Dec 092009

Hot on the heels of a recent Philadelphia debut show by an All-Star Ukelele Orchestra, cofounded by Townsman cdm and featuring deliveries by a moustachioed chickenfrank, comes the latest Hear Factor submission, a collection of a certain kind of old-time music rarely discussed in these hallowed halls.

Everybody Needs Education (~46 MB)

Although all are encouraged to download and live with this mix before reporting back to us on how it really made you feel, man, I am especially keen to know what Townsman Hrrundivbakshi feels about this stuff. Consider yourself summoned!

What’s Hear Factor?


  38 Responses to “Hear Factor, deux: Everybody Needs Education”

  1. I am a big fan of old time music but a lot of this stuff is too treacley/show-tuney for my tastes.

    I like the Ella Fitzgerald song Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered.

    Track 8 is entertaining enough because I think it’s a go-to song to establish that a movie scene is set in Swinging London. It would be nice to know who does it.

    The version of Volare is over the top but fun.

    I HATE that first song.

    I’m assuming that this is from Al because it starts and ends with Francis Albert Sinatra. I would have liked to have had a whole Hear Factor of deep cuts from Frank, particularly from early on in his career. The only thing I have by him is For Swinging Lovers and I like that one a lot.

  2. hrrundivbakshi

    Hey — this makes me FEEL like I’ve just tuned into a variety TV special, filmed on a Hollywood soundstage in 1969. Lots of giant set pieces painted in tan, brown, orange, etc. Long Gene Rayburn microphones. Lola Falana, Nipsey Russell and a young Ben Vereen are also on the bill, as well as a great comedy sketch about Dean martin’s bar tab.

    I love that Roger Miller number. Is that Sergio Mendes doing “Mas Que Nada”? It’s not bad, and in keeping with this TV special’s flavor. (Watch the girl chorus sway back and forth as they sit on the edge of that big piece of styrofoam stage scenery, snapping their fingers.) The Chet Baker song is a classic, of course — but who booked that cat on this show?

    Though the Sinatra tunes fit right in, they do nothing for me; I think the guy hit his peak in the 50s, and this 1960s Frank reeks of some serious polyester leisure suit/fondue party cheese.

    WOW! I’m listening to the last couple of tunes as I write this, and… who knew that Jackie Rogers, Jr.’s theme song was based on a real lounge-jazz number? (Scan out to 5:30 in this clip to see and hear it: )

    Anyhow, some of this stuff is aces, most of it is at least good, but some of it leaves me cold. (That’s a lousy version of “Volare,” for example — and Ella usually bugs me. I know, I’m a Luddite. Sue me!) After 30 minutes or so, I use the big clicking channel-changer to switch to the Tigers game.

    Thanks for posting, though!


  3. Yes, cdm, this one is from me. I will say, it was not intended to be part of Hear Factor Deux as Deux was intended. I had originally put this together for Hear Factor with the theme being “songs I learned to love in my wee youth from my dad”. After putting it together I decided that was ridiculous, no one would like any of it, and did a second one, “A Bit Off’ which compiled songs by British Eccentrics That I Love. Having finished the first one, though, I sent it to Mr. Mod anyway while explaining to him that it wasn’t for HF2.

    That said cdm and hvb got things pretty much correct except for both misidentifying Anita O’Day as Ella. Here’s the track listing:

    1. Frank Sinatra – High Hopes
    2. Chet Baker – Let’s Get Lost
    3. Bobby Rydell – Volare
    4. Anita O’Day – Bewitched, Bothered, & Bewildered
    5. Jack Jones – She Loves Me
    6. Frank Sinatra & Dean Martin – Guys & Dolls
    7. Sergio Franchi – If You Should Leave Me (E Se Domani)
    8. Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66 – Mas Que Nada
    9. O.C. Smith – Little Green Apples
    10. Roger Miller – Kansas City Star
    11. Frank Sinatra – You Will Be My Music

    Some notes.

    High Hopes is one of the earliest songs I can remember, having gone with my dad to see the movie A Hole In The Head in, I 1959 when I was 4.

    As far as who invited Chet Baker to this show, dad loved west coast cool jazz so there was always a lot of that playing.

    Bobby Rydell’ s father and my dad were old friends. Another of my earliest musical memories is visiting the Ridarelli (Rydell’s real name) home in south Philly and a young Bobby Rydell in the middle of his teen idol fame, playing drums for us in his basement. Rydell really is an extremely talented individual in a Bobby Darin way. He’s a very good vocalist, a good drummer, a mimic, and all around great entertainer in an old school Hollywood/Vegas way.

    I confess that I don’t recall hearing Anita O’Day in my youth. There was plenty of Ella though. But I discovered O’Day a few years ago and love her, even more than Ella. I highly recommend the recently released documentary on her, Anita O’Day – The Life Of A Jazz Singer.

    Guys & Dolls has to be the best lyrics of the Great American Songbook era and that’s saying a lot.

    Sergio Franchi was an Italian tenor who was my mom’s favorite.

    There was a lot of Sergio Mendes, Herb Alpert, & the Baja Marimba Band in the house.

    Don’t know why dad had that O.C. Smith album but it was smooth.

    We had a lot of Roger Miller and he was one heck of a songwriter.

    So I can see why in the end I didn’t want this to be my Hear Factor submission but I still love listening to all of it.

  4. BigSteve

    I had a Roger Miller’s Greatest Hits album back when I only had two or three albums. I can only imagine how crazy repeated plays must have made my parents. They probably liked this better than Rubber Soul, but, after the 400th spin, by how much?

    That Sergio Franchi was an Ed Sullivan mainstay. He was dreamy, but also, I thought, somewhat raffish.

  5. I just listened to Bewitched by both Ella and Anita back to back. Both versions are cool. I think I prefer Ella’s (even though I’m not usually all that crazy about Ella’s delivery) because Anita’s is a little more lush due to the strings.

    But that song itself is excellent and it’s tough to imagine a bad version. And I suspect that the lyrics were kind of risque for the time.

  6. Mr. Moderator

    As someone who’s been REAL slow to come around to olde timey, pre-rock music, I’m amazed at the lack of love being expressed for Ella Fitzgerald and, especially, her version of “Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered.” First of all, she was the first singer of this entire genre that I ever liked a lot (Tony Bennett is a distant second with Dean Martin a distant third – take that, those of you who know about this stuff, for what it’s worth), and to me, her performance of that particular song is the sexiest, most romantic thing I’ve ever heard. I’ve got a huge crush on that song and her performance of it.

    Frank Sinatra, although occasionally very good, from what I can tell, usually leaves me cold. He sounds like a dick. I know that shouldn’t matter much, but that’s the feeling I get when I hear The Eagles or Jackson Browne, for instance, and it feels like a valid criticism when I make it about rock artists and music I must better understand.

    Dean Martin, on the other hand, sounds like a good egg, like a guy I’d want to hang with. I LOVE the precision and purity of Ella Fitzgerald. She does for me, with that kind of music, what Dionne Warwick does for me with, again, music that’s right up my alley.

    You know who else I like a lot, out of olde timey singers? Rosemary Clooney. She’s the best thing in the movie White Christmas. Although not a real “looker” nor a real actress, her honesty and vulnerability pull that overlong Christmas movie together. And I like her voice. I’ve since bought some stuff by her that’s not Christmas related, and I dig that too. Put it all together, and now I also find her to be the most attractive actor in White Christmas.

  7. Mod, no Billie?

  8. Mr. Moderator

    My wife loves Billie Holiday. I can’t take her for more than a song at a time. I could explain why, but it will open up an unfortunate can of make-up:) Let’s just say I really dislike that style of singing.

  9. hrrundivbakshi

    Hey, Mod — if you like the more composed, reserved, uptight (in a good way) jazz singers, you should check out my girlfriend’s stuff. She’s the real deal. Did I send you this before?

  10. Mr. Moderator

    I had no idea that Catherine was a musician too. I DO like this, Hrrundi. Feel free to point me in the direction of more of her stuff, if there’s anything for $ale. Thanks!

  11. Mod, I have follow up questions but, given your caveat, I will save them for the next time I see you. You should, however, expect to be grilled like a rib-eye steak.

    HVB, That song was fantastic. I checked out the site and I can only assume that you are being facetious about that actually being your girlfriend. I’ve never met you face to face but there is no way a guy who makes as many “corn encrusted turd” references as you could possibly pull a classy broad like that. No offense, of course…

  12. hrrundivbakshi

    No offense taken, cdm. But that *is* my girlfriend. I am a lucky so-and-so!

  13. Well played.

    She has a beautiful voice. Let her know that if she ever moves to Philadelphia, we’d be happy to find a spot for her in the ukulele orchestra.

  14. Mr. Moderator

    cdm, please feel free to ignore my caveat. This is one of the reasons we gather here in the halls of rock: to air out our most deeply felt issues of taste and all that jazz. Seriously, I wanted to preface my response with a modicum of sensitivity and good taste, but really – this place would be a bore if we all upheld such facades. GRILL ME!

  15. BigSteve

    I have a similar kneejerk reaction to Sinatra. I’ve tried and I just can’t take him at all. I used to think it was mainly Joe Piscopo’s fault, but I haven’t seen those parodies in decades.

    I like some of that ‘great American songbook’ stuff, but strings ruin it for me. That’s why I like Chet Baker Sings — good songs with a small combo and a nice lean feel. Jazzy is good as long as it’s not showbusy.

    Plus the whole Las Vegas vibe is a major turn off for me. It’s a sensibility I don’t have, or want, access to.

  16. Mr. Moderator

    cdm (and others), I’ve opened a separate forum to discuss Billie Holiday and other artists who might strike anyone as being “too much” of something.

  17. I know I may have a blind spot but to me anyone who doesn’t like Sinatra has something wrong with them, likely not listening without prejudice. He invented this stuff, he defines it. So much so that he basically killed singing the Great American Songbook. You want to do that you have two choice. Sing it like Sinatra, in which case, why bother? Or try something new, in which case, why bother because Sinatra defined it? Forget the image, forget the Rat Pack, forget the My Way/New York New York/Something Stupid crap and just listen to the artistry.

    Sounds like a dick? What the hell does that mean? Where? And don’t cite My Way. One of the reasons he’s the best is precisely because he doesn’t sound like a dick. On the classic stuff (Capital, some Reprise) he’s so deep inside the song it’s ridiculous.

    Dean to me could have been great. He has a beautiful voice but unlike Sinatra he didn’t take it seriously, he didn’t work at it and you can tell.

    Tony Bennett to me is a third-rate. He brings nothing new to the table. It’s a Hobson’s choice between him and Dean for different reasons but I’d take Dean.

    I’m not dissing Ella at all. She is fantastic. I put O’Day on this comp because she’s my current favorite. I prefer her to Ella (in general not necessarily on specific songs or every song) because I think Ella’s jazz tendencies take away from her performance. Is there anyone who scats who really adds anything? Jackie & Roy maybe? Lambert, Hendricks, & Ross?

    And put me on the list if there’s anything of Catherine Carraway’s to buy.

    Here’s another female vocalist to check out. I’m amazed at how good she is especially because she’s only 21. She is a old classmate of my daughter’s and I know her from when she was 10 years old and used to sleepover at the house.

  18. BigSteve

    I have to run to the dentist, so I’ll just say that the idea that people can or should listen without prejudice is silly. I suspect Al knows this, and I suspect that there are certain kinds of music he doesn’t get because of his own prejudices.

  19. Mr. Moderator

    Al wrote:

    Sounds like a dick? What the hell does that mean? Where? And don’t cite My Way.

    You sound just like Jackson Browne fans when we said that about him! 🙂 What do you mean, “what the hell does that mean?” I mean he doesn’t sound inviting. Maybe that’s what you mean when you call it “deep inside the song.” With all due respect, maybe that’s why he sounds more like he’s up his own ass to me. Again, I say all this with nothing more than limited exposure and my gut feelings. I’m sure Frank was a wonderful human being.

    “My Way,” on the other hand, is a Sinatra standard that I love. My wife is bugged by the fact that I really like that song, but she understands why I love it so: it’s the American Asshole’s National Anthem. There’s a part of my that’s highly sympathetic with being a self-centered asshole, at least when it’s done with style, or Mach Schau. Bravo, Frank!

    Some other cool friends who like this kind of music also share your view on Tony Bennett. Again, my opinions on this style of singing are worth about as much as my opinions on hockey, but I find Bennett unintentionally funny and open. He’s so up his own asshole, with that self-satisfied smile and twinkle in his eye and the ridiculous toupee that I relate to him as I would many of my Italian-American uncles, or the self-deluded part of myself that I too often put on display. There’s nothing really COOL about Bennett, and I find that cooler than Sinatra’s Ice Prince persona.

    As always, I hope that coming clean with my own stupid views eventually opens me up to some beautiful aspects of Sinatra’s music that I never before recognized.

  20. I actually think Sinatra was one of the ultimate Winners in music. That’s why people are so drawn to his post-Ava Gardner sad-sack albums. True winners face up to being losers once in a while.
    This is sort of a backstory hypothesis, I admit.

    Sinatra, like the Grateful Dead and King Crimson, is one of those artists I’m very curious about, (I mean, I know a lot of his songs, but I don’t own any albums) and am unsure about going down that road. Silly, I know, but these are the last vestiges of self-consciousness I am trying to purge from my listening habits.

  21. 2000 Man

    Sinatra “sounds like a dick?”

    I totally get that! He does sound like a dick. I don’t mean uninviting, he sounds like he’s a a dick to me. Now I know how to articulate how I feel about him in a nice, easy to understand and totally succinct way. I mean, how do you argue with that?

  22. My whole problem with the “sounds like a dick” is the implication that one would prefer to listen to artists who are nice people. You’re not hanging out with them! It’s like with presidents: You shouldn’t vote for people because you want to have a beer with them.

  23. Mr. Moderator

    Oats, what else are we doing while listening to a record if not “hanging out with” the artist? How is the work of a musician in any way similar to the work of a president? I need to hear a better argument against my proposition that an artist who “sounds like a dick” is comparable to hanging out with a dick. Remember, I’ve tried to make distinctions about “good” dicks and “bad” dicks.

  24. “Hanging out with the artist”?

    It was late when you posted that Mr. Mod. In the light of day, tell the truth, even you don’t believe what you wrote, right?

  25. Mr. Moderator

    Why shouldn’t I believe that? The music is right there in my home, part of intimate moments in my life. I know it sounds corny, but for as much as I’m (rightfully) accused of donning the rock labcoat, tamping my pipe, and stroking my beard, I also get into the music on an emotional level. Just like when I watch a movie there’s a part of me that is gauging the actors by E. Pluribus Gergely’s “Shotgun or Six-Pack” criteria (to paraphrase: “There’s no such thing as ‘acting talent.’ We judge actors by the following: ‘If Actor X showed up unannounced at your door, would you greet him or her with a shotgun or a six-pack?”), when I listen to a record I’m having a relationship with the musicians on record. Am I the only person who’s not so deep into the music (mannnnn) that I take it to this other plane?

  26. Mr. Moderator

    To further explain what I’m talking about, Al, think Woody Allen’s Purple Rose of Cairo or The Kinks’ song, “Oklahoma USA.” That’s the sort of romantic dynamic that I can’t help but enter into at some point.

  27. Maybe it’s semantics, Mr. Mod. There’s nothing you describe that I’d characterize as “hanging out with the artist”.

    As far as E. Pluri (1) I’ll stick with his contention that good music ended in, what was is, 1981 and (2) where the heck has he been, somewhere more out of the way than Italy?

  28. shonuffnyesido

    You hit the nail on the head Mr. Moderator. LOL!

  29. First of all, and apropos of not much, Tony Bennett is number one on my wish list of famous people dinner guests. I’m certain that he would bring a nice bottle of wine and would be charming and urbane, but in a very low key manner. He would spin some old school show biz yarns and then make the point that something is missing in today’s music although he really likes Diana Krall and HVB’s girlfriend. He wouldn’t leave too early or stay too late and he would send a hand written thank you note.

    I really like Tony Bennett’s voice but his arrangements are often too syrupy for me. I only have one compilation of his hits but I’d like to hear him take a crack at the Songbook with a stripped down combo. He could crush that I suspect that record already exists; I just haven’t looked for it yet. And at the risk of inciting Al’s wrath, I think that I Wanna Be Around stands up to anything that Frank did.

    Dino has a great voice but there’s too much novelty going on in a lot of his stuff.

    Frank to me is like the Beatles in that it’s easy to take him for granted because a) he is so good and b) he tends to get forced down ones throat a bit. But if you step back and listen to Songs For Swinging Lovers (especially You Brought A New Kind of Love To Me), you realize that there is a reason for his omnipresence.

    I have no problem listening to artists whom I suspect are dicks – the Rolling Stones, Westerberg, etc.

  30. Mr. Moderator

    cdm, I own an album of Tony Bennett with just Bill Evans on piano. It sounds great to my ill-informed ears.

  31. I know very little about Bennett, but I’m pretty sure he has a lot of albums where he’s backed by a small jazz combo. There’s that Unplugged album, for one.

    I’m with cdm and Al on this “dick” thing. It all seems pretty arbitrary, an easy way to categorically dismiss an artist in as withering a fashion as possible. And isn’t there a bit of The Sincerity Fallacy in here, the idea that music is such direct outgrowth of the artist’s personality that it practically contains their DNA and, thus, intrinsic elements of his/her personality?

    I’m exaggerating, obviously. If the “dick” thing works for you, great. But it’s not for everyone.

  32. BigSteve

    There’s being a dick, and then there’s being a proud and unrepentant dick.

    I believe I’m on the record as generally opposing ‘winner rock’ so what Oats says about Sinatra being a winner (non-rock category) makes sense of my distaste.

  33. 2000 Man

    cdm, I’ve always assumed that The Stones are dicks, but their records make them sound like they aren’t. Frank always seemed to me that if you didn’t think his schtick was cool, then you were a dick. There are things from my grandpa’s era that I find cool, but all that swinging isn’t even close.

    I was impressed when I was a kid and grandpa took me to the bar for lunch across from the Roller Bearing factory he worked at. I think I had fried bologna, and grandpa and his friends spent four hours drinking boilermakers. The hard way. where you throw the shot in the beer, and down it all. Rinse lather and repeat constantly.

  34. mockcarr

    I’ve always figured you have to be a dick to be the best. That’s what ambition leads to – you can be really good without being a asshole/bitch but not the best.

    I can like listening to something without knowing a damned thing about anyone playing or singing. I’m not thinking gee, U2 has good taste in beer, maybe that’s a good reason to go see them now. Or maybe I agree with some stuff he tries to do, but who cares if the songs leave me cold?

    Bennett sounds like a guy who needs to take a good crap. Restrained, pent up, weak at points where the song needs power. Maybe his modest persona is merely a recognition of his limited talents. Just cause’ he’s a good egg, I might buy an album, but I probably wouldn’t bother listening to it more than once or twice to be polite.

    Sinatra is dyanamic, percussive, may take too many liberties with phrasing and his “cuckoo” ad libs, but it’s part of making the song his just as a horn player might with a favorite figure in a solo that everyone else is tired of perhaps. In those theme albums of the 50s and early 60s he interprets, he cares what he’s singing and how he’s doing it. Maybe you LIKE the dick songs, so that’s what he is to you, Mod. But I think he does take a shot at figuring out a song whether it’s heavy, light or in between, with an ear to what fits in the band. His younger 40s voice was purer and prettier but I don’t like the arrangements, the syrupy presentation and his straigher performances for the bobby soxers. He imbued similar material with so much more depth in the mid to late 50s. Actually, it’s the BEAT it was given by Nelson Riddle and Billy May that helped a lot for me.

    Martin is smooth, but seems too mellow and distant to really tackle a large range of emotions. I think part of what made him a decent actor sometimes was that thing he held back, you could see something’s going on under the surface, but the mystery doesn’t work when I hear him sing. Admittedly, I don’t have a lot of examples, but maybe if he’d have been a bigger dick and gotten better bands, arrangments, and picked a few songs he could stretch on – HE could have been best. Of course, maybe we’d never have had those roasts and where would Foster Brooks have gotten work?

  35. mockcarr

    That’s only impressive if he went over to work after a four hour lunch of that. I regularly did two and half hour lunches like that for about ten years every friday where I went back to “work”.

    Maybe I’m just being a dick about it.

  36. Mr. Moderator

    Man, you guys are getting all bent out of shape on the dick thing, calling me on The Sincerity Fallacy and bringing The Rolling Stones into it. Except for 2000 Man and BigSteve, you’ve overlooked the occasional pitfalls of Winner Rock and my other way of trying to explain what I find difficult about Sinatra, that his music is “not inviting” to my ears (and soul).

    How about what 2K said:

    Frank always seemed to me that if you didn’t think his schtick was cool, then you were a dick. There are things from my grandpa’s era that I find cool, but all that swinging isn’t even close.

    BRILLIANT! This taps into what I’m basing my “dick” characterization on. Sinatra’s music is right there, in my face, and if I don’t like it, tough shit! I’m not going to waste my time digging into the backstory of him losing Ava Gardner when he was married a half dozen times and banging probably any broad he felt like banging. Maybe I’M the dick, but I’m just not getting the sense that he gives a shit about me getting inside the music with me. This is my opinion, and if it’s not for you, fine, but please don’t act like you’ve never sensed that someone was a dick or, more pertinent to this discussion, heard someone’s music and simply felt like it was giving off a vibe that rubbed you the wrong way. I have trouble believing that this concept is as foreign as some of you are making it sound. I’m NOT talking about Frank the Man; I’m talking about the personality that his music conveys to me. Don Henley’s out there saving Walden Pond, but his music gives off the unmistakable scent of dick to many of us.

    Finally, mockcarr is not part of my indictment. Although he started out by mistaking what I’m saying as making some kind of judgement about the person he went on to attempt to shed light on the man’s music. Thank you.

  37. hrrundivbakshi

    Though I like me some prime 50s Sinatra, I’m going to back up Mod on his right to dislike music just because its creator gives off dickhead vibes. I have a hard time — as I bet many of you do — with a lot of solo McCartney stuff for just this reason.

    Oh, and re: another recent thread: John Fogerty is another “too much Americana” artist. There might have been a time when he meant it, but by the end of CCR, it had become an act.

  38. misterioso

    I go for a lot of the 50s Sinatra myself, esp. the gloomy stuff, but as much as I like FS Sings for Only the Lonely (for one) the lp cover with Frank as a sad clown hard to digest and, one might well say, dickish. As for the later stuff and the Rat Pack and all its Ring-a-ding-ding obnoxiousness: feh. Pretty ghastly.

    The Chet Baker is great, of course, and I have always thought it sounds like he is singing, “Wet’s Get Wost,” ala Elmer Fudd. Too much smack, I guess. (Baker, not Fudd. Although…)

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