Thursday, July 14, 2016

SHG: Cathy Carr: "Ivory Tower"

Cathy Carr: “Ivory Tower”
Entered the chart on: 4/7/1956
Peaked on: 5/26/1956
Weeks at #2: 1 week
Song at #1: “Heartbreak Hotel” by Elvis Presley

I’m becoming a bit gun-shy regarding “whitewashing.” When I saw that R&B vocal group Otis Williams and His Charms sang a version of this, naturally I assumed theirs was the original. But no, theirs was a cover. This was composed by trombonist Jack Fulton with songwriter Lois Steele, and given to struggling ex-big band singer Cathy Carr to sing. Well, it’s new to me, so let’s see what we have here...

I take back what I said about Joni James. Here is the real precursor to Connie Francis. Cathy, too was an Italian-American, born in the Bronx. Unlike Joni James, Cathy has a sumptuous voice, rich with vibrato, with a real feeling of sorrow in there. Maybe I’m reading a bit into it, with the knowledge that Cathy didn’t have a happy life, probably as this was her only major hit.

More of that eighth-note vamping style of piano that was very in vogue at the time. Dan Belloc’s orchestration includes a prominent accordion hook. But really, it’s Cathy selling the song that makes this sweet, romantic ballad. It’s just a damn shame that someone who sings as well as this didn’t have more of a career, but them’s the breaks, I guess.

Oh! And I see that Gale Storm did a version of this as well! Nope, not gonna go there! I’ll just assume it sucks and move on! And look, My Little Margie also mangled “Dark Moon,” the beautiful country song originally by Bonnie Guitar! To what end? Bonnie Guitar was also on Dot Records! Did Gale Storm just have it out for the listening public, and sought out to ruin songs from every genre in a concentrated attempt to get people to hate music?

Oh well, rant over! At least this version of this song is good. Well done, Cathy!

Rating: 4

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