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Archive for the ‘Ann-Margret’ Category

Bread Winners: Early Songs of David Gates Compiled By Rare Rockin’ Records

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David Gates - Early YearsLong before “Make It With You,” “Everything I Own” and “If” became soft-rock standards for his band Bread, David Gates had toiled behind the scenes as a songwriter, producer, arranger and musician on the Hollywood scene.  He worked with everybody from The Monkees to Captain Beefheart before striking out with Robb Royer and James Griffin to form Bread.  The band’s debut album was released in 1969, featuring the original version of “It Don’t Matter to Me.”  The song soon mattered quite a bit for Bread, though, when it charted Top 10 Pop in a single version.  Now, the Australian label Rare Rockin’ Records is turning the pages back to David Gates’ pre-Bread days with the March 18 release of David Gates – The Early Years 1962-1967.  It follows the label’s two previous songwriter retrospectives, one each for Burt Bacharach and Billy Meshel (who wrote for Del Shannon, Lenny Welch and Dion before moving on to a long, successful career in music publishing).

The Tulsa, Oklahoma-born Gates first found success on the local music scene, backing Chuck Berry while still in high school and even releasing a regional hit single, “Jo-Baby.”  The siren call of Hollywood soon persuaded Gates to make the move west, and beginning in 1961, he soon found gainful employment.  By 1964, he had achieved his first major success as a songwriter when The Murmaids took his “Popsicles and Icicles” to No. 3 on the Hot 100 under the aegis of the frequently colorful impresario Kim Fowley.  In 1966, The Monkees included Gates’ “Saturday’s Child” on the group’s first album, and he even contributed the title song to Hanna-Barbera’s big screen romp Hey There, It’s Yogi Bear in 1964.  As an arranger, Gates worked his magic on Glenn Yarbrough’s “Baby the Rain Must Fall” in 1965.

All the while, he was developing a solo career, recording for labels like Mala, Del-Fi and Planetary both under his own name and under pseudonyms like Del Ashley and The Manchesters.  When Gates was hired to produce, arrange and conduct the Uni Records LP debut of Los Angeles pop group The Pleasure Fair in 1967, though, it turned out to be more than just another assignment.  One member of The Pleasure Fair was Robb Royer, whose song “Say What You See” would be arranged by Gates and produced by Royer’s sometimes-songwriting partner James Griffin in 1968 for the group The Curtain Calls.  Soon, Griffin, Royer and Gates teamed up as Bread.  The group went on to score 13 hits on the Hot 100, and Gates notched a further seven as a solo artist.

After the jump: what will you find on David Gates – The Early Years 1962-1967?  Hit the jump for more details plus the full track listing and pre-order link! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

February 25, 2013 at 10:25

We Love You Conrad, Oh Yes We Do: “Bye Bye Birdie” Film Soundtrack Turns 50, Is Newly-Expanded

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Bye Bye Birdie OSTGray skies are gonna clear up

More than seven years before the first Tribe of Hair let the sun shine in, another cast of characters brought rock (and roll!) to the New York stage.  Michael Stewart, Charles Strouse and Lee Adams’ smash hit musical Bye Bye Birdie skyrocketed its leading actors Dick Van Dyke and Chita Rivera to greater fame in 1960, alongside director/choreographer Gower Champion, in a sweet but timely tale of a hip-swiveling rocker about to go off to the Army and the one teenage girl who wins his “one last kiss.”  Birdie gently skewered not just Elvis Presley but the entire rock-and-roll phenomenon.  With its humorous depiction of the generation gap and the emerging youth culture, Birdie was a natural for the big-screen Hollywood treatment.  The movies, after all, had been ahead of the rock curve, and now the musical had a bona fide star in the form of Dick Van Dyke, who followed his New York triumph with The Dick Van Dyke Show on television.  Masterworks Broadway has just announced the reissue of the soundtrack to Columbia Pictures’ 1963 Bye Bye Birdie in a newly remastered and expanded edition due on Tuesday, January 8 on CD and digitally.

Columbia and producer Fred Kohlmar wisely retained the services of Van Dyke as Albert Peterson, an English teacher and part-time songwriter onstage.  (Irving Brecher’s screenplay dropped the English teacher part and gave Albert a degree in biochemistry in order to introduce super-speed pills developed by Albert, in one of the film’s silliest subplots!)  Opposite Van Dyke wasn’t Chita Rivera, however, but famous blonde Janet Leigh in a brunette wig as his long-suffering secretary and girlfriend Rosie DeLeon (that surname also being new to the film).  Returning from New York as frazzled dad Harry MacAfee was a perfectly sneering Paul Lynde, and Maureen Stapleton replaced Kay Medford as Albert’s meddlesome mother Mae Peterson.  Real-life teen idol Bobby Rydell joined the film not as rock star Conrad Birdie (played by Jesse Pearson, but as the put-upon Hugo Peabody.  Stealing the show as lucky teenager Kim MacAfee was one Ann-Margret.  Though Birdie wasn’t the Swedish bombshell’s first film, it was the one that cemented her stardom, capitalizing on her blend of vixen-ish sex appeal and wholesome innocence.  Singing the film’s one new composition, a title song, Ann-Margret made an unforgettable impression.  (Par for the course, numerous songs were dropped from Strouse and Adams’ stage score.)

Hit the jump for more, including the complete track listing with discography, and order link! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

January 4, 2013 at 13:54

Ann-Margret, James’ “Thurber Carnival” Enliven Masterworks Broadway’s Upcoming Slate

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James Thurber (1894-1961) once commented, “”[Humor is] a kind of emotional chaos told about calmly and quietly in retrospect.”  The celebrated writer, cartoonist and humorist, perhaps best-known for 1939’s fanciful The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, recounted that kind of emotional chaos in his acclaimed short stories and drawings, a number of which have been successfully adapted to other media.  Four years before Walter Mitty itself was musicalized, Broadway welcomed Thurber’s works to the stage in an unusual revue entitled A Thurber Carnival.

Thanks to Masterworks Broadway, the original Columbia Records cast recording of A Thurber Carnival is finally ready to greet the digital generation.   A Thurber Carnival is one of the relatively few Broadway Cast Recordings on the Columbia label to have not yet seen a CD release.  The album, produced by the legendary Goddard Lieberson, now makes its debut as a digital download and disc-on-demand CD-R available from and  It will arrive on January 24.

The rarely-revived A Thurber Carnival opened at the ANTA Theatre in New York City (today the August Wilson Theatre, home to Jersey Boys) on February 26, 1960.  It was greeted effusively by the critics.  Brooks Atkinson in The New York Times called it “a glorious world of meaningful nonsense,” while the no-less-esteemed Walter Kerr opined in the Herald-Tribune, “A Thurber Carnival is sheer delight…The whole thing is dandy. And very advanced.”  The musical ran for 223 performances, with a break from June 25 to September 5. It closed on November 26, 1960.  Thurber himself appeared in 88 performances; less than a year after the production’s closing, he would die of complications from a blood clot in his brain.

Though the cast recording of A Thurber Carnival doesn’t feature Thurber himself (who penned the musical’s book, to a score by Don Elliot), it does star Tom Ewell (The Seven Year Itch, Adam’s Rib), Peggy Cass (Auntie Mame) and Alice Ghostley (TV’s beloved Esmeralda on Bewitched).  Charles Braswell (Mame) and John McGiver (Midnight Cowboy) also make appearances on the album.  The musical was directed by Burgess Meredith, the distinguished actor/director forever immortalized as The Penguin on the Batman television campfest.  The cast album preserves both music and sketches from the quirky revue, and musical accompaniment is provided by The Don Elliot Quartet: Elliott, Jack Six, Jim Raney, and Ronnie Bedford.  The original liner notes and cover art are included in Masterworks Broadway’s reissue.

There’s more coming from Masterworks on Tuesday, including a rare tribute to producer David Merrick from Ann-Margret and others!  Hit the jump, where you’ll also find pre-order links and track listings! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

January 23, 2012 at 09:02