segunda-feira, 27 de setembro de 2010

Vic Damone - 16 Most Requested Songs

  1. On the Street Where You Live
  2. War and Peace
  3. Almost Like Being in Love
  4. Smoke Gets in Your Eyes (When Your Heart's on Fire)
  5. Do I Love You Because You're Beautiful
  6. An Affair to Remember
  7. You're Breaking My Heart
  8. Angela Mia (My Angel)
  9. Maria
  10. Gigi
  11. Separate Tables
  12. But Beautiful
  13. My Romance
  14. The Pleasure of Her Company
  15. Serenade in Blue
  16. In the Blue of Evening
16 Most Requested Songs

16 Most Requested Songs is a midline-priced collection that spotlights many of Vic Damone's best-known and most popular performances for Columbia Records, including "On the Street Where You Live," "War and Peace," "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes," "An Affair to Remember," "You're Breaking My Heart," "Gigi," "Separate Tables" and "In the Blue of the Evening." Although it's far from a perfect retrospective of his career, it's still a nice sampler of familiar items, and it may satisfy the needs of some casual fans who only want the hits. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music Guide 

Vic Damone became in 1950s one of the most successful post-war ballad singers - a performer with consummate artistry, endowed with a voice that was both unusually powerful and naturalistic. Frank Sinatra said of him that he had "the best pipes in the business".

Yet, if he scored high grades among his peers, the public's perception of him was, and to some extente may still be, that of a singer who could be dismissed as a lightweight, a reputable performer with neither the raw personality of a Sinatra or the solid attraction of a Tony Bennett. His enduring career, however, porves them wrong.

He was born Vito Farinola, in Brooklyn, on June 12, 1928, and early on began to display an uncanny talent for singing. His mother, Mamie (whose maiden name he later adopted as his stage monicker), encouraged him and even gave him informal lessons at home. His father, an electrician, hoped his son would follow in his footsteps, and young Vito attended the Alexander Hamilton Vocational High School.

Not surprisingly, his first idol was Sinatra, already a star, who performed before adoring bobby-soxers at the Paramount Theatre in New York, where Vito, then a 17-year-old, was making some pocket money as an usher.

At his mother's urging, he entered Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts program, an amateur talent contest, and won first prize. Milton Berle, who was attending the show, arranged for him to appear at La Martinique, in Manhattan, a venue for many young hopefuls, and Vic became a fixture there for an unprecedented 11 weeks. As a result, he was offered other night-club engagements, his own radio show, "Saturday Night Serenade", which ran on CBS for two years, and a contract with Mercury for which he released his first recording in 1947, "I Have But One Heart (O Marinariello)", a Top 10 hit.

In short order, he recorded several songs, many of them rooted in his Italian tradition, including "Again", "Longing for You", and particularly "You're Breaking My Heart", based on the art song "Mattinata", which hit number one in 1949.

The romantic type par excellence, it was only a matter of time before Hollywood manifested interest in the young man. Surprisingly, Damone never really hit big in the movies, even though he had starring roles in several lavish screen musicals, including "Rich, Young and Pretty" (1951), opposite Jane Powell, "Athena" (1954), with Debbie Reynolds; "Hit the Deck" (1955), in which his co-stars included Tony Martin and Russ Tamblyn; and finally "Kismet" (1955), in which he played the Grand Vizir to Ann Blyth's Marsina. As Roy Hemming and David Hadju remark in their book, "Discovering Great Singers of Classic Pop" (Newmarket Press, 1991), "The camera didn't love him; in fact, it didn't even seem to know him. Damone was simply not gifted with a screen presence to match the power of his singing voice."

When Mitch Miller, who had signed him to Mercury, became head of A&R at Columbia Records, he brought Damone along. Thus started a second phase in the singer's career, marked by a greater diversity in the material he recorded for his new label, and by songs with which he has since been closely identified.

Damone's tenure at Columbia officially began on December 6, 1955, with a session that yielded four songs recorded in Hollywood with Paul Weston and his orchestra. The following February, he was back in the studio, this time in New York, to do a couple of tunes which included a new song, "On the Street Where You Live", from an up-and-coming Broadway show by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe, "My Fair Lady". The show, a musical adaptation of George Bernard Shaw's familiar comedy, "Pygmalion", marked the only time a recording label played patron of the arts and financed a Broadway musical; Columbia obtained the rights to the original cast album, which later on extended to other recordings of the score, including revivals of the show and the film soundtrack.

As was often the case at the time, the label also sought to further exploit its investment by having popular artists under contract record selections from the score, a move that was guaranteed to give the songs and the show itself greater exposure. Damone's rendition of "On the Street Where You Live", with Percy Faith and his orchestra, hit #4 on the charts, where it lodged for six months. It is still remembered today as one of the classic songs of the 1950s.

In July of 1956, Damone returned to the studio, and with David Terry providing the lush background, recorded the theme song from the epic saga, "War and Peace", based on Tolstoy's novel, with Audrey Hepburn and Mel Ferrer as the passionate lovers in Napoleonic Russia.

Up until then, all the songs he had recorded for the label were meant to be released as singles or in four-song EPs. A few days after the "War and Peace" session, he was back in the studio, with producer George Avakian at the helm, and an orchestra under the direction of Camarata, for what would be his first album for the label, "That Towering Feeling", recorded over three days in July, and released on August 13. From these sessions, we selected two songs, "Almost Like Being in Love", which didn't make the album but was eventually released in an album titled, "The Best of Vic Damone", and "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes".

Damone returned to the famed Columbia 30th Street Studios in February 1957 to do another single, with Mitch Miller as producer, and Mary Manning conducting the orchestra. Of the four songs recorded at the time, "Do I Love You Because You're Beautiful", again charted and became very closely idenfied with him. Once again it was written for a musical, "Cinderella", presented on the CBS Television Network on March 31st of that year, with Julie Andrews in the title role singing the songs of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II.

1957 also proved a good year for Damone: on May 20, with Percy Faith and his orchestra, he recorded "An Affair to Remember", the title tune from the film starring Debora Kerr and Cary Grant, which turned into another solid hit for him. In October, with Glenn Osser and his orchestra, he went back to the studio to prepare his next album, "Angela Mia", released on January 13, 1958, and from which we have excerpted the title tune and "You're Breaking My Heart". And in November, again with Percy Faith, he recorded four more sides, including a cover version of "Maria", from "West Side Story", another Broadway show in which Columbia had made a substantial artistic and monetary investment.

By then, Damone's career was in high gear, and 1958 found him very active, both as a nightclub entertainer and as a recording artist. Songs representative of this period and heard in this compilation include "Gigi", the title track from the MGM film musical starring Leslie Caron, recorded as a single on January 28; and "Separate Tables", which was written for a film with a stellar cast headlined by Rita Hayworth, Deborah Kerr, Burt Lancaster and David Niven.

As the decade stretched to a close, however, Damone began to experience personal difficulties. A self-confessed "lousy money manager", he suddenly found himself at odds with some creditors and the IRS, a dual conflict that had  profound repercussions on his performing career. As a result, his output in 1959 and 1960 was limited to some singles that went nowhere on the charts, and a couple of albums, "This Game of Love", (reorded on April, 1959 and released the following October, and "On the Swinging Side of the Street", recorded in July, 1960 and released on December 19. His problems notwithstanding, both albums demonstrated that he remained a superb song stylist and balladeer, something that can be heard again here in the two tracks that were selected from the former album, "But Beautiful" and "My Romance".

He scored again in 1961, with what many consider one of the finest albums, "Young and Lively", the product of two sessions with John Williams and his orchestra that were held in July and September of that year. Earlier, in April, they had already joined forces to cut six songs, including "The Pleasure of Her Company", which was composed for a film starring Fred Astaire and Debbie Reynolds.

"Young and Lively" yielted many lovely selections, but none seemed to epitomize Damone's uncanny way with a song more so than the wistful "Serenade in Blue" and "In the Blue of Evening" found here.

The album also signalled the end of his tenure with Columbia. In the years since, despite the onslaught of rock 'n' roll on pop music, and the eventual demise of pop radio, a musical format that had helped make his success, Vic Damone has succeeded in maintaining a high degree of visibility, appearing in lounges and clubs where his brand of singing, smooth and easy, keeps his audiences rapt.

Today, Vic Damone's set of pipes still rank among the best in the business, but with a new-found depth that makes him one of the finest vocalists around.

(Didier C. Deutsch, from the original liner notes)
One of the prototypical Italian-American crooners, Vic Damone parlayed a smooth, mellow baritone into big-time pop stardom during the '40s and '50s. Early in his career, his inflection and phrasing were clearly indebted to Frank Sinatra, who once famously called him "the best set of pipes in the business." Overall, though, Damone's style was softer than Sinatra's and owed less to the elasticity of jazz, especially since he was a solo performer who never served an apprenticeship with a swing orchestra. Very much the heartthrob in his heyday, his repertoire relied heavily on romantic ballads, though he did sprinkle in the occasional pop novelty or Italian folk song. He managed a parallel career as a film actor and, later, a TV variety host, and remained an active nightclub performer for decades after he disappeared from the charts.

Damone was born Vito Rocca Farinola in Brooklyn, NY, on June 12, 1928. His mother was a piano teacher and his father an electrician who also sang and played guitar, but it was Sinatra who provided his first musical awakening, and inspired him to start voice lessons. His first performances came in a youth choir and at school events. When his father was seriously injured in a work accident, young Vic was forced to drop out of school to help support the family, and got a job at the Paramount Theater in Manhattan as an usher and elevator operator. One night, while taking Perry Como up to his dressing room, Vic gave an impromptu performance and asked the singer if he had any talent; Como encouraged him, referred him to a local bandleader, and became something of a mentor to him.

Adopting his mother's maiden name, Damone won first place on the Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts show in 1947, which led to regular professional gigs on local radio. While on the set of the show, he also met Milton Berle, who helped him get gigs at the prominent nightclubs La Martinique and the Aquarium. All the attention landed the 19-year-old Damone a record deal with Mercury in fairly short order. His debut single, "I Have But One Heart," sold well, and the follow-ups, "You Do" and the Patti Page duet "Say Something Sweet to Your Sweetheart," were also successful. He began hosting his own radio show, Saturday Night Serenade, and played big New York venues like the Copa and the Paramount (where he'd once worked).

Damone scored his first runaway smash in 1949 with "Again," and followed it with the similarly successful "You're Breaking My Heart"; both singles sold over a million copies. A steady stream of new releases followed through 1950, with the biggest including "Vagabond Shoes," the Top Ten "Tzena, Tzena, Tzena" (a cover of the Weavers' adaptation of an Israeli folk song), "Cincinnati Dancing Pig," and the Top Five "My Heart Cries for You." The following year, he signed a film contract with MGM and appeared in two movies, The Strip and the musical Rich, Young and Pretty. He also returned to the Top Five with a version of Guy Mitchell's "My Truly, Truly Fair." However, he was drafted into the military late that year, and served through 1953. Mercury continued to issue previously recorded material during Damone's tour of duty, and in that time, he hit the Top Ten with "Here in My Heart" (a cover of Al Martino's debut smash), Les Baxter's "April in Portugal," and "Ebb Tide"; he also found some success with the Charlie Chaplin-penned "Eternally."

When Damone returned from the military, he resumed his film career and married actress Pier Angeli; over the next two years, he appeared in the likes of Athena, Deep in My Heart, Kismet, and Hit the Deck, as well as guesting on Berle's TV show. However, his run of hit singles was coasting to a stop, and when Mercury dropped him, he followed his former A&R man Mitch Miller to Columbia. In 1956, Damone overcame the advent of rock & roll to score a number four pop hit with the My Fair Lady tune "On the Street Where You Live." That year, he also issued his first proper 12" LP, That Towering Feeling!, which reached the Top 20 (all his previous LPs had been 10"s or movie soundtracks). Outside of the musical arena, Damone appeared in another film, Meet Me in Las Vegas, and landed the first of what would prove to be several variety-show hosting gigs; this initial TV series, The Vic Damone Show, lasted from 1956-1957. Unfortunately, his marriage to Angeli broke up in 1958.

Damone was initially able to dodge the rock & roll bullet, but his career momentum soon ground to a near-halt. He had only one more Top 20 single, 1957's "An Affair to Remember (Our Love Affair)," and he was slowly forced to try reinventing himself as an album artist and an interpretive singer for adult audiences. The consistency of his albums did improve, with the most notable result being 1961's On the Swingin' Side, but Columbia let Damone move over to Capitol afterward. Hoping that Damone could ease some of the sting of losing Sinatra, Capitol coaxed some of the singer's strongest LPs out of him, including 1962's romantic Linger Awhile With Vic Damone and The Lively Ones. Both charted in the Top 100, but failed to win the audience of, for example, latter-day Sinatra. Damone moved on to Warner Brothers for a one-off album, You Were Only Fooling, in 1965; its title cut gave Damone a last hurrah on the singles charts.

Damone next moved on to RCA and made a few recordings in the late '60s, but by this time he was primarily a TV personality and frequent variety-show guest. He staged a major concert in Las Vegas in 1971, where he became a regular on the casino circuit; this helped him iron out some financial problems that resulted in a brief period of bankruptcy in the early '70s. Damone subsequently enjoyed a steady career touring nightclubs and casinos around the country, and experienced something of a renaissance in the U.K. during the early '80s. He capitalized with extensive touring there, and also cut a few new albums for RCA during the first half of the decade. In 1987, he married actress Diahann Carroll (his fourth wife), which lasted until 1996. In addition to his live performances, he continued to record occasionally as well. ~ Steve Huey, Rovi

quinta-feira, 23 de setembro de 2010

Ray Charles - 20 Super Sucessos

  1. I Can't Stop Lovin' You
  2. Baby, It's Cold Outside
  3. Georgia on My Mind
  4. Cry
  5. Unchain My Heart
  6. Ruby
  7. Stella by Starlight
  8. Hit the Road Jack
  9. Eleanor Rigby
  10. People
  11. Yesterday
  12. Your Cheatin' Heart
  13. Sweet Memories
  14. That Lucky Old Sun Just Rolls Around Heaven
  15. All to Myself
  16. I'm Going Down to the River
  17. I Wonder Who's Kissing Her Now
  18. C. C. Rider
  19. Kiss Me Baby
  20. Baby Let Me Hold Your Hand
Ray Charles was the musician most responsible for developing soul music. Singers like Sam Cooke and Jackie Wilson  also did a great deal to pioneer the form, but Charles did even more to devise a new form of black pop by merging '50s R&B with gospel-powered vocals, adding plenty of flavor from contemporary jazz, blues, and (in the '60s) country. Then there was his singing; his style was among the most emotional and easily identifiable of any 20th century performer, up there with the likes of Elvis and Billie Holiday. He was also a superb keyboard player, arranger, and bandleader. The brilliance of his 1950s and '60s work, however, can't obscure the fact that he made few classic tracks after the mid-'60s, though he recorded often and performed until the year before his death.

Blind since the age of six (from glaucoma), Charles studied composition and learned many instruments at the St. Augustine School for the Deaf and the Blind. His parents had died by his early teens, and he worked as a musician in Florida for a while before using his savings to move to Seattle in 1947. By the late '40s, he was recording in a smooth pop/R&B style derivative of Nat "King" Cole and Charles Brown. He got his first Top Ten R&B hit with "Baby, Let Me Hold Your Hand" in 1951. Charles' first recordings came in for their fair share of criticism, as they were much milder and less original than the classics that would follow, although they're actually fairly enjoyable, showing strong hints of the skills that were to flower in a few years.

In the early '50s, Charles' sound started to toughen as he toured with Lowell Fulson, went to New Orleans to work with Guitar Slim (playing piano on and arranging Slim's huge R&B hit, "The Things That I Used to Do"), and got a band together for R&B star Ruth Brown. It was at Atlantic Records that Ray Charles truly found his voice, consolidating the gains of recent years and then some with "I Got a Woman," a number-two R&B hit in 1955. This is the song most frequently singled out as his pivotal performance, on which Charles first truly let go with his unmistakable gospel-ish moan, backed by a tight, bouncy horn-driven arrangement.

Throughout the '50s, Charles ran off a series of R&B hits that, although they weren't called "soul" at the time, did a lot to pave the way for soul by presenting a form of R&B that was sophisticated without sacrificing any emotional grit. "This Little Girl of Mine," "Drown in My Own Tears," "Hallelujah I Love Her So," "Lonely Avenue," and "The Right Time" were all big hits. But Charles didn't really capture the pop audience until "What'd I Say," which caught the fervor of the church with its pleading vocals, as well as the spirit of rock & roll with its classic electric piano line. It was his first Top Ten pop hit, and one of his final Atlantic singles, as he left the label at the end of the '50s for ABC.

One of the chief attractions of the ABC deal for Charles was a much greater degree of artistic control of his recordings. He put it to good use on early-'60s hits like "Unchain My Heart" and "Hit the Road Jack," which solidified his pop stardom with only a modicum of polish attached to the R&B he had perfected at Atlantic. In 1962, he surprised the pop world by turning his attention to country & western music, topping the charts with the "I Can't Stop Loving You" single, and making a hugely popular album (in an era in which R&B/soul LPs rarely scored high on the charts) with Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music. Perhaps it shouldn't have been so surprising; Charles had always been eclectic, recording quite a bit of straight jazz at Atlantic, with noted jazz musicians like David "Fathead" Newman and Milt Jackson.

Charles remained extremely popular through the mid-'60s, scoring big hits like "Busted," "You Are My Sunshine," "Take These Chains From My Heart," and "Crying Time," although his momentum was slowed by a 1965 bust for heroin. This led to a year-long absence from performing, but he picked up where he left off with "Let's Go Get Stoned" in 1966. Yet by this time Charles was focusing increasingly less on rock and soul, in favor of pop tunes, often with string arrangements, that seemed aimed more at the easy listening audience than anyone else. Charles' influence on the rock mainstream was as apparent as ever; Joe Cocker and Steve Winwood in particular owe a great deal of their style to him, and echoes of his phrasing can be heard more subtly in the work of greats like Van Morrison.

One approaches sweeping criticism of Charles with hesitation; he was an American institution, after all, and his vocal powers barely diminished over his half-century career. The fact remains, though, that his work after the late '60s on record was very disappointing. Millions of listeners yearned for a return to the all-out soul of his 1955-1965 classics, but Charles had actually never been committed to soul above all else. Like Aretha Franklin and Elvis Presley, his focus was more upon all-around pop than many realize; his love of jazz, country, and pop standards was evident, even if his more earthy offerings were the ones that truly broke ground and will stand the test of time. He dented the charts (sometimes the country ones) occasionally, and commanded devoted international concert audiences whenever he felt like it. For good or ill, he ensured his imprint upon the American mass consciousness in the 1990s by singing several ads for Diet Pepsi. He also recorded three albums during the '90s for Warner Bros., but remained most popular as a concert draw. In 2002, he released Thanks for Bringing Love Around Again on his own Crossover imprint, and the following year began recording an album of duets featuring B.B. King, Willie Nelson, Michael McDonald, and James Taylor. After hip replacement surgery in 2003, he scheduled a tour for the following summer, but was forced to cancel an appearance in March 2004. Three months later, on June 10, 2004, Ray Charles succumbed to liver disease at his home in Beverly Hills, CA. ~ Richie Unterberger, Rovi

quarta-feira, 22 de setembro de 2010

Buddy Greco - 16 Most Requested Songs

  1. The Lady Is A Tramp
  2. Like Young
  3. Something's Gotta Give
  4. This Could Be the Start of Something
  5. I Love Being Here with You
  6. Around the World
  7. Roses of Picardy
  8. Teach Me Tonight
  9. My Kind of Girl
  10. At Long Last Love
  11. Mr. Lonely
  12. The Most Beautiful Girl in the World
  13. Call Me Irresponsible
  14. She Loves Me
  15. You Win Again
  16. It Had Better Be Tonight (Meglio sta sera)
Requested Songs

Buddy Greco is a performer with an engaging personality and irresistible style. This collection is filled with some of the songs that made him one of the most popular stars on the charts and nightclub circuit during the late 1950s.

16 Most Requested Songs is a midline-priced collection that spotlights many of Buddy Greco's best-known and most popular performances for Columbia Records, including "The Lady is a Tramp," "This Could Be the Start of Something Big," "Around the World," "My Kind of Girl," "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World," "Call Me Irresponisble," "She Loves Me" and "You Win Again." Although it's far from a perfect retrospective of his career, it's still a nice sampler of familiar items, and it may satisfy the needs of some casual fans who only want the hits. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music Guide 

There have always been (and always will be) great performers who never quite reach superstar status but who hold on to the loyal, enthusiastic admiration of hundreds of thousands of fans and enjoy longer careers than many of their more celebrated colleagues. Among popular singers of the past 40 years, Buddy Greco is certainly near the top of any such list.

For years he has headlined shows in the smartest rooms of New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Hollywood, Las Vegas, Tahoe, and Toronto (to name just a few) where stars like Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald and Sammy Davis, Jr., have come to hear him and join the audience applause and cheers. Quite a few of his recordings have placed within the top 30 on the weekly 'Billboard' charts, although none ever made it to the hallowed number one spot. On radio stations that specialize in jazz and classic pop, his voice and piano stylings continue to be heard virtually every day. This collection of 16 of his biggest hits is just part of an ongoing recorded treasury that only scratches the surface of the versatility and performance pizzazz that have been his lifelong trademarks.

Buddy Greco was born on August 14th, 1926, in Philadelphia, the city that during the same decade also gave the music world Mario Lanza (1921), Sarah Vaughan (1924), and Eddie Fisher (1928). As a youngster, Buddy grew up speaking both Italian and English, and played bit parts in Italian soap operas being broadcast from the local radio station for which his father worked. His father also freelanced as an opera critic and encouraged Buddy's early interest in music. Even before the family could afford to buy a piano, the elder Greco painted a keyboard on the kitchen table so his son could practice correct fingering.

As Buddy became a teenager, however, it was clear that his first love was jazz, not opera or the classics. By his late teens he was playing and singing with his own jazz trio in the Philadelphia area.

In 1948 the trio attracted the attention of Benny Goodman's manager, Elliott Wexler. He helped Buddy make his first record, "Ooh! Looka There Ain't She Pretty" - and it quickly soared to hit status. Goodman himself came to hear the trio and lost no time hiring Buddy as a pianist, arranger, and rhythm vocalist with the Goodman orchestra. Buddy stayed with Goodman for three busy years.

Then, inspired by the success of Nat King Cole as both a pianist and singer, Buddy decided to go out on his own. For the next few years he played jazz clubs and hotel supper rooms, sometimes singing to his own piano accompaniments, sometimes singing with the house bands. He was also signed as a featured male vocalist on the NBC-TV late-night variety show "Broadway Open House" and began recording, first for Coral and Kapp, and then for many years for Epic, a CBS affiliate.

In 1963, at the peak of his popularity both on records and in personal appearances, Buddy confined to jazz historian and critic John S. Wilson in a 'New York Times' interview: "I always wanted to be a jazz pianist, but it's easier to make a living as a singer. Even Oscar Peterson, who is probably the greatest jazz pianist today, is not accepted as a star."

Buddy may have thought singing was "easier" but that doesn't mean he's ever cheated or given less than his all to his vocal stylings. "I do good songs and I don't use funny hats," he once told an interviewer. In his club acts and on recordings he has usually specialized on the best songs from Broadway and Hollywood - singing and swinging them with unique blend of virile verve and a refreshing kind of smilling intimacy. Underlying everything, of course, is his wonderful rhythmic sense and his basic respect for a composer's melodic line.

"I used to be what you could call a 'note singer'," he once told 'Metronome' editor and critic George T. Simon. "I was only interested in the music. The words came second. I'd sing the notes a jazz musician would play and it didn't make much difference if the words that went with them made any sense."

He altered that view over the years, of course. But, like Frank Sinatra, he can sometimes get playful with the lyrics of a song, cleverly updating their references to people and places or otherwise giving them an ear-catching hipness - as he does with some of the songs in this collection.

As his popularity steadily rose, Buddy was also approached about acting jobs. He was considered, for example, for the Johnny Fontaine character (a singer) in 'The Godfather', but Al Martino got the role. Buddy was also approached about a movie biography of the late blacklisted actor John Garfield (whom Buddy physically resembles in many ways), but the project never got off the ground. He also once told an interviewer that he would love to play the title character in a stage revival of Rodgers and Hart's 'Pal Joey' - a terrific suggestion that nobody has yet taken him up on.

By the 1970s, the rock revolution had so overturned the music business that most of the top singers of classic pop were struggling just to maintain precarious week-to-week career footholds. Buddy found himself neglected by the record companies and in less and less demand for club engagements. At the same time, his private life fell apart - including a headline-making divorce case. As he later told music chronicler Leonard Feather for the 'Los Angeles Times': "I was a wreck. I was broke and depressed. I just had to get away." He moved to Europe. Gradually, he began performing regularly again, with audiences in England, France, Italy, and then Australia playing a major role in rebuilding his confidence.

For a while he made Toronto his home base with his second wife. Then, with the resurgence of interest in classic pop and its best practitioners in the late '80s early '90s, Buddy - grayer on top but with his voice as vibrant as ever - made it clear he still has more to give the music scene. We can all be glad about that!

(Original notes by Roy Hemming, longtime 'Stereo Review' and 'Video Review' critic, and author of 'The Melody Lingers On: The Great Songwriters & Their Movie Musicals')

Known by his colleagues as a "singer's singer" and a "musician's musician," Buddy Greco has sold more than one million records. He is well-known for releasing songs from every genre, from jazz to country to pop music. He has performed on stage, on film and on television.

Born Armando Greco in Philadelphia, Buddy Greco began singing and playing the piano at the age of four. He used his talents performing on the radio. By the age of 16 Buddy Greco had more than a decade of musical experience behind him. He was playing in the nightclub Philadelphia's Club 13 when he was spotted by Benny Goodman. Bandleader Benny Goodman was impressed by Buddy Greco's talents and hired him as a pianist, a singer and an arranger. At the age of 16 Buddy Greco was traveling the world with one of the most popular big bands of the '30s, the Benny Goodman Band. He stayed with the band for four years.

At the ripe age of 20 Buddy Greco decided to pursue a solo professional music career. He began singing and performing in nightclubs and concerts. Some of his hit recordings include the popular favorites "Oh Look at Her, Ain't She Pretty," "The Lady Is A Tramp" and "Around the World." During his musical career he has made more than 65 albums including an album of he and the London Symphony Orchestra, in which he conducted and played.

In the '60s Buddy Greco's music career had been very successful. He appeared with the popular '60s rock group the Beatles in a performance for Queen Elizabeth the second. It was also in the '60s when Buddy Greco seriously began a career in film and television. In 1967 he was a regular performer on the TV series Away We Go. This nationwide television program gave Buddy Greco enormous exposure as a talented singer and pianist. He followed this series with a part in the 1969 film, The Girl Who Knew Too Much. His talents have taken him to great heights recording more than 100 hit singles. During the '70s and '80s, Buddy Greco concentrated on recording and performing. His hits included jazz, country and pop music. Audiences are astounded at the many styles of Buddy Greco.

Even after more than four decades of performing, Buddy Greco still remains one of the most widely-known singers of his time. In the early 90s he toured with "The Salute to the Benny Goodman Band." The ensemble performed 72 shows, each garnering a standing ovation. He performed for two years at The Desert Inn Hotel in Las Vegas and in 1996 ended two world tours at Café Royale in London.

With all his musical credits, Buddy Greco is an inductee of the Philadelphia Music Alliance's Walk of Fame and has entries in both the Encyclopedia of Great Musicians and the Encyclopedia of Great Jazz Singers and Musicians. Buddy Greco's musical abilities live on in his more than 60 albums and more than 100 hit singles. He writes and records scores for film and television. ~ Kim Summers, Rovi

domingo, 19 de setembro de 2010

Grandes Canções do Século XX - Volume 5 - Various Artists

  1. The Entertainer - Henry Mancini
  2. That's What Friends Are for - Shirley Bassey
  3. Downtown - Petula Clark
  4. Wind Beneath My Wings - Shirley Bassey
  5. What A Wonderful World - Roger Williams
  6. She Believes in Me - Kenny Rogers
  7. When You Wish upon A Star - Berdien Stenberg
  8. Estrellita - Patrice Fontanarosa & Douglas Gamley
  9. Because - Jose Carreras
  10. Summertime - Anna Moffo
  11. Mattinata - Jose Carreras
  12. Indian Love Call - Anna Moffo & Richard Fredricks
  13. Sabre's Dance - Franck Pourcel
  14. Happy Widow Waltz - Patrice Fontanarosa

sexta-feira, 17 de setembro de 2010

Grandes Canções do Século XX - Volume 4 - Various Artists

  1. Yesterday - Shirley Bassey
  2. Michelle - Vic Damone
  3. Something - Petula Clark
  4. The More I See You - Engelbert Humperdinck
  5. Words - Sandie Shaw
  6. Can't Take My Eyes off You - Sacha Distel
  7. The Winner Takes It All - Hazell Dean
  8. Misty - Henry Mancini
  9. Feelings - Vic Damone
  10. Dio Come Ti Amo - Shirley Bassey
  11. Mona Lisa - Ken Barrie
  12. Night and Day - Vic Damone
  13. A Lovely Way to Spend A Evening - Engelbert Humperdinck
  14. Fly Me to the Moon - Harry James

quarta-feira, 15 de setembro de 2010

Grandes Canções do Século XX - Volume 3 - Various Artists

  1. Perfidia - Vic Damone
  2. Solamente Una Vez - Jose Carreras
  3. Desafinado - Vic Damone
  4. Guantanamera - Demis Roussos
  5. The Girl from Ipanema - Vic Damone
  6. Besame Mucho - Francis Goya
  7. La Vie En Rose - Petula Clark
  8. Chicago - Rosemary Squires
  9. Autumn Leaves - Roger Williams
  10. What Now My Love - Vic Damone
  11. Always - Kenny Rogers
  12. It Had to Be You - Helen Forrest
  13. El Manisero - Chet Atkins
  14. Let It Be - Judy Collins

segunda-feira, 13 de setembro de 2010

Grandes Canções do Século XX - Volume 2 - Various Artists

  1. A Time for Us - Vic Damone
  2. My Heart Will Go on - Pietro Lacirignola
  3. As Time Goes By - Engelbert Humperdinck
  4. Smile - Sandie Shaw
  5. Unchained Melody - Kenny Rogers
  6. (Everything I Do) I Do It for You - Petula Clark
  7. Love Story - Henry Mancini
  8. Memory - Betty Buckley
  9. Tea for Two - Ed Ames & Margaret Whiting
  10. People - Rosemary Squires
  11. Maria - Michael Maguire
  12. All I Ask of You - Shirley Bassey
  13. Don't Cry for Me, Argentina - Judy Collins
  14. On the Street Where You Live - Michael Maguire

sábado, 11 de setembro de 2010

Grandes Canções do Século XX - Volume 1 - Various Artists

  1. Unforgettable - Kenny Rogers
  2. I've Got You under My Skin - Rosemary Squires
  3. Begin the Beguine - Vic Damone
  4. Your Song - Petula Clark
  5. Love Is A Many Splendored Thing - Kenny Rogers
  6. Stardust - Vic Damone
  7. Isn't It Romantic - Tony Bennett
  8. El Dia Que Me Quieras - Jose Carreras
  9. The Shadow of Your Smile - Vic Damone
  10. When I Fall in Love - Kenny Rogers
  11. Embraceable You - Engelbert Humperdinck
  12. Blue Moon - Vic Damone
  13. Smoke Gets in Your Eyes - Henry Mancini
  14. The Power of Love - Shirley Bassey

quinta-feira, 9 de setembro de 2010

Glen Campbell - The Best of Glen Campbell - The Gold Collection

  1. Rhinestone Cowboy
  2. Wichita Lineman
  3. Galveston
  4. Southern Nights
  5. By the Time I Get to Phoenix
  6. Dreams of the Everyday Housewife
  7. True Grit
  8. Honey Come Back
  9. All I Have to Do Is Dream
  10. It's Only Make Believe
  11. Dream Baby (How Long Must I Dream)
  12. Sunflower
  13. Don't Pull Your Love Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye
  14. Let it Be Me
Glen Campbell's guitar-pickin' talent, dimpled chin and blue-eyed good looks made him a star of both country music and mainstream pop in the 1960s. Campbell was a hotshot Los Angeles session guitarist early in the decade, making a name for himself while playing behind headliners like Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley  and the Beach Boys. The 1967 single "Gentle On My Mind" made Campbell a bona fide solo star, and he followed up with a ranchful of hit tunes including "Wichita Linesman," "By the Time I Get to Phoenix" and "Galveston." In 1969 he made the leap to television as host of The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour. The same year he took a turn as a dandified Texas Ranger opposite John Wayne in True Grit, in what was by far the most prominent movie role of his career. The Goodtime Hour ran until 1972, and Campbell had hits with "Rhinestone Cowboy" in 1975 and "Southern Nights" in 1977. His autobiography, Rhinestone Cowboy was published in 1994.

Campbell was one of 12 children... Actor/directors Steve Martin and Rob Reiner were writers for the Goodtime Hour... Campbell had a highly public romantic affair with country singer Tanya Tucker in the 1980s... He was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol and assaulting an officer after a hit-and-run incident in 2003; his unflattering mug shot was widely distributed online... He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2005.


terça-feira, 7 de setembro de 2010

Neil Sedaka - All Time Greatest Hits

  1. Breaking up Is Hard to Do
  2. The Diary
  3. Happy Birthday, Sweet Sixteen
  4. Little Devil
  5. You Mean Everything to Me
  6. Oh! Carol
  7. Stairway to Heaven
  8. Next Door to An Angel
  9. King of Clowns
  10. Run Samson Run
  11. Calendar Girl
  12. Sweet Little You
  13. Alice in Wonderland
  14. Let's Go Steady Again
Singer, songwriter, and pianist Neil Sedaka enjoyed two distinct periods of commercial success in two slightly different styles of pop music: first, as a teen pop star in the late '50s and early '60s, then as a singer of more mature pop/rock in the '70s. In both phases, Sedaka, a classically trained pianist, composed the music for his hits, which he sang in a boyish tenor. And throughout, even when his performing career was at a low ebb, he served as a songwriter for other artists, resulting in a string of hits year in and year out, whether recorded by him or someone else. For himself, he wrote eight U.S. Top Ten pop hits, including the chart-toppers "Breaking Up Is Hard to Do," "Laughter in the Rain," and "Bad Blood." The most successful cover of one of his compositions was Captain & Tennille's recording of "Love Will Keep Us Together," another number one. And over the years his songs were recorded by a wide range of pop, rock, country, R&B, and jazz performers including ABBA, Frankie Avalon, LaVern Baker, Shirley Bassey, Teresa Brewer, Carol Burnett, Glen Campbell, the Carpenters, Nick Carter, David Cassidy, Cher, Petula Clark, Richard Clayderman, Patsy Cline, Rosemary Clooney, Sheryl Crow, Vic Damone, Bobby Darin, John Davidson, Neil Diamond, Gloria Estefan, the 5th Dimension, the Four Seasons, Connie Francis, Crystal Gayle, Lesley Gore, the Happenings, Engelbert Humperdinck, Wanda Jackson, Jan & Dean, Tom Jones, Carole King, Earl Klugh, Peggy Lee, Little Anthony & the Imperials, Tony Martin, Johnny Mathis, Susannah McCorkle, Clyde McPhatter, Mandy Moore, Nana Mouskouri, Maria Muldaur, the Monkees, Jim Nabors, Wayne Newton, Jane Olivor, Donny Osmond, Patti Page, the Partridge Family, Bernadette Peters, Wilson Pickett, Elvis Presley, Cliff Richard, the Searchers, Sha Na Na, Kay Starr, John Travolta, Dinah Washington, Andy Williams, and Glenn Yarbrough, among many others.

Sedaka was born in Brooklyn on March 13, 1939. His father, Mac Sedaka, a taxi driver, was the son of Turkish immigrants; his mother, Eleanor (Appel) Sedaka, was of Polish-Russian descent. He first demonstrated musical aptitude in his second-grade choral class, and when his teacher sent a note home suggesting he take piano lessons, his mother got a part-time job in a department store for six months to pay for a second-hand upright. He took to the instrument immediately. In 1947, he auditioned successfully for a piano scholarship to the prestigious Juilliard School of Music's Preparatory Division for Children, which he began to attend on Saturdays. He also maintained an interest in popular music, and when he was 13, a neighbor heard him playing and introduced him to her 16-year-old son, Howard Greenfield, an aspiring poet and lyricist; the two began writing songs together.

In high school, Sedaka formed a vocal group, the Tokens. After singing at local functions, they got an audition with a music publisher in Manhattan at 1619 Broadway, the famed Brill Building. This, in turn, led to an audition with the head of a small label, Melba Records, which released a single containing two Sedaka/Greenfield compositions, "I Love My Baby" and "While I Dream," in 1956. It achieved some airplay locally, but did not become a national hit, and Sedaka left the group, which later reorganized and went on to professional success in the '60s. Around the same time, another song written by Sedaka earned a more prominent recording. He had collaborated with his brother-in-law, Eddie Grossman, on "Never Again," which Grossman arranged to have published and which was recorded by Dinah Washington for Mercury Records.

Meanwhile, the budding composer continued to attend Lincoln High School in Brooklyn and to pursue his classical studies. In 1956, he was one of a small group of New York City high school students chosen in a competition judged by Artur Rubinstein to play on the local classical radio station, WQXR. Upon his graduation from high school, Sedaka was accepted by the college division of Juilliard. At the same time, however, he and Greenfield continued writing songs and taking them to publishing companies at the Brill Building and another Manhattan office building just up the street at 1650 Broadway. There they encountered a new firm, Aldon Music, run by Al Nevins and Don Kirshner, who signed them to a songwriting contract and also signed Sedaka to a management contract as a performing artist. In 1957, without his prior knowledge, two demonstration recordings he had made of his songs "Laura Lee" and "Snowtime" were released as a single by Decca Records, giving him his first solo disc. Again, the record was not a hit. But the team of Sedaka and Greenfield finally did reach the charts when they placed "Stupid Cupid" with the new singing star Connie Francis in 1958. Francis had broken through with a revival of the '20s ballad "Who's Sorry Now," while "Stupid Cupid" was up-tempo rock & roll. It peaked at number 14 on Billboard's Hot 100 in September, and Francis followed it with another Sedaka/Greenfield composition, "Fallin'," which peaked at number 30 in November. (In a harbinger of things to come, the songs were even more successful in the U.K., where "Stupid Cupid" hit number one and "Fallin'" made the Top 20.)

Another of Sedaka's demos, "Ring-a-Rockin'," turned up on disc in 1958 and even earned an airing on the American Bandstand television series, but did not become a hit. Nevertheless, interest in Sedaka as both a songwriter and a performer clearly was growing. In the fall of 1958, he took a leave of absence from Juilliard, and he auditioned at RCA Victor Records. He was signed, and RCA quickly issued his first formal solo single, the Sedaka/Greenfield song "The Diary," which peaked at number 14 in February 1959. But its follow-up, the up-tempo "I Go Ape," missed the Top 40 (despite reaching the Top Ten in Great Britain), and his third RCA single, "Crying My Heart Out for You," was a flop.

In his 1982 autobiography, Laughter in the Rain: My Own Story, Sedaka writes that, after the disappointing performance of his second RCA single and the failure of his third, "I knew I had to have a hit. I would get no more chances." To come up with that hit, he consulted the international charts in Billboard, then went out and bought the three most successful records he saw listed and listened to them repeatedly, "analyzing what they had in common. I discovered," he writes, "they had many similar elements: harmonic rhythm, placement of the chord changes, choice of harmonic progressions, similar instrumentation, vocals phrases, drum fills, content, even the timbre of the lead solo voice. I decided to write a song that incorporated all these elements in one record." The result of this deliberate effort was his fourth RCA single, "Oh! Carol" (dedicated to songwriter Carole King, an early girlfriend of his), which turned his performing career around, becoming his first American Top Ten hit as an artist in December. (In 1962, the Four Seasons covered it on their chart album Sherry & 11 Others.)

Meanwhile, RCA had released his debut album, Neil Sedaka, and it earned a nomination for the 1959 Grammy Award for Best Performance by a "Top 40" Artist, losing to Nat King Cole's "Midnight Flyer." And as a songwriter, he had other hits during the year: LaVern Baker reached the Top Five of the R&B chart with "I Waited Too Long"; Connie Francis took "Frankie" into the pop Top Ten; Clyde McPhatter reached the R&B Top 20 with "Since You've Been Gone"; and Roy Hamilton had a pop chart entry with "Time Marches On."

After the success of his fifth RCA single, "Stairway to Heaven," which peaked in the Top Ten in May 1960, the 21-year-old Sedaka finally began making personal appearances to support his records. Soon, he was touring extensively, including shows in South America, the Far East, and Europe. (He also began recording in Italian, German, Japanese, and Spanish, increasing his international popularity.) Meanwhile, the hits kept coming. His next single was a double-sided success, with "You Mean Everything to Me" making the Top 20 and "Run Samson Run" the Top 30, and his third 45 of 1960, "Calendar Girl," gave him his third Top Ten hit with a number four peak in February 1961. He seemed to have less time to write songs for other artists, but Jimmy Clanton peaked in the Top 30 in June 1960 with "Another Sleepless Night." Clanton had another Sedaka/Greenfield song, "What Am I Gonna Do," out by the end of the year, and it charted in January 1961.

The busy pace seemed to take a toll on Sedaka by 1961. "Little Devil" gave him his sixth consecutive Top 40 hit in May, but his next single, "Sweet Little You," was his first with a song that he had not composed himself (it was written by Barry Mann and Larry Kolber), and it broke his string of hits. "Happy Birthday, Sweet Sixteen," another Sedaka/Greenfield composition, was out before the end of the year and returned him to the Top Ten with a peak at number six in January 1962, however. (Neil Diamond covered it on his 1993 chart album Up on the Roof: Songs from the Brill Building.) Also in 1961, Sedaka released his second album of new studio recordings, Circulate, on which he sang pop standards. And his pen was far from idle otherwise. He and Greenfield had written the song score for the film Where the Boys Are, Connie Francis' acting debut, which resulted in a Top Five, gold-selling hit in her recording of the title song in early 1961.

"King of Clowns," Sedaka's first single of 1962, missed the Top 40, but he scored his biggest hit yet with "Breaking Up Is Hard to Do," which went to number one in August. It was nominated for the 1962 Grammy Award for Best Rock & Roll Recording, but lost out to Bent Fabric's "Alley Cat." The song went on to become perhaps Sedaka's most valuable copyright, being revived for a pop singles chart entry by the Happenings in 1968, an R&B Top 30 and pop Top 40 hit by Lenny Welch in 1970, and a Top 30 pop hit (and U.K. Top Five) by the Partridge Family in 1972, while also appearing on chart LPs by the Four Seasons, Little Eva, and Sha Na Na, all before Sedaka himself revived it for a hit again in the mid-'70s.

Sedaka's third single of 1962, "Next Door to an Angel," reached the Top Five. RCA marked the completion of his fourth year as a hitmaker by releasing Neil Sedaka Sings His Greatest Hits, which became his first LP to reach the charts. Meanwhile, the Sedaka/Greenfield team placed "Venus in Blue Jeans" with Jimmy Clanton for a Top Ten hit (it also made the U.K. Top Ten in a rendition by Mark Wynter), and "Keep a Walkin'" on Bobby Darin's chart album Twist with Bobby Darin.

By 1963, Sedaka reportedly had sold 25 million records worldwide. But at this point his career began to go into decline. He released four singles in 1963, and all of them charted, with three in the Top 40 and one, "Alice in Wonderland," even making the Top 20, but that was a disappointing performance after his previous successes. 1964, the year the Beatles arrived in America and launched the British Invasion, was worse, with Sedaka's three single releases resulting in only one brief appearance in the Hot 100 for "Sunny," and 1965 wasn't much better, as another three Sedaka singles produced only two chart entries for "The World Through a Tear" and "The Answer to My Prayer" (both written by Chris Allen, Peter Allen, and Richard Everitt). In 1966, Sedaka released two last singles on RCA, but they failed to chart, and by early 1967 he was without a record label. He was not, however, without a publisher. Aldon had been sold to Screen Gems and offered him plenty of opportunities to place his compositions. Screen Gems' main priority at the time was the Monkees, the group created for a television series patterned on the Beatles movie A Hard Day's Night, and the Sedaka/Greenfield song "When Love Comes Knockin' (At Your Door)" appeared on their second album, More of the Monkees, a number one hit in early 1967. That spring the Cyrkle reached the charts with Sedaka/Greenfield's "We Had a Good Thing Goin'." "Workin' on a Groovy Thing," written by Sedaka with Roger Atkins, was a Top 40 R&B hit and pop chart entry for Patti Drew in the summer of 1968, and a year later earned Top 20 rankings in the pop and R&B charts in a cover by the 5th Dimension. Also in 1968, Sedaka had a cut on Frankie Valli's chart album Timeless called "Make the Music Play." In 1969, Sedaka/Greenfield's "The Girl I Left Behind Me" appeared on the Monkees LP Instant Replay. Also, for the first time in three years, Sedaka had his own release, on Screen Gems' SGC label, the single "Star-Crossed Lovers," which became a hit in Australia, but not in the U.S. Nevertheless, he had a second SGC release in 1970, "Rainy Jane," a song covered by former Monkees singer Davy Jones for a chart entry in 1971. Also in 1970, the 5th Dimension recorded Sedaka/Greenfield's "Puppet Man" for a Top 30 pop hit, and a year later Tom Jones also had a Top 30 hit with it. Peggy Lee cut Sedaka/Greenfield's "One More Ride on the Merry-Go-Round" for her 1970 chart album Make It with You, and the team also wrote songs for an animated children's TV series about the comic basketball troupe the Harlem Globetrotters called The Globetrotters.

Perhaps the most significant recording to Sedaka's career in 1971 was one he himself was not involved with, Carole King's breakthrough album Tapestry, which topped the charts. The LP demonstrated the new appeal of soft rock singer/songwriters and made veteran writers from the Brill Building era hip again. Don Kirshner negotiated a manufacturing and distribution deal with RCA for his new Kirshner Records label, and he signed Sedaka to a contract, resulting in the release of Sedaka's first album of new original material in 12 years, Emergence, in September 1971. He also began performing in showcase clubs like New York's Bitter End. The album didn't chart, but it was a new beginning. Meanwhile, Sedaka continued to place songs with other performers. Tony Christie scored a Top 20 hit in the U.K. with "Is This the Way to Amarillo" (aka "Amarillo") in the fall of 1971; TV star Carol Burnett gave great prominence to a Sedaka tune on her early 1972 chart album by calling it Carol Burnett Featuring "If I Could Write a Song"; and Cher had a chart entry in September 1972 with "Don't Hide Your Love."

At this point, Sedaka made two important changes in his attempt to resurrect his career. First, he decided, after 20 years, to sever his songwriting partnership with Howard Greenfield in favor of a new partner who could write in a style more consistent with what he called in his autobiography the "more elusive, more poetic" lyrics of the '70s singer/songwriters, rather than Greenfield's "very slick and polished" words. (He did continue to work with Greenfield occasionally thereafter.) At his publisher's, he met Phil Cody, and they began to write. Second, finding that he was getting a better reception in Great Britain than in the U.S., he moved to London to concentrate on mounting a comeback there. His increasing profile was confirmed by the Top 20 British success of a maxi-single containing three of his old songs, "Oh! Carol," "Breaking Up Is Hard to Do," and "Little Devil," in the fall of 1972. Also that fall, Kirshner Records released his next album, Solitaire, which he had recorded in England with a backup band that would emerge later as 10cc. The album did not chart, but it produced two chart singles in the U.K., "Beautiful You" and "That's When the Music Takes Me," the latter reaching the Top 20. Glen Campbell recorded "That's When the Music Takes Me" for his concert album Live at the Royal Festival Hall, which charted in 1977, and other singers found material on Solitaire. Donny Gerrard scored an R&B chart entry in 1975 with "(Baby) Don't Let It Mess Your Mind," and Yvonne Elliman put the same song on her 1978 chart album Night Flight. But it was the title song from Solitaire that became another of Sedaka's most successful copyrights. Andy Williams' cover became a Top Five hit in Britain in the winter of 1973-1974; the Carpenters' version was a Top 20 hit in the U.S. in 1975; and the song appeared on chart albums by Johnny Mathis, Elvis Presley, and Jane Olivor on its way to being a much-performed standard. Sheryl Crow sang it on the Carpenters tribute album If I Were a Carpenter in 1994, and in 2004 Clay Aiken, a runner-up from the American Idol TV talent show, took his recording to number four.

Having reestablished himself in the U.K., Sedaka signed to the European label Polydor, which assigned him to its MGM subsidiary, and recorded a new album, The Tra-La Days Are Over, which was released in the U.K. in the summer of 1973. In the U.S., MGM tested the waters with a couple of singles, but when they did not succeed, the LP was not released in America. In Britain, it was a different story. "Standing on the Inside" and "Our Last Song Together" (the latter, appropriately, the last song Sedaka had written with Greenfield before their split) both made the Top 40, and the LP made the Top 20. Sedaka followed in 1974 with Laughter in the Rain, released on the main Polydor label, which also made the Top 20 and threw off two Top 40 hits, "A Little Lovin'" and the title song. Again, the album was not released in the U.S. Around this time, Sedaka and Cody's expertise was called upon by Swedish songwriters Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus when they wrote English lyrics for "Ring Ring," one of ABBA's early songs.

While in England, Sedaka met Elton John, at the time the top pop recording star in the world, who was about to launch his own label, Rocket Records. John agreed to sign Sedaka for the U.S., and for his first release they assembled a compilation album drawn from Solitaire, The Tra-La Days Are Over, and Laughter in the Rain. The album was called Sedaka's Back, and it lived up to its name. It was preceded by the release of "Laughter in the Rain" as a single, and the song topped the charts in February 1975, Sedaka's first number one single in nearly 13 years. (To become a hit, the Sedaka version had to outdistance one by Lea Roberts that made the R&B charts; the song was also recorded on chart albums by Johnny Mathis and Earl Klugh.) The album made the Top 30 and went gold, and it spawned two more Top 40 hits, "The Immigrant" and "That's When the Music Takes Me." After "Our Last Song Together" appeared on the album, Bo Donaldson & the Heywoods covered it for a singles chart entry. In addition, Captain & Tennille covered "Love Will Keep Us Together" (another of Sedaka's final collaborations with Greenfield) from the album and released their version as a single that hit number one in June 1975. (Among the many other recordings of the song, Wilson Pickett revived it for a pop chart entry in 1976 and James Taylor Quartet featuring Alison Limerick had an R&B chart entry in 1995.) Captain & Tennille also tapped Sedaka's Back for "Sad Eyes," which they recorded for their 1977 Come in from the Rain LP (that album also contained the Sedaka song "Let Mama Know"). "Sad Eyes" earned another cover by Maria Muldaur on her 1976 chart album Sweet Harmony, after having been a number 11 hit on the Easy Listening chart for Andy Williams in the fall of 1975. "The Other Side of Me," another track from Sedaka's Back, gave Williams a British chart entry in 1976 and was featured on U.S. chart albums by Shirley Bassey and Crystal Gayle. But Donny Osmond had beaten them all by putting it on his chart album Alone Together back in 1973, just after its initial appearance on The Tra-La Days Are Over.

Sedaka toured the U.S. as an opening act for the Carpenters; by the end of the year, he was a Las Vegas headliner. Meanwhile, he had continued to record for the U.K. market, issuing a concert LP, Live at the Royal Festival Hall, in the fall of 1974 and, in the spring of 1975, a new studio album, Overnight Success, featuring the Top 40 hit "The Queen of 1964." Again, this LP was not issued in the U.S., but in the late summer, with Sedaka reestablished, American disc jockeys began playing a cut from it, "Bad Blood," which featured a prominent backup vocal by Elton John. This forced a quick U.S. release for the song, and Overnight Success, with a couple of track substitutions, appeared in America in September 1975 under the title The Hungry Years. "Bad Blood" soared to number one and went gold, and the album made the Top 20 and went gold, while also throwing off a new slow-tempo version of "Breaking Up Is Hard to Do" that peaked in the Top Ten in early 1976, leading to the odd occurrence that the 14-year-old tune earned a nomination for the 1976 Grammy Award for Song of the Year, which it lost to Bruce Johnston's "I Write the Songs." "Breaking Up Is Hard to Do" was given a new lease on life. Jimmy Bee and Ernie Fields & His Orchestra covered it for an R&B chart entry in 1976, and the same year the Carpenters put it on their chart LP A Kind of Hush. In 1983, the American Comedy Network had a pop chart entry with a parody, "Breaking Up Is Hard on You," and Gloria Estefan sang it on her double-platinum 1994 album Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me. Also, Captain & Tennille located another Sedaka-penned hit on The Hungry Years, recording "Lonely Night (Angel Face)" for a gold-selling Top Five hit in early 1976, and Wayne Newton scored a chart entry with the album's title song, which also earned covers in 1976 on chart albums by Johnny Mathis, Engelbert Humperdinck, Shirley Bassey, and Rita Coolidge.

Sedaka finally managed to put out the same album in the U.S. and overseas at the same time in the spring of 1976 with Steppin' Out, but it was not as big a hit as its predecessors, even though it reached the Top 30 and contained three chart hits, "Love in the Shadows," "You Gotta Make Your Own Sunshine," and the title song. None of the album's songs became hits for other performers, but John Travolta recorded a new Sedaka composition, "I Don't Know What I Like About You Baby," for his self-titled 1976 chart album. Steppin' Out concluded Sedaka's contract with Rocket Records, and he moved to Elektra for 1977's A Song, produced by George Martin of Beatles fame, another modest success that contained his chart revival of his song "Amarillo" as well as "You Never Done It Like That," which Captain & Tennille covered for a Top Ten hit. The duo also recorded "Love Is Spreading Over the World," a new Sedaka song, on their Dream album in 1978, while Jane Olivor put "The Big Parade," another song Sedaka himself had not recorded, on her 1977 Chasing Rainbows LP.

Sedaka's second Elektra album, All You Need Is the Music (1978), missed the charts, suggesting that his second commercial resurgence as a record seller had subsided. But he returned in the spring of 1980 with In the Pocket. It was preceded by the single "Should've Never Let You Go," which he sang as a duo with his daughter Dara Sedaka. The single made the Top 40 and earned a cover by Bernadette Peters on her self-titled chart album released at the same time. In the Pocket only made the lower reaches of the charts, however, and 1981's Neil Sedaka: Now, Sedaka's fourth and last Elektra album, did not chart at all. He switched to MCA/Curb, which had him record oldies in the company of other veteran stars, resulting in an Adult Contemporary chart hit with Dara Sedaka on the old Marvin Gaye/Tammi Terrell hit "Your Precious Love" in 1983-1984, an Adult Contemporary chart entry with a revival of the Cascades' 1963 hit "Rhythm of the Rain," and the LP Come See About Me.

Clearly, Sedaka's days as a major recording act were over by the mid-'80s, but he had amassed a sufficient backlog of hits that he could perform successfully for decades in theaters and hotel casinos in the U.S. and internationally. That's what he did, meanwhile issuing occasional new recordings and re-recordings of his old songs. The death of Howard Greenfield from AIDS in 1986 prompted the release of the double-album My Friend, containing the duo's best-known work. In 1991, Polydor's Timeless: The Very Best of Neil Sedaka became a Top Ten hit in the U.K. Varèse Sarabande's 1995 collection Tuneweaver found Sedaka revisiting many of his old hits, and the same year saw the release of Classically Sedaka on Vision, an album on which he adapted classical themes into songs with new lyrics that he wrote himself. Tales of Love and Other Passions, featuring a jazz trio, appeared in 1997. In 1999, a TV-advertised collection, The Very Best of Neil Sedaka, charted in the U.K. Brighton Beach Memories: Neil Sedaka Sings Yiddish was released on Sameach in 2003, and the same year Sedaka self-released an album of new songs to which he had written both music and lyrics, The Show Goes On. Early 2010 brought another set of new songs, The Music of My Life, which was packaged with a disc of his greatest hits. ~ William Ruhlmann, Rovi

domingo, 5 de setembro de 2010

Bobby Vinton - 16 Most Requested Songs

  1. Blue Velvet
  2. Tell Me Why
  3. To Know You Is to Love You
  4. Take Good Care of My Baby
  5. There, I've Said It Again
  6. Coming Home Soldier
  7. Over the Mountain / Across the Sea
  8. Halfway to Paradise
  9. Please Love Me Forever
  10. Blue on Blue
  11. L-O-N-E-L-Y
  12. Just as Much as Ever
  13. I Love Now You Love Me
  14. My Heart Belongs to Only You
  15. Mr. Lonely
  16. Roses Are Red
Every era needs its crooner, and in the early '60s, it was Bobby Vinton. Vinton's sentimental balladeering and orchestral, middle-of-the-road arrangements were a throwback to a decade earlier, before rock & roll had found its mass market. If Vinton is sometimes identified with a rock & roll audience, it's only because his music was bought by young listeners for a time, and because he still catches some airplay on oldies stations. What he sang was vocal pop, landing some of the biggest hits of the early '60s with "Roses Are Red (My Love)," "Blue on Blue," "There! I've Said It Again," "Mr. Lonely," and "Blue Velvet," the last of which has become his signature song in the wake of its notorious prominence in David Lynch's Blue Velvet.

Vinton originally aspired to lead a big band, and made big band versions of contemporary hits on his first recordings in the early '60s. When he began singing, however, he was quickly successful, reaching number one with "Roses Are Red (My Love)" in mid-1962. The syrupy, saccharine arrangements set the mold for his emotional, occasionally mournful hits throughout the early '60s. 1963 was his banner year, as he hit number three with "Blue on Blue," and then topped the charts with "Blue Velvet" and "There! I've Said It Again."

"There! I've Said It Again" was knocked out of the number one spot by the Beatles' "I Want to Hold Your Hand." But the British Invasion, surprisingly, didn't spell commercial death for Vinton, as it did for so many other balladeers and teen idols. Indeed, he had one of his biggest hits (and his final number one), the sobbing "Mr. Lonely," in late 1964. Although he didn't maintain quite the same superstar ranking, he was consistently popular throughout the next decade; between 1962 and 1972, in fact, he had an astonishing 28 Top 40 entries. Often he updated quaint 1960-era pop tunes such as "Halfway to Paradise," "Take Good Care of My Baby," and "Sealed With a Kiss." A couple of these, "Please Love Me Forever" and "I Love How You Love Me," made the Top Ten, which was quite an anachronism in 1967 and 1968.

Vinton seemed to have launched a major comeback in 1974 with "Melody of Love," which made number three, and enjoys the distinction of being the only major American hit single sung partially in Polish. Only one more Top 40 hit was in the offing, though. This probably didn't particularly bother Vinton, who had his own TV series for a few years in the late '70s, and could always count on lucrative gigs on the cabaret circuit. ~ Richie Unterberger, Rovi

sexta-feira, 3 de setembro de 2010

Salvatore Adamo - C'Est Ma Vie

  1. C'Est Ma Vie
  2. Inch' Allah
  3. Tombe La Neige
  4. La Nuit
  5. J'Aime
  6. Comme Toujours
  7. Mes Mains Sur Tes Hanches
  8. Vouz Permettez Monsieur
  9. Elle
  10. Une Larme Aux Nuages
  11. J'Avais Oublie Que Les Roses Sont Roses
  12. Les Filles Du Bord De Mer
  13. La Barbu Sans Barbe
  14. Quand Les Roses
  15. Une Meche De Cheveux
A passion for music and an emotion-tinged vocal quality has made Salvatore Adamo one of the most commercially successful singers in Europe and one of the most famous Italian immigrants living in Belgium. Since his debut album, Vous Permettez Monsieur, transformed him into an internationally-known celebrity, Adamo has sold over eighty million copies of his albums worldwide. Adamo, who emigrated to Belgium with his parents at the age of three, was raised in Jemappes and later moved to Brussels. A bright student, Adamo was able to avoid the coal mining industry that lured many Italian immigrants to Belgium and concentrate on his academic and musical studies. Adamo's influences included the music of Victor Hugo, Jacques Prevert  and George Brassers and the Italian canzoetta and tango. While he recorded a collection of songs from Napoli, Adamo has sung in his adopted language of French. In the mid-'60s, Adamo reached his commercial peak, placing a number of songs at the top of the music charts including "Sans Toi Mamie" in 1963 and "Vous Permetter Monsieur," "Quand les Roses" and "Dolce Paola" in 1964. An adaptation of Adamo's composition, "Les Filles Du Bord de Mer," was recorded by Arno  in 1993 and sparked a renewed interest in his work. Adamo's 1998 album, Regards, revealed a sociopolitical edge to his music with songs commenting on racism and the civil war in Bosnia. In Belgium, the album was released with two songs -- "Laat Onze Kinderen Dromen (Let The Children Dream)" and "Il Zie Een Engel (I See An Angel)" -- sung in Dutch. ~ Craig Harris, Rovi

quarta-feira, 1 de setembro de 2010

4 Astros da Música Internacional : José Feliciano - Kenny Rogers - Tony Bennett - Johnny Mathis

Disc 1 - Johnny Mathis
  1. It's Not for Me to Say
  2. Feelings
  3. Misty
  4. Evie
  5. Smile
  6. You'll Never Know
  7. One Day in Your Life
  8. If
  9. Theme from Summer of '42
  10. My Funny Valentine
  11. A Lovely Way to Spend an Evening
  12. Betcha by Golly Wow
  13. A Time for Us
  14. A Man and A Woman
Disc 2 - Tony Bennett
  1. My Romance
  2. Manhattan
  3. Blue Moon
  4. The Most Beautiful Girl in the World
  5. I Wish You Were in Love Again
  6. I've Got Five Dollars
  7. Mountain Greenery
  8. Have You Met Miss Jones?
  9. Lover
  10. Spring Is Here
  11. This Can't Be Love
  12. This Funny World
  13. Thou Swell
  14. You Took Advantage of Me
Disc 3 - Kenny Rogers
  1. Love Me Tender
  2. As Time Goes By
  3. It Had to Be You
  4. Unchained Melody
  5. Stardust
  6. I Only Have Eyes for You
  7. Crazy
  8. When A Man Loves A Woman
  9. You Light up My Life
  10. Lady
  11. Can't Help Falling in Love
  12. I Swear
  13. You Decorated My Life
  14. You Are So Beautiful
Disc 4 - José Feliciano
  1.  Light My Fire
  2. California Dreamin'
  3. Right Here Waiting
  4. Daniel
  5. You Send Me
  6. Bamboleo
  7. High Heel Sneakers
  8. Mule Skinner Blues
  9. Angela
  10. Volvere
  11. Time After Time
  12. Samba Pa Ti
  13. Rain
  14. La Bamba
    One of the last and most popular in a long line of traditional male vocalists who emerged before the rock-dominated 1960s, Johnny Mathis concentrated on romantic readings of jazz and pop standards for the ever-shrinking adult contemporary audience of the '60s and '70s. Though he debuted with a flurry of singles-chart activity, Mathis later made it big in the album market, where a dozen of his LPs hit gold or platinum and over 60 made the charts. While he concentrated on theme-oriented albums of show tunes and traditional favorites during the '60s, he began incorporating soft rock by the '70s and remained a popular concert attraction well into the '90s.

    Unsurprisingly, given his emphasis on long sustained notes and heavy vibrato, Johnny Mathis studied with an opera coach prior to his teenage years, and was almost lured into the profession; his other inspirations were the smoother crossover jazz vocalists of the 1940s -- Nat "King" Cole, Billy Eckstine, and Lena Horne. Mathis was an exceptional high school athlete in San Francisco, but was wooed away from a college track scholarship and a potential spot on the Olympic squad by the chance to sing. He was signed to a management contract by club owner Helen Noga, who introduced the singer to George Avakian, jazz producer for Columbia Records. Avakian signed him and used orchestras conducted by Teo Macero, Gil Evans, and John Lewis to record Mathis' self-titled debut album in 1957. Despite the name talent and choice of standards, it was mostly ignored upon release.

    Columbia A&R executive Mitch Miller -- known for his desperately pop-slanted Sing Along albums and TV show -- decided the only recourse was switching Mathis to Miller's brand of pop balladry, and the formula worked like a charm; the LP Wonderful, Wonderful didn't include but was named after a Top 20 hit later in 1957, which was followed by the number five "It's Not for Me to Say" and his first number one, "Chances Are." From that point on, Johnny Mathis concentrated strictly on lush ballads for adult contemporary listeners.

    Though he charted consistently, massive hit singles were rare for Johnny Mathis during the late '50s and '60s -- half of his career Top Ten output had occurred in 1957 alone -- so he chose to focus instead on the burgeoning album market, much like Frank Sinatra, his main rival during the late '50s as the most popular traditional male vocalist. Mathis moved away from show tunes and traditional pop into soft rock during the '70s, and found his second number one single, "Too Much, Too Little, Too Late," in 1978. Recorded as a duet with Deniece Williams, the single prompted Mathis to begin trying duets with a variety of partners (including Dionne Warwick, Natalie Cole, Gladys Knight, and Nana Mouskouri), though none of the singles enjoyed the success of the original. Mathis continued to release and sell albums throughout the '90s -- his fifth decade of recording for Columbia -- among them 1998's Because You Loved Me: Songs of Diane Warren and 2000's Johnny Mathis on Broadway. ~ John Bush, Rovi

    Tony Bennett's career has enjoyed three distinct phases, each of them very successful. In the early '50s, he scored a series of major hits that made him one of the most popular recording artists of the time. In the early '60s, he mounted a comeback as more of an adult-album seller. And from the mid-'80s on, he achieved renewed popularity with generations of listeners who hadn't been born when he first appeared. This, however, defines Bennett more in terms of marketing than music. He himself probably would say that, in each phase of his career, he has remained largely constant to his goals of singing the best available songs the best way he knows how. Popular taste may have caused his level of recognition to increase or decrease, but he continued to sing popular standards in a warm, husky tenor, varying his timing and phrasing with a jazz fan's sense of spontaneity to bring out the melodies and lyrics of the songs effectively. By the start of the 21st century, Bennett seemed like the last of a breed, but he remained as popular as ever. Bennett grew up in the Astoria section of the borough of Queens in New York City under the name Anthony Dominick Benedetto. His father, a grocer, died when he was about ten after a lingering illness that had forced his mother to become a seamstress to support the family of five. By then, he was already starting to attract notice as a singer, performing beside Mayor Fiorello La Guardia at the opening of the Triborough Bridge in 1936. By his teens, Bennett had set his sights on becoming a professional singer. After briefly attending the High School of Industrial Arts (now known as the High School of Art and Design), where he gained training as a painter, he dropped out of school at 16 to earn money to help support his family, meanwhile also performing at amateur shows. Upon his 18th birthday in 1944, he was drafted into the Army, and he saw combat in Europe during World War II. Mustered out in 1946, he went back to trying to make it in music, and he attended the American Theater Wing on the GI Bill. By the end of the 1940s, he had acquired a manager and was working regularly around New York. He got a break when Bob Hope saw him performing with Pearl Bailey in Greenwich Village and put him into his stage show, also suggesting a name change to Tony Bennett. In 1950, Columbia Records A&R director Mitch Miller heard his demonstration recording of "The Boulevard of Broken Dreams" and signed him to the label. Bennett's first hit, "Because of You," topped the charts in September 1951, succeeded at number one by his cover of Hank Williams' "Cold, Cold Heart." Following another five chart entries over the next two years, he returned to number one in November 1953 with "Rags to Riches." Its follow-up, "Stranger in Paradise" from the Broadway musical Kismet, was another chart-topper, and in 1954 Bennett also reached the Top Ten with Williams' "There'll Be No Teardrops Tonight" and "Cinnamon Sinner." The rise of rock & roll in the mid-'50s made it more difficult for Bennett to score big hits, but he continued to place singles in the charts regularly through 1960, and even returned to the Top Ten with "In the Middle of an Island" in 1957. Meanwhile, he was developing a nightclub act that leaned more heavily on standards and was exploring album projects that allowed him to indulge his interest in jazz -- notably 1957's The Beat of My Heart, on which he was accompanied mainly by jazz percussionists, and 1959's In Person! With Count Basie and His Orchestra. By the early '60s, although he had faded as a singles artist, he had built a successful career making personal appearances and recording albums of well-known songs in the manner of Frank Sinatra. In 1962, Bennett introduced "I Left My Heart in San Francisco," a ballad written by two unknown songwriters, George Cory and Douglass Cross, who had pitched it to his pianist, Ralph Sharon. Released as a single, the song took time to catch on, and although it peaked only in the Top 20, it remained on one or the other of the national charts for almost nine months. It became Bennett's signature song and pushed his career to a higher level. The I Left My Heart in San Francisco album reached the Top Five and went gold, and the single won Bennett Grammy Awards for Record of the Year and Best Solo Vocal Performance, Male. Bennett's next studio album, 1963's I Wanna Be Around..., also made the Top Five, and its title track was another Top 20 hit, as was his next single, "The Good Life," also featured on the album. For the next three years, his albums consistently placed in the Top 100, along with a series of charting singles that included the Top 40 hits "Who Can I Turn To (When Nobody Needs Me)" (from the Broadway musical The Roar of the Greasepaint, the Smell of the Crowd) and "If I Ruled the World" (from the Broadway musical Pickwick). By the late '60s, Bennett's record sales had cooled off as the major record labels turned their attention to the lucrative rock market. Just as Mitch Miller had encouraged Bennett to record novelty songs over his objections in the 1950s, Clive Davis, head of Columbia parent CBS Records, encouraged him to record contemporary pop/rock material. He acquiesced on albums such as Tony Sings the Great Hits of Today!, but his sales did not improve. In 1972, he left Columbia for the Verve division of MGM Records, but by the mid-'70s he was without a label affiliation, and he decided to found his own record company, Improv, to record the way he wanted to. He made several albums for Improv, including one with jazz pianist Bill Evans (following a disc they made for Fantasy Records), but the label eventually foundered. (Concord Records  released the box set The Complete Improv Recordings in 2004.) By the late '70s, however, Bennett did not need hit records to sustain his career, and he worked regularly in concert halls around the world. By the mid-'80s, there was a growing appreciation of traditional pop music, as performers such as Linda Ronstadt recorded albums of standards. In 1986, Bennett re-signed to Columbia and released The Art of Excellence, his first album to reach the pop charts in 14 years. Now managed by his son Danny, Bennett shrewdly found ways to attract the attention of the MTV  generation without changing his basic style of singing songs from the Great American Songbook while wearing a tuxedo. By the early '90s, he was as popular as he had ever been. The albums Perfectly Frank (1992, a tribute to Frank Sinatra) and Steppin' Out (1993, a tribute to Fred Astaire) went gold and won Bennett back-to-back Grammys for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Performance. But his comeback was sealed by 1994's MTV Unplugged, featuring guest stars Elvis Costello and k.d. lang, which went platinum and won the Grammy for Album of the Year as well as another award for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Performance.

    Bennett became a Grammy perennial, also taking home Best Traditional Pop Vocal Performance awards for Here's to the Ladies (1995) and On Holiday: A Tribute to Billie Holiday (1997). Bennett Sings Ellington: Hot & Cool (1999) was another Grammy winner in the retitled Best Traditional Pop Album category, as was Playin' with My Friends: Bennett Sings the Blues, an album of duets released in 2001. One year later, Bennett paired off with a single duet partner, recording A Wonderful World with k.d. lang. The Art of Romance followed in 2004. Both albums won the Best Traditional Pop Album Grammy for their respective years. In August 2006, Bennett reached his 80th birthday, and his record label marked the occasion with a series of reissues and compilations. The next month brought Duets: An American Classic, another collection of pairings with other singers on re-recordings of some of Bennett's best-known songs that reached number three in the Billboard chart, the highest placing for an album in Bennett's career. It also won him another Grammy for Best Traditional Pop Album. ~ William Ruhlmann, Rovi

    Bearded, amiable American singer/actor Kenny Rogers launched his professional career as a member of the New Christy Minstrels, then first rose to fame as a member of the country-pop group the First Edition. After several years of hits like "Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town" (as well as popular syndicated TV series Rollin' on the River), the First Edition broke up in 1974. Rogers had some lean years immediately after the split, at one point making ends meet by promoting a correspondence school guitar course. The outlook became brighter in 1976 when Rogers recorded his first solo hit, "Love Lifted Me," which he followed up with the even more popular ballad "Lucille." He regained his following with a dozen TV specials and several duets with equally renowned female country artists. In 1980, Rogers made his TV-movie debut with The Gambler  (1980), an agreeable Western based on one of his more successful songs ("You gotta know when to hold 'em/know when to fold 'em...etc."). The Gambler scored an immediate ratings coup, inspiring sequels over the next decade, the best of which was The Gambler Returns: The Luck of the Draw  (1991), which had the added drawing card of guest appearances by several popular TV cowboy stars of days gone by. Rogers also pleased the crowd with the made-for-TV Coward of the County  (1981), a dramatized elaboration of another of his top-selling songs. Less successful was Kenny Rogers' starring theatrical feature, Six Pack (1982), which proves that having six cute kids onscreen doesn't make you a Disney-quality hit. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    One of the most prominent Latin-born performers of the pop era, singer/guitarist Jose Feliciano was born September 10, 1945, in Lares, Puerto Rico; the victim of congenital glaucoma, he was left permanently blind at birth. Five years later, he and his family moved to New York City's Spanish Harlem area; there Feliciano began learning the accordion, later taking up the guitar and making his first public appearance at the Bronx's El Teatro Puerto Rico at the age of nine. While in high school he became a fixture of the Greenwich Village coffeehouse circuit, eventually quitting school in 1962 in order to accept a permanent gig in Detroit; a contract with RCA followed a performance at New York's Gerde's Folk City, and within two years he appeared at the Newport Jazz Festival. After bowing with the 1964 novelty single "Everybody Do the Click," he issued his flamenco-flavored debut LP The Voice and Guitar of Jose Feliciano, trailed early the next year by The Fantastic Feliciano.

    Unhappy with the direction of his music following the release of 1966's A Bag Full of Soul, Feliciano returned to his roots, releasing three consecutive Spanish-language LPs -- Sombras...Una Voz, Una Guitarra, Mas Exitos de Jose Feliciano and El Sentimiento, La Voz y La Guitarra de Jose Feliciano -- on RCA International, scoring on the Latin pop charts with the singles "La Copa Rota" and "Amor Gitana." With 1968's Feliciano!, he scored a breakthrough hit with a soulful reading of the Doors' "Light My Fire" that launched him into the mainstream pop stratosphere; a smash cover of Tommy Tucker's R&B chestnut "Hi Heel Sneakers" solidified his success, and soon Feliciano found himself performing the national anthem during the 1968 World Series. His idiosyncratic Latin-jazz performance of the song proved highly controversial, and despite the outcry of traditionalists and nationalists, his status as an emerging counterculture hero was secured, with a single of his rendition also becoming a hit.

    In 1969 Feliciano recorded three LPs -- Souled, Alive Alive-O, and Feliciano 10 to 23 -- and won a Grammy for Best New Artist; however, he never again equalled the success of "Light My Fire," and only the theme song to the sitcom Chico and the Man subsequently achieved hit status, edging into the Top 100 singles chart in 1974. Throughout the 1970s Feliciano remained an active performer, however, touring annually and issuing a number of LPs in both English and Spanish, including 1973's Steve Cropper-produced Compartments; he also appeared on the Joni Mitchell hit "Free Man in Paris," and guested on a number of television series including Kung Fu and McMillan and Wife. In 1980 Feliciano was the first performer signed to the new Latin division of Motown, making his label debut with an eponymous effort the following year; his recorded output tapered off during the course of the decade, although he occasionally resurfaced with LPs including 1987's Tu Immenso Amor and 1989's I'm Never Gonna Change. A school in East Harlem was renamed the Jose Feliciano Performing Arts School in his honor; in 1996, he also appeared briefly in the hit film Fargo. ~ Jason Ankeny, Rovi
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