The Platters – Song for the lonely “The ’59” #031

“The ’59” 2018 #031: 180131

The Platters – Song for the Lonely (1962)

The Platters formed in Los Angeles in 1952 and were initially managed by Federal Records A&R man, Ralph Bass. The original group consisted of Alex Hodge, Cornell Gunter, David Lynch, Joe Jefferson, Gaynel Hodge and Herb Reed, who joined the group after he was discharged from the Army in December 1952. Reed also created the group’s name.

In June 1953, Gunter left to join the Flaires and was replaced by lead vocalist Tony Williams. The band then released two singles with Federal Records, under the management of Bass, but found little success. Bass then asked his friend music entrepreneur and songwriter Buck Ram to coach the group in hope of getting a hit record. Ram made some changes to the lineup, most notably the addition of female vocalist Zola Taylor; later, at Reed’s urging, Hodge was replaced by Paul Robi. Under Ram’s guidance, the Platters recorded eight songs for Federal in the R&B/gospel style, scoring a few minor regional hits on the West Coast, and backed Williams’ sister, Linda Hayes. One song recorded during their Federal tenure, “Only You (And You Alone)”, originally written by Ram for the Ink Spots, was deemed unreleasable by the label, though copies of this early version do exist.

Despite their lack of chart success, the Platters were a profitable touring group, successful enough that the Penguins, coming off their No.8 single “Earth Angel”, asked Ram to manage them as well. With the Penguins in hand, Ram was able to parlay Mercury Records’ interest into a 2-for-1 deal. To sign the Penguins, Ram insisted, Mercury also had to take the Platters. The Penguins would never have a hit for the label, but The Platters were altogether more successful.

“It’s Magic”, from their 1962 album ‘Song for the Lonely” was written by Jule Styne, with lyrics by Sammy Cahn. The song was introduced by Doris Day in her film debut, ‘Romance on the High Seas’ (known in the UK as ‘It’s Magic’ after the song), and was published in 1947.

Joe Cocker – With a little help from my friends (Leaping Ahead #68)

Leaping Ahead Project 2016 #68: 160308

[A song by someone lost in 2014]

This wonderful cover of the Beatles’ “With a Little Help from My Friends” reached number one in the UK in 1968 and it propelled Cocker to international fame after his performance of it at Woodstock in 1969. Thirty-three years later, he repeated it at the Party at the Palace concert for the Golden Jubilee of Elizabeth II.

In 1993 Cocker was nominated for the Brit Award for Best British Male, in 2007 was awarded a bronze Sheffield Legends plaque in his hometown and in 2008 he received an OBE at Buckingham Palace for services to music. He was ranked number 97 on Rolling Stone’s 100 greatest singers list.

Upon hearing about Cocker’s death in 2014, Paul McCartney said this about Cocker’s version of the Beatles 1967 song:

He was a lovely northern lad who I loved a lot and, like many people, I loved his singing. I was especially pleased when he decided to cover “With a Little Help from My Friends” and I remember him and (producer) Denny Cordell coming round to the studio in Saville Row and playing me what they’d recorded and it was just mind-blowing, totally turned the song into a soul anthem and I was forever grateful to him for doing that.

Joe Cocker OBE (20 May 1944 – 22 December 2014). Rest in Peace.


Jem Tunes A-Z 2015 #23

In 2005 Camille Dalmais released her second studio album ‘Le Fil’. The album is unique as it includes a string or thread (the ‘le fil’) represented as a background drone which runs continuously throughout the album and from around eight minutes after the end of the final track.

Born in Paris in 1978, Camille is famous for her exploration of the voice and the musicality it can provide when used creatively. She uses instrumentation, but sparingly and usually as a supplement to and not a replacement of the voice.

‘Money Note’ from the 2008 album ‘Music Hole’ is a prime example. Apart from the piano, everything you hear here is voice. Although I didn’t take the video here in London’s Koko, we were there – just to the left of the cameraperson…