Archive for January, 2017

Please Please Me

“Please Please Me” was the second single released by the Beatles in the United Kingdom, and the first to be issued in the United States. It was also the title track of their first British LP, which was recorded to capitalize on the success of the single. It was a John Lennon composition. He stated that “Please Please Me is my song completely. It was my attempt at writing a Roy Orbison song”.

The single was released in the UK in January 1963 and reached No. 1 on the New Musical Express and Melody Maker charts.

The single was released in the USA in January 1964 with “From Me to You” on the B-side and it reached number three on the Billboard Hot 100.

My instrumental arrangement basically follows the original in form.

January 31, 2017 at 3:00 pm Leave a comment

She Loves You

She Loves You” was first recorded by the Beatles for release as a single in 1963. The single set and surpassed several records in the British charts, and set a record in the United States as one of the five Beatles songs that held the top five positions in the American charts simultaneously on 4 April 1964.

For my instrumental arrangement, I have slowed the song down to be a ballad, and given it a setting in the style of the Shadows — who were, in England, just about as popular as the Beatles in 1963.

January 29, 2017 at 4:30 pm Leave a comment

Green Onions (Surf Scallions)

“Green Onions” was a 1962 hit for Booker T and the MGs., peaking at #3 on the Hot 100. Much like the west coast “Wrecking Crew” and Motown’s “Funk Brothers”, Booker T. and the MGs were the house band of Stax Records. They played on hundreds of recordings by artists such as Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding, Bill Withers, Sam & Dave, Carla Thomas, Rufus Thomas, Johnnie Taylor and Albert King. They had a number of instrumental hits as well.

My arrangement transplants the tune and many of the original recordings recognizable moments into a surf-rock style. I have therefore subtitled this “Surfin’ Scallions”.

January 28, 2017 at 5:48 pm Leave a comment

Hang ‘Em High

Hang ‘Em High was a 1968 Western film starring Clint Eastwood as Jed Cooper, an innocent man who survives a lynching; Inger Stevens as a widow who helps him; Ed Begley as the leader of the gang that lynched Cooper; and Pat Hingle as the judge who hires him as a U.S. Marshal.

The theme was composed by Dominic Frontiere. Though it was first covered by Hugo Montenegro– whose orchestra recorded a full album of music from the film — the tune became a bigger hit in the R&B instrumental version by Booker T. & the M.G.’s that charted #9 in 1968.

My instrumental arrangement is based on the original movie theme.

January 27, 2017 at 7:29 pm Leave a comment

Calcutta

“Calcutta” was a #1 instrumental hit for Lawrence Welk in 1961. The tune was written in 1958 by German composer Heino Gaze. The original title was “Tivoli Melody”, but it was re-titled several times, until it became known as “Calcutta”.

The Ventures released a version on their 1963  album The Ventures Play Telstar and the Lonely Bull. The Four Preps released a 45rpm single vocal version shortly after Welk’s recording in 1961 that briefly entered the Billboard Hot 100. There is also a French language cover by Petula Clark.

Dancers Bobby Burgess and Barbara Boylan, cast members on Welk’s weekly TV show, worked up a dance routine to go along with “Calcutta”, which they performed numerous times on the Welk show over the years. I borrowed some footage of this for my video.

January 26, 2017 at 3:48 pm Leave a comment

Joint Ventures

“Joint Ventures” is an original instrumental in the style of 1960s instrumental guitar rock.

In the late 1960’s, the Ventures released recordings that attempted in include some progressive, psychedelic stylistic elements. 1967 saw the release of  “Guitar Freakout” and “Super Psychedelics”.

This track attempts a similar fusion of surf rock and psychedelic styles.

January 24, 2017 at 5:22 pm Leave a comment

I Know a Place

“I Know a Place” was written by Tony Hatch and recorded in 1965 by Petula Clark. Released as the follow-up to “Downtown”, “I Know a Place” became Clark’s second consecutive Top Ten hit in the United States, remaining on the charts for twelve weeks and peaking at #3.

The song includes the lyrics “a cellar full of noise,” describing the Cavern Club in Liverpool (which was three stories underground).

My arrangement is, of course, instrumental.

January 23, 2017 at 8:04 am Leave a comment

The More I See You

The More I See You” was composed by Harry Warren, with lyrics by Mack Gordon in 1945. It is considered a jazz standard and part of the “American Songbook”. It has been recorded by many artists — such as Nat Cole and Julie London in the 1950s and more recently by Michael Buble’.

In 1966, Chris Montez released the most commercially successful and well-known recording of the song on Herb Alpert’s A&M label.  This version went to number sixteen on the Billboard Hot 100 and spent four weeks at number two on the Easy Listening chart.

My instrumental arrangement attempts to combine the straightforward innocence of the Chris Montez version with the more complex and sophisticated harmonies normally associated with jazz versions.

January 21, 2017 at 5:41 pm Leave a comment

Strangers in the Night

Strangers in the Night” has music by Bert Kaempfert and English lyrics by Charles Singleton and Eddie Snyder. The song was made famous in 1966 by Frank Sinatra, who took it to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was the title song for his 1966 album Strangers in the Night, which became his most commercially successful. Sinatra’s recording also won him the Grammy Award for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance and the Grammy Award for Record of the Year.

I have given it an instrumental surf-rock setting, and I think it is safe to say this was never imagined by Kaempfert nor Sinatra.

I should also perhaps confess that I have never actually liked this song, and even after arranging and recording it, I still don’t.

January 20, 2017 at 7:05 pm Leave a comment

Wonderland by Night

“Wonderland by Night” was #1 hit for Bert Kaempfert in 1961. I was a bit surprised when I ran across this tune. I’m not sure I remember it. Also, by this time I would have thought I’d found all the #1 instrumentals from the era.

The original is very slow and features a juicy, romantic trumpet as the lead instrument. My arrangement has most of the same parts but is faster and features guitars — the result is a much more “country” vibe.

January 20, 2017 at 7:50 am Leave a comment

Call Me

This is my instrumental cover of “Call Me”,  probably best known as a 1966 hit recording by Chris Montez. However, it was originally written for Petula Clark by songwriter Tony Hatch — who also penned “Downtown”, “I Know a Place”, and “Don’t Sleep in the Subway, Darling”. This is not the same song as Blondie’s “Call Me”

For my arrangement I tried to imagine the song as the Shadows might have done it in a bossa nova style with a somewhat jazzy in feel.

January 19, 2017 at 4:05 pm Leave a comment

Theme from “The Wild Wild West”

The TV series “The Wild Wild West” ran on the CBS television network for four seasons: 1965 to 1969. I *loved* this show, and it was very popular.

The series followed Secret Service agents James West (Robert Conrad) and Artemus Gordon (Ross Martin) as they solved crimes, protected the President, and foiled the plans of megalomaniacal villains such as Dr. Loveless, played by Michael Dunn.

The theme is very memorable, yet as far as I can tell no one ever released an instrumental guitar-rock version of it. Until now. 🙂

January 17, 2017 at 5:23 pm Leave a comment

Tales of a Raggy Tramline

“Tales of a Raggy Tramline” was originally an instrumental track on the Shadows 1962 album “Out of the Shadows”. My version is basically a straight cover.

Written by (then) bassist Jet Harris and drummer Brian Bennett, it features a prominent drum solo part presumably inspired by the rhythm of a tram going down its tracks. A “tram” is the same thing as a “streetcar” — a vehicle running on tracks laid in the street and obtaining power from overhead wires.

Both Harris and Bennett grew up in London in the 1940s, when trams were a major component of public transport. London Transport discontinued their use in 1952, although other areas of England still utilized them after that. Trams were reintroduced to London in the year 2000.

January 16, 2017 at 4:17 pm Leave a comment

Bad to Me

Bad to Me” was written by John Lennon (credited to Lennon–McCartney) for Billy J. Kramer and The Dakotas. They released their recording of the song in 1963 and it became their first number 1 on the UK Singles Chart. The single would be released in the US the following year, and become a top-ten hit here, reaching number 9.

January 15, 2017 at 6:00 pm Leave a comment

The Girls

“The Girls” was originally a track from a 1962 EP (Extended Play) recording by the Shadows. The music on this EP were part of the soundtrack for a 1962 movie called “The Boys”, in which a  night watchman at a garage is found murdered, and four teddy boys are put on trial for the crime. Witnesses and suspects give differing accounts of the lead-up to the crime, and the truth eventually emerges.

My arrangement is basically a cover of the original with a few minor changes.

January 14, 2017 at 6:17 pm Leave a comment

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