March 30, 2014

20,000 Vinyl LPs 30: Frankie Laine ~ Command Performance

Frankie Laine ~ Command Performance
 mono recording - 1955
photographer unknown.
photo of album cover by Styrous®

101 years ago today, on March 30, 1913, Francesco Paolo LoVecchio was born in Chicago (Cook County, Ill). His parents were Giovanni and Cresenzia LoVecchio (née Salerno). Francesco grew up to become the world famous singer, Frankie Laine.

In 1954, Laine gave a Royal Command Performance for Queen Elizabeth II which he cited as one of the highlights of his career. By the end of the decade, he remained far ahead of Elvis Presley as the most successful artist on the British charts. See the “Chart of All Time” for details. I Believe is listed as the second most popular song of all time on the British charts as well.

Frankie Laine ~ Command Performance
side 1 label
mono "nonbreakable" recording - 1955
photo of album label by Styrous®

His hits included That's My Desire, That Lucky Old Sun, Mule Train, Cry of the Wild Goose, Jezebel, High Noon, I Believe, Hey Joe!, The Kid's Last Fight, Cool Water, Moonlight Gambler, Love Is a Golden Ring, On the Sunny Side Of The Street, Lord, You Gave Me a Mountain and the title song for the TV series, Rawhide (1959), that starred Clint Eastwood. I loved this song.

He was big on Country themes. His version of Your Cheatin' Heart by Hank Williams was terrific. For drama, there was nothing like High Noon from the film of the same name; Tex Ritter sang it in the film. Tennessee Ernie Ford, Bing Crosby and Vaughn Monroe took turns at Mule Train but it was Laine's version that was my VERY favorite when I was nine; I sang along with it, "Clipity clop, clipity clop, clipity cloppin' along". I especially liked the whipcracking sound effects in it. Oh, I drove my mom wild with that tune; (actually, she was lucky I wasn't able to get a hold of a whip; well, perhaps I was the lucky one).

I loved, Jealousy, a languid but dramatic tango (I was transfixed while watching my mom and dad dancing to it). Then there is Jezebel, a VERY melodramatic love/hate song. Both songs were hits in the mid '40's. Granada was another dramatic song that enraptured me. But for REALLY histrionic schmaltz, nothing beats, I Believe. I guess drama was a big thing back then and Laine definitely knew how to make the best use of it.

The Gandy Dancers' Ball referred to a time way before the song was written. It's a fun kind of tune with the simple joy of that period about railroad workers. I always like the idea of "Dancin' on the ceiling and the walls," and I always wondered what a 'Jimmy John' was. It wasn't until I started researching for this entry that I found out; it's a corruption of the word demi-john aka a carboy. It's used for transporting fluids (often water or chemicals) or used in fermenting beverages such as wine, mead, and beer; the last seems like the most logical use of the word considering the spirit (pun intended) of the song.

Of all the songs on this album, the one that holds significant meaning for me, though, is, Rose, Rose, I Love You.  I had such a personal involvement with it at the time, I did an entry for the tune (link below).

Frankie Laine ~ Command Performance
side 2 label
mono "nonbreakable" recording - 1955
photo of album label by Styrous®

On June 12, 1996, Laine was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 27th Annual Songwriters’ Hall of Fame awards ceremony at the New York Sheraton. On his 80th birthday, the United States Congress declared him to be a national treasure. Frankie Laine died of heart failure on February 6, 2007, in San Diego, California.


Side 1:

1 - Jezebel - written by Wayne Shanklin - 3:10
2 - Jealousy (Jalousie) - written by Jacob Gade, Vera Bloom - 3:16
3 - Rose, Rose, I Love You - arranged by – Langdon* Written By [English] W. Thomas* - 2:31
4 - Granada - written by Agustín Lara, Dorothy Dodd - 2:56
5 - Long Distance Love - written by Hilliard*, Mann* - 2:34
6 - The Gandy Dancers' Ball - written by P. Howard, P. Weston* - 2:28

Side 2:

1 - High Noon (Do Not Forsake Me) - written by Dimitri Tiomkin*, Ned Washington* - 2:27
2 - Some Day - written by Brian Hooker*, Rudolf Friml* - 2:37
3 - Your Cheatin' Heart - written by Hank Williams* - 2:29
4 - I Believe - written by Al Stillman*, Ervin Drake*, Graham*, Shirl* - 2:09
5 - The Kid's Last Fight - written by Bob Merrill* - 3:21
6 - One For My Baby (And One For The Road) - written by Mercer-Arlen* - 3:45

Columbia - CL 625

Frankie Laine discography

Other Viewfinder entries about Frankie Laine:

78 RPMs 2: Hue Lee ~ Rose, Rose, I Love You
78 RPMs 3: The Girl In the Wood

Frankie Laine music on YouTube:

Mule Train
The Gandy Dancers' Ball
High Noon (Do Not Forsake Me)
Your Cheatin' Heart
I Believe
Rose, Rose, I Love You
The Gandy Dancers' Ball

Happy Birthday, Frankie!

Styrous® ~ Sunday, March 30, 2014

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