Archive for the ‘Easy Listening’ Category

James Bond composer John Barry dies aged 77

February 20, 2011

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John Barry – composer of the soundtracks for classic films such as Born Free, Out of Africa, Midnight Cowboy, Somewhere in Time and the James Bond films – has died in New York of a heart attack aged 77. He is understood to have been in poor health for some time.

  Born John Barry Prendergast to a cinema-owning family in York on 3 November 1933, he first found fame as leader of the John Barry Seven. His earliest hits included ‘Hit and Miss’ (1960) which was the theme music for BBC TV’s Juke Box Jury, and a cover version of The Ventures’ ‘Walk Don’t Run’ (1960).

  The first film for which he composed, arranged and conducted the score was Beat Girl, starring Adam Faith, in 1960.

  Barry’s 1962 arrangement of Monty Norman’s James Bond theme led to him composing scores for 11 Bond films, including From Russia With Love (1963), Goldfinger (1964) and You Only Live Twice (1967). He was regarded as having a huge influence on the ‘coolness’ and distinctive style of the 007 series.

  Awarded an OBE in 1999 for services to music, Barry was renowned for his lush strings, orchestral swells and elegant melodies. He saw himself as much a dramatist as a composer and his music was always inextricably linked to the stories told on the screen.

  Barry was also an innovator. He was one of the first composers to use Moog synthesizers in a film score (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service in 1969).

  In a career spanning almost 50 years, Barry was responsible for some of the most memorable and beautiful film scores of all time. He won five Oscars for his film work, including two for Born Free (1967), and one for The Lion in Winter (which also won a BAFTA) in 1969, Out of Africa (1986) and Dances with Wolves (which also won a Grammy Award) in 1991.

  His work for TV included the theme for The Persuaders (1971), while his non-soundtrack work included the albums The Beyondness of Things (1999) and Eternal Echoes (2001).

  Barry’s most recent film score was for the wartime thriller Enigma (2001), while a musical version of Brighton Rock, created with lyricist Don Black, had its London premiere in 2004. He received a BAFTA fellowship in 2005.

  Don Black, 72, who worked with the composer on his Born Free, Thunderball and Diamonds are Forever theme songs, said Barry remained unaffected by his international success. “The thing about John that I will always remember was he never changed,” he said. “He was very much the Yorkshireman, whether he was in Beverly Hills or Manhattan.”

  Barry – who lived in Oyster Bay, Long Island – is survived by Laurie, his wife of 33 years, his four children and five grandchildren.

  According to Don Black, Barry’s widow Laurie is considering staging a major memorial service in London later this year. “She’s talking about the Albert Hall in June or July,” he said. “There will definitely be a big night coming.”

CLASSIC JOHN BARRY SCORES

  • From Russia With Love
  • Goldfinger
  • Zulu
  • Born Free
  • You Only Live Twice
  • The Lion in Winter
  • Midnight Cowboy
  • Diamonds are Forever
  • Somewhere in Time
  • Out of Africa
  • Dances with Wolves
  • Chaplin

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Best of Frank Sinatra’s Las Vegas years on new CD

February 6, 2011

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In the early 1960s, Las Vegas helped to refuel Frank Sinatra’s career, while Sinatra in turn helped to boost the city’s international image.

Now, some of the most memorable performances from the legendary Sinatra-Vegas relationship are being made available on Frank Sinatra: Best of Vegas – a collection of 14 live recordings set for release on February 15, 2011.

The single CD captures Sinatra in concert at the Sands, Caesars Palace and the Golden Nugget in Las Vegas between 1961 and 1987. The collection is a distillation of highlights from Sinatra: Vegas, a five-disc boxed set (4 CD/1 DVD) of live recordings released by Reprise Records in 2006.

Classic tracks include: ‘The Lady Is A Tramp’ (from The Sands, 1961), ‘Pennies From Heaven’ (from The Golden Nugget, 1987) and ‘Theme from New York, New York’ (from Caesars Palace, 1982).

“From his debut at the Desert Inn in September 1951, no entertainer was ever more synonymous with the city of Las Vegas than Frank Sinatra,” says Charles Pignone, author of The Sinatra Treasures, in his comprehensive liner notes for the new CD. “It has been said that next to legalised gambling, nothing has been more beneficial and profitable to Las Vegas than Frank Sinatra.”

FULL TRACK LIST: 

Introduction
The One I Love Belongs to Somebody Else
Moonlight in Vermont
The Lady Is a Tramp
I’ve Got You Under My Skin
Street Of Dreams
Fly Me to the Moon (In Other Words)
Monologue
Luck Be a Lady
I Can’t Get Started
Without a Song
All or Nothing at All
Witchcraft
Pennies From Heaven
Angel Eyes
Theme From New York, New York
Bows

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Agnetha sparks ABBA reunion rumours

February 2, 2011

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ABBA star Agnetha Faltskog – the most reclusive former member of the group – has sparked rumours of an ABBA reunion after telling a Swedish magazine that she would consider reuniting with her former husband Bjorn Ulvaeus, 65, Benny Andersson, 64, and Anni-Frid Lyngstad, 65, for a series of special concerts.

  “I could see us doing something together in the future,” Agnetha, now 60, told Sweden’s M magazine. “It is just a feeling I have that it would be fun to get together, talk a bit about the past and maybe perform together.

  “We wouldn’t get together again for a tour like The Rolling Stones and other old bands. I think we would all consider a one-off reunion, maybe for a good cause.”

  Since the group split in 1982, they have turned down all requests to get back together – including a reputed offer of £650million in 2000. In March 2010, though, Benny Andersson said a one-off performance was “not a bad idea” despite having ruled it out only two years earlier.

  With Agnetha’s comments seemingly making a reunion more likely than ever, bookmaker William Hill is now accepting bets on ABBA performing at Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding in April, and at this summer’s Glastonbury festival. The odds of ABBA having a Number One hit this year have also been slashed from 20/1 to 5/1.

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Fifties teen idol Eddie Fisher dies at 82

September 24, 2010

 

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US singer Eddie Fisher – who sold millions of records in the 1950s and whose ex-wives included Elizabeth Taylor, Debbie Reynolds and Connie Stevens – has died at the age of 82.

Fisher’s good looks and clear dramatic singing voice brought him a devoted following of teenage girls in the early 1950s, with a style that has been described as a “throw-back” to Al Jolson and Tin Pan Alley.

Edwin Jack Fisher was born in Philadelphia on August 10, 1928, one of seven children of a Jewish grocer. At 15 he was singing on Philadelphia radio.

After moving to New York, Fisher met comedian Eddie Cantor and began appearing on his highly rated radio show in 1949. Cantor adopted the young singer as a protégé and helped him become a star on radio, TV and records.

Fisher’s romantic messages resonated with young girls in the pre-Elvis Presley period, and his manager Milton Blackstone helped the publicity by hiring girls to scream and swoon at Fisher’s appearances.

His first few singles for RCA, including ‘Thinking of You’ and ‘Turn Back the Hands of Time’, achieved chart success. But it was two consecutive million-sellers in 1952 – ‘Any Time’ and ‘Tell Me Why’ – that established Fisher as a major star. He also achieved another big hit in 1952 with ‘Wish You Were Here’.

But 1953 proved to be the biggest year of his career. Both ‘I’m Walking Behind You’ and ‘Oh! My Pa-Pa’ spent many weeks at the top of the charts. Fisher then gained his own top-rated TV shows: Coke Time and The Chesterfield Supper Club. His success continued to grow in 1954 with ‘I Need You Now’, followed by more Top 40 hits such as ‘I’m Yours’, ‘Lady of Spain’ and ‘Count Your Blessings’.

Fisher’s fame was enhanced by his 1955 marriage to teen movie star Debbie Reynolds and they were dubbed “America’s favorite couple”. Their marriage produced two children, including Carrie Fisher who starred as Princess Leia in the original Star Wars trilogy.

Fisher stunned his fans by divorcing Debbie Reynolds to marry Elizabeth Taylor after Taylor’s husband (and Fisher’s best friend) Mike Todd was killed in a plane crash in 1958. His divorce from Debbie Reynolds caused sensational headlines – followed by even bigger headlines five years later when Elizabeth Taylor divorced him to marry Richard Burton. Fisher’s career never really recovered from these scandals.

Although his singles did not reach the Top 40 again, a return to RCA in the mid-1960s resulted in a moderate hit with the LP Games That Lovers Play. After two more RCA albums – People Like You and You Ain’t Heard Nothin’ Yet – Fisher rarely recorded again, although he continued to perform live in America.

After being discarded by Elizabeth Taylor, Fisher became the butt of comedians’ jokes. He reportedly began relying on drugs to get through performances, and his bookings dwindled. He later said he had made and spent $20 million during his heyday, and much of it went on gambling and drugs.

Eddie Fisher died on 22 September 2010 as a result of complications following hip surgery at a hospital in Berkeley, California.

How important are favourite songs from your past in bringing back happy memories to cheer you up in these worrying economic times?

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Lou Reed denies preventing Susan Boyle from performing ‘Perfect Day’

September 12, 2010

Fans of Susan Boyle may not have to threaten to burn copies of Transformer after all. Former Velvet Underground frontman Lou Reed insists it was not him who barred the Scottish singer from performing his song ‘Perfect Day’ on America’s Got Talent. It seems it was all down to a “licensing mix-up”.

TV companies have to obtain a licence from the copyright owner before they can broadcast the performance of a song. According to representatives for Reed, ‘Perfect Day’ was cleared to be performed in the UK, but was not licensed for a US performance in time for the America’s Got Talent recording.

Susan Boyle reportedly flew to Los Angeles especially to perform ‘Perfect Day’ – one of her favourite songs – for the season finale of America’s Got Talent. But when she arrived at the studio for the taping of the show, she was told she had been refused permission to perform the song. According to reports, SuBo was left “crushed and heartbroken” and left the stage in tears. She flew back to the UK immediately.

Reed, now 68, was turned into a villain in the media because of the incident. But his spokesman insists the singer had no idea about the drama surrounding Susan Boyle’s version of the song.

‘Perfect Day’ was written in 1972 for Lou Reed’s first solo album Transformer. It has been covered by artists such as Duran Duran, Patti Smith and Kirsty MacColl, and performed live by Coldplay and Luciano Pavarotti. It was also released as a chart-topping charity single in aid of Children In Need in 1997.

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Engelbert Humperdinck new album Released…

September 9, 2010

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Engelbert Humperdinck has released a new album, titled Released, which was recorded in Los Angeles with Australian record producer Paul Wiltshire who has previously worked with artists such as The Backstreet Boys and Delta Goodrem.

Wiltshire and Engelbert’s son and manager Scott Dorsey were executive producers of the 11-track album which sees Engelbert stamping his own touch on current songs such as ‘We’ve Got Tonight’.

Wiltshire produced Engelbert’s first-ever iTunes hit, ‘Tell Me Where It Hurts’, which is also be featured on the new album.

Engelbert says he was thrilled by the success of ‘Tell Me Where It Hurts’ on iTunes. “In the old days, you put out a single and promoted it in person,” he says. “Now with iTunes it’s instantly all over the world. It’s quite exciting.”

Engelbert, who turned 75 last May, admits he will forever be best known for his version of the ballad ‘Release Me’, which was recorded over 44 years ago (and was responsible for keeping The Beatles’ ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ from reaching Number One in the UK).

He feels it’s “an honour” to be so closely associated with the song. “I’ve recorded so many albums in my life, but because it was my signature and because it was my first song and because it went to number one around the world and gave me a global career immediately, it’s the only song they sing in my face at airports. It just goes to show the power of one song.”

During his 45-year career, the ‘king of romance’ has always been synonymous with smooth ballads. But he doesn’t like being classed as a ‘crooner’. “No crooner has the range I have,” he says. “I can hit notes a bank couldn’t cash. What I am is a contemporary singer, a stylised performer.”

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Dame Vera Lynn: Woman of the Year

January 10, 2010

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Dame Vera Lynn – who has enjoyed more UK hit singles than any other British female vocalist – has received a lifetime achievement award at the annual Women of the Year event in London.

The 92-year-old, who recently became the oldest living artist to top the UK album chart, received her prize from classical music star Katherine Jenkins.

“It’s lovely to be recognised all those years after the event,” said Dame Vera at the awards ceremony. “I’m still very proud of the fact that ‘We’ll Meet Again’ is a song that has gone around the world. What better words can you have when your loved one has gone to war and you leave your family behind?”

The ‘forces’ sweetheart’, who kept up the spirits of millions of soldiers during World War II, urged contemporary pop stars to do more to support British troops abroad.

Dame Vera’s greatest hits album, We’ll Meet Again – The Very Best of Vera Lynn, went to number one for one week in September 2009 – outselling the Arctic Monkeys, Kings of Leon and even The Beatles’ re-mastered studio albums.

Universal Music is aiming to emulate the success of that album with the release of what it claims is “the most comprehensive collection of her recordings ever released”. Titled Vera Lynn – Gold: 100 Songs From A Life In Music, the new 5-CD box set includes many re-mastered tracks which are being made available on CD for the first time.

The album features almost all of Dame Vera’s hit singles – including her number one hits: ‘We’ll Meet Again’, ‘Auf Wiederseh’n Sweetheart’, ‘My Son My Son’, ‘It Can’t Be Wrong’, and ‘We’ve Come A Long Way Together’.

Also included are unforgettable classics like ‘The White Cliffs Of Dover’, ‘It’s A Lovely Day Tomorrow’, ‘Wish Me Luck As You Wave Me Goodbye’, and ‘A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square’.

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How important are ‘oldies’ songs to you? Vote in our poll below …

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Barry Manilow revives greatest songs of the Eighties on new album

October 16, 2008

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He’s done the Fifties, Sixties and Seventies, now Barry Manilow is set to give us his take on a dozen classic songs from the 1980s with his latest album, The Greatest Songs Of The Eighties, which is released on November 25, 2008.

 

Working with longtime mentor and collaborator Clive Davis, 65-year-old Manilow sets out to whisk us back to the decade of legwarmers, fad diets, shoulder pads and conspicuous consumption as he tackles hits such as Rick Astley’s ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’ from 1987, Stevie Wonder’s 1984 hit ‘I Just Called To Say I Love You’, Wham’s ‘Careless Whisper’ from 1983, and ‘Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now)’ – a hit for Phil Collins in 1984.

 

Manilow also duets with Reba McEntire on ‘Islands in the Stream’ – a huge hit for Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton in 1983.

 

Manilow’s best-selling series of tribute albums includes The Greatest Songs Of The Fifties (released in January 2006) which became his first Number One album since the double-LP Barry Manilow Live in 1977. This was followed by The Greatest Songs Of The Sixties (October 2006) and TheGreatest Songs Of The Seventies (September 2007). The three albums have already sold more than two million copies in the United States alone.

 

The Greatest Songs Of The Eighties marks the fourth collaboration between Barry Manilow and music mogul Clive Davis who was a perennial collaborator with Manilow on virtually all of his early recordings. They first worked together on ‘Mandy’, Manilow’s debut Number One single in 1974.

 

“No one can reinvent the great classics better than Barry Manilow,” said Davis. “He breathes new life and vitality into these truly wonderful songs and they sound fresh and time­less.”

 

The tracklisting is expected to include:

 

‘Islands in the Stream’ (with Reba McEntire)
’Open Arms’
’Never Gonna Give You Up’
’Have I Told You Lately’
’I Just Called to Say I Love You’
’Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now)’
’Careless Whisper’
’Right Here Waiting’
’Arthur’s Theme (The Best That You Can Do)’
’Hard to Say I’m Sorry’
’Time After Time’
’I’ve Had the Time of My Life’

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The Salvation Army signs £1m record deal with Universal

October 7, 2008

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The Salvation Army has reportedly signed a £1m record deal with music giant Universal – with the organisation’s International Staff Brass Band set to release their first mainstream album, titled Together, on the Universal Classics & Jazz label on November 24.

 

According to Universal, the 14-track album is “packed with tracks full of emotion, beauty and timelessness”. It features traditional brass band arrangements of classic songs such as ‘Nessun Dorma’, ‘You Raise Me Up’, ‘Wind Beneath My Wings’ and ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’.

 

There are also special guest appearances from leading classical music stars such as Lesley Garrett, Aled Jones and The Fron Male Voice Choir.

 

Hailed by Universal Music as “the world’s ultimate buskers”, The Salvation Army hopes sales of the record will help to boost its Christmas fundraising drive.

 

“At a time when lives are being turned upside down, people need something to rely on,” said Universal Music’s Dickon Stainer.

 

“The sound of The Salvation Army gives comfort to people when times are tough, as they are now,” he said. “We hope that this record will help expand the reach of their traditional fundraising.”

 

Major David Hinton of The Salvation Army said: “This is a really exciting project, which we hope will not only raise money but will also help to raise awareness of the needs of the people with whom we work.”

 

The Salvation Army famously helps people who have fallen on hard times, including the homeless and the elderly.

 

Full track listing:

 

1. Largo

2. Nessun Dorma

3. Somewhere Over the Rainbow

4. Nimrod

5. You Raise Me Up

6. When I Survey the Wondrous Cross – O Waly Waly

7. Let It Be

8. Nearer My God to Thee

9. Wind Beneath My Wings

10. Make Me a Channel of Your Peace (with Aled Jones)

11. O Christmas Tree

12. In the Bleak Midwinter

13. You’ll Never Walk Alone (with Lesley Garrett)

14. Going Home (with The Fron Male Voice Choir)

 

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