The music is both streetwise and innocent.
Can they exist together?
Cast your mind back to a time when you were a teen.
You thought you knew it all and you had all the answers and you tried to swagger but ultimately you were a wide eyed innocent.
This music is sung by people not much older than that and at a time when the ear was not tuned in to irony, parody or the postmodern.
Everything was straight.
The world was simple or so it seemed despite the fact that the civil rights movement was exploding, tensions over the Cuban missile crisis were still around, people were hopping over or tunnelling under the Berlin Wall, Kennedy had been assassinated … but what is that all compared to the girl down the road who rebuffs your advances?
Has anything changed?
Perhaps, err perhaps not.
Rydell was on Cameo records and was its biggest star and hitmaker. Accordingly they loved product being released. When there are no new suitable songs then … release an album of covers.
Nothing wrong with that but there has to be a reason or theme that holds everything together. ie; Jerry Lewis sings Al Jolson, Ella Fitzgerald Sings The Johnny Mercer Songbook, Tony Bennett Sings a String of Harold Arlen, Sinatra sings Antonio Carlos Jobim, Bobby Vee sings Buddy Holly ("I Remember Buddy Holly"), Gene Pitney Sings Bacharach, Connie Francis Sings Jewish Favorites … here the theme is a lot more cynical.
Bobby Rydell sings the big hits of 1963.
It was normal for the teen idols of the time to include, one, two or maybe three covers of recent hits. But a whole album?
Plus a new original song (see below).
The beauty then is that this is more than a covers album because the songs have been subsumed into Rydell’s style. Rydell isn’t faithful to the originals and he shows he has the force of personality and voice to, maybe not always make the songs his own, but enough to be able to make them clearly distinguishable from the originals.
And that is not easy to do.
But he was experienced at this. Cameo had already released Rydells “An Era Reborn” (1962) which was him tackling old crooner material so perhaps him tackling the hits of the day was inevitable.
1964 was the year the Beatles took America by storm and ruined everything or revolutionised music. Take your pick.
But Beatlemania effectively did away with this music, all of it. The baby went out with the bathwater.
The pop craft here is substantial (and it was acknowledges by Paul McCartney – see trivia tag)
See my other comments for biographical detail on Rydell.
Tracks (best in italics)
- Ruby Baby – (Leiber-Stoller) – (a #2 for Dion) Maybe you have to be Italian to sing this but it swings with the youthful streetwise attitude of an inner city ethnic tenement. The double up chuck a lunk thunping and clapping make Gary Glitter proud. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ruby_Baby
- So Much In Love – (Jackson, Williams, Straigis) – (a #1 form The Tymes) a pretty song that comes out as a white doowop crossed with a show tune … though the original wasn't far from that. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/So_Much_in_Love
- Go Away Little Girl – (Goffin-King) – (Bobby Vee had a #1 with it and crooner Steve Lawrence had a #1 with it in the Easy listening charts), This is a beautiful Goffin and King song with familiar themes (teen love when one is with another) sung beautifully … excellent early 60s pop. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Go_Away_Little_Girl
- Our Day Will Come – (Hilliard, Garson) – (a #1 chart hit for Ruby & the Romantics). A little bit of Latin cha cha cha on this. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Our_Day_Will_Come
- Can't Get Used To Losing You – (Pomus, Shuman) – (crooner Andy Williams had a #2 hit in both the US and the UK). An excellent version. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Can't_Get_Used_to_Losing_You
- Blue On Blue – (David-Bacharach) – (Bobby Vinton had a #3 hit with this / #2 on Billboard's Middle-Road Singles chart). This one should have been a little more delicate. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_on_Blue_(song)
- Wonderful! Wonderful! – (Raleigh, Edwards) – (The Tymes had a #23 R&B hit with this in 1963. Johnny Mathis had the big one, a #14 in 1957). Not as good as the Mathis version but as good as the Tymes. Happy, delicate and life affirming. Surely. Pure corn but totally subversive. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wonderful!_Wonderful!
- My Coloring Book – (Ebb-Kander) – (Kitty Kallen had a #18 hit, though, in 1963 alone there were versions by Barbara Streisand, Andy Williams, Brenda Lee, and Julie London floating around). I find the tune a little dull but the drama is nice and it is extremely well sung. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/My_Coloring_Book
- If I Had A Hammer – (Hays, Seeger) – (Trini Lopez went to #3 with this) – Bobby hasn't done much too change this one. It's got Trini's go go beat. Seeger recorded it in 1949. A song of emancipation with a "groovy" beat! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/If_I_Had_a_Hammer
- Blue Velvet – (Wayne, Morris) – (Bobby Vinton went to #1). A great version of a great song. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Velvet_(song)
- The Alley Cat Song – (Bjorn, Harlen) – (in 1962, the Bent Fabric composition reached #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and number two on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart). So-so, but then so was the original. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alley_Cat_(song)
- I Will Follow Her (Chariot) – (Altman, Roma, Stole, Gimbel) – (Little Peggy March's gender correct "I Will Follow Him" version went to #1). Excellent. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Will_Follow_Him
- Side One – Forget Him – (Mark Anthony) – Now that's marketing … an album with a new single on it and the single is with the album and not part of it. It was a #13 hit in England in 1963. Apparently (according to Bobby on the flipside) he recorded it England and it was a hit there so they decided to include it on this album. It did it work – it went up to a #4 in the US. It was a hit in Europe – # 1 on the continent apparently). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forget_Him_(Bobby_Rydell_song)
- Side Two – Message From Bobby – more marketing … cool. Bobby explaining the single and thanking us for his career and for buying this album!
A great album. I know that half the joy comes from the fact of the choice of songs. But they are well sung and arranged and sometimes as good as the originals … I'm keeping it.
1964 Forget Him #4
1963 Forget Him #13
The whole album
So Much In Love
If I Had A Hammer
- "Paul McCartney has stated in "The Beatles Anthology" that Bobby Rydell was an inspiration for a lot of the "Yeah Yeah's" used in "She Loves You" (Remember the Yeah Yeahs and Whoa Whoa's his background singers were so famous for?) Paul McCartney also said that a Bobby Rydell song "Forget Him" was the original inspiration for actually writing "She Loves You" — Inspired by "Forget Him" Paul McCartney had the idea to write an "answer song" to Forget Him and "She Loves You" was born" https://www.facebook.com/OfficialBobbyRydell/posts/640890955972474
- "In 2000, McCartney said the initial idea for "She Loves You" came from a Bobby Rydell hit that was popular at the time (mid-1963). Lennon and McCartney started composing "She Loves You" after a concert on June 26, 1963 (about four weeks after the release of "Forget Him" in the UK). They began writing the song on the tour bus, and continued later that night at their hotel in Newcastle. "She Loves You" was completed the following day at McCartney's family home in Forthlin Road, Liverpool." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forget_Him_(Bobby_Rydell_song)
Happy New Year
RIP: Debbie Reynolds