I like my trad pop.
What is trad pop?
Loosely described, mainstream music from the 1930s though to the rise of rock n roll. Though, it existed before the 30s and continued into the 1970s. For more see the link below.
Trad pop’s peak predates me though all the stars of the genre were around when I was a kid and teen … Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Guy Mitchell, Bing Crosby, Andy Williams, Tony Bennett (still around) etc.
It was a music I didn’t mind listening to as a kid though its access was, mainly, through the television set whilst watching old movies from the 40s, 50s, and 60s.
And, I enjoyed it.
And, why shouldn’t I?
Let’s ask, what is the purpose of music?
A google of that question leads to various nob end opinions (yes, I know I deliver opinions also):
"Music's purpose is to express and modulate emotions. We use it to soothe, psych up, woo, enrage, sadden and cheer each other, or ourselves. Music is an especially important tool for bonding with and caring for infants. They may not understand the semantic content of language, but they understand the emotional content of music just fine. In preliterate societies, music was also essential as a mnemonic device. It's much easier to remember information if it's in song form. Even now, if we have to remember a phone number or address, we usually unconsciously sing it to ourselves".
"The "One Answer": It makes people happy. The "more than one" answer: It has no purpose at all. At least not a clear-defined one. It's a kind of expression. It's not utilitarian. I'm a musician and I make music because I like the feeling of making it. In fact, it cannot be explained. Communication and expression are similar, but are not the same. Words are for communication. Music (and art in general) is for expression. It can make us feel "bigger than what we are".
"The purpose of music is twofold, with both functional and metaphysical components: 1) To create meaning through the organization of sound. 2) To align one’s consciousness with the original source of creative energy flowing throughout the universe".
"Schoppenhauer claimed that music is the channel through which we can understand the essence of reality. He prescribed a specific type of mindset to be adopted in order to benefit from music's power. I know he talks about this in his The World as Will and Representation, Vol. 1, though I am not sure where else he talks about it".
"I would now like to present my brief views on the theme, and invite your comments on the same as well. I completely agree with the point that artistic expression goes beyond the very everyday notion of communication. When this question had first come to me, over 3 years back, I had a hard time scratching beneath the surface beyond this, i.e., looking at why it is that the artiste wishes to express – and also, what … From where I see this space (i.e. completely as an appreciative observer, what we call a rasik in India), music allows the self to experience higher/ more refined levels of emotion. Not only does the artiste express himself more lucidly, but the impact on the observer can be equally profound. Personally, I tend to find lyrics rather restrictive (relatively), given the presence of words – which can only mean so much, and little else. That's possibly why I am more inclined towards instrumental pieces. Interestingly enough, lyrics in an unknown language can work just as well sometimes!"
"It's a gift that humans share.. music is eternal and is boundless by boundaries of nation, religion etc.. When a beat is played you can see little children dancing… I think it is innate ability of humans to recognize a tune which at that moment is coherent with their emotions or situation thus making experience of listening to music a relaxing as well as natural experience.."
These are all right, though the "artists" responses are looking at what music means to them not what it means to a listener (quite egocentric, not surprisingly) … and a bit wankerish … I would have thought it's also a good way to make money, and meet girls also.
Oddly, no one mentioned music is good for dancing.
In any event I'm more concerned about what music means to the listener at home. To me it is many of the things listed above but it also works on the emotions and can also transport you to another time and another place.
Trad Pop does that.
As a music the best of Trad Pop is up there with the best of any music style. But, to me, it is undeniable that there is an element of the music which transports me back to when I was a kid watching those old movies on television on weekends.
And just like comfort food there is comfort music.
I may have been listening to AC/DC or Suzi Quatro in the charts (and they do bring some remembrance comfort (now)) but, as I get older, the melodies, instrumentations and expressive vocals of Trad Pop displace some of my other youthful music loves.
I mean, isn’t that what is supposed to happen?
Or, will you be playing Black Sabbath at 11 on the volume button when you are 80?
The Four Aces were big in the 1950s but are largely forgotten nowadays.
Wikipedia, “The Four Aces are an American male traditional pop music quartet, popular since the 1950s. Over the last half-century, the group amassed many gold records … The original members, responsible for every song made popular by the group, included Al Alberts, Dave Mahoney, Lou Silvestri, and Rosario "Sod" Vaccaro … Alberts went to South Philadelphia High School and Temple University, and served in the United States Navy, where he met Mahoney. Originally, Alberts sang with Mahoney playing behind him, and later they added Vaccaro on trumpet and Silvestri on drums. They played locally in the Philadelphia area, and Alberts started his own record label, Victoria Records, when they could not find a distributor to release their first record, "(It's No) Sin". It sold a million copies, and Decca Records soon signed the group, billing them as The Four Aces featuring Al Alberts … Alberts left the group in 1958 to try to make it as a soloist, but never made the charts. He was replaced as lead singer by Fred Diodati, who had attended South Philadelphia High School a few years after Alberts. After Alberts had left the group, Mahoney and Vaccaro also left. Silvestri never left the group, but led three new members: Diodati, Tony Alesi, and Joe Giglio. The Original Aces later asked Silvestri to rejoin the original group, and he did … It was then that Diodati led a new line-up, which consisted of Diodati, Alesi, Giglio, and Harry Heisler. After almost 19 years with the group, Alesi developed a medical condition that forced him to leave the group. As of 2013 the Four Aces members are Diodati, Giglio, Heisler, and Danny Colingo. These members sing all the songs the original Four Aces had made popular at one time … In 1975, Diodati, Alesi, Giglio, and Heisler were awarded the right to the name in a court suit in which the original members tried to re-establish their right. The court allowed the founding members to tour as "The Original Four Aces, Featuring Al Alberts", which they did, finally retiring the act in 1987. Diodati, Giglio, Heisler, and Colingo continue to legally use the name of the Four Aces and perform the songs made popular by the Original Four Aces”.
They were part of the Philadelphia (and, then, universally common) musical tradition of working class kids, and working class ethnic kids, going into music to make a living.
To wit, The Four Aces: Al Alberts (born Al Albertini), Dave Mahoney, Lou Silvestri, and Rosario "Sod" Vaccaro … three Italians and an Irishman.
Later Harry Heisler joined, a Jewish kid.
You had to get a job, there were limited opportunities, and singing was better than most jobs so why not do that?
After all music was in the air.
With limited entertainment opportunities, easily accessible and regularly performed music was, a part of life.
In the 50s the Four Aces had two #1s, another eight Top 10s, and another 21 Top 40s. Of course it was all about product in those days but that is till impressive.
This album is a double bonus for me. As I have said elsewhere I love the movies, so The Four Aces doing film songs is a cold drink on a hot day for me. Some of the songs were used in the films so this album is a bit of a hodgepodge of tracks (as was common at the time) recorded over a three year period linked by the movie themes theme.
Their vocals are clean and sweet (and beautifully harmonious) and, luckily, the orchestrations avoid the saccharine. I should say some of it sounds quite saccharine but it is less saccharine that it could have been.
The backing is by Jack Pleis and His Orchestra. Pleis was also a Philadelphia native and a jazz pianist, conductor and arranger.
The arrangements accentuate the emotional themes of the songs while the vocals provide the narrative. So the (mainly) romantic songs have uber romantic sounds, whilst the vocals provide the story of the subject lovers or, in the case of this album, summarise film’s story line.
Tracks (best in italics)
- Around The World – (H. Adamson, V. Young) – nicely sung
- Love Is A Many-Splendored Thing – (Webster, Fain) – other worldly and it will have you believing wholeheartedly that "Love is a Many Splendored Thing.". Wonderful.
- Whatever Will Be, Will Be (Que Sera, Sera) – (Jay Livingston, Ray Evans) – the gender has been switched in the song (and I don't mean as part of some transgenderism) but this is better to suited to a female. It's a great song but it will always be Doris Day's song.
- Written On The Wind – (S. Cahn, V. Young) – so so.
- Secret Love – (P. Webster, S. Fain) – A great song (you will hear yourself singing it in the shower) and it works here though the original by Doris Day is still the best. Interestingly there is an in joke that the song has homosexual (specifically lesbian) overtones being sung by the butch Calamity Jane. Clearly the Four Aces weren't in on the joke. I think the joke is wishful thinking based around the word "secret" (and the fact that Doris Day later made a series of films with Rock Hudson). Songwriters Sammy Fain and Paul Francis Webster were not gay. Neither was Doris Day. Neither was the character Calamity Jane. A case of reinvention perhaps.
- A Woman In Love – (Frank Loesser) – quite good but it works better in the context of the original film.
- Tammy – (Jay Livingston, Ray Evans) – a gerat song. Romantic pap it is, perhaps, but it is well sung.
- Friendly Persuasion (Thee I Love) – (Tiomkin, Webster) – I prefer this done with a solo voice. The song doesn't lend itself to the quartet, well, not to my ears.
- True Love – (Cole Porter) – another great song sung perfectly though not as good as Bing Crosby's original or the Elvis cover.
- Three Coins In The Fountain – (Styne, Cahn) – symphonic, heavily emotional romance. It works.
- Hi-Lili Hi Lo – (B. Kaper, H. Deutsch) – a nonsense title and refrain but quite catchy.
- To Love Again – (Sidney, Stoloff, Washington) – Another worldly romantic song, Quite fitting given that the subject person, Eddy Duchin, of the film, dies young.
- Around The World – from the film "Around the World in Eighty Days" (1956) – originally, an instrumental in the film. Bing Crosby had the vocal hit with it in 1957 (#25 US, #5 UK) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Around_the_World_(1956_song)
- Love Is A Many-Splendored Thing – from the film "Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing" (1955) – an instrumental in the film The Four Aces had the vocal hit with it. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Love_Is_a_Many-Splendored_Thing_(song)
- Whatever Will Be, Will Be (Que Sera, Sera) – from the film "The Man Who Knew Too Much" (1956) – Doris Day sang it in the film and had the hit with it in 1956 (#2US, #1UK). It has been often recorded. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Que_Sera,_Sera_(Whatever_Will_Be,_Will_Be)
- Written On The Wind – from the film "Written on the Wind" (1956) – I believe The Four Aces were the first to do a vocal track to the theme.
- Secret Love – from the film "Calamity Jane" (1953) – Doris Day sang in the 1953 film and had the hit with it (#1 US). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secret_Love_(Doris_Day_song)
- A Woman In Love – from the film "Guys and Dolls" (1955) – The Four Aces had the hit with it in 1955 just before (?) the film was released. The stage production had been a big hit and the film came out shortly after (?) The Four Aces released their single. Marlon Brando sang it in the film. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Woman_in_Love
- Tammy – from the film "Tammy and the Bachelor" (1957) – Debbie Reynolds sang it in the film and had the hit with it (#1 US, #2Uk, 1957). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tammy_(song)
- Friendly Persuasion (Thee I Love) – from the film "The Friendly Persuasion" (1956) – Pat Boone cut a version in 1956 that made the charts (#5US, #3UK). The Four Aces recorded it later that year (I believe). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friendly_Persuasion_(song)
- True Love – from the film "High Society" (1956) – Bing Crosby sang it (with Grace Kelly) in the film and had the hit with it (#4US, #4UK). Often recorded, including Elvis Presley in 1957, and Ricky Nelson, also 1957. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/True_Love_(Cole_Porter_song)
- Three Coins In The Fountain – from the film "Three Coins in the Fountain" (1954) – the song was recorded by Frank Sinatra and used in the film (he did not appear in it) and went to #1 in the UK. But, the Four Aces had the US hit with it in 1954 (#1US, #5UK). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Coins_in_the_Fountain_(song)
- Hi-Lili Hi Lo – from the film "Lili" (1953) – Leslie Caron sang it in the film from 1953 and it has been often recorded though no one had any great chart success with it. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hi-Lili,_Hi-Lo
- To Love Again – from the film "The Eddy Duchin Story" (1956) – To love again was the theme from 'The Eddy Duchin story". It was a resetting of Chopin's Nocturne in E-flat major. Carmen Cavallaro recorded the piano soundtrack for the film. A lyric was written and The Four Aces then recorded a vocal track
So many good songs. This will fit nicely into my trad pop collection. The local coffee shop should play this instead of their "chill out" music … I'm keeping it.
1954 Three Coins in the Fountain #1
1955 Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing #1
1955 A Woman in Love #14
1956 To Love Again #43
1956 Friendly Persuasion (Thee I Love) #45
1956 Written on the Wind #61
1954 Three Coins in the Fountain #5
1955 Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing #2
1955 A Woman in Love #19
1956 Friendly Persuasion (Thee I Love) #29
Around The World
Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing
mp3 attached (sorry for the overabundance of click, pop and crackle)
Whatever Will Be, Will Be (Que Sera, Sera)
Written On the Wind
A Woman in Love
Friendly Persuasion (Thee I Love)
Three Coins In The Fountain
Hi-Lili Hi Lo
To Love Again
They are playing though not originals
- Orchestra by the jazz pianist, arranger, conductor, composer and producer Jack Pleis – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Pleis