Since September 2010, this blog has recorded the journey of this middle-aged man as I attempt to listen to all the music in my CD collection. CDs revisited in their entirety from start to finish - no skipping tracks, no shuffle. CDs only - no vinyl, no tapes, no downloads. And just as CD technology (and the album format itself) becomes obsolete. I'm no music critic, just a music junkie with too much time on my hands.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Various Artists - ftg Presents The Vaults, Vol. 2 (2016)


UK Import

Volume 2 in a 6 volume series. Promoted by the funkytowngrooves (ftg) label as a "3 CD set. FTG Presents the Vaults Vol. 2 compiles rare extended, alternate, single and album versions of some of the best tracks from back in the day." And with some rare exceptions (I'm looking at you, Kenny G.), this is a fantastic set with almost 4 hours of music stretched across 3 CDs. Bonus points for first-rate remastering efforts, subtracted for lack of liner notes. (note to ftg: if you need someone to write liner notes, I'm available and cheap)

Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: Did not chart

Tracks: The tracks with a ✔ are highlights, but I dig any track without a ✘,

Disc 1 (78:01)
  1. The Delfonics - La-La (Means I Love You), 1968: #4 Pop, #2 R&B. ✔
  2. Gladys Knight & the Pips - Midnight Train to Georgia (Single Version), 1974: #1 Pop, #1 R&B, #19 AC, 1974 Grammy Award for Best R&B Vocal Performance By A Duo, Group Or Chorus. ✔
  3. Modulations - Worth Your Weight in Gold (7" Version), 1974.
  4. Gladys Knight & the Pips - The Way We Were/Try to Remember (Single Version), 1975: #11 Pop, #6 R&B, #2 AC.
  5. Norman Connors - Betcha By Golly Wow (7" Version), 1976: #29 R&B. Vocals by Phyllis Hyman.
  6. Johnny Mathis & Deniece Williams - Too Much, Too Little, Too Late, 1978: #1 Pop, #1 R&B, #1 AC. ✔
  7. GQ - I Do Love You (7" Version), 1979: #20 Pop, #5 R&B. ✔
  8. Norman Connors - You Are My Starship, 1976: #27 Pop, #4 R&B. Vocals by Michael Henderson. 
  9. Keith Barrow - You Know You Want to Be Loved (7" Version), 1978: #26 R&B.
  10. Hues Corporation - Rock the Boat, 1974: #1 Pop, #2 R&B, #12 AC, #5 Disco.
  11. Melba Moore - This Is It (12" Version), 1976: #91 Pop, #18 R&B, #10 ✔
  12. Johnny Mathis - Begin the Beguine (Disco Version), 1979: #37 AC. ✘
  13. Raydio - Jack & Jill, 1978: #8 Pop, #5 R&B. ✔
  14. Melba Moore - You Stepped Into My Life (7" Version), 1979: #47 Pop, #17 R&B, #5 Disco.
  15. GQ - Standing Ovation (Single Version): 1980: #12 R&B, #35 Disco
  16. Raydio - A Woman Needs Love (Just Like You Do) (Single Version), 1981: #4 Pop, #1 R&B, #11 AC
  17. Champaign - How 'Bout Us (Single Version), 1981: #12 Pop, #4 R&B, #1 AC. ✔
  18. Heatwave - Gangsters of the Groove (UK 12" Version), 1980: #110 Pop, #21 R&B, #74 Disco.
Disc 2 (75:16)
  1. Earth Wind & Fire - Lets Groove (Special Remixed Holiday Version), 1981: #3 Pop, #1 R&B, #3 Disco. ✔
  2. Dionne Warwick - It's the Falling in Love, 1980.
  3. KC - Give It Up (12" Version), 1984: #18 Pop, #24 Disco.
  4. Herbie Hancock - Rockit (12" Version), 1983: #71 Pop, #6 R&B, #1 Disco.
  5. George Duke - Shine on (Single Version), 1982, #41 Pop, #15 R&B, #36 Disco. ✔
  6. Kashif - Help Yourself to My Love (12 " Version), 1983: #28 R&B. ✔
  7. Kenny G - Hi, How Ya Doin ? (Gravity Mix), 1984: #23 R&B. Vocals by Barry Johnson. ✘
  8. Champaign - Off and On Love, 1984: #10 R&B.
  9. Rebbie Jackson - Centipede (12" Version), 1984: #24 Pop, #4 R&B, #29 Disco.
  10. Roy Ayers - Poo Poo La La (Radio Edit), 1984.
  11. Isley Jasper Isley - Insatiable Woman (12" Version), 1986, #13 R&B.
  12. Kashif - Love Me All Over (Extended Version), 1988, #14 R&B.
  13. Roy Ayers - Slip 'N Slide (7" Version), 1985.
  14. Surface - You Are My Everything (Extended Version), 1989: #84 Pop, #1 R&B,.
  15. Dionne Warwick - No One in the World (Alternate Version), 1985.
Disc 3 (79:58)
  1. Odyssey - Use It Up and Wear It Out (Edit), 1980: #6 Disco.
  2. Earth, Wind & Fire - Magnetic (Extended Dance Remix), 1983: #57 Pop, #10 R&B, #36 Disco.
  3. The Pointer Sisters - Automatic (12" Remix Version), 1984: #5 Pop, #2 R&B, #36 AC, #2 Disco ✔
  4. Philip Bailey - I Know, 1983: #10 R&B.
  5. Krystol - After the Dance Is Through (Vocal Mix), 1984: #40 Disco.
  6. Evelyn King - High Horse (Remix Version), 1986: #19 R&B, #12 Disco.
  7. The Pointer Sisters - I'm So Excited (Extended Version), 1982: #9 Pop, #46 R&B, #25 AC, #28 Disco.
  8. Full Force - Alice, I Want You Just for Me!, 1985: #16 R&B, #34 Disco.
  9. Juicy - Sugar Free (Deo/Radio Remix), 1986: #13 R&B.
  10. James Brown - Static (Full Force Remix), 1988: #5 R&B, #5 Disco ✔
  11. Evelyn King - Your Personal Touch (Dance Version), 1986: #86 Pop, #9 R&B, #5 Disco.
  12. Andre Cymone - The Dance Electric (Long Version), 1985: #10 R&B, #8 Disco.
  13. Johnny Kemp - Just Another Lover (7" Version), 1986: #14 R&B, #26 Disco.
  14. James Brown - I'm Real (Special Version), 1988: #2 R&B, #29 Disco.
  15. Surface - Closer Than Friends (12" Version), 1989: #1 R&B.
To be fair, I don't listen to a lot of late '80s R&B, so many tunes on disc 3 were new to me.

Personal Memory Associated with this CD: None

Friday, May 11, 2018

Various Artists - Too Slow to Disco Brasil (2018)


German Import

Compiled by AOR aficionado and consummate musician Ed Motta (called "The Colossus of Rio" on the promo sticker), this is the fifth release in the Too Slow To Disco series. And let's hope it's not the last. Spoiler alert: Motta knows how to pick 'em.

The series is promoted on its website as "a compilation series of Late 70s Westcoast Yachtpop you can almost dance to. Compiled by Dj Supermarkt." Includes a 16 page booklet with extensive liner notes with Motta's thoughts on each cut. Dig!

This thing was just released and my copy appeared on the doorstep last night. Let's rip some cellophane and give this thing a spin. I just glanced at the tracklist and the duplication of tracks from Motta's stellar AOR mixes One and Two are minimal (if you haven't heard those or Motta's 2013 album AOR, please do so ASAP).



Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: Yet to be determined.

Tracks (and first impressions):
  1. Filó Machado - Quero Pouco, Quero Muito (1983). Tasty horn licks, choice chord changes, funky bass line - dayumm, son. What a fantastic opener. Where ya been all my (adult) life?
  2. Sandra Sá - Guarde Minha Voz (1983). As good as anything Earth, Wind & Fire was putting out at the time. Reminds more than a little of Cheryl Lynn's Got to Be Real (and that's a good thing).
  3. Altay Veloso - Débora (1986). If this wasn't being sung in Portuguese, I'd have sworn it was early 80's George Benson. Santo Vaca! I'm having high school flashbacks listening to this cut and I've never heard it before. How is that even possible?!?
  4. Junior Mendes - Copacabana Sadia (1982). The best disco cut not to appear on the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack? In the liner notes, Motta calls this "a classic New Year's Eve track." Duly noted.
  5. Don Beto - Renascendo Em Mim (1978). Like nothing I've heard before yet like everything I've heard before. As if that makes any sense.
  6. Lucinha Turnbull - Toda Manha Brilha O Sol (1980). The Latin-tinged AOR song you've been missing and you didn't even know you needed it. This may be the most expensive CD I've ever purchased simply because now I'm going to buy every album represented on this disc.
  7. Guilherme Arantes - Coisas Do Brasil (1986). Motta calls this tune "Donald Fagen-esque." I wouldn't go that far, but I'd travel pretty close.
  8. Carlos Bivar - Maré (1984). Promoted as a super rare track, this comes from a privately pressed 7" from Motta's own collection. So smooth and then the CP-80 solo comes in and takes it up a notch.
  9. Biafra - Leão Ferido (1981). The first mid-tempo ballad of the compilation and worth the wait. A low-key verse then step on the accelerator with the horns at the chorus - sweet mama! Very much like Jarreau tunes of that time.
  10. Santa Cruz - Mais Uma Chance (1984). I was just thinking that the one thing missing from this compilation is some sweet Rhodes piano. And then this tune hits. Void filled. If you were itching for "more cowbell," this tune will scratch that itch, too.
  11. Jane Duboc - Se Eu Te Pego De Jeito (1982). Outstanding voice, great horn parts, funky bass. What's not to like?
  12. Cassiano - Rio Best-Seller (1991). An early '90s soul track that's reminding me of early '80s Tower of Power. Note: I have no idea if this was actually a best-seller in Rio.
  13. Carlinhos & Soninha Queiroz - Pra Você (1982). See track 5.
  14. Gelson Oliveira & Luiz Ewerling - Acrodes E Sementies (1983). Another rare record - not yet listed on Discogs. It's the first cut I'm indifferent to. I don't want to skip it, I just don't love it like I did the 13 tracks that preceded it.
  15. Zeca Do Trombone - Rota-Mar (1983). Another cut in the same vein as early-80's Jarreau. While he doesn't match Jarreau's vocal tone, he makes up for it with a sweet trombone solo.
  16. Roupa Nova - Clarear (1982). A live cut? Compared in liner notes to Toto! I'm not hearing that, but I'm liking what I'm hearing on this guitar-led cut. Seventies-licious.
  17. Kiko Zambianchi - Estréia (1987). More New-Wavish pop than AOR, but suitable for this compilation thanks to some nice chord changes at the chorus and a sax solo.
  18. Brylho - Jóia Rara (1983). A Portuguese Haircut 100 knock-off? Daddy like.
  19. Riata Lee & Roberto - Atlântida (1981). The arrangement is a little heavy on the drum machine, but that's my only complaint. If this had appeared on Bossa Nova Hotel, it wouldn't have surprised me.
Simply put, this is the best album I've heard this year. Go get ya some.

Personal Memory Associated with this CD: Hearing it for the first time this evening before placing the CD in my truck until at least October. If there's every been a perfectly-timed compilation released for summer listening, it's either this or some beauty I've yet to hear.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Daryl Hall & John Oates - The Very Best Of (2001)


This first-rate greatest hits CD is a compilation of tunes that pretty much soundtracked my school days from grade school into college, particularly my high school years, 1980-84. I don't know if it's just because I'm in a good mood this morning, but I'm prepared to include this CD in a top ten list of greatest hits compilations (maybe top 5 if they had licensed She's Gone).

In my high school, no matter class, gender, ethnicity, or cultural background, it seemed to me that every student loved Hall & Oates tunes (even contrarians like myself!). And some songs from that time, like I Can't Go For That and One On One, sound as good today as they did when they were released.

Bonus points for chronological sequencing.

Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: #34

Tracks: I'm tempted to skip Adult Education and Family Man because I never cared much for those two, but I'm lapping up the other tunes even though most of them are still standards on oldies/classic/greatest hits stations.

Song Album  Year  Hot 100 
Sara SmileDaryl Hall & John Oates19764
Rich GirlBigger Than Both Of Us19771
It's a Laugh (single version)Along The Red Ledge197820
Wait For MeX-Static197918
You've Lost That Lovin' FeelingVoices198012
Kiss On My ListVoices19811
You Make My DreamsVoices19815
Private EyesPrivate Eyes19811
I Can't Go For That (No Can Do)Private Eyes19811
Did It In A MinutePrivate Eyes19829
ManeaterH2O19821
One On OneH2O19837
Family ManH2O19836
Say It Isn't SoRock 'n Soul, Part 119832
Adult Education (Promotional 12")Rock 'n Soul, Part 119848
Out of Touch (single version)Big Bam Boom19841
Method of Modern LoveBig Bam Boom19855
Some Things Are Better Left UnsaidBig Bam Boom198518

That's 18 singles with an average chart peak of somewhere between 6 and 7. Remarkable.

Top 40 omissions from the album's 1976-85 scope: She's Gone (#7, 1976), Do What You Want Be What You Are (#39, 1976), Back Together Again (#28, 1977), How Does It Feel To Be Back (#30, 1980), Your Imagination (#33, 1982), Possession Obsession (#30, 1985), The Way You Do The Things You Do/My Girl (#20, 1985).

Personal Memory Associated with this CD: Many, but today I'm thinking of how much fun it was to sing Rich Girl in grade school because it had the B word in it. We were such incorrigible rebels in Mrs. French's 5th grade classroom (in our minds, at least). That's me below in a cropped version of our 5th grade class photo, 1977. Don't trust that kid, I'm warning you.



Previously revisited for the blog:
Original Album Classics (2013)
Big Bam Boom (1984)
Voices (1980)

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Various ‎Artists - Now & Forever: Timeless Wedding Songs (1999)


A 1999 compilation in Rhino's Heart Beats series. I gotta say that Rhino knocks it out of the park with this one and I'm not writing that simply because this CD includes the epic album version of THE BEST SLOW JAM OF ALL TIME!

Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: Did not chart

Tracks:
  1. Here and Now - Luther Vandross (#6 pop, #3 AC, 1990): Vandross being Vandross. What a voice.
  2. Tonight, I Celebrate My Love - Peabo Bryson & Roberta Flack (#16 pop, #4 AC, 1983): A fantastic duet (yes, I can sing both parts if you need it). As a 16 year old knucklehead, I was hardly interested in "celebrating love" with a girl (😈), but I liked the song anyway because it meant an opportunity to slow dance.
  3. You're The Inspiration - Chicago (#3 pop, #1 AC, 1985): A lot of people bad mouth David Foster-era Chicago, but I love it. Heck, give me 16 and 17 any day.
  4. More Than Words - Extreme (#1 pop, #2 AC, 1991): Reminds me of my first year teaching at the high school from which I graduated 6 years prior. Another duet where I can sing both parts and better than these guys, who get a little shouty for a ballad. (If shouty isn't a word, it should be.)
  5. Always And Forever - Heatwave (#18 pop, #33 AC, 1978): Simply put, this is THE BEST SLOW JAM OF ALL TIME. And I don't want to hear anyone else sing it but Johnnie Wilder. Also, I'm proud of 12 year old me for recognizing the greatness of this tune from the get-go.
  6. Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me - Gladys Knight & The Pips (#3 pop, #10 AC, 1974): The character of Rob from High Fidelity by Nick Hornby put it best when, speaking of his own memorial service, he said "I've always had this fantasy that someone beautiful and tearful will insist on 'You're the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me' by Gladys Knight, but I can't imagine who that beautiful, tearful person will be."  And now I have the same fantasy. But we're here to talk about weddings, not funerals. Suffice to say that this is Gladys at her emotional best and it don't get much better than that.
  7. Theme from Ice Castles (Through the Eyes of Love) - Melissa Manchester (#76 pop, #13 AC, 1979): Always a bit schmaltzy for my tastes, this song was completely ruined for me by the hilarious 1999 mockumentary film Drop Dead Gorgeous (which, if you haven't seen, do so immediately).
  8. If - Bread (#4 pop, #1 AC, 1971): I like this ballad more every time I hear it; David Gates could write a helluva ballad. Today's discussion prompt: was there a soft rock genre before the release of this hit? Debate amongst yourselves.
  9. Could I Have This Dance - Anne Murray (#33 pop, #3 AC, 1980): I didn't mind an occasional crossover hit every now and then on the radio, but this steel-guitar laden waltz was never a favorite. But, dadgummit, I heard it enough times to know all the words and harmonies.
  10. You Are My Lady - Freddie Jackson (#12 pop, #3 AC, 1985): That's more like it. A simple electric piano intro leads to a mid-tempo love tune that would be perfect for groom karaoke at the reception. (Is "groom karaoke" at the reception a thing? If not, why not?)
  11. I Just Wanna Stop - Gino Vannelli (#4 pop, #4 AC, 1978): This one is classic with the requisite Fender Rhodes and an Ernie Watts sax solo.  To my young mind, this song was the ultimate in sophistication.  I would have purchased the 45 single of this one back in '78, but the program director of my fave AM station must have liked it, too because it seems like it was played hourly that winter.  Still, I never got tired of it and still find it immediately relaxing.
  12. Through the Fire - Chaka Khan (#60 pop, #16 AC, 1985): More goodness from the pen of David Foster. When I used my magnifying glass to consult my Whitburn books, I was surprised at the low chart positions. Would it have scored higher if Peter Cetera had sung it?
  13. Always - Atlantic Starr (#1 pop, #1 AC, 1987): I'm not wild about this song and don't think the vocal performances are strong, but it reminds me of the summer of 1987 when, at age 21, I was working with the church youth group, allegedly "mentoring" youth group members 3 or 4 years my junior. Nonetheless, the girls in that group loved this thing and played it relentlessly. 
  14. Two Less Lonely People in the World - Air Supply (#38 pop, #4 AC, 1982): Not the kind of music I was listening to in 1982, but it's a typical Air Supply soft rock ballad. I like it, but it's an odd sentiment for a wedding - "Well, we might not really love each other, but at least we're not lonely! Much." Has anyone ever done a parody version titled "Two Less Ugly People in the World" which would serve as a cautionary tale about beer goggles? (I just re-read that last part and it sounds like I'm bitter and jaded about marriage, which couldn't be further from the truth. I was married in 1989 and it's the best thing that's ever happened to me. Just wanted to make that clear.)
  15. I'll Always Love You - Taylor Dayne (#3 pop, #2 AC, 1988): Sing it, girl! Maybe the best ballad of 1988. Sax solo by Richie Cannata, whose main gig was with Billy Joel's band. I dig the whole song, but the last thirty seconds of the thing just make it for me. Sublime.
  16. At Last - Etta James (#47 pop, 1961) Sing it, girl! This vocal showcase is a fantastic way to end this compilation.
Personal Memory Associated with this CD: See above, plus my oldest son gets married in November, so stand by. No, I'm not the DJ for the reception.

Previously revisited for the blog:
Love Scene: Romantic Movie Music (1999)

Friday, April 27, 2018

Various Artists ‎- Love Scene: Romantic Movie Music (1999)


A 1999 compilation in Rhino's Heart Beats series. They're all from movies, but I'm not sure they're all romantic; you can judge for yourself. Hit-or-miss, I like ten of the 16 tracks, giving it a .625 batting average - not too shabby.

Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: Did not chart

Tracks:
  1. Til I Hear It From You - The Gin Blossoms. From the 1995 movie Empire Records, peaked at #9 on the Billboard Hot 100. Solid because Marshall Crenshaw was involved.
  2. Crazy Love - Aaron Neville Featuring Robbie Robertson. From the 1996 movie Phenomenon, did not make the Billboard Hot 100. Nice enough, but I prefer the Van Morrison origianl.
  3. You Won't Fall - Lori Carson. From the 1996 movie Stealing Beauty, did not make the Billboard Hot 100. Meh.
  4. It Must Be Love - Rickie Lee Jones. From the 1991 movie Frankie and Johnny, did not make the Billboard Hot 100. Any RLJ track is welcome in this house.
  5. I'd Die Without You - P.M. Dawn. From the 1992 movie Boomerang, peaked at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100.  I actually saw that movie in the theatre. Sheesh. But I love the PM Dawn album with this on it, The Bliss Album...?
  6. God Give Me Strength - Kristen Vigard. From the 1996 movie Grace of My Heart, did not make the Billboard Hot 100. First time I've heard this version, but I've very familiar with the tune from the Burt Bacharach - Elvis Costello collaboration, Painted From Memory. Not much difference in the two arrangements.
  7. Try A Little Tenderness - The Commitments. From the 1991 movie The Commitments, peaked at #67 on the Billboard Hot 100. Love the soundtrack so much I purchased the superdeluxeedition.
  8. Breathless - X. From the 1983 movie Breathless, did not make the Billboard Hot 100. I came to X a little later than most, but I dig their stuff now, including this tune, but to call it romantic movie music? C'mon, Rhino.
  9. I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles) - The Proclaimers. From the 1993 movie Benny & Joon, peaked at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100. Strike two, Rhino.
  10. Stay (I Missed You) - Lisa Loeb & Nine Stories. From the 1994 movie Reality Bites, peaked at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. I've liked this tune from the get-go and continue to like it despite the fact it was overplayed back in 1994. As for the Reality Bites movie, it bites (too easy?)
  11. A Natural Woman (You Make Me Feel Like) - Aretha Franklin. From the 1983 movie The Big Chill, peaked at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100.  Aretha showing everyone else how its done. Damn.
  12. For All We Know - Johnny Hartman. From the 1995 movie The Bridges Of Madison County, did not make the Billboard Hot 100. Easily the most romantic song on the album. We've already proclaimed Hartman to be "one of the great voices of the 20th century" on this blog.
  13. When A Man Loves A Woman - Percy Sledge.  From the 1995 movie When A Man Loves A Woman, peaked at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. Many have tried to cover this tune, none have succeeded.
  14. Make Someone Happy - Jimmy Durante. From the 1993 movie Sleepless in Seattle, did not make the Billboard Hot 100.  I'm not much for Durante's vocals, but the arrangement is top notch.
  15. It Might Be You (Theme From "Tootsie") - Stephen Bishop. From the 1982 movie Tootsie, peaked at #25 on the Billboard Hot 100. We love the soft rock goodness of Bish around here. This song was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1983, losing to Up Where We Belong.
  16. I Can Dream About You - Dan Hartman. From the 1984 movie Streets Of Fire.  I don't think much of this song, but it reminds me of getting into a club in Dallas (Monopoly?) with a fake ID because it was playing when we entered the club.
Personal Memory Associated with this CD: None

Friday, April 20, 2018

Various Artists - The Best Of 60's & 70's Rock: Protest Rock (1992)


The title is self-explanatory. Allmusic describes it as "an entertaining budget-line collection." Discogs describes it as "stoner rock." Mark is wondering why this Priority Records compilation is currently fetching top dollar on the secondary market.

Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: Did not chart

Tracks, including Billboard Hot 100 chart peaks and my somewhat predictable picks. 9 tracks, 33 minutes:

Title Artist
Year
Pop

He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother The Hollies 1970 7
Eve of Destruction Barry McGuire 1965 1
Turn, Turn, Turn (To Everything There Is A Season) The Byrds 1965 1
I Shall Be Released The Band 1968
People Got To Be Free The Rascals 1968 1
Get Together The Youngbloods 1967
1969
62
5
One Tin Soldier (The Legend of Billy Jack) Coven 1971
1973
1974
26
79
73

War Edwin Starr 1970 1
Hurdy Gurdy Man Donovan 1968 5


Personal Memory Associated with this CD: Sadly, most of these lyrics remain relevant a half-century later. But when these songs were released, I was more into Billy Blastoff than protesting. Nevertheless, I sang One Tin Soldier at summer church camp more times than I care to remember.

Your humble blogger and Billy Blastoff, December 1970.


Thursday, April 19, 2018

Various Artists - Unforgettable Love Songs Of The Sixties (1999)


Someone just gave me this CD compilation and I recognize about half the titles, so let's give it a spin and check it out. If you listen to the lyrics, the title may be a bit misleading - some of these tunes deal more with heartbreak than romance.

Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: Did not chart

Tracks:
  • Are You Lonesome Tonight? - Elvis Presley (1960, #1 Pop): A classic. And the spoken word bit in the middle of it all must have made the girls swoon back then even if it goes on longer than it should. I have to admit that Elvis seemed to have total control over his voice at this stage in his career.
  • Blue Velvet - Bobby Vinton (1963, #1 Pop, #1 Easy Listening): This thing starts with a hook and doesn't let up. Now it reminds me of the David Lynch flick, but I always liked Vinton because I heard a lot of him when I was a child thanks to a TV ad for one of his compilation albums (K-Tel, maybe?). Love the wordless background vocals - what an arrangement!
  • Love Theme from Romeo & Juliet - Henry Mancini and His Orchestra (1969, #1 Pop, #1 Easy Listening): this instrumental is used ironically these days in TV shows, but it's a beautiful piece and Mancini does what Mancini does - he was one of the best. Heck, it knocked The Beatles out of the #1 spot.
  • Can't Get Used to Losing You - Andy Williams (1963, #2 Pop, #1 Easy Listening): I dig the syncopated pizzicato strings, but that's about it.
  • Release Me - Engelbert Humperdinck (1967, #4 Pop, #28 Easy Listening): Schmaltz. Pass.
  • Make The World Go Away - Eddy Arnold (1965, #6 Pop, #1 Easy Listening): Worth listening for Arnold's smooth voice and the piano playing. This one takes me back - I'm sure I heard it on Hee Haw or the Jimmy Dean Show or some such.
  • Spanish Eyes - Al Martino (1966, #15 Pop, #1 Easy Listening): Even the use of Spanish lyrics over a Italian ballad can't ruin this crooning. Now I'm hungry for a stromboli. see also: Moon Over Naples by Bert Kaempfert (he's got the mad hits).
  • Don't Break the Heart That Loves You - Connie Francis (1962, #1 Pop, #1 Easy Listening): I don't know how she does it, but Connie in her prime (1961-65) could actually pout while singing and it's gotta be the sexiest thing I've heard so far today. Her scooping from note to note sometimes bothers me, but not on this track maybe because the strings scoop right along with her.
  • Ramblin' Rose - Nat King Cole (1962, #2 Pop, #1 Easy Listening): This tune isn't the best use of Cole's voice, but a lot of folks must have liked it. It's as if he's trying to capitalize on Ray Charles' sound of the time, which is probably what the record label was aiming for. Not bad, but there's much better Cole out there.
  • Can't Help Falling In Love - Elvis Presley (1962, #2 Pop, #1 Easy Listening): If this isn't the best thing Elvis ever recorded, it's certainly in the discussion. Timeless. They should have closed the disc with this tune, but we've got four more. Bad sequencing, guys.
  • The End Of The World - Skeeter Davis (1963, #2 Pop, #1 Easy Listening): Never been a fan of this one and I couldn't tell ya why.
  • Since I Fell For You - Lenny Welch (1963, #4 Pop, #3 Easy Listening): I absolutely adore this tune. I've heard plenty of versions and I love them all. I always ask the karaoke guys if I can sing this, but they never have the track. Shame because I'd crush it. Once this CD ends, I'll circle back around to this track.
  • When I Fall in Love - The Lettermen (1962, #7 Pop, #1 Easy Listening): If I told you to imagine The Lettermen singing a standard from the '50s, you could hear this in your head without having to listen to a recording. It's exactly what you'd expect. That said, the vocal harmonies are gorgeous. No autotune needed. Wow.
  • Moon River - Henry Mancini and His Orchestra (1961, #11 Pop, #1 Easy Listening): Love it. The song, the arrangement, the movie. All of it. The song is in the Grammy Hall of Fame, won an Academy Award for Best Original Song, as well as Grammy Awards for Record of the Year and Song of the Year.
Personal Memory Associated with this CD: I can't write "none" but there's nothing specific, just a general feeling of time and place when I was a child.