Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Big Bands Forever Vol. 1 Kay Kyser And His Makes you Wanna Dance Music - 1977

This is the record that help start this project of digitizing this series a few weeks back. This is the record with the ole "Woody Woodpecker Song" that I had on that old mix CD. I was so glad I went back to digitize this whole record because there are a lot or great tracks on here. Listening to the record again and again in prepping it for this blog made me appreciate Kay Kyser all over again. Let's go down the tracks.

Track 1 Jingle Jangle Jingle. First of all I love some of these songs of this era that we kind of cowboy songs, but at the same time were just jazzy swing songs. Another example of this that I listened to recently is Bing Crosby singing "Deep In The Heart of Texas." Bing isn't really a Cowboy and Texas doesn't immediately come to mind when I hear his voice, but you know what? It works. Same thing here, except perhaps even better. Jingle Jangle Jingle really swings and I do mean SWINGS. It lives up to the album's subtitle of Kay Kyser and His Makes You Wanna Dance Music. This song makes you want to dance. It is also a song that can get stuck in your head for days.

Track two is "He Wears Silver Wings" which is just okay so I won't say much there.

Track three "Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition" is another good track. I love how it is such a product of the time and that time being The War. Then there is the whole mixing of religion and war and patriotism that is definitely of it's time. The tune itself is actually quite catchy and you'll find yourself singing along, no matter what your politics.

Track four "Bell Bottom Trousers" is another war song. There is a voice in this one, that sounds like Popeye the Sailor. I don't think it actually is Popeye, but I'm sure that it was supposed to be a reference to the famous cartoon character.

Track five is "Ole Buttermilk Sky" features Michael Douglas on vocals. This one is infectious. It has a great hook. I sang this for days after listening to it. This one also falls into that faux cowboy song genre. It doesn't quite have the full jump factor that "Jingle Jangle Jingle" has , but you can dance to it.

Track six is "Woody Woodpecker" sung by Gloria Wood. Gloria Wood I know from her work on some Disney records. For example she is on "Walt Disney's Christmas Concert" and she is on "A Christmas Adventure in Disneyland". I had this song on a mix CD when my kids were younger and we played it all the time. The funny thing is they haven't really seen much of Woody as far as cartoons.

Track seven "Who Wouldn't Love you" with Harry Babbitt and Trudy Erwin walks the fine line bordering on cheese. Of all the tracks this one sounds like it is more a product of the 50's to me because it is so happy and kind of cheesey. It is decent, but not a favorite.

Track eight is "On A Slow Boat To China" and it features Harry Babbitt again, but this time with Gloria Wood. I like this track. It's not the greatest, but it is four out of five stars on my ipod rating system. For a little more history on this Frank Loesser song, read this article on The Straight Dope website.

Track nine is "Managua, Nicaragua" is another song featuring Gloria Wood. It is also a product of the time where America had a fascination with Central and South America as an exotic location to visit. I can't imagine a song today painting a romantic view of Nicaragua.

Track ten "The Old Lamplighter" finishes off the record and I'll be honest, it is just so so, especially after so many good songs preceding it. It is a slow song, with no swing whatsoever. As a closing track perhaps it works. It sounds like a song for the end of the day. A "closing time" number if you will that gets you ready for bed.

So that's it. That's the run down and now you can give these songs a listen or track down a copy of the record for yourself. I don't think it is on CD anywhere so vinyl may be your only option there.


Kay Kyser and His Makes You Wanna Dance Music

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Big Bands Forever Vol. 1 Harry James I've Heard That Song Before - 1977

Sorry, that I've been missing for such a long while. Started on a new project at work and so January got really busy. The story behind today's post started a few weeks back when I played an old mix CD in the car with my family. The CD was 10 ro 11 years old and many of the tracks on it were from when I first started digitizing vinyl records. Back then I would digitize just a song off a record and put it on a mix CD because this was before I had Itunes or a ton of music digitally stored on hard drives. Well some of these songs were great and made got me thinking about the records they came from. Some of them I honestly couldn't remember where they came from. So a week or so later I started going through records on the record shelf. There was a Bing Crosby and Bob Hope song I was looking for as well as Kay Kyser's Woody Woodpecker song. Neither of those are on this record. However the Kay Kyser track was on a record that was part of this series, "Big Bands Forever!" I eventually found the Bing Crosby track and in the process found another 4 record collection of music from WWII era. I decided I'd digitize all these records. Now that I have them digitized, I figured I'd share them over the next few weeks.

This Harry James record is the first record on this Big Bands Forever Series. There are two volumes and each volume has two records. This is record one of the first volume.

I have a couple Harry James records, one of which I featured on the blog previously called Young Man With A Horn. I love that record and I really like this record as well. I big stand out on this record is track three "I've Heard That Song Before" which features vocals by Helen Forest. The other track I really like is track six "It's Been A Long, Long Time with Kitty Kallen pulling vocal duties. Something both these songs have in common is something I find with a lot of songs from this era, is that they have long instrumental openings before the vocals kick in. You don't find that much anymore in popular music. I actually like that a long, because the music has to be so good to pull you in that it doesn't rely on the lyric. Then when you are hooked the vocals come in and take it to the next level. There is a Benny Goodman track "Perfidia" on Swing into Spring that is structured like this as well and it is one of my all time favorite Big Band era songs.

The rest of the record is pretty good as well. The record has basically no information as far as the years of the songs or who the vocals are on the tracks. I've done my best to do some internet research to provide some of that information. I can't guarantee it, though. The rip isn't perfect by any means, but if you don't mind some crackles and pops give it a listen.


01 I Had The Craziest Dream (Featuring Helen Forrest)
02 Sleepy Lagoon
03 I've Heard That Song Before (Featuring Helen Forrest)
04 I'll Get By (As Long As I Have You (Featuring Dick Haymes)
05 One Dozen Roses (Featuring Jimmy Saunders)
06 It's Been A Long, Long Time (Featuring Kitty Kellen)
07 I Can't Begin To Tell You (Featuring Betty Grable)
08 Ciribiribin (They're So in Love)
09 All Of Nothing As All (Featuring Frank Sinatra)
10 You Made Me Love You


Harry James