Monday, November 5, 2007

Great Performances: Dean Martin and Louis Armstrong perform a Dixieland Medley

This qualifies as positively amazing: Dean Martin and Louis Armstrong swing smoothly through an incredible medley of Dixieland tunes...

Friday, November 2, 2007

Great Performances: Ella Fitzgerald sings "For Once In My Life" (1968)

Ella Fitzgerald delivers an absolutely exquisite rendition of "For Once In My Life"...

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Great Performances: Peggy Lee sings Cole Porter's "From This Moment On" (1954)

Sultry, sizzling Peggy Lee burns up Cole Porter's "From This Moment On"...

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Great Performances: Bobby Darin sings Cole Porter's "I've Got You Under My Skin"

Bobby Darin sings a kickin' contemporary version of the Cole Porter classic "I've Got You Under My Skin"...

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Great Songwriters: Billy Rose

Whether Billy Rose really wrote lyrics for all the songs that bear his name seems to be at issue these days. Recent research suggests he might have appended his credit to ditties where he contributed no more than a catchy title or a couple of words. Regardless, there can be no question Rose was a guy who got things done. Famous for his ability to cut publishing deals for songwriters that resulted in larger royalty checks than were customary at the time, Rose might have used this leverage to get his name on many a composition. After all, if Billy Rose was attached to a song, it meant everyone was getting paid.

Born William Samuel Rosenberg on September 6th, 1899 in New York City, Rose graduated from the High School of Commerce, was trained in shorthand by John Robert Gregg, and at age 16, won a high speed dictation contest. This led to a job with the War Industries Board in 1917, as a shorthand reporter.

After the war, Rose enjoyed his first success as a songwriter, collaborating with partner Con Conrad on the comic strip inspired "Barney Google" ("with the goog-goog-googly eyes") and "You've Got to See Mama Every Night" ("or you can't see Mama at all"). In 1924, he had another novelty hit with "Does the Spearmint Lose Its Flavor on the Bedpost Overnight," co-authored with Marty Bloom and Ernest Breuer.

His first foray into Broadway came a year later, when Gertrude Lawrence sang his song, "A Cup of Coffee, A Sandwich and You" (co-authored with Al Dubin and Joe Meyer), in the Charlot Revue. He wrote lyrics for several other Broadway shows, before marrying 'Funny Girl' Fanny Brice in 1929, and producing the Broadway musical revue Sweet and Low for her in 1930.

Other Broadway shows produced by Rose include Crazy Quilt, Jumbo, Clash by Night, Carmen Jones, and Seven Lively Arts. Jumbo, a massive undertaking with an unprecedented $350,000 budget, debuted in 1935 at New York's Hippodrome Theater. The show featured indoor aerial stunts, high-wire acts, wild animals, and a 35 foot puppet designed by Remo Bufano—not to mention a fine Rodgers and Hart score and an appearance by Jimmy Durante. While the show failed to turn a profit, it was still massively successful, garnering positive reviews and packed houses, and making Rose one of the most famous producers in America.

From here, Rose would mount bigger and bigger shows, including The Aquacade, a floating amphitheater, featuring water ballet, roller skating, hundreds of swimmers, and two Olympic champions, Johnny Weissmuller and Eleanor Holm. (Holm would become Rose's second wife, after his divorce from Fanny Brice in 1938.) The Aquacade debuted at the 1937 Cleveland Great Lakes Expo, and Rose staged it again at the 1939 New York World's Fair and the 1940 San Francisco World's Fair.

Rose also opened a nightclub, Billy Rose's Diamond Horseshoe, in New York City, which just happened to be where a young dancer named Gene Kelly first started to gain attention. In 1947, Rose began writing "Pitching Horseshoes," a weekly column which was syndicated in over 200 newspapers across the country.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Great Performances: Judy Garland and Mel Torme sing "The Trolley Song"

This is absolutely hilarious! Mel's rapid-fire vocal asides are brilliant...

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Great New Releases: 2 Classic Andy Williams LPs reissued by Ace

Due 11/27/2007 from the Ace Label in the UK...

Andy Williams: Andy Williams/Sings Steve Allen (Ace CDCHD 1173)

Andy Williams' first 2 LP releases, both originally on the Cadence label. 1957's Andy Williams was essentially a compilation of all the A and B sides he had released between 1956 and 1957--but what a compilation! All of the A sides charted, including Butterfly at #1, Canadian Sunset in the Top Five, I Like Your Kind of Love in the Top Ten, Lips of Wine in the Top 20, and Baby Doll in the Top 40. Quite an accomplishment for a newcomer at a time when rock n' roll was taking over the charts. 1959's Sings Steve Allen finds Williams taking on some of Allen's finest compositions, including Impossible and Picnic.

Get it Now at Amazon

Canadian Sunset
I Like Your Kind Of Love - With Peggy Ann Powers
Walk Hand In Hand
Lips Of Wine
Not Anymore
It Doesn't Take Very Long
Baby Doll
High Upon A Mountain
Stop Teasin' Me
Since I've Found My Baby
Straight From My Heart
Meet Me Where They Play The Blues
Stay Just A Little While
Playing The Field
Young Love
An Old Piano Plays The Blues
Spring In Maine
All The Way Home
Lonely Love
Forbidden Love

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