s in a groovy mood, check out Now!, well, now!
Though the Ian Fleming novel (Dr. No) dropped in early 1958, the film adaptation starring Sean Connery and Ursula Andress hit the big screens in late 1962. This, the first James Bond film had a modest budget (even for the time) of $1.1 million, and grossed just under $60 million throughout its tenure. The soundtrack, featured here, was composed by Monty Norman and was released in 1963. As far as firsts go, this film (and soundtrack) perfectly set the tone for this decades-long franchise, and should be considered essential listening material for any collector.
Lou Rawls recently bellowed over the speakers during a holiday music listening session, and it dawned on me… I don’t own NEAR enough Lou Rawls records! Chalking up only two records in the collection (1963’s Black and Blue, his second, and 1966’s Carryin’ On), 2018 is going to need a lot more Lou, and a lot less messin’ around.
One of these is a bootleg. Can you tell which one? Ok, the one on the right is clearly not an original release, but it was pressed on double orange vinyl… though it skips like a rock. Anyway, the bootleg (the one on the right, remember) was acquired first at a thrift store in the San Fernando Valley some years back, and the left was recently purchased from the $1 bin at the shop down the street. Bootlegs certainly have their time and place, but now that I own the original, I’m not sure I’d buy this one again given the opportunity.
One doesn’t need to dig very deep to find the fabulous in Dick Hyman’s 1963 classic, Fabulous (RS33-862 Command Records). Billed as Dick Hyman at the Lowrey Organ and His Orchestra, this 12-track organ-tastic ensemble covers Danke Schoen to The Best is Yet to Come, and a wide sprinkle of early 60s pop radio in between. Originated and Produced by Enoch Light (owner of said Command Records), Fabulous is yet another phenomenal Dick Hyman release sandwiched between 1960’s Provocative Piano, and 1963’s Electrodynamics, both also on Command Records. If you’ve ever thought to yourself, or out loud, that the organ couldn’t be sexy, get yourself some Fabulous, and you’ll be changing your tune.
Why not some Harry Belafonte, live At the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles in August of ’63? WHY NOT, I ASK YOU! I mean, after all, it IS a double LP, and though it may not surpass 1959’s Belafonte at Carnegie Hall, Belafonte at the Greek is certainly a worthwhile spin on this, or any evening. Cheers and enjoy.
I’ve taken to listening to records in the morning, now. To hell with exercising and the healthy lifestyle that comes with it, am I right?! More on that at another time. INSTEAD, let’s travel to Far Away Places Volume 2 by Mr. Enoch Light and His Orchestra. This 1963 Command Records release reinvents some distinguished classics with the sensible sophistication only this master of Space Age Pop can manage. Some cuts include, but are not limited to: Istanbul (yes, that one), Flying Down to Rio, Colonel Bogey, The White Cliffs of Dover, and The Moon of Manakoora. I (stupidly) hesitated to secure this release as I knew it would require the hunting and bagging of its sister, Volume 1. Fair enough. Challenge accepted.
Easy listening soundscapes of the orchestral nature, Sounds Unlimited by Marty Gold and His Orchestra packages itself as a futuristic, oscilloscope-ish, other-worldly collection yet, instead, is an intriguingly misleading RCA Victor stereo recording of your run-of-the-mill 1963 family jazz compositions. Worth the $1? Absolutely. Does the cover represent the material, hell no… but the the time is well worth the journey.
Let us, on the 13th day of August in the year of our Lord, 2015, give homage and respect to Mr. Henry Mancini and his unforgettable and ravishing work on the 1963 film, Charade. Often touted as “the best Hitchcock movie that Hitchcock never made” (by uncredited sources), Charade is a forceful little tart of a film with just the proper amount of Cary Grant schtick spliced with just the right amount of 1963 Technicolor Audrey Hepburn. It’s great for a nonchalant Thursday viewing, but doesn’t measure up to any of the Sunday Hitchcock classics. None of this, however, in any way takes away from the overpowering Henry Mancini brilliance. Good day.
For some wholesome, gut-busting, brilliant hilarity, it really doesn’t get much better than the Smothers Brothers. If you don’t believe me, or are on the fence concerning legitimate blood-brother comedy duos, have a listen to Swiss Christmas. If I had prepared, I’d have had the mp3 ready… but I didn’t, so you’ll have to seek it out yourself. I’m sure I’m sorry. “Excitement!”