Sunday, July 10, 2016
SHG: Gale Storm: "I Hear You Knocking"
Gale Storm: “I Hear You Knocking” Entered the chart on: 10/22/1955 Peaked on: 12/24/1955 Weeks at #2: 3 weeks Songs at #1: “Sixteen Tons” by Tennessee Ernie Ford and “Memories Are Made of This” by Dean Martin
Not gonna lie, I went back and listened to “A Blossom Fell” again after doing “Moments to Remember.” To cleanse the aural palate, you see. I knew what was coming...
Also went and listened to the original blues version by Smiley Lewis, which did not chart. For context, you see. I won’t make the same mistake I did with “Ko Ko Mo.” I was previously familiar only with Dave Edmunds’ version, like most people my age. His version has a different feel than Smiley’s (based around Edmunds’ guitar instead of the eighth-note piano chords and skronking sax that was popular on 50s R&B recordings) but he is faithful to the spirit of the original tune.
Something tells me I’m not going to get that from this version. So let’s get this over with, shall we?
Right, thus far in this review series, I have noticed three categories of these “whitewashed” covers:
1. Treat it like a silly novelty song (the Perry Como strategy)
2. Make a half-hearted attempt at copying the original version (the Freda Lipschitz approach)
3. Remove anything that was good about the original song and replace it with things that make you want to individually slap everyone involved with this travesty silly (Pat Boone’s general plan of action)
I’ll let you figure out which category this falls into by providing you with these three tidbits of information:
1. It was produced by Billy Vaughn (responsible for all those Pat Boone atrocities)
2. It was released on Dot Records (home to, you guessed it, Pat Boone)
3. It was sung by TV’s My Little Margie*.
I’m actually a bit shocked that something that was nominally made by “professionals” sounds so slip-shod. I’m immediately taken by the sloppy piano playing right out of the gate. Obviously, nobody involved had anything resembling respect for the original artist’s work. That and/or they knew they were backing a TV star play-acting at being a singer, someone who knew nothing about phrasing or intonation, so they didn’t feel the need to put, you know, effort into their performances.
Seriously, I know this woman was a popular star at the time, but who thought it was a good idea to stick her in front of an orchestra and put a microphone somewhere within range of her thin, nasal voice? It took all my force of will not to lunge for the “STOP” button, so unpleasant a vocalist is she to listen to. People actually bought this record? WHY?
Oh, and I see she has a version of “Why Do Fools Fall in Love” among her discography! No, not even going there! Even my Mom, a former member of Pat Boone’s fan club, owned the Frankie Lymon original, thank you very much.
So...that was 1955. Started off silly, ended tragically, but hey, at least it produced one masterpiece.
I think I’ll listen to “A Blossom Fell” a third time. Then I’ll drill a hole in my head and try to remove the part that remembers what Gale Storm’s singing voice sounds like.
*For those too young to remember, My Little Margie is a 50s sitcom which has been so discredited over the years, not even the most desperate-for-content “nostalgia” networks will touch it with a ten-foot pole.