Friday, September 28, 2012

The Friday Flash

Readers have been showing lots of love for Andy Williams ... and I confess that I've been listening to a lot of his music these past 48 hours, too.  He was part of our lives for so long ... and every holiday our family ... your family ... EVERYBODY's family ... would get together with Andy's family to celebrate the Christmas season.

Here are just a few of the comments we've already received:

>>>Williams kept entertaining right up till the end by way of his Moon River Theater in Brandon, Missouri. (kk)
Minor point, but I'm pretty sure it's Branson, Missouri, and not Brandon, Missouri, as you have. There is a Brandon, Manitoba however.
Doug in Aurora
Maybe THAT'S why we could never find the theater!!! Just kidding. Of COURSE, I knew it's Branson ... must have been a mental slip ... probably because I work with two guys named Brandon and Brendan ... and must type each of their names half a dozen times a day.  Or simply my rush trying to get something posted as I was running out the door ... but still no excuse for not proof-reading it better ... so my bad.  (And let's face it ... the ever-reliable spell check isn't going to catch "Brandon" because that's a real word, too!)   Actually, we've never made it to Branson ... but have talked about going numerous times. I've heard that people either love it ... or totally hate it. My guess is that we could find plenty of great artists to see while we're there ... kicking off with Paul Revere and the Raiders ... and then going to shows headlined by Ray Stevens and Jim Stafford ... all of whom now call Branson home.  Plus there are so many, many more to see while we're there.  But NOT seeing Andy Williams will forever be a hole in our schedule. (kk)

>>>One of our regrets is that we never got to see him live. Several times we talked about catching his annual Christmas Show but just never made the trip to do so. (kk)
I am very sad at the loss of Andy Williams. I have had the pleasure of seeing him at his Moon River Theater. His Christmas show was amazing. My daughters have taken me to lunch at his Moon River Cafe for Mother's Day for the past couple of years. Several of his Mother's recipes are on his menu including the best chicken soup ever. He used to make an appearance at his restaurant after his show. He would just walk around and talk with the dinner guests. I love to look at all of the photos on the walls of Andy with many very famous people. He was a lovely man.

This one popped up on my radar today (probably because of the "forgotten sides" phrase ... what a clever idea!)
And here's another one from FH Reader Tom Cuddy ...

Hey Kent,
I really liked what you wrote about Andy Williams. You're right. He did bridge the gap of two generations and maybe more. What I always looked forward to, on his TV series and specials, was the reunion with his brothers. The Williams Brothers had that flawless harmony that so many other family bands possess. I wish they had done some more recording together, besides the one Christmas album, which is hard to find. I'm with you. I really missed the boat, not experiencing his show in Branson. My all-time favorite record by Andy is "Dear Heart", written and arranged by Henry Mancini. The great string arrangement (I love to hear a bowed string bass), along with Andy's vocal interpretation is very special. Even the last word of the song, "nevermore", always makes my eyes tear up.
-- John LaPuzza
I've been listening to a lot of Andy Williams these past 48 hours ... his voice is just so appealing and easy to listen to. "Dear Heart" was another great track ... and a #15 Hit for Williams in 1965. (kk)

Please let Ron Smith know that Moon River by Andy Williams was released in 1962 as a 45 / Single, not just later as a Columbia Hall Of Fame issue.
According to everything I've ever read, that's not true ... and you'll find several more examples below. If it was, it wasn't commercially released, meaning the public never had a chance to buy it (or it surely would have been a HUGE hit. Meanwhile, I'm sure its inclusion helped sell a WHOLE lotta Andy Williams albums!) Check out the Columbia Records logic behind not releasing "Moon River" as a single below ... you just may be surprised, my Huckleberry Friend.

Since it keeps coming up, here, once and for all, is the lowdown on "Moon River". Although it was considered his signature tune, Andy's version of "Moon River" never made the pop charts. It was the title track of his 1962 LP "Moon River And Other Great Themes", yet it was NOT released or marketed as a single. The song became his signature tune after he performed it at The Academy Awards ... but it wasn't officially released as a single until 1969 and then as a "Columbia Hall Of Fame" single. Too bad ... because it probably would have been a SMASH ... and has appeared on nearly every Greatest Hits album Williams ever released.

In the Taragon CD liner notes to "Andy Williams: The Complete Columbia Chart Singles Collection", Joseph Lanza draws attention to "Moon River" (from the film "Breakfast At Tiffany's" a couple of times:   

"By the early sixties, there was an expanding album market (aided by the rise of FM radio stations) by which vocalists could showcase their repertoire of Tin Pan Alley love ballads, Broadway melodies, current pop, and, of course, film favorites. Williams surpassed the sales of his popular 1962 album 'Moon River And Other Great Themes' with 'Days Of Wine And Roses', which stayed #1 at Billboard's album chart for 16 weeks in 1963, establishing him as an AOR leader. He eventually garnered more than 30 hit albums, eighteen of which were gold while three were certified platinum."  

"Williams is most distinguished for his interpretations of Henry Mancini's dreamy-to-haunting movie ballads, particularly the title songs to 'Days Of Wine And Roses', 'Charade', 'Dear Heart', and his renowned rendition of 'Moon River'."  

And finally: "This collection includes Williams' entire roster of Columbia Hot 100 singles accumulated between 1961 and 1976, many of which appear on CD for the very first time. Then there is 'Moon River'. Williams' recording of the 'Breakfast At Tiffany's' Theme was never a chart success, but he made such an impression performing it at the Academy Awards show that he earned a signature song. Johnny Mercer's lyrics present a seemingly simple but inwardly complicated statement about past and future Americana, fusing the nostalgic image Huckleberry Finn 'off to see the world' on his raft with the lunar asipirations that NASA would finally satisfy when the sixties reached the 'rainbow's end'. Some thirty years later, pioneer astronaut John Glenn, seeking a musical memento, took an Andy Williams CD with him on his return trip into space."

This CD his HIGHLY recommended ... it's as complete a collection as you're ever going to find of Andy's Columbia years ... and ALL the hits are here. More information can be found here:   
Click here: Complete Columbia Chart Singles Collection: Andy Williams: Music
(Apparently it's out of print ... new copies are now going for $150!!! WOW! Anybody want to buy mine for $100?!!?) kk

From Wikipedia:
Williams forged an indirect collaborative relationship with Henry Mancini, although they never recorded together. Williams was asked to sing Mancini and Johnny Mercer's song "Moon River" from the movie Breakfast at Tiffany's at the 1962 Oscar Awards. The song won the Oscar and quickly became Williams' theme song; however, because it was never released as a single, "Moon River" was never actually a chart hit for Williams.[8] The next year Williams sang "Days of Wine and Roses" which was written by Mancini and Mercer (this song also won). Two years later, he sang Mancini's "Dear Heart" at the 1965 awards and "The Sweetheart Tree" (also written with Mercer) at the 1966 awards.    

From Billboard Magazine:
Movie songs became a specialty, from "Love Story" and "Days of Wine and Roses" to "Moon River." The longing Johnny Mercer - Henry Mancini ballad was his most famous song, even though he never released it as a single because his record company feared such lines as "my huckleberry friend" were too confusing and old-fashioned for teens. The song was first performed by Audrey Hepburn in the beloved 1961 film "Breakfast at Tiffany's," but Mancini thought "Moon River" ideal for Williams, who recorded it in "pretty much one take" and also sang it at the 1962 Academy Awards. Although "Moon River" was covered by countless artists and became a hit single for Jerry Butler, Williams made the song his personal brand. In fact, he insisted on it.
"When I hear anybody else sing it, it's all I can to do stop myself from shouting at the television screen, 'No! That's my song!'" Williams wrote in his 2009 memoir, titled, fittingly, "Moon River and Me."

Andy's voice was the smoothest of smooth. I did not care for his singing along with his guests on their hit records on his TV shows, but he was a great talent. I was surprised to read that his "Moon River" was not a 45 hit. I just assumed it was one of his biggest.
He was a WLS talent ages ago, but I have a feeling that WLS' Larry Lujack REALLY liked playing "It's That Most Wonderful Time of the Year" 45 at Christmas time on WLS. I know it gets airplay a lot these days (what Christmas song doesn't?), but back in the days of wine and roses, it was not necessarily an AM Christmas staple on Top 40 radio. Uncle Lar played it A LOT! With all the songs Andy has done over the years, I have to say this is my fave. Always enjoyed seeing him sing on TV. A great talent.
HEY, he was married to Claudine Longet and that was pretty cool, too!

Clark Besch 
When I was writing my piece on Andy WIlliams I forgot to mention that he typically sang along with his guests ... sometimes it bothered me, sometimes it didn't. (I guess it just depended on how much I liked the guest artist!)
We've run this clip before ... Andy Williams singing with The Beach Boys in a special version of "Little Honda" as "Little Cycle" ... check it out! (My guess is they couldn't say "Honda" on the air without it being a commercial endorsement. But I LOVE the background vocals where the other Beach Boys are singing "Andy Andy"!!! lol) kk

And, speaking of The Beach Boys, THEY'VE been all over the news again this past week, too ... 
Read on ...

Kent --
Suffice it to say that I couldn't agree more strongly with your comments about the Beach Boys. But Mike Love has worn his priorities on his sleeve since Brian's delicate condition forced him to get off the road back in the late Sixties. Mike obviously is dedicated to his own celebrity and to the financial benefits of being a Beach Boy above all else. As Brian increasingly pursued his muse and dealt with what was obviously a deteriorating emotional condition, what did Mike want? Catchy surfing and car lyrics with riffs and progressions like the old stuff. Big tours with lots of screaming fans. Do it again ... and again ... and yet again. Artistic excellence has never been his priority, and I'm sure he feels victimized by Brian's creative wanderlust and refusal to dedicate his life to being a hit machine.
What I am curious about is how Brian viewed all this. Would he have wanted to stay on the road and resume at 70 what he rejected more than half his life ago.
As always, interesting and provocative stuff!
At this point, I've got to call 'em like I see 'em ... and I just find this to be a very short-sighted and selfish move on Mike's part.  Why not stick together and ride out that "hit machine" and give the fans who didn't get the chance to see it the first time around to catch the show on the return run. But more importantly, put together another album of future Beach Boys classics to prove that you really CAN do it again. "That's Why God Made The Radio" was a pretty impressive "comeback" album ... and, as we all know, The Beach Boys have had a few of these during their long career. It just makes everything Mike has said along the way that has been complimentary to Brian, and reuniting with the band again, seem insincere. I guess I should just be glad that he was willing to suffer through the reunion for the sake of the fans. (kk)
Mike Love is such a delusional d-bag. He will never understand that Brian was being a very generous cousin when he allowed him to sing in the Beach Boys. Who wants to see the show now?  No Brian ... no Al ... just Love performing his car song medley, strutting like a rooster, and playing that one note on his sax ... no thanks.
Got some time to kill and wanna have some fun today?  Type "Mike Love Is ..." into Google and watch what pops up! 
Fans have even started a petition, pleading with Mike Love to reconsider and keep the magic going ...
Kent ...
Boys will be Boys.
I guess Mike Love doesn't want to share the spotlight.
Frank B.

And Brian Wilson and Al Jardine are no longer keeping mum about Love's booting them out of HIS Beach Boys Band. What a shame. (I just KNEW this was too good to last!)
This from FH Reader Frank B, who tells us ...
Kent ...
I guess you were right about the Beach Boys. That guy wrote and said you were wrong. Show him this.
Frank B.
Mike Love, it’s now clear, has decided to retake a central role in the Beach Boys, having led an offshoot group that only includes second-generation member Bruce Johnston for the last 14 years. Wilson, in new comments to CNN, says Love told him in no uncertain terms that Wilson, Al Jardine and David Marks — the only other surviving original members of the Beach Boys — were not welcome. Seems Love thinks too many shows with them will dilute the reunion concept’s impact.
You can read the whole article here:
More on this disappointing hot topic ... this article says that Brian Wilson, Al Jardine and David Marks were all "fired" via email by Mike Love and Bruce Johnston!
Isn't that pathetic?!?!?
I've posted the article on my website:
Would welcome your comments as well as those of any other interested Forgotten Hits readers.
Much appreciated!
It's an interesting concept to try and narrow down the best introduction to the band by way of one quintessential album. I'm not sure I could do it. Even their very best all-around album doesn't really show somebody the depth of what The Beach Boys were all about ... as such, my personal feeling is this ...
First get them hooked on the hits ... because once they hear them, they'll never get them out of their heads. Then, after they've been fully exposed and won over, tell them "Okay ... now you're ready for more".
For me personally, despite all the pomp and circumstance surrounding "Pet Sounds", MY favorite all-around Beach Boys album remains "Sunflower" ... it's gotta be one of the most under-rated albums of all time. And I like quite a few of the other ones that nobody thinks about, including the 1985 "Beach Boys" album that critics tore apart because it was too precisely produced. (I listened to it in the car the other day and it's damn near perfect!)
I think this will all make for an interesting discussion and I hope a few of our readers will venture over to Phil's site and voice their opinions as well. Please keep us posted with the results ... and share some of the more interesting and insightful comments and opinions along the way, too! (kk)
Meanwhile, The Beach Boys have a new single out ... a remixed version of "Isn't It Time" (another track, coincidentally, cowritten by Jim Peterik!)

Here's the new single mix of "Isn't it Time" in case you haven't heard it. More vocals. Have not heard any buzz yet, tho.
There's a new stereo "Darlin'" mix here, too:
Clark Besch 
Man, there sure seem to be a lot of them lately! Check out this ultra-cool email we just got from guitar whiz Vic Flick ...
Hi Kent,
Not sure if this is relevant to Forgotten Hits, but the 50th Anniversary of the James Bond film, Dr. No, has stirred up a lot of activity. I have an interview on NPR scheduled for next week, an interview recorded for broadcast in Australia next month, an article by Marc Myers on The James Bond Theme and me to be published in the Wall Street Journal very soon and on October 5th, I've been asked to appear at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' celebration of Bond Music and the 50th Anniversary organized and presented by Jon Burlingame. Also appearing will be a composer I much admire, Bill Conti, lyricist Don Black and singer Carol Sager. Should be a good night. The guitar with which I recorded the James Bond Theme is to be auctioned by Profiles in History in December and I'll use that guitar on the 5th October. The guitar was on display for many years at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and then at The National Guitar Museum. There seems to be a lot of interest in the auction. I never thought the Bond Theme would follow me through fifty years but neither did I think all those records I worked on, which were were part of the British Invasion, would still be around and being played.
As always, thanks for all you do,
Vic Flick
This is absolutely newsworthy of Forgotten Hits ... thanks so much for sharing ... and congratulations!
With a brand new Bond movie coming out, the hype is at an all-time high. (Personally, I'm one of those who appreciate the early days of the Bond films ... but there is no question that they have created a hit franchise out of Ian Flemming's body of work.) Who knows ... if this keeps up, maybe they'll ask you back in another fifty years to play it again!!! (kk)
I'm counting on it!!!!!
And here's the scoop on the brand new James Bond 50 Year Collection, now available on DVD and BluRay ...
>>>Kudos to Danny Lake at WLS-FM who played "Every Time I Think Of You" by The Babys on his Saturday Night All Request Show ... man, that one sounded SO good coming out of the radio again. (I can't remember the last time I heard it!) I tried to call you, Danny, to give you proper props on the air ... but nobody answered the phone! (How do you do an all request show and NOT answer the phone?!?!?) kk
>>>You recently asked how is one able to do a request show on Saturday night without the D.J. on duty not answering the phone. I learned this lesson a few years ago. I was in a station here in the city where a certain D.J. does a request show on Saturday evenings from 7 PM until 12 midnight. I was surprised ... he wasn't even in the control room. His whole show was on voice track (assuming you know about that) with voice tracked requests given out over the air so many times per hour. Probably the one difference between his show and the one you called up was that he had his phone lines blocked or all of them were on hold. Indicating to anyone who tried to call in that the lines were currently busy.  (Larry)
>>>Oh yeah, we know all about voice-tracking, a very common practice these days in radio. I miss some of the old nationally syndicated request shows (like Dick Bartley used to do) where listeners from all over the country would call in with their requests, meaning you'd get to hear a wide variety of musical selections not typically part of the daily, never-changing playlists.  The weekly request shows hosted by Danny Lake, and, until recently Dick Biondi and Jeff James were the best ... because every hour without fail you'd hear two or three songs that NOBODY plays anymore ... and, every once in a while, they'd even stump me, playing a song that I'd never heard before ... but SOMEBODY out there remembered 'cause it was part of what they listened to when they were growing up.  (kk)
Hi Kent -
Glad you liked The Baby's " Everytime I Think Of You" we played on "The Saturday Night Party" on 94-7 WLS! (John Waite singing lead on that as a member of The Baby's BTW!)
Sorry I missed your call Kent -- my producer and I - Laura B - get busy slicing 'n' dicing up the requests and bits "phoners" for airing to keep it "movin' 'n' groovin" and no possible F-bombs or S - bombs etc ... sneaking thru! lol.
Thanks for diggin' the show, y'all! It's a blast! Can't believe the show will be turning five years old in a few months.
Keep up the great work Kent -- Forgotten Hits is must reading every weekend for me! Love it!
Danny Lake
"The Saturday Night Party"
7-12 midnight
Sundays -- 7-12 midnight
94-7 WLS

And, speaking of WLS-FM, this comes from Robert Feder’s blog, posted yesterday:
It’s over and out for Dave Fogel after more than two years as morning personality at oldies WLS-FM (94.7). He learned his fate when he got off the air at 10:30 am Thursday. Part-timer Tom O’Toole is expected to fill in Friday alongside co-host Marti Jones, who’s staying on. “We’re going in a different direction in morning drive,” said Jan Jeffries, senior vice president of programming for Cumulus Media and program director of WLS-FM. No word yet on what’s next. Fogel, who joined WLS in March, 2010 from KCKC-FM in Kansas City, previously worked in Chicago at hot adult-contemporary WTMX-FM (101.9) and classic rock WLUP-FM (97.9). In the latest Arbitron survey, his morning show tied for 13th place among listeners between 25 and 54 with a 2.7 percent share.
I can't say that I'm broken-hearted over this announcement. I've made no secret of the fact that I never liked Dave Fogel in the morning ... Chicago is a major market ... and WLS is a LEGENDARY radio station ... and while I hate to see ANY jocks out of work, we simply deserve better ... and have always had it ... but for SOME reason the Morning Drive Slot has been exceptionally weak these last several years ... and I don't understand why. There is SO much good talent out there (and much of it out of work.) While I don't wish unemployment on ANYONE (been there, done that), I hope this paves the way for Fred Winston's full time return to the station, something we've been campaigning for here in Forgotten Hits for the past several years.
But, that being said, if the station REALLY wants to go in "a different direction", then how about THIS concept ... put the personality back into radio. I've grown disgusted by having to sit through these talented on-air personalities with SO much to offer in the way of entertainment being restricted to getting 30, 60 and 90 second breaks after a block of songs, only to see them forced to use that time to repeatedly give out the call letters three times and say not much more. With decades of experience, guys like Scott Shannon, Fred Winston, Dick Biondi, Greg Brown, Tom O'Toole and Danny Lake can do SO much more for the station than give out station i.d.'s. Let them do what they were born to do ... entertain us! We already KNOW what station we're listening to ... we don't need to be reminded three times every fifteen minutes!  If you want us to KEEP on listening, let these guys be themselves and entertain us!!! I've said it before ... we already KNOW the music ... it's been drummed into our heads for the past 40 years ... let these guys shine and be the reason we come HERE to hear it, rather than every other spot on the dial that's playing basically the exact same thing!!! WLS practically INVENTED "Personality Radio" ... I say bring it back because you've got the talent here to pull it off. THAT is what is going to make your station stand head and shoulders above the rest ... NOT hearing "94.7, WLS, playing The Steve Miller Band for the 64th time today on WLS, 94.7". (kk)