It’s cold, dark, and wet outside. Today is a day to listen to records.

Caterina Valente: 'The Intimate Valente' (LP; London; 1964)
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A nice early bossa nova record. I only ever had one Caterina record I didn't like. That one was 'sweet beat', a late 60s effort. Here Caterina sings bossa versions of 'Moon River', 'People', 'Just one of those things' and 'Watch what happens', as well as Bossa nova standards, 'voce a eu', 'o ganso' and 'the girl from Ipanema. The songs are short and sweet, with catchy scat vocals on many tracks. Nice album. Accompaniments are by Heinz Kiessling and his orchestra.

Christopher Scott: 'Switched on Bacharach' (LP; Decca; 1969)
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I wanted this record for a long time before I found it. This seems to be a record that you normally find in completely trashed condition, since I saw about 5 copies before the mint one I eventually bought. It's a good record, but somehow not poppy enough for me most of the time. My favorite track (and in fact, my favorite Bacharach track overall) is 'Walk on By'.

Les Baxter: 'Wild in the Streets' (LP; Tower; 1968)
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I bought this album for the Les Baxter connection (he wrote the score), and the tracks that he contributes are the best, including 'Psychedelic Senate', a funky blues number with hippy crowd scene noises. Much of the rest is slightly jarring vocal pop.

Oscar Peterson: 'Motions and Emotions' (LP; MPS; 1968)
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I'm just listening to this, one of my favorite albums ever. Lots of what you read about jazz tends to look down on anything recorded in the late 60s featuring more pop tunes than standards. Still, this is often my favorite stuff.

I like this album so much because the song choices are excellent, the performances superb, and the arrangement and conducting are by Claus Ogerman, the German genius who was behind much of the great production on the records of Jobim and others in the 60s. His sweeping strings are incredibly beautiful. For a track that exemplifies this, check out Astrud Gilberto's 'Funny World' from 1966's 'The Shadow of your Smile' (to make it even more perfect, this is a Morricone composition).

Anyway, I digress. The album opens with the superb Mancini composition 'Sally's Tomato', from 'Breakfast at Tiffany's'. Like the whole album, this is a breezy, light bossa number. A great bouncy version of 'Sunny' follows, wiht 60s standards 'By the time I get to Phoenix', 'This guy's in Love with you', and 'Wave' also appearing. Some of the string and piano introductions are truly breathtaking.

There's another Mancini track (dreamsville), and 2 Beatles numbers (Yesterday and a divine Eleanor Rigby) before the LP closes on an upbeat, funky note with 'Ode to Billy Joe', a song I'm getting to really love. A superb, underrated LP. I think there is a CD available of this as well, although it could be out of print. I recommend tracking it down one way or another.

Pat Williams: 'Shades of Today' (LP; Verve; 1968)
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This album has a great cover of a room full of 60s models hanging out. It's a nice upbeat big band jazz-pop record, featuring some Brazliian standards, Beatles, Bacharach and other hits of the era. It's consistent and upbeat without being remarkable.

Ronnie Aldrich: 'Close to You' (LP; London/Phase 4; 1969)
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Grr. I just wrote a long review of this, and it disappeared! In brief: Ronnie is underrated, and I would like to make a compilation of his very best tracks at some point, because I think this would be excellent. The hightlight of this album is the groovy blend of guitar, piano, strings and surprisingly funky beats on 'make it with you'. The album is pleasant all the way through, but that's the highlight.

The 18th Century Corporation: 'Bacharach Baroque' (LP; United Artists; 1968)
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If ever a record was made for me, it was this. It's a really beautiful album of Bacharach covers recorded by German studio musicians in a pseudo-classical baroque style. The instrumentation is guitar, harpshichord, viola d'amore, drums, etc. Some tracks are slightly funky. All are rather swinging and excellent. The track choices are right on. Highlights for me are 'walk on by' and 'casino royale', but it's really all excellent.

  1. Do you know the way to San Jose
  2. This Guy's in Love with You
  3. Promises, Promises
  4. I say a little prayer
  5. Walk on By
  6. Casino Royale
  7. Reach out for me
  8. Wishin’ & Hopin’
  9. Message to Michael
  10. Alfie
  11. Are you there with another girl
  12. What the World Needs Now is Love

Musicians: Siegfried Schwab, Joe Slabyhoudek, Adie Feurstein, Manfred Huebler, Rosy (cool wordless vocals), Winfried Rotzoll, Heinz Niemeyer, Dai Bowen, Heinz Cramer, Juergen Ehlers. Produced by Hans Bradtke. Recorded in Berlin, Germany at Sonopress-Studio.

The Renaissance: 'Bacharach Baroque' (LP; Summit; 1968)
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The better known 'bacharach baroque', this one was produced by Snuff Garrett, and is much more poppy. The arrangements, by Al Capps, are peppy and fast. The vocals are all wordless, and very much at the forefront. It's really a delightful record; standout tracks are 'do you know the way to san jose' and 'close to you' (which I noticed was sampled by Tipsy on the Uh Oh album).

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