Welcome to Guitars & All That Jazz

Welcome to Guitars & All That Jazz

Guitars & All That Jazz was a radio station that webcast via Live365 for 11 years, ending in June 2011. The playlist consisted of guitar instrumentals, jazz, big band, early rock 'n' roll, lounge music and classic easy listening.

I hope to share some of this music with you via this blog. Most of it will be taken from the original vinyl (LPs and 45s) , cassettes and the occasional commercially unavailable CD.

Here's hoping you'll find something to enjoy. Please note files are available only for a limited time.

I urge you to purchase the digital version of the albums featured, either on CD or via download, wherever possible.

Listen to the Music
There are now two music streams. Click the appropriate player to the right.
1. Guitars & All That Jazz: Five hours of the best in jazz, guitars and other instrumental gems. New songs are added weekly.
2. Tiki Shores: Music to sweep you away to a tropical isle, a South American dance floor or a bossa nova on the beach at Rio. About 4.5 hours of classic exotica music, Latin rhythms and bossa nova.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Motion Picture Studio Orchestra - Music from the Score of Live for Life


Director Claude Lelouch and composer Francis Lai had a very successful collaboration with the film A Man and A Woman in 1966. The film, soundtrack and title song were all critical and popular hits, so it's no surprise that the two worked together the following year on Live for Life.

The title song again was a hit as was the soundtrack LP. The film, however, was less successful, with many critics saying Live for Life was both dull and pointless.

United Artists released the soundtrack albums of both A Man and A Woman and Live for Life. As well the company issued versions of the scores credited to the Motion Picture Studio Orchestra on its budget Unart label. There are of course no credits on either of these LPs, as was usually the case for budget releases.

But these albums by the Motion Picture Studio Orchestra are far from cheap knockoffs. These are fine studio musicians performing great arrangements. The sound quality is excellent. Here's a sample from the Live for Life LP.

Theme de Catherine



For comparison here's the same tune from Francis Lai's original soundtrack. The Motion Picture Studio Orchestra's take on Theme de Catherine is a bit livelier while Lai's original has a a more subdued, classical feel.



There were a couple of other Unart releases in the late '60s that were credited to the Motion Picture Studio Orchestra. One was a collection of film themes of that era and the other was an updated take on the score of Around the World in 80 Days. None of these LPs have surfaced in a digital format.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Les Fingers - Telstar (EP)


Les Fingers was a French instrumental band of the 1960s whose sound was influenced by Britain's The Shadows and to a lesser extent, The Ventures from the U.S.

The group got together in 1962, with Jean-Claude Olivier on lead guitar, Marcel Bourdon on rhythm guitar, Yvon Rioland, bass guitar, and Jean-Marie Hauser, drums. Olivier and Bourdon stayed with the band throughout the '60s.

Many of the tracks by Les Fingers were covers of popular hits or adaptations of folk songs. The EP pictured above was among their earliest releases, coming out in '62. The main attraction was Telstar, a cover of the Tornados' recent hit. Then there is a tune called Les Cavaliers du Feu (Riders of Fire), as it says on the front cover, or Les Cavaliers du Ciel (Riders in or of the Sky), as it's listed on the back.

In any case this does not sound to me like the familiar Ghost Riders in the Sky, popularized in the 1940s by Vaughan Monroe, and revived in the '60s by the Ramrods as an instrumental. The Les Fingers tune certainly bears a strong stylistic and thematic resemblance to the more familiar number, however.

Les Cavaliers du Ciel



For comparison's sake here's the Ramrods doing Ghost Riders in the Sky.



In 2005 Magic Records of France released a double-CD set by Les Fingers entitled Complete 60s Instrumentals. This was available only for a brief period and now commands anywhere from $35 to $80 for a copy. None of this great French band's material appears to be available as a legal download.

Apparently Les Fingers' biggest hit was something called Special Bluejeans. I'm not sure what all the pinup girls have to do with the subject at hand as none of them appears to be wearing jeans. Probably best not to view this video at work.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Lenny Dee - Dee-licious!


Many listeners tend to dismiss organist Lenny Dee (1923-2006) as a purveyor of bland easy listening. It's true that most of his albums from the late 1960s on tend to fall into that category. But his detractors probably aren't familiar with his early recordings for Decca, with whom he signed in 1954.

Dee's early LPs are laced with vintage boogie-woogie, swing and jazz tunes. For instance, his first album Dee-lightful! (1954) contains versions of Birth of the Blues, Little Brown Jug and Sweet Georgia Brown. It also includes his own Plantation Boogie, which made the Top 20 in 1955. Dee wrote the song in honor of the Plantation Inn in Nashville, where singer Red Foley had heard the organist playing and recommended that Decca sign him.

Dee's second LP, Dee-lirious! (1956) includes Chinatown, My Chinatown, Caravan and Twelfth Street Rag. And from the third, Dee-licious!, also released in '56, comes Honky Tonk Train Blues, the famous boogie-woogie from pianist Meade (Lux) Lewis.

Honky Tonk Train Blues



Many of Lenny Dee's early Decca tracks have been released on a pair of double-CD releases from the U.K.-based label Jasmine, Double Dee-Light and Lenny Dee in Dee-mand. Don't pay the inflated prices on eBay and Amazon. Used copies of both can be had for less than $5 from independent sellers on Amazon and elsewhere.

As well, a lot of Dee's vinyl LPs, including the early ones, still turn up frequently in thrift stores and bargain bins at record stores.

To close, here's Dee's only significant chart entry, Plantation Boogie.


Friday, September 12, 2014

The Marina Strings - Love Theme from the MGM Film "Skyjacked" & Other Great Love Songs


As is common with easy listening orchestral LPs there are almost no credits on this 1972 release on the short-lived Marina Records label based in Los Angeles. The company, formed at the beginning of the decade by former MGM Records executive Harold Berkman, bears no relation to the current independent Marina Records label nor to a German label of the same name that specialized in disco and dance music.

Berkman is credited as the producer of the Marina Strings album, with Ben Benay listed as the arranger of the title track. Benay also arranged tracks in the 1970s for Bo Donaldson & the Heywoods, including their hit Billy Don't Be a Hero, Buffy Sainte-Marie, the New Marketts (no relation to the Marketts of Out of Limits fame) and the Ventures.

Skyjacked (1972), starring Charlton Heston, Yvette Mimieux and James Brolin, was one of the in-flight dramas that followed the success of Airport. Skyjack's score was by Perry Botkin, Jr. (Nadia's Theme, Bless the Beasts and the Children). Below is the Love Theme by the Marina Strings.

Love Theme from Skyjacked



Harold Berkman produced another Marina Strings album in 1972, Play the Neil Diamond Solid Gold Songbook, which for some reason came out on a different label, 20th Century. Neither Marina Strings LP has received a digital release.

Here's a track from the Neil Diamond Solid Gold Songbook.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Duane Eddy Wishes James Burton Happy Birthday

One guitar great wishes another Happy Birthday. James Burton, who was 75 on August 21, got his start in the 1950s playing on Ricky Nelson's early records as well as hits like Suzie Q by Dale Hawkins.


Duane Eddy James Burton Birthday Greeting from SongLever on Vimeo.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Guitars & All That Jazz On Summer Break


Guitars & All That Jazz will return in mid-September. See you then.

The Young Lovers - Valley of the Dolls


The cover of this cheap LP reminds of the posters for those exploitation flicks that used to be shown at drive-ins and 42nd Street grindhouses. Chicks in chains, the evils of drugs and alcohol, motorcycle gangs, teenage delinquents, etc.

Valley of the Dolls (Design, 1968) is billed as by the Young Lovers, but it sounds as though the tracks were drawn from several different sources. There are the three well-known movie themes plus seven tracks that seem to consist mostly of pop renditions of classical pieces.

The arrangement of the familiar Carmen bears more than a passing resemblance to the Tijuana Brass or perhaps the Phil Bodner-led Brass Ring, both of which got lots of airplay in the late '60s.

Carmen



There were at least two other Young Lovers LPs issued by Design. One featured the theme from Barbarella and another spotlighted songs from the musical Finian's Rainbow. I'd be willing to bet that many of the tracks from the LPs were recycled on other cheap albums, no doubt with different artist credits and perhaps some song title changes as well. None of the Young Lovers material has been released digitally, at least not under that name.

Since I mentioned them earlier, here's a couple of things from the Tijuana Brass and the Brass Ring.



And finally, something from the Young Lovers' The Hit Songs Of The Wild Movie Barbarella And Other Way Out Themes (Design, 1970).