Off Topic Messages

Thu Apr 13, 2006 7:41 am

I read a couple of research articles recently that affirm the fact that the farther Left one's politics, the unhappier they generally are.

Here we have anectdotal evidence to support that assertion :lol:

Thu Apr 13, 2006 4:22 pm

Not to speak ill of the dead, but I don't get the raves some of you are giving Gene Pitney. To me he was about on a par with Bobby Vinton.

Thu Apr 13, 2006 4:35 pm

Ouch.

I'll have to go see if I can hear something by him today.

Thu Apr 13, 2006 10:05 pm

That's a really bad comparison. The only similarity between Pitney and Vinton is that they were primarily traditional pop performers above anything else who did many romantic numbers. Also, once in awhile Vinton would do a Bacharach/David number. "Blue on Blue" was originally written for Pitney.

That's where the similarities. Pitney, far from Vinton's vanilla stylings, was influenced by rock and r&B and it brought a certain level of angst ridden emotionalism to his best records. He was more likely to interpolate an expressive aside like "aagh" right before he hits the line "Die a little bit" in "It Hurts to Be in Love". This title by the way is an absolutely great rock song with its furious drum roll and multi-tiered and percussive rhythms. It really captures the hormonal balance caused by frustrated romantic intentions. Listen to his phrasing on the chorus of "Twenty Four Hours From Tulsa" with its twisted use of melisma, it has nothing to with Vinton's style of singing. Or his dramatic swoops up and down his range which a performer like Vinton couldn't do on his best day. There's an air of angst of uncertainty of regret in Pitney that's not there in lightweight popsters like Vinton.

Pitney was also a very adventurous performer not only in his choice of material, which ranged from Italian in Italian ballads to country duets with George Jones to Bacharach and David's off-kilter pop tunes, but also the use of instrumentation on his recordings. There is nothing of that Latin flavor in Vinton and nothing to match the explosion of horns on "Twenty Four Hours from Tulsa". I would argue that Pitney's expressive voice and talent paved the way for the truly great work Bacharach and David did with Dionne Warwick.

He was one of the first artists to work with Phil Spector. Many Spector acolytes including myself list their "Every Breath I Take" as one of Spector's finest. He was THE first artist ever to hit the American charts with a Jagger/Richard composition in "That Girl Belongs to Yesterday" which hit months before the Rolling Stones hit the charts with even a remake. He also played piano on the Stones' "Little by Little."

What's more he was a multi-talented instrumentalist. On his initial hit "I Wanna Love My Life Away" he played every single instrument and double tracked his own voice. This was in 1961 mind you.

He was also a fine songwriter who wrote "Hello Mary Lou" for Ricky Nelson and the Crystals "He's a Rebel" both certified classics among others.

In 1962 he experienced an absolutely dizzying moment of success when the Crystals' "He's a Rebel" was #1 on the pop chart and his recording of Bacharach and David was #2 the very same week.

His voice was also a multi-octave instrument like Roy Orbison without the bottom and unlike a Mariah Carey he only displayed his chops with sometimes thrilling leaps into falsetto when it was absolutely needed to express the emotion in a song.

He may not rank with the all-time greats but he had his niche'. He contributed something uniquely his own with its own sense of beauty and he deserves to be recognized for that.

Thu Apr 13, 2006 11:19 pm

Easy there Bikester, I was more or less just winding you and some of the other Pitney aficionados up! That said, I confess that I'm really only familiar with a handful of his hit singles. I guess I'll have to look a little deeper into his stuff. RIP Gene Pitney.

Whatever credibility Vinton may have had he lost when he did that wretched My Melody of Love and played on that Polish prince schtick! :lol:

Fri Apr 14, 2006 12:51 am

Right. And any sentence that basically begins "In the spirit of Bobby Vinton comes.." is surely someone trying to get ugly with you. :lol:
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And even I like Bobby in very small doses.

Fri Apr 14, 2006 3:22 am

By 1980, I realized I'd better see the best singers in the business before the era had ended.
This gave me the chance to see Roy Orbison many times, as well as Rick Nelson, Franki Valli, Chuck Berry, etc.

After Roy Orbison, I put Gene Pitney's vocal ability as perhaps the 2nd best pop singer still touring in 1980. The only possible exception may have been Jay Black of "Cara Mia" fame, but he never came to Toronto.

The unique aspect of Roy Orbison or Gene Pitney was that they didn't have to rely upon falsetto techniques to cover up waning talent. Sadly, the same couldn't be said for Franki Valli, who blended his hits into medleys just before the songs reached the upper registers.

In my top ten list of songs, there will always be a place for "If I Didn't Have A Dime". Married for 40 years with three sons, it would appear his personal life was also a success.

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With Dusty Springfield

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Sat Apr 15, 2006 1:13 pm

I have to be in the right mood to play Gene Pitney, as sometimes his voice is a little squarky and mannered for me. But at his best on the Bach/David material, and songs like "Town Without Pity" and "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence", i can really get into his stuff.

I think it was LTB who mentioned his recordings with George Jones in the mid sixties. In later interviews, Pitney almost seemed to regret those recordings, he said they ruined his career on the US pop charts, as a "pop" performer. Though his career in Europe was strong.