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Darlene Love, Nino Tempo, The Sweet Inspirations Feature On Jeff Barry’s “The Idolmaker” Soundtrack

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The Idolmaker OSTPerhaps the time just wasn’t right for The Idolmaker.  Director Taylor Hackford (An Officer and a Gentleman, Ray) made his feature-length motion picture debut with the 1980 film based on the life of Philadelphia impresario Bob Marcucci, enlisting Ray Sharkey to play the fictionalized manager Vincent Vacari.  In reality, Marcucci had discovered Frankie Avalon and Fabian; in the film, the teen idols were Tommy Dee (Paul Land) and Caesare (Peter Gallagher).  The United Artists picture received some plaudits for its tale of a rock-and-roll Svengali, including from Roger Ebert.  The future At the Movies host called it “not a dazzlingly original idea, but [one that] understands its passions well enough to entertain us with them.”  It also was the recipient of a Golden Globe nomination for Best Musical or Comedy, but it underperformed at the box office.  The 1950s nostalgia wave brought on by American Graffiti was already a thing of the past.  In the years since, The Idolmaker has become a minor cult classic, and now, its original A&M Records soundtrack album written and produced by Jeff Barry is finally on CD from Varese Sarabande Records.

Hackford first approached Phil Spector to score The Idolmaker, but when the one-time First Tycoon of Teen was unable to complete the project, Hackford turned to Spector’s old friend and collaborator Jeff Barry.  Reportedly, little did the director know that Spector had already contacted Barry about working with him on the movie!  The co-writer, with Ellie Greenwich, of such hits as “Da Doo Ron Ron” and “Leader of the Pack” in turn enlisted two talents associated with Spector – Darlene Love and Nino Tempo – as well as The Sweet Inspirations to craft a score that would also feature the film’s stars.  Peter Gallagher, future star of the Broadway musical Guys and Dolls, provided his own vocals for the role of Caesare, warbling “Baby” and “However Dark the Night.”  As Vacari, Ray Sharkey performed his character’s “I Believe It Can Be Done.”  Paul Land, portraying Tommy Dee, was deemed not to have a strong enough voice, and was dubbed by Jesse Frederick for the double-sided hit depicted in the film, “Here is My Love” and “Sweet Little Lover.”

Hit the jump for more, including the track listing and order links! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

July 22, 2013 at 09:03

Hey, Baby! It’s Nino and April, Compiled on Ace!

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Few artists have blurred the lines between jazz, rock and traditional pop as well as Nino Tempo. Both the multi-talented Tempo (saxophonist, arranger, songwriter, producer, actor) and his sister April Stevens have managed extraordinarily long, diverse careers in the music business; April’s first single was released in 1950! Ace next week releases the most comprehensive retrospective yet for Nino and April. Hey, Baby!: The Nino Tempo and April Stevens Anthology compiles their work at numerous labels including Atco, Imperial, A&M and of course, White Whale, where the duo released the extraordinary 1966 album All Strung Out. Eight songs have been drawn from that cult classic LP.

Most casual fans know Nino and April from their 1963 recording of “Deep Purple.” Their chart-topping update of the 1934 standard won them a Grammy Award for Best Rock and Roll Recording in a year with such stiff competition as Jan and Dean’s “Surf City,” Little Stevie Wonder’s “Fingertips” and The Chiffons’ “He’s So Fine.” The song was an afterthought for Tempo and Stevens, reportedly recorded when the duo realized they had just under 14 minutes remaining on a session date. Atlantic’s Ahmet Ertegun wasn’t hopeful for its prospects, and let the track remain in limbo. When Ertegun relented, though, a success story began.

Three LPs (Deep Purple, Sing the Great Songs and Hey Baby!) were released on the Atco label, along with a number of singles. Ace’s anthology takes its title from Nino and April’s memorable cover of the Bruce Channel classic “Hey, Baby!” During this period, Tempo also became an in-demand session player. His most notable assignments were for producer Phil Spector. While primarily a saxophonist, Tempo also contributed piano, drum and guitars. He was a trusted ally of Spector, and after Jack Nitzsche had moved on, Tempo became the producer’s right-hand arranger. He was responsible for the thunderous charts on the Warner-Spector recordings of Dion, Cher and Darlene Love, and even arranged some of John Lennon’s Rock ‘n’ Roll.

After “Deep Purple,” Nino Tempo’s most beloved song may be “All Strung Out.” Hit the jump for the full story on this exhilarating 1966 single and the 1967 album of the same name, plus the full track listing and discography for Ace’s upcoming release! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

April 1, 2011 at 15:37