Sunday, January 3, 2016

Bobby Darin - Related Tracks

We wrap up our Bobby Darin holiday weekend today with a few tracks related to Bobby in some fashion.

Hopefully by now you've checked out our complete Bobby Darin Series on The Forgotten Hits Web Page ... if not here's another link ...

This piece is now permanently posted ... so please refer others to the site and let them know that this long "missing in action" series is available again.

Meanwhile, enjoy the music!


Today, a bunch of Bobby Darin "extras" ... incidental tracks he recorded, influenced and/or inspired. (Quite a few personal favorites amongst this bunch ... most of which is stuff you just NEVER get to hear anymore.)

Here's Bobby's first record in its entirety. (We featured a short video clip yesterday of Bobby performing "Rock Island Line" from The Dorsey Brothers Stage Show television program.) Darin appeared a week after Elvis made his first television appearance on that same program. He had just recorded "Rock Island Line" the week before ... and had to scribble the lyrics on the palms of his hands to get through the performance. Darin's Decca tracks are rare and hard to come by ... NONE of these early recordings made the charts. This first release proved to be ironic in a way as it was a cover version of the big #1 British skiffle hit by Lonnie Donegan. Skiffle was the latest craze in England, inspired by American Rock And Roll. By the early '60's, British skiffle and rock bands were everywhere, among them acts like The Beatles, Gerry and the Pacemakers and The Dave Clark Five ... ALL inspired by American acts like Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly and, eventually, Bobby Darin! A few years later, when these British sounds invaded America, some of our biggest domestic names in rock and roll were knocked off the charts ... again, Bobby Darin included. (The Circle Of Life, I guess!) kk

Bobby Darin's version of "Mack The Knife" made him a permanent part of music history. Incredibly just a few years earlier, Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong hit the charts with his version of the tune. (Darin would later cover Louis' #1 Hit "Hello Dolly" too.) Armstrong's version of "Mack The Knife (A Theme from The ThreePenny Opera)" shared the #6 spot on The Music Vendor Chart ... and went to #20 in Billboard.

One of my favorite Bobby Darin remakes has got to be Rick Nelson's take on "Dream Lover". He did what I've always called a "James Taylor / Handy Man" arrangement and came up with a beautiful piece of music ... that never made the charts. (In all fairness, it did make it to #29 on Billboard's Adult Contemporary Chart in 1979 ... but this one should have been an across-the-boards hit.)

You can't do a tribute like this and not include one of the Kevin Spacey tracks from the "Beyond The Sea" / Bobby Darin biopic. Spacey (who's played a bad guy SO many times in movies) really pulled off a nice tribute to his favorite performer. Here's Kevin singing Bobby's 1960 Hit "Artificial Flowers".

Here's Buddy Holly doing Bobby's song "Early In The Morning". Unsure if "Splish Splash" was going to be the hit that saved his recording contract at Atlantic Records, Bobby hedged his bets by recording this track (as The Ding Dongs) for the competing Brunswick label. When "Splish Splash" WAS a hit (#2 on the charts), Brunswick tried to capitalize on the momentum and quickly rushed out this track, figuring that everyone would know it was Bobby. Ahmet Ertegen knew immediately ... and seized the master since Bobby was still under contract to HIS label. So as not to slow down the sales on his hit on the charts ... and knowing that "Queen Of The Hop" was already in the can as Bobby's follow-up single, he released the same track as The Rinky-Dinks.
Not wanting to be outdone, Brunswick quickly called one of their young, new recording artists into the studio to cut an identical remake. That kid just happened to be Buddy Holly. When the dust finally settled, Holly's version peaked at #23 ... one spot higher than Bobby's original version.

Speaking of "Queen Of The Hop", British Rocker Dave Edmunds cut a GREAT version of this track for the "Porky's Revenge" Soundtrack ... give it a listen ...

While we're on the subject of British Rockers, Bobby inspired a couple of great British Invasion Artists to cover his tunes in the mid-'60's. Here's Gerry and the Pacemakers doing "I'll Be There", a Bobby Darin B-Side from 1960, and The Dave Clark Five, doing a rousing version of "You Must Have Been A Beautiful Baby", a track Darin remade into his own hit single in 1961.

Here are two Bobby Darin songs released during that same early British Invasion period ... "Treat My Baby Good" (#29, 1963) and "Be Mad Little Girl" (#59, 1963) ... they both sound pretty contemporary for their time to me ... plus a track called "When I Get Home", which went on to become a hit for The Searchers in 1965.

After Bobby cut Tim Hardin's "If I Were A Carpenter", which returned him to The Top Ten for the first time in over three years, Hardin recorded Bobby's tune "Simple Song Of Freedom". Tim's version went to #47 ... Bobby's version (featured below) never charted at all ... but here in Chicago we heard the Buckwheat version on WCFL, a song that peaked at #69 on the national charts, but went all the way to #11 here in Chi-Town.

During his folk-singing days, Bobby was also one of the first to ever record this song ... long since associated with Rod Stewart ... but actually done by Bobby several years before ...

I know we covered this one yesterday but it has become one of my absolute FAVORITE Bobby Darin recordings.
Here's the piece I wrote for it during our "Top 200 Favorite, Forgotten B-Sides" Forgotten Hits Poll from 2007 ...

OK … I know what you're thinking … after doing an entire MONTH of BOBBY DARIN material, what else could I POSSIBLY still have to say about this guy?!?!?!
Well, the truth is … not a whole lot … we pretty much covered it last time around. Since our series first ran in FORGOTTEN HITS in October of 2003, it's been picked up for THREE more runs through THE OFFICIAL BOBBY DARIN WEBSITE, making it one of the most-read pieces we've ever done. 
[EDITOR'S NOTE:  It has just been picked up again ... and is also featured on The Bobby Darin Facebook Page as well as their official Twitter Page!] 
Bobby Darin (@bobby_darin2) | Twitter
But we recently discovered a BOBBY DARIN track that was left out of our original piece that we just HAD to share with you. While watching the recently released DVD called BEYOND THE SONG (it's a very well put together documentary covering pretty much ALL the phases of DARIN's career), we fell in love with the track RAININ'. (In fact, in the movie, you actually get to see BOBBY rehearsing the band, working out the arrangement of the tune in the recording studio … it's a fascinating little clip of vintage DARIN, circa 1965-1966.)
In 1965, DARIN recorded an album called BOBBY DARIN SINGS "THE SHADOW OF YOUR SMILE." The concept LP (which it really was), was to take all five Academy Award nominated songs for that year and do up his own arrangement of each. As such, we got not only the title track (from the film THE SANDPIPER) but also BOBBY's readings of THE SWEETHEART TREE (which we HAVE featured before in FORGOTTEN HITS), I WILL WAIT FOR YOU, THE BALLAD OF CAT BALLOU and his incredibly lame (by Bobby Darin standards) version of WHAT'S NEW PUSSYCAT.
The other side of the LP was rounded out with tunes written by the likes of OSCAR HAMMERSTEIN II, BILLY ROSE and IRA GERSHWIN. But mixed PERFECTLY into this group of standards came DARIN's sole original contribution, RAININ' … to my ears, the highlight of the album. (BOBBY always seemed to have a way of writing his own material to fit the mood of whatever else he was working on … he did the same thing when he recorded his THAT'S ALL album of standards back in 1959, the LP that spawned MACK THE KNIFE and BEYOND THE SEA. BOBBY's sole original composition on that LP was a song called THAT'S THE WAY LOVE IS, which perfectly fit the mood of the rest of the album.)
As good a song as RAININ' is, it never had a chance to be a hit … and that's a shame because I think it stands right up there with the best material that BOBBY DARIN ever recorded. Had it been a hit record, my guess is that you'd hear it as often today as most of his biggest, more familiar hits. But the timing was all wrong … NOBODY was buying or playing BOBBY DARIN records in 1965 / 1966 and his music wasn't considered relevant. If it HAD been released as a single, it most likely would have tanked. By late-1966, when BOBBY moved into his folk phase (and IF I WERE A CARPENTER became his first Top Ten Hit in years), RAININ' was tacked on as the B-Side. (Hey, as such, I guess I can always nominate it for our upcoming B-SIDES Series!!!) It deserves better … so we're featuring it here today in this special FOLLOW-UP series. (Even Frannie, who pretty much OD'd during my BOBBY DARIN music obsession while writing the BOBBY DARIN series, had to admit that she liked RAININ', admiring it for what it was.) And, if you get a chance to see BEYOND THE SONG, check it out … it's a VERY well put together documentary profiling BOBBY DARIN's career ... and available at discount pricing (around $15) on DVD now. 

From one King of The Vegas Strip to another, Bobby was instrumental in putting a youngster named Wayne Newton on the map by giving him a song that was written and arranged EXCLUSIVELY for Bobby Darin to perform ... "Danke Schoen". In Wayne's hands it became a #10 Hit, not bad for a relative newcomer to the charts. I still believe Bobby would have topped the charts with it had he chosen to record it himself. (Bobby reportedly DID record a version ... in fact, it is widely believed that the entire backing track on Wayne's record comes from the Bobby Darin session ... but despite numerous pleas to the record label, Bobby's version still sits in a vault somewhere.)
Give a listen to Wayne Newton's Top Ten Hit, "Danke Schoen" ... (and see if you can keep the image of Ferris Buehler out of your mind during the course of this one!)

In addition to getting to make movies, Bobby Darin also had several opportunities to record the title track for some of these films.
Here's one of his best ... "If A Man Answers" (starring Bobby Darin and Sandra Dee), a #27 Hit in 1962.

Our FH Buddy Burton Cummings was a HUGE Bobby Darin phone. (His doorbell reportedly played "Mack The Knife" back in the day.) Here's Burton doing "Mack" live in Las Vegas ... 'cause if you're going to DO "Mack The Knife", Vegas is the place to do it!!!
(Actually I've seen him do this several times ... always a concert highlight)

And, speaking of Vegas, you can't do a Bobby Darin piece justice without featuring at least ONE track of the master showman live from Vegas. Here he is, doing one of his biggest, "Beyond The Sea".

And was there ever a better lyric written for a person born to entertain?
"People say I was made for this ...
Nothing else would I trade for this ...
And to think I get PAID for this ..."
"The Curtain Falls" ... the ultimate closing tune for ANYTHING Bobby Darin related.


In 2007, I had the pleasure of attending the dedication ceremony when BOBBY DARIN was posthumously awarded a star of The Walk Of Fame in Las Vegas ... in fact, DARIN's star is the ONLY star placed right in front of THE FLAMINGO HOTEL AND CASINO!!!  
It was a VERY moving ceremony with many of BOBBY's friends and family (as well as former band members) in attendance.  In fact, musical celebrities like TONY ORLANDO (for whom DARIN was a mentor, taking him under his wing and inviting him into his home when TONY was just a teenager starting out in the business ... and eventually giving TONY his old bandleader when TONY's career hit the stratosphere with TIE A YELLOW RIBBON 'ROUND THE OLD OAK TREE), PETULA CLARK (who dueted with BOBBY on several television appearances), ROGER McGUINN (who BOBBY stole away from THE CHAD MITCHELL TRIO to join his OWN band during his "folk phase") and first love CONNIE FRANCIS (who still refers to BOBBY as "the love of my life") also sent taped testimonials. 
I even got to meet WAYNE NEWTON, who says he owes his whole career to BOBBY DARIN and that the memory of BOBBY is still with him every single day ... ironically, "MR. VEGAS" was the recipient of the very FIRST Star awarded on The Las Vegas Walk Of Fame!!!  As big a star as WAYNE has become on the Vegas Strip, I genuinely believe that he has NEVER forgotten the man who gave him his first big break ... and SINCERELY appreciates all that BOBBY brought to the game ... DARIN helped to set a standard of what a Vegas performer is SUPPOSED to be.  
I also got to meet JIMMY SCALIA, the "official" BOBBY DARIN archivist, who shared with us two unreleased tracks that were recently found on a reel-to-reel tape in a closet.  We're hopeful that BOTH of these extremely rare recordings will soon see the light of day on some type of new BOBBY DARIN Compilation CD.  (Hey, maybe some of the label guys on our list might be interested in putting such a project together???)  
The two tracks ... WEEPING WILLOW (a GREAT BOBBY DARIN track done up very much in the style of MACK THE KNIFE and some of BOBBY's other Vegas-styled "show tunes") and MANHATTAN IN MY HEART (a full-stringed ballad) ... were both played for all the guests to hear accompanied by some archive video footage.  It made for an EXCELLENT presentation of this new material and I can't WAIT for their eventual release.  ( I was hoping that perhaps JIMMY SCALIA would allow us to sneak-peek a snippet of WEEPING WILLOW here today as a FORGOTTEN HITS exclusive ... allow us to help whet the appetite of all of the BOBBY DARIN fans on our list. JIMMY first helped us out during our original BOBBY DARIN Series by supplying me with a copy of THAT'S HOW IT WENT ALL RIGHT, the EXTREMELY rare song that BOBBY performed in his first film role, PEPE.  Unfortunately, because of legal entanglements and copyright considerations, we're unable to do so ... but I can assure you that these are VERY strong tracks and should generate a good deal of buzz once they ARE finally released.  Meanwhile, you can check out JIMMY's INCREDIBLE website tribute to BOBBY DARIN here:
This whole Vegas ceremony was put together by JAMIE NEY (who now just happens to be one of the NEWEST members on our FORGOTTEN HITS Mailing List!)
Thanks SO much for including me in this VERY special event, JAMIE!!!  I asked her to say a few words to our readers and explain how this whole thing got off the ground in the first place:
Hi Kent ...
I'm so happy that you were able to be there. 
As for how it all came together, if I hadn't done it, some one else would have.  After the movie Beyond the Sea, there were more people posting on a list that used to be tied to the official website.  There are now a few yahoo lists and after a year or so of chatting, a couple of gals organized a gathering in NYC last year to celebrate Bobby Darin's 70th Birthday.  There were only about 30 of us but we had such a ball that we decided to do it again this year with Vegas as the venue.  While researching Vegas I noticed that Bobby Darin wasn't on the list of 100 Stars on the Las Vegas Walk of Stars site (which I hadn't even known existed) and I thought that was just downright wrong.  Then we started raising the money to sponsor a star and it just took on a life of its own and voila, a star is born.
Thanks so much for your continued interest and yes, I'd love to be on your newsletter list.  
I'll get back to you with some pix before long.
I told JAMIE all about THE HIT PARADE HALL OF FAME (BOBBY DARIN was actually leading the votes there for awhile ... until the Foreign ELVIS PRESLEY Fan Clubs caught wind of what was going on!!!  LOL)  She and many of her constituents promptly went to the site and voted!!!  (As of this morning, DARIN now has 585 votes!!!)  I ALSO told her about DENNIS TUFANO's on-going musical tribute to BOBBY DARIN, AS LONG AS I'M SINGING!!!  (Be sure to let us know when you're bringing the show back to Chicago, DENNIS!!!)
Looks like my Bobby Darin project will happen in the fall in Chicago. I will keep you posted! Thanks.
Dennis Tufano
P.S.  Please "vibe the star" for me, my friend! 
Please keep us posted as other shows are added ... we want to give all of our readers nationwide the opportunity to catch this show!
I'm amazed at the number of Darin tribute artists there are out there but Dennis sounds like the real deal and I'll keep my eye out for him if he comes to the San Francisco area.
Bobby Darin's Star ...
Bobby Darin hit the national pop charts 56 times between 1958 and 1972.  26 of those hits made The Top 40 ... 10 made The Top 10 ... two reached #3, two reached #2 and one ("Mack The Knife") went all the way to #1, where it stayed for nine weeks in 1959.
He also made 14 movies (one of which was never released) and composed the title track for four of those plus three others in which he did not star.
He hosted his own television series, a couple of TV Specials and appeared on numerous other hit shows of the day including American Bandstand, The Ed Sullivan Show, The Dick Clark Beech Nut Show, The Flip Wilson Show and several others.
He was one of the biggest draws in Las Vegas ... truly an all-around entertainer.  Thank you for spending this very special Bobby Darin Weekend with us!