If you asked me who was the best singer out of the 1960s Great Britain, I could say Lennon & McCartney. I could make a great case for Dusty Springfield and Petula Clark, too. But the other vocalist who deserves consideration is Lulu, and her first LP for Atco, New Routes (SD 33-310, stereo, 1969).
Even the front and back cover of the LP say something. Unlike her young role in the Sidney Poitier movie To Sir With Love, these photos show off a more mature woman. Sitting on the side of the road (front cover) or standing knee deep in water (back cover), this isn’t the high schooler we saw on the silver screen. Continue reading
Whoever decided to put Nat Cole and George Shearing together knew what they were doing. The result is just plain beautiful music. Not softly-sighing to the point of boredom or silly kids-stuff beautiful. I can’t listen to this LP enough. Cole and Shearing mesh together perfectly. It’s a shame they didn’t do it more often. Continue reading
Old blues musicians don’t die, they just fade away… Except in Robert Johnson’s case, when Columbia released his recordings in a major box set. If you have read my post where I review Elijah Wald’s great book about Johnson, you are in the know. But what about the music? So here it is! Compared pits Columbia’s 1990 box set extravaganza Robert Johnson: The Complete Recordings (C2K 46222) versus their own vinyl, Robert Johnson: King of the Delta Blues Singers (CL 1654). My mono LP is probably an early 1980s release, with no barcode. Wish it was the original 1961 version of the vinyl, but this will have to do. Continue reading
Jose Feliciano can play the guitar. The man with perhaps the two most disparate hits to ever hit the top 40, the Christmas favorite Feliz Navidad, and a cover of the Door’s Light My Fire, can absolutely blaze away when he wants to. But you wouldn’t know if you’ve only heard the aforementioned hits from the 70s. The Voice and Guitar of, his first LP (RCA LSP 3358, 1966) is as much about his guitar as it is his vocals.
Like many of his later records, he covers some well-known tunes. But on this first effort his choices are surprising. Continue reading
We lost a very fine jazz pianist today (Aug 19, 2013) in Cedar Walton, who died at 74. I was fortunate to hear him live on two, or was it three occasions, all at Yoshi’s Nightclub in Oakland, CA. There was a life in his playing, a bright spark that came through. He genuinely enjoyed playing to his audience and seemed like an all around nice guy. Walton’s history is pretty deep, you can dig up the details by online search. Suffice to say that he was among the barest handful of greats who were still alive, still playing well. I suspect he wasn’t near the top of most lists because he didn’t become better known until the early 60s, much later than Bud Powell, Monk or Bill Evans. Continue reading
I find myself enjoying jazz vocalists more as I grow older. As much as I love Billie Holiday and early Sarah Vaughn, it’s the sound of a vocalist in front of a 1950s style big band that I’m gravitating towards. So when I chanced upon The Steve Lawrence Sound (1960, United Artists UAL 3098, a mono LP), I picked it up. He often paired with his wife, Eydie Gorme, and may actually be better known for that association, but make no mistake, Lawrence easily holds his own without the soaring voice of Gorme.
Despite the youthful good looks on the cover, Lawrence comes across like a crafty veteran who is in complete control of his voice. There is an easy grace here, augmented by Don Costa’s arrangements. Continue reading
Joe & Eddie were a folk-gospel duo who made their claim to fame in the early 1960s, but their career together was cut short when Joe Gilbert was killed in 1966 in an auto accident while driving home from a show.
Let’s start with…Joe & Eddie blew me out of the water. I liked nearly every song on this live LP. I’ve discovered many a new group while perusing the vinyl bins, but I’m very excited by Joe Gilbert (tenor) and Eddie Brown’s (baritone) There’s A Meetin’ Here Tonite (GNP Crescendo GNP 86, vinyl only!). Continue reading