Thursday, January 31, 2013

Patty Andrews [1918-2013]

Artist: The Andrews Sisters
LP: Near You
Song: "Sing a Tropical Song"
[ listen ]
I guess it had to happen sooner or later. I woke up this morning to the sad news that Patty Andrews, the last surviving sibling of the magnificent singing trio The Andrews Sisters, had died. She was 94 years old. 

My Grammie introduced me to the joys of the music of the 1940s via my sister, Sarah, when I was about 15 years old. Sarah discovered Grammie's "Those Were Our Songs: The Early '40s" Reader's Digest record set in a wooden cabinet in Grammie's living room and we just couldn't stop listening to them!

 [ Maxene, Patty, LaVerne — top to bottom ]

Along with lots of other great artists of the period, like Betty Hutton, Frankie Laine, and Ella Mae Morse, The Andrews Sisters were, of course, heavily featured in the Reader's Digest collection. Sarah and I grew to love their hits like "Boogie-Woogie Bugle Boy," "Rum and Coca-Cola," and "Beat Me Daddy, Eight to the Bar," but our favorite was a bouncy little number called "Ferryboat Serenade," a song that often still gets stuck in my head today.

 [ LaVerne, Patty, Maxene — left to right ]

Patty was the youngest of the three Andrews sisters, and was the dynamic lead vocalist of the trio. She had an energy, personality, and pizzaz that made The Andrews Sisters lots of fun to watch as well as listen to, and it gave Maxene and LaVerne, who seem to have been more reserved, a shining sun around which to orbit. Check out the wonderful clip below of The Andrews Sisters performing "(I'm Gettin') Corns For My Country" from the WWII musical HOLLYWOOD CANTEEN and you'll see what I mean. You can read all about The Andrews Sisters here and go here to read Patty Andrews' obituary in the New York Times.

The Andrews Sisters on YouTube:
[ "(I'm Gettin') Corns For My Country" ]

LaVerne Andrews
[ July 6, 1911 — May 8, 1967 ]
Maxene Andrews
[ January 3, 1916 — October 21, 1995 ]

Patty Andrews
[ February 16, 1918 — January 30, 2013 ]
We will miss you, Patty.

Sunday, January 27, 2013


 Artist: KISS
LP: Love Gun
Song: "Then She Kissed Me"
[ listen ]

Back in the late '70s when my Grandma Bea saw that my older brother Matt had purchased a record by the band KISS, she gravely informed our entire family that the group's name stood for Knights In Satan's Service and that she couldn't believe we would allow that sort of evil into our home. I believed her, of course. But the other day I found KISS's 1977 "Love Gun" LP in my collection, and I began having doubts about the things Grandma Bea said. I mean, would Knights In the Service of Satan really do a cover of a hit song by the early '60s girl group The Crystals? It somehow just doesn't seem consistent with their mission. In any case, I first became aware of this terrific tune when Elizabeth Shue (who I strongly suspect may also be a Knight In Satan's Service) lip-synched to it in the opening credits of the popular 1987 film ADVENTURES IN BABYSITTING.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Trio Shmeed

Artist: Trio Shmeed
LP: Trio Shmeed
Song: "Yodel Cha Cha"
[ listen ]

One of the best things about going through my LPs to weed out the stuff I don't want anymore is that I also always find things I had totally forgotten about or that I didn't even know I had! It's hard to imagine forgetting about something as exciting as "Yodel Cha Cha" (authentic sounds from the Swiss Alps cleverly blended with the music of aliens!), but there you have it. Singing siblings Willy, Werner, and Claire have been yodeling together since they were youngsters, when they began performing in their father's restaurant. It wasn't long before they were yodeling alongside other European superstars like Edith Piaf, Maurice Chevalier, and the Nicholas Brothers. (I've got to learn more about the Brothers Nicholas. They look amazing!) If you understand German you can read more about Trio Shmeed here, and the liner notes from the trio's 1955 self-titled American debut LP are included below. 

[ Geschwister Schmid - aka. Trio Shmeed ]

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Victor Silvester y su Orquesta de Cuerdas

Artist: Victor Silvester y su Orquesta de Cuerdas
LP: Latin-American Dance Parade [10" EP]
Song: "Sierra Madre"
[ listen ]

Wouldn't ya just know that my supposedly rare, vintage Columbia 10" EP (CL 6308) of "Latin-American Dance Parade" by Victor Silvester and his Orquesta de Cuerdas turns out to be nothing but a cheap 1953 re-issue of the original that was released in 1950 under catalog number FL 9516 with a nice yellow cover instead of blue. Oh well. Victor Silvester was born in England in the formerly quaint town of Wembley just after the turn of the last century. He served in WWI after lying about his age, and then after the war he turned his attention to dancing. He was one of the first post-war dancers to feature the full natural turn in the slow waltz, which helped him snag the top prize (with partner Phyllis Clarke) at the first World Ballroom Dancing Championship in 1922. (He competed again in 1924, but lost to Maxwell Stewart, who had invented the double reverse spin. Clearly, poor Victor didn't stand a chance.) Silvester eventually developed a chain of dance studios where throngs of people, including Merle Oberon, were able to indulge their passion for ballroom dancing. Frustrated by the general lack of "strict-tempo" dance music being released on vinyl at the time, Victor assembled his own five-piece group of talented musicians and began recording under the name "Victor Silvester and His Ballroom Orchestra." Their first release, "You're Dancing on My Heart," (!) hit stores in 1935, sold over 17,000 copies, and launched a recording career that would last for decades. You can read all about that here, and my re-issued liner notes are included below.

[ Victor Silvester: February 25, 1900 — August 14, 1978 ]

Friday, January 4, 2013

Patti Page [1927-2013]

Artist: Patti Page
LP: Indiscretion
Song: "You Call Everybody Darling"
[ listen ]
Song: "'Tis Autumn"
[ listen ]

I was sad to hear the news yesterday that Patti Page had died on the first day of the New Year. Now we will never know how much that doggie was in the window (the one with the waggly tail). We don't know for certain if the doggie was even for sale! Originally from small-town Oklahoma, Clara Ann Fowler changed her name to Patti Page after performing a short radio spot for Page Milk Company on a local radio station. She went on to Chicago from there, where she signed with Mercury Records and became the top female hit-maker of the 1950s. She's most well known for her #1 smash from 1950, "Tennessee Waltz" (and of course there's the one about the doggie), but she's also the first singer to over-dub her own voice in order to perform her own harmonies and backing vocals! Patti's 1955 "Indiscretion" LP is one of the things I picked up when I first began accumulating records by vocalists of the '50s and '60s, and I've been a fan of hers ever since. You can read all about Patti Page's terrific life and career on Wikipedia here, find her complete discography here, and go here to read a down-to-earth Patti Page tribute (it's not an obituary) and to listen to more of her lovely songs.

Patti Page
[November 8, 1927 — January 1, 2013]
We will miss you, Patti.