Tag Archives: Easy Listening

OST: Original Music From the Addams Family

Vic Mizzy’s character themes and incidental music from the 1960s TV show

This is the original music composed for the 1960’s Addams Family television series, as written by noted television and film composer Vic Mizzy. The familiar vocal version of the main theme is presented at album’s end; the longer, instrumental version that opens the album is more in line with the jazzy themes and incidental music that Mizzy scored for the show. Alongside the trademark harpsichord (most prominent on “Gomez”), Mizzy mixed a healthy dose of electric guitar, jazzy woodwinds and bouncy bass into his charts, but the female chorus and tympani will remind you that these are easy instrumentals in the vein of Neal Hefti, Nelson Riddle, Billy Mure and others. If you’re a fan of the television show you’ll quickly recognize the character themes and incidental music cues, many of which were used in abbreviated form – here you get the entire tunes. This is a great find for Addams Family fans and anyone who collects ‘60s easy-pop. [©2011 hyperbolium dot com]

Johnny Mathis: Those Were the Days

Terrific easy listening vocal pop from 1968

After an underwhelming run on Mercury, Johnny Mathis returned to Columbia in 1967 to begin a string of fine albums with arranger/producer Robert Mersey. His second album back at Columbia provided Mathis an opportunity to rework 1960s pop, folk and adult contemporary hits in his own style; chief among the covers is his romantic treatment of the title tune. Reclaiming the song from Hopkins’ dance hall hit single, Mathis and arranger Robert Mersey give the song a romantic treatment that adds Latin touches to a vocal whose cadences suggest “If I Were a Rich Man” from Fiddler on the Roof. Mersey leaves Mathis a great deal of room to stretch out, claiming a number of MOR classics with his trademark vocal waver, and adding a nice twist to Jose Feliciano’s interpretation of the Doors’ “Light My Fire.” The album included two adult contemporary chart hits, “You Make Me Think About You” (from the soundtrack to With Six You Get Eggroll), and a cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s “The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy).” There’s nothing truly startling here, in fact the album’s craft is finely understated, but Mathis’ subtle reinvention of these hits shows the magic of his style. [©2011 hyperbolium dot com]

Johnny Mathis’ Home Page

Various Artists: Radio Hits of the 60s

Terrific collection of AM radio’s highly varied legacy

Rather than picking an artist or label or scene or sound, Legacy’s pulled together thirteen original hit recordings that show the range of music that AM radio brought to its listeners. Collected here is New Orleans R&B (“Ya Ya,” 1961 and “Working in the Coal Mine,” 1966), Dixieland Jazz (“Washington Square,” 1963), Easy Listening (“A Fool Never Learns,” 1964), Folk Pop and Rock (“We’ll Sing in the Sunshine,” 1964 and “In the Year 2525,” 1969), Garage Punk (“Little Girl,” 1966), Soul (“I’m Your Puppet,” 1966 and “Cherry Hill Park,” 1969), Bubblegum (“Simon Says,” 1968), Trad Jazz Vocal (“The Ballad of Bonnie and Clyde,” 1968), and Vocal Pop (“Worst That Could Happen,” 1969).

Even within these individual songs you can often hear more than one genre exerting its influence, such as the steel guitar and horns that provide accents to the superb pop production of Merrilee Rush’s “Angel of the Morning.” In this day of highly balkanized music channels and individually programmed MP3 playlists, it’s hard to imagine such variety inhabiting a single mass-market playlist, but that was part of AM radio’s power to attract and keep a broad swath of listeners. Playing this collection will remind you how good record and radio people were at picking and making hits – the winnowing process disenfranchised many, but what got through the sieves, particularly what got to the top of the charts, was often highly memorable.

Legacy’s disc clocks in at a slim 35 minutes, but what’s here is a terrifically nostalgic spin whose songs stand up to repeated listening forty-plus years later. True, Andy Williams’ “A Fool Never Learns” might wear out its welcome before the other tracks, but it’s part and parcel of the ebb and flow of 1960s AM radio. This set isn’t meant to be an all-inclusive compilation of any one thing in particular, but a reminder of the breadth that once graced individual radio stations across the land. There was a unity to AM radio’s audience that’s been replace by the free choice of the empowered individual. That personalization carries with it many benefits, but the range of this set may remind you of what’s also been lost. [©2010 hyperbolium dot com]

Jackie Gleason & Bobby Hackett: Essential Cocktail Lounge

Instrumental mood music for orchestra and trumpet

These set is a budget-priced MP3 version of the 4-CD set Complete Sessions issued on the Fine & Mellow label. It collects 102 tracks recorded by Jackie Gleason and Bobby Hackett between 1952 and 1959, with Gleason conducting an orchestra and Hackett adding his trumpet. The set includes the original albums “Music for Lovers Only” (1952), “Music to Make You Misty” (1953, and not including the tracks featuring saxophonist Toots Mondello), “Music, Martinis and Memories” (1954), “Music to Remember Her” (1954), “Music to Change Her Mind” (1956), “Music for the Love Hours” (1956), and “That Moment” (1959). The last two, which were the final two pairings of these artists are previously unreleased. The last of the albums is also the only one originally released in stereo, though it seems to be reproduced in mono here. Even stranger, most of the tracks from “The Love Hours” seem to be broader than plain mono, but not really stereo. One channel or two, Gleason’s orchestrations are lush, with relaxed tempos and dramatic string arrangements that provide a compelling place for Hackett’s languid playing and smooth tone. The material sticks mostly to standards, and though Hackett has a jazz background, this is very much easy listening music. A hundred-and-two tracks (over five hours of music) may be more than the casual mood music fan can use, but for Gleason fans or anyone looking for hours and hours of pleasant background music, this set is a steal. Note that the track ordering does not follow that of the original albums, and the detailed booklet supplied with Fine & Mellow’s CDs are completely absent. [©2009 hyperbolium dot com]