Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Great Engineers: Tom Dowd (Bobby Darin, The Drifters, Ray Charles, Dusty Springfield, Dr. John, Cream, Cher, Eric Clapton and more)

Tom Dowd

To Bobby Darin fans, Tom Dowd will always be the man who put the bubbles at the beginning of Splish Splash. Dowd was a certified genius in the recording studio, an artist who's firm grasp of technique and technology made him a sought after talent in the music industry for over 50 years.

Born and raised in Manhattan, Dowd was the offspring of musical parents. His father was a concertmaster and his mother an opera singer. An exceptional student, Dowd excelled in math and science at Stuyevant High School, and graduated in June of 1942 at the tender age of 17. Too young for the draft, he went on to City College, studying during the day and playing in a band at Columbia University at night.

At Columbia he succeeded on two fronts, first by becoming a conductor, and second by being picked to do highly classified work in the university's physics laboratory. When he turned 18, he was immediately drafted and given the rank of sergeant, and was assigned to continue his secret work at Columbia—work that later would become known as part of The Manhattan Project.

Dowd's entrance into the music industry came as a result of being unable get college credit for his classified work at Columbia when he left military service in 1946. Desperate for work, he took a summer job at a classical music recording studio. And the rest, as they say, is history.

With his scientific background and sharp mind, Dowd showed himself to be a quick study in the studio, mastering the art and science of recording in no time at all. Before long, this young kid was the guy to get, if you wanted to make a great record.

His work at Atlantic included sessions with The Clovers, Ruth Brown, Big Joe Turner, Clyde McPhatter, LaVern Baker, The Drifters, Ray Charles, and of course, Bobby Darin.

He continued to work his magic in the studio right up until 2002, not just as an engineer, but also as an arranger and a producer, adding the Dowd touch to releases by artists such as Ornette Coleman, Dusty Springfield, Dr. John, Cream, Cher, Eric Clapton, and many others.

The 2003 documentary Tom Dowd and the Language of Music is a riveting portrait of the artist, his life, and career.

Tom Dowd (Selected Discography):

The Great Ray Charles (Atlantic 1259, 1957)

Bobby Darin (Atco 33-102, September 1958)

That's All (Atco 33-104, March 1959)

Darin at the Copa (Atco 33-122, August 1960)

Betty Carter: 'Round Midnight (Atco 33-152, 1963)

Nat Adderley: Sayin' Somethin' (Atlantic 1460, 1966)

Aretha Franklin: I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You (Atlantic 8139, 1967)

Cher: 3614 Jackson Highway (Atco 33-298, 1969)

Eric Clapton: E.C. Was Here (RSO 4809, 1975)

Chicago: If You Leave Me Now (Columbia 25133, 1982)

Friday, November 2, 2007

Clyde McPhatter of the The Drifters sings "Think Me A Kiss" in 1960 (video)

Here's the great Clyde McPhatter of The Drifters, performing "Think Me A Kiss" on a 1960 Bobby Darin TV Special ("This Is Bobby Darin")...

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Bobby Darin and Connie Francis sing Cole Porter's "You're The Top" (video)

Bobby Darin and Connie Francis singing Cole Porter's "You're The Top" on Ed Sullivan in 1960. The chemistry between these former sweethearts is positively enchanting...

Great Guitarists: Billy Mure (Bobby Darin's "Splish Splash")

Billy Mure

Billy Mure, Guitarist on Bobby Darin's Splish Splash (1958)

As a guitarist, arranger, conductor, and composer, Billy Mure established a style of playing that was uniquely his own. His debut album in 1957, "Supersonic Guitars in Hi-Fi" on the RCA label, utilized multi-tracking techniques to layer 4 guitars, 2 sets of drums, and 1 bass player. He followed this up with the aptly titled "Fireworks" in 1958, adding a third drummer and a vocal chorus. The LP was his first in "Living Stereo," and featured 4 original numbers, "Firecrackers," "Dancing Guitars," "Guitar Theme," and "Crackerjack." That same year, Mure provided the guitar backing for Bobby Darin's first hit single, Splish Splash.

Born July 7th, 1915, in New York City, Mure picked up the violin at the age of 5, moved on to guitar at 7, and by 13 he was composing his own music. After leaving high school, he joined Val Ernie's band and spent the next five years playing ritzy resorts and clubs. When World War II came along, Mure enlisted and became a member of the Air Force band, where he learned arranging. After the war, in 1947, he joined the staff orchestra at radio station WNEW in New York. While employed by WNEW, he did a bit of session work on the side, for such luminaries as Helen Merrill and Della Reese. He also wrote arrangements for Reese (My Heart Reminds Me) and Bobby Freeman (Do You Want to Dance? and Betty Lou's Got a New Pair of Shoes.)

After recording for the RCA label from 1957 to 1963, he set out on his own, to form the independent production company, BM Productions. He also scored a hit on the Seville label in 1962, as leader of the band for the Marcie Blaine single Bobby's Girl.

Mure continues to play live to this day, still delighting audiences everywhere with his Supersonic Guitar style.

Billy Mure (Selected Discography):

Helen Merrill: Merrill at Midnight (EmArcy 36107, 1957)

Billy Mure: Supersonic Guitars in Hi-Fi (RCA Victor LPM-1536, 1957)

Bobby Darin: Bobby Darin (Atco 33-102, September 1958)

Billy Mure: Fireworks (RCA Victor LSP-1694, 1958)

Billy Mure: Teen Bossa Nova (MGM SE-4131, 1963)

Billy Mure Links:

Billy Mure's Official Site

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Frankie Valli of The Four Seasons singing "Let's Hang On" in 1965 (video)

This is one of my favorite Frankie Valli songs, and this is a fabulous performance...

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Great New Releases: Ventures - In The Vaults Volume 4 (Ace UK)

Coming 11/27/2007 from Ace Records in the UK ...

The Ventures - In The Vaults Volume 4 (Ace CDCHD 1176)
Ace ventures back to the ‘60s for an amazing treasure trove of exciting rare and un-issued tracks from the world’s best-selling instrumental group. This is Ace's fourth volume in the series, the other three proving to be among the label’s top-sellers. It includes many previously unreleased tracks, alternative versions and impossible to find rarities. Most of the tracks are drawn from the classic ‘60s period and are of very high quality. Compiled by instrumental magazine Pipeline’s Dave Burke and Alan Taylor.


1. Journey To The Stars
2. Delicado
3. Night Run-The Marksmen
4. Station Breaks
5. Driving Guitars (Ventures Twist)
6. Don't Avoid Me-Don Lee Wilson
7. Echo
8. Yellow Jacket
9. Delta Lady
10. Heart On My Sleeve-Don Lee Wilson
11. Scratch-The Marksmen
12. Memphis
13. Like You've Never Known Before-Don Lee Wilson
14. Black Tarantella
15. Original Number One
16. The Twomp-Don Wilson
17. Beautiful Obsession
18. Bumble Bee Twist (The Wasp)
19. Son Of A Preacher Man
20. Runaway-Don Lee Wilson
21. Downtown
22. Pedal Pusher
23. Feel So Fine-Don Wilson
24. Medley: Walk Don't Run/Perfidia/Lullaby Of The Leaves
25. The Jam
26. Caravan

Get it Now at Amazon

Download Ventures Music

Monday, October 22, 2007

Buddy Holly and the Crickets perform "Oh Boy" in 1958 (video)

A kickin' live rendition of one of my fave Buddy Holly tunes...