Lesley Gore, appearing on Batman
Listen – Lesley Gore – Off and Running – MP3
Listen – Lesley Gore – California Nights – MP3
I hope the end of the week finds you all well.
Things are tip top hereabouts, with some new mixes in the offing, and lots of other groovy stuff in the wax silo waiting for delivery to you.
The tunes I bring you today are by an artist that – had you asked me if they would ever be featured here – I would have rolled my eyes and then kicked you out of my house for sullying the air with a suggestion so patently absurd.
But, as you well know, things change, and one cannot know all there is to know (at least not all at once), and new things find their way to my earholes all the time, some of them decidedly unexpected.
Thus, I bring you a couple of tracks by Lesley Gore.
Yes, you heard me, Lesley Gore.
It all started a short while back when I posted a couple of tracks by the Mindbenders, both from the soundtrack of the film ‘To Sir With Love’. One of those tracks, ‘Off and Running’ was – as pointed out to me by a reader – a cover of a song that had been recorded by Lesley Gore. This factoid caused me to raise my eyebrows, making just enough room inside my head to file it away where I figured I’d never use it again.
However…while I was on vacation, I made an unexpected (there it is again) stop to dig for vinyl in New Hampshire (?!?!), in a store that turned out to be a gold mine of unusual pop stuff, including (and who didn’t see this coming) the Lesley Gore album that featured her version of ‘Off and Running’.
So, I get the record home, drop the needle on the wax and discover that the LP in question ‘California Nights’ was something of a transitional record for Gore, including material recorded with her original mentor Quincy Jones, as well as with Bob Crewe, some of which included arrangements by none other than Jack Nitzsche.
Her recording of ‘Off and Running’ (one of the Quincy Jones produced tracks), while not as hot as the Mindbenders version, is very cool, with elements of Gore’s girl group vibe mixed in with a harder edged rock sound. I especially dig the footstomps/handclaps during the verses.
There were other tracks on the album along these lines, one of which will be included in an upcoming edition of the Iron Leg Digital Trip.
The second track featured today is the title track from the album. ‘California Nights’, co-written by Marvin Hamlisch was one of Gore’s last big hits (Top 40, Top 10 in many markets in early 1967). Though there’s a ‘show tune’ vibe creeping in, if you listen closely the opening chords of the arrangement are right out of the Brian Wilson code book, and the chorus of the song takes a couple of interesting turns, proof once again that in the mid-60s, everything was, through some mysterious form of musical osmosis, getting a little bit groovier.
While it’s not going to make me run out to get myself a copy of ‘Judy’s Turn To Cry’, it will cause me to open my ears a little bit wider.
I hope you dig it, and I’ll be back on Monday with something groovy.