Off Topic Messages

Re: Top 5 'Easy listening'?

Sun Oct 24, 2010 10:08 pm

midnightx wrote:/qoute]not sure why so many people have problems with the quote function...]\quote/]


Re: Top 5 'Easy listening'?

Mon Oct 25, 2010 10:05 am

Norah Jones is top of my list when i want to mellow out, but the Carpenters are excellent for that mood, too. Or Elvis' ballads. I guess I could include Gordon Lightfoot or Lobo on this list, most of their songs tended towards the softer side. Not sure I'd clasify "Sundown" as easy listening, though, feels more like a rock song to me.

Re: Top 5 'Easy listening'?

Sun Oct 14, 2012 1:43 am

Linda Ronstadt with Nelson Riddle
Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald (together)l
Neil Diamond (anything pre-1977)
Glen Campbell (1967-1972)

Re: Top 5 'Easy listening'?

Sun Oct 14, 2012 2:24 am

The issue with a thread such as this, as we say two years ago when it started, is what counts as "easy listening" or what counts as "jazz". There was the argument over Rod Stewart, and yet no-one picked up on someone's choice of Count Basie who is generally regarded as a jazz artists - and yet, no doubt because his most well-known recordings are palatable even to the non-jazz fans, he can, I guess, be classed as easy listening especially during his late 1960s phase of short and sweet arrangements of songs from the american songbook on albums such as "Basic Basie" or the Broadway and Hollywood albums. Ella Fitzgerald is another such artist. Essentially a jazz singer, and yet there is relatively little jazz in her most famous recordings which are, of course, the songbook series. The arrangements for these don't allow Ella to stray from the melody a great deal and the Buddy Bregman arrangements for Cole Porter songbook in particular are really quite square when compared to what Riddle, May, Jenkins and others were doing at the same time as arrangers.

Easy Listening seems to evoke thoughts of bland "muzak" in many people, a bit like aural wallpaper, and for that reason I don't think it is a good term. While Sinatra is classed as an easy listening artist these days, albums such as Only The Lonely or Where Are You are hardly "easy listening", for they require the utmost attention from the listener. The same can be said to a lesser degree for Bobby Darin, but mostly because he straddled so many different genres - neither Bullmoose or Me and Mr Hohner are exactly easy listening in the traditional sense. Despite this, and just to go along with the flow, these two top my list:

1. Bobby Darin
2. Frank Sinatra
3. Sammy Davis Jr. Hugely under-rated as a recording artist. While we are lucky to have the complete Reprise albums on CD, some of the Decca ones still sit in a vault. His range is quite remarkable - not his range of notes but his range of feeling. To hear him swagger through the chauvenistic Tavern In The Town you would not think the man was remotely capable of performances such as those with guitarist Laurindo Almeida.
4. Dean Martin. I like Dean Martin very much, but he certainly relied on formulas too much as the 1960s progressed. That said, some of his recordings even from this late period are really quite sublime. He may croon his way through You're The Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me (which would have been a good song for Elvis), but you still believe every word. On the other side of the coin are wonderful upbeat recordings from the 1950s such as his fun Swinging Down Yonder album where he effectively merges swing with dixieland.
5. Doris Day Did Doris Day EVER sing a note that did not sound beautiful? Her catalogue of recordings is a joy from start to finish - even the recently released album of songs recorded in the 1980s is a joy, even if it doesn't reach the dizzy heights of what had gone before. Her crowning glory will always be the one atypical album in her catalogue, Duet with Andre Previn, in which she shows off her jazz singing including the absolutely sublime take on Close Your Eyes.

Honourable mentions to: Dick Haymes (his two Capitol albums are gorgeous), Peggy Lee (not my favourite but she left behind a great legacy), Jo Stafford (nearly forgotten now but a wondrous tone to her voice) and Perry Como, (the man who I believe made the second-greatest Christmas album of all time and told me the story of the first christmas ever year when I was growing up).

And, importantly, we shouldn't forget the current artists who are following in the footsteps of the above:

I confess to mourning for Harry Connick the jazz artist who seems to have been resurrected as the most dull of easy listening singers. What happened to those wacky arrangements that demonstrated his wonderful sense of fun? But still, he's there chugging along.

Michael Buble - for a number of years he was relying on old arrangements but has really found his own voice in recent years with some really fine arrangements of old standards such as the now instantly-recognisable Cry Me A River or the New Orleans march of Blue Christmas.

I also have a lot of time for the lesser known singers out there too. Hamel, from Holland, can be cheesy but his albums are also extremely likeable and he is a gifted songwriter as the Lohengrin album shows. Peter Grant from he UK made noises a few years back with swing arrangements of songs that weren't designed to be swung (such as I Saw Her Standing There). He's shed himself of the new-Sinatra label with a more serious album of new songs this year, but still very much in the easy listening arena. Peter Cincotti (from Canada I believe) also is a fine singer and songwriter, although I don't much care for his new album.

It's easy to throw away the easy listening genre, not least because it's not particularly favoured on here by some members - but those artists we put under this umbrella term are also some of the most versatile of all recording artists, and also the most consistent. Im a firm believe that we should listen to what we like, not what we are told is good to like.

Re: Top 5 'Easy listening'?

Sun Oct 14, 2012 6:09 am

TONY wrote:Rod Stewart is Easy listening'?! Check out "All in the name of rock n roll", "Stay with me" (with The Faces) and "Dynamite" (from "Out of order") for starters!!!

Ken's right on the mark. You owe him an appology. Mind you I can't stand the latter Rod Stewart sound. I'd rather hear Sinatra doing those (and I'm a casual Sinatra fan).

Re: Top 5 'Easy listening'?

Sun Oct 14, 2012 6:13 am

In particular order they are -

Jim Croce
The Carpenters
Olivia N.J.
Harry Chapin
Linda Ronstadt (Post Country era)