Ray Conniff, ‘S Awful Nice, Columbia CS 8001, 1958?
You know, I should really know better. Ray Conniff is one of there all time greatest Goodwill artists, someone that no serious music fan has any interest in. Even though I’ve blogged about him before, and as much as I tell people that he was was ahead of his time with the technology of the recording studio, no-one but me seems to hip to the vibe he laid down. (Cough). But really, these records are fun, sorry for being (Cough) a broken record.
So, yes, when I saw this record in a $1 bin, yes, on the street, in the rain, in the cold Oregon streets, i didn’t think twice about buying it. I never in a million years would have figured that this was a record that the great Columbia record would have ever had a need, sales-wise to re-relsease. I doubt that this was a big seller in 1958, it spawned no hit singles, and wasn’t a well known member of the Conniff catalogue.
Yet, somehow, in the 1980s judging by the label, record stores begged for more of ‘S Awful Nice to satisfy the immense customer demand for an echo chamber version of It Had To Be You. As a record collector, I felt very cheated to fall for this yet again despite the 100 pennies I had to fork over to take this home. It remains a truism that I might just get my first tattoo on my wallet opening arm that says “Aways Check The Label!”
Cost: $2, $718 Remaining
Ray Conniff, Plays The Bee Gees & Other Great Hits. Columbia BL-35659, 1978
Yesterday’s wonderful experience of listening to Mae West’s Way Out West gave me an idea of another theme week. Mae gave it her all but she really had no artistic business releasing a sexy vamp rock & roll album at age 72. I’ve been combing through the records I got this spring during two massive clearance sales I went to and found an impressive bunch of albums that absolutely should not exist, but happily do.
Today we have a 1978 Ray Conniff record made for a segment of the record buying public who found the hard rock sounds of Debby Boone and Barbra Streisand too loud. Mr. Conniff and his Singers were on the task, softening up the soft rock and light disco that dominated the late 70s charts.
The singers and their perfect diction seamlessly mesh songs to Ray’s arrangements until they sound like bunch of radio station jingles. Night Fever/Stayin’ Alive is a particular favorite. To say that this is elevator music is almost unfair to elevators. But then what else would you expect from a man in a powder blue tuxedo jacket with rhinestoned lapel, ruffled gold shirt and brown bow tie.
None of this is to criticize Ray Conniff’s music or the 70 million albums he sold. He was a pioneer of stereo orchestration recordings and his early albums, especially the Christmas ones, sold in the millions. His technique of using voices as instruments as part of an orchestra was mildly (of course!) revolutionary and copied by thousands of artist after him. I play a few of his 50s records when I want to make an evening cocktail and feel like Don Draper. If I ever get a 1960 Buick Convertible like his, my soundtrack is ready.
Cost: $2, $925 Remaining