Rocks In The Attic #340: Louis Armstrong – ‘Hello Dolly!’ (1964)

RITA#340In the almost-spoken intro to this record, Armstrong says “Hello Dolly! This is Louis, Dolly!” The weird thing is he pronounces ‘Louis’ as it’s spelt – ‘Lew-iss’ – rather than the French pronunciation – ‘Lew-ey’. Have we all been saying his name wrong all this time? (It seems this is an oddity – in the 1920 U.S. census, he registered as ‘Lewie’ and in various live recordings he refers to himself as ‘Lew-ey’, so I think we’re all of the hook. Maybe he was experimenting; it was the sixties after all!).

The album is notable for its title song – which knocked the Beatles’ Can’t Buy Me Love off the U.S. top spot in 1964. They had been at number one for fourteen straight weeks – from February 1st through to May 2nd (with I Want To Hold Your Hand, She Loves You and Can’t Buy Me Love respectively) until Louis came along. The rest of the album – made up of similar arrangements of Broadway songs – was a rush release to capitalise on this, which also went to number one.

As much as I love Miles Davis, I love Louis Armstrong’s trumpet playing just as much. The two different styles seem to be at opposite ends of the spectrum: while Davis’ playing seems hell-bent on discovering just what is humanly possible to get out of a trumpet, Louis Armstrong’s playing is just simply joyful, a celebration of life, bookending that distinctive voice of his.

Hit: Moon River

Hidden Gem: Jeepers, Creepers

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