Thursday, 23 February 2012

Ringo Starr - Sentimental Journey (1970) - Part Two

Album 2 - Ringo Starr - Sentimental Journey (1970) - Part Two

UK Amazon - MP3 / CD
US Amazon - MP3 / CD

1. Sentimental Journey (Bud Green/Les Brown/Bon Homer)
2. Night And Day (Cole Porter)
3. Whispering Grass (Fred Fisher/Doris Fisher)
4. Bye Bye Blackbird (Mort Dixon/Ray Henderson)
5. I'm A Fool To Care (Ted Daffan)
6. Stardust (Hoagy Carmichael/Mitchell Parish)
7. Blue, Turning Grey Over You (Andy Razaf/Thomas "Fats" Waller)
8. Love Is A Many Splendoured Thing (Sammy Fain/Paul Francis Webster)
9. Dream (Johnny Mercer)
10. You Always Hurt The One You Love (Allan Roberts/Doris Fisher)
11. Have I Told You Lately That I Love You? (Scott Wiseman)
12. Let The Rest Of The World Go By (Ernest Ball/Karen Brennan)

The seventh song on the album (and the first of Side Two as it was) is the brilliant composition by Fats Waller and Andy Razaf entitled Blue Turning Grey Over You, made famous by Louis Armstrong.  This version was arranged by Oliver Nelson, who was one of the most sought after arrangers at the time, having worked with the likes of King Curtis, Roy Haynes, Cannonball Adderley, Sonny Rollins, Wes Montgomery, Buddy Rich and, well the list just continues to go on.  Those are some absolute legends there for sure.  Being a very seasoned arranger by this time, his treatment of the music to this song is much faster paced and show tune style (for want of a better phrase) than any version that I have heard (Louis Armstrong, Fats Waller, and Billie Holiday).   I think that it works incredibly well, and is a great opening to the second side.  I’m sorry but as something from that time I am looking at it from that angle because that was how it was back then.  People looked at records back then as Side One and Side Two, so they had to think of how to give the listeners something to grab their attention.

The eighth song on the set is a song that I have personally always loved in the various versions that I have heard.  The fantastic Love Is A Many Splendored Thing written by Sammy Fain and Paul Francis Webster, which was originally released by The Four Aces in 1955.  Here it is arranged by Quincy Jones, which has a fantastically soulful feel to it.  It has that amazing classic arrangement that he is always so known for with the absolutely lush vocals and sweepingly soulful orchestration.

Quincy Jones

I’ll just mention in passing that I am very much of a fan of this album, now that I have listened to it a good few times, and hadn’t actually listened to it before researching for this blog series.  I can see where people would have been surprised with this album, because they were used to him being Beatle Ringo.  If people had thought about it though, then it wouldn’t have been that much of a surprise.  After all, there is the arrangement for the song Good Night on The Beatles’ White Album, where Ringo was singing to a lush orchestral arrangement.

The Pied Pipers
Now I will be completely honest and say that I never knew the song Dream until I heard this album, as in the Johnny Mercer song first released by The Pied Pipers in 1945.  Here the arrangement is credited to George Martin, and it is a beautiful song and arrangement.

Following this is the 1944 Mills Brothers song You Always Hurt The One You Love, arranged by the late great John Dankworth, English jazz arranger, saxophonist and clarinettist.  Strangely enough it is the second song on the set that is a Doris Fisher co-write (the other being the earlier Whispering Grass), this time having co-written with Allan Roberts.  For this arrangement, Dankworth decided to give it a very laid back approach, giving the backing music a smooth and lilting mood.

The penultimate song on the set is a song that is absolutely timeless.  Have I Told You Lately That I Love You was actually first released in 1946 by Lulu Belle and Scotty Wiseman, having actually been written by Scotty himself.  Here the genius of Elmer Bernstein (yes you heard me right – the guy behind The Magnificent Seven, The Great Escape, Ghostbusters, et al) has given the song a fantastically exciting and much faster arrangement than I had previously heard personally, and I think it gives the song a completely different approach that still works, but makes it more celebratory in feel maybe rather than the usual laid back arrangements where it is someone sombrely saying “I haven’t said it for so long, but let me just let you know that I really do love you.”  It is a great way to make the song stand out.

Finally the last song is the 1944 Dick Haymes song Let The Rest Of The World Go By, here arranged by the great Les Reed who wrote the classic songs Delilah (Tom Jones), The Last Waltz (Engelbert Humperdinck), and There’s A Kind Of Hush (Herman’s Hermits/The Carpenters).  It’s one of those songs that like the perfect ending to an album, something that Ringo would do a lot on his solo releases (thinking of You & Me Babe on his self-titled third album as just one example).

Even though the album isn't exactly what you might expect from an ex-Beatle, it is full of beautiful arrangements that, for the most part, compliment the songs and the artist perfectly.  It also features some great contributions from the famous arrangers.  In a way that also brings in the fact that a lot of the time when Ringo goes to his famous friends for help, he succeeds in issuing something that is first rate.  Just look at the the eponymous third album where he gets help from all three of the other ex-Beatles, as well as Marc Bolan (T Rex), and the list is endless.

This in no way is a put down of Ringo, but rather the fact that he can bring out top rate material, and that it usually means him having "a little help" from his friends.

Links -
Billie Holliday version of Blue Turning Grey Over You
The Pied Pipers performing Dream - a video clip
A couple of fascinating insights from the Beatles Bible website - First article/Second article
Dick Haymes performing Let The Rest of the World Go By in a video.