Monday, October 22, 2012

Still Reminiscing ...

... ah well, I am still thinking, with no little nostalgia, about my late summer trip to Greece ... while around here the golden leaves are falling on the ever colder ground and the sun, when she does appear through the misty haze of the autumn sky, struggles more and more every day to reach her meridian over the horizon. At night, the moon is often obscured by batches of dark clouds as if his silver disk is waylaid by a swarm of hungry bats. So best I can come up with today are two songs which dispel my gloomy autumn mood and bring back the memories of sunnier days ... and of places like this, on a lonely beach in southern Crete called Sweetwater:

(Click to enlarge)
When I looked through some of my records, summer songs proved less easy to find than I thought! At the end, I ended up with a version of Gershwin's classic »Summer- time«, by Brenda & The Tabulations (recorded in Philadelphia and released on their one-and-only Dionn LP # 2000 Dry Your Tears in May 1967). Following up their hit »Dry Your Tears«, Brenda & The Tabulations rushed out, as was common, an accompanying album which, for all the speed with which it was produced, contained many covers and known standards, among which the said song. A Billboard critic of the epoch (June 3, 1967 issue, p. 86) nevertheless stated that Brenda's mono version of »Summertime« gives an »excellent treatment« to the tune, so it did no go unnoticed. There will be some out there who have never heard Brenda's version before, and although I do not think that hers is the definitive version of that tune it strikes me as a particularly melancholic version, and the song in itself is essentially melancholic! (Thus it well fits my actual mood ...) Brenda's high-pitched voice, somewhat echoing and distant in the recording, confers an almost mystic atmo- sphere. And mind that at around 02:18 into the song, before the organ sets in, there is a noticeable break which must be due to bad cutting, I guess. In any case, it does not seem caused by the LP nor by the pressing.

As for the second tune, I took it from an album you all know, yet it arguably is - given that almost all songs from this album have become landmark recordings - the least remembered of them all: Aretha Franklin's »Hello Sunshine« from her 1968 Atlantic LP Now. The song was penned, in or little before '68, by King Curtis and Ron(ald/nie) Miller. As you know, Curtis was present in person at the December, 19, 1967 session which produced the track, and the backing vocals are due to none less than The Sweet Inspirations ... Like »Summertime«, »Hello Sunshine« is again a melancholic song, even if Aretha's room-filling powerhouse voice wasn't fitted to produce a version you could call »mystical«. As only she could (and, well, can), she effortlessly blasts the tune away into the blissful heaven of immortal recordings!

Brenda & The Tabulations: »Summertime« from the Dionn LP # 2000 (1967, mono) /
Aretha Franklin (feat. The Sweet Inspirations): »Hello Sunshine« from the Atlantic LP # 8186 (1968):

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