This Sunday Elder Music column was launched in December of 2008. By May of the following year, one commenter, Peter Tibbles, had added so much knowledge and value to my poor attempts at musical presentations that I asked him to take over the column. He's been here each week ever since delighting us with his astonishing grasp of just about everything musical, his humor and sense of fun. You can read Peter's bio here and find links to all his columns here.
There are some fine singers here today, today being sometime in 1960. Not all of them fit that criterion, but enough to satisfy those who like a bit of a good warble.
Generally it’s thought that this year was a bit ho hum when it came to music, coming between the excitement of fifties’ rock & roll and the sixties music explosion. We didn’t know that at the time, we just listened to what was around.
What was around, and here we have one of the finest voices from the period, is JIM REEVES.
This year gave us his most popular song, the one that everyone could name when they heard his name: He'll Have to Go. The song spawned several answer songs, as that was the fashion back then, but we can ignore them.
Here are some more fine singers, this time it’s a group, THE DRIFTERS.
Over time they had some remarkable singers pass through their ranks, particularly Clyde McPhatter and, in this incarnation of the group, Ben E King. Ben is easily the finest singer in the column today (and yes, I realise that Elvis is present). That’s only my opinion; you make up your own mind. The Drifters sing This Magic Moment.
1960 was the high water mark for what later became known as "Death Disks". We have two of the best (or insert whatever description you'd prefer), starting with MARK DINNING.
Mark was the younger brother of the members of a singing group called The Dinning Sisters (three of them) who were quite successful in the forties and early fifties. They performed in the mode of The Andrews Sisters. One of his sisters (Jean) wrote Teen Angel, and it was quite a hit for Mark.
The other big hit for the year in the same style is by RAY PETERSON.
Ray had a couple of hits, and he was quite popular in Australia where he had more. However, he didn’t achieve too much after this year in spite of his also having quite a decent singing voice. Most of you will know his song: Tell Laura I Love Her.
By 1960 CONNIE FRANCIS had already had many hit records.
Her song that I’m including apparently was the B-side of a record whose A-side is a song that I’ve not heard of. Certainly in my country Everybody's Somebody's Fool was a huge hit. I checked with Norma, the Assistant Musicologist and she hadn’t heard of the other one either.
ELVIS always wanted to be a singer in the style of someone like Dean Martin, rather than, or probably as well as, a rock & roller.
He certainly achieved that in the last decade of his career, but even earlier he liked to throw the odd ballad into his repertoire. One particularly famous one was a song originally made famous by Al Jolson, Are You Lonesome Tonight?
JOHNNY O'KEEFE was at the peak of his success in Australia. Had he been born in America, he’d have been a worldwide star.
He wasn’t, of course, but he was still one of the greatest entertainers who ever strutted the stage. Unlike most today, he didn’t have much of a singing voice, but it didn’t matter, he held the audience in the palm of his hand from the moment he hit the stage until he left (after many encores).
Quite a few visiting musicians refused to appear with him as he blew everyone else off the stage. His song for this year is Come On and Take My Hand.
JACK SCOTT has one of those earworm songs. Sorry about that folks.
It’s not the worst in that category, but it’ll linger a while if you dare to listen. There were several like that around this time. His contribution is What in the World's Come Over You.
JOE JONES was yet another talented musician from New Orleans. That’s probably a tautology as every musician from New Orleans is talented.
He had a hit this year with the song You Talk Too Much. It was written by Reginald Hall, who was Fats Domino’s brother-in-law. He offered it to Fats but he turned it down. Joe took it to the top of the charts.
Jack Lawrence took Charles Trenet’s song La Mer and wrote English words to it, and otherwise changed it quite a bit. A number of people recorded it but it pretty much flew below the radar until BOBBY DARIN had a go at it.
Bobby made it a worldwide hit under the name of Beyond the Sea.