Friday, September 23, 2016

SHG: Ferrante & Teicher: "Exodus"

Ferrante & Teicher: “Exodus”
Entered the chart on: 11/28/1960
Peaked on: 1/23/1961
Weeks at #2: 1
Song at #1: “Wonderland by Night” by Bert Kämpfert

Here’s proof that instrumentals were the flavor of the month: both of the top 2 are instrumentals! I’m pretty sure I’ve never actually heard “Wonderland by Night” and if I have, I wouldn’t know it by name. I suppose that’s the peril of instrumental songs; how do you know what you’re listening to without the DJ to tell you what it is? Nowadays, with Shazam and its ilk, we’re pretty spoiled in that regard.

When I was very wee, I was actually a Ferrante & Teicher fan, thrilling to their extravagant twin-piano pyrotechnics on TV appearances and listening to their Greatest Hits on albums my parents owned. Even at the age of eight, I rather knew there was something deeply un-cool about liking them, and hid my fandom from my friends.

Little did I know they’d receive a hipster re-appraisal during the “lounge-core” era of the 1990s. Mind you, that was for their very early sides at Westminster, when they were doing Space Age prepared piano music, such fans considered them to have “jumped the shark” once they became Liberace-esque superstars at United Artists. Though even with the very early “prepared piano” stuff, we’re not exactly talking John Cage and David Tudor here. Even there, they were offering up renditions of the likes of “Tico Tico” and “Tea for Two.”

So, here we have a movie theme, which is what all their chart hits were (this is the follow-up to their two-pianos version of the theme from The Apartment). Exodus was a film by Otto Preminger, back when he was still a respected filmmaker, before the likes of Hurry Sundown, Skidoo and [shudder] Rosebud turned him into a laughingstock. So it pays to check out the original Ernest Gold orchestration before I listen to the Ferrante & Teicher arrangement. Which I shall now do.

Hmm...sounds like Ferrante & Teicher cloned Ernest Gold’s original arrangement of the intro, all big brass and strings, then shook things up in the rest of the track to spotlight their flashy piano playing. The original was bombastic movie music, spirited and very loud. Ferrante & Teicher’s rendition captures the feel of the original, just alters the arrangement to fit their pianos in and make it front and center. Hands down, this is the loudest orchestration we’ve had since “Don’t You Know.” Of course, for the big finale, they do that tinkly, descending semi-glissando thing (well, what would you call it?) which was their trademark.

People will argue until they’re blue in the face over which version is better, but it’s “push” as far as I’m concerned. As with Floyd Cramer’s tune, this one is just fine.

Rating: 4

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