Tag Archives: Glenn Miller

Rocks In The Attic #551: Frank Sinatra – ‘Songs For Young Lovers’ (1954)

RITA#551.jpg1954? That makes this recording over sixty years old. It still sounds crystal clear – it would, it’s the 2015 Record Store Day reissue – but regardless, it’s still magical sounding. In the next couple of decades we’re going to start approaching being able to listen to 100 year old recordings. Insane. Well, I guess we can listen to 100 year old recordings now, but considering that nobody put out anything worth a salt until the 1950s, it won’t be worth considering for a while yet.

In fact, that’s wrong. Glenn Miller’s a boss, and he was the best-selling recording artist from 1939 to 1943. So 1939 would mean twenty two years until the centennial celebrations for the likes of In The Mood and Chattanooga Choo Choo. But just imagine when we reach the 100 year anniversary of the first Frank Sinatra hit, or Elvis’ Heartbreak Hotel, or the first Beatles album. Good grief. Will we start referring to it as classical musical?

Running in under a sprightly twenty two minutes, this 10” album comes from a time before the 12” record won the war to become the primary record format. This happened a few years later around 1957, just in time for the rock and roll explosion. It’s a nice format, but obviously the shorter running time leaves you wanting more. We’d call it an EP these days, but back then they’d probably just refer to it as Frank’s latest record, regardless of the running length.

Hit: I Get A Kick Out Of You

Hidden Gem: The Girl Next Door

Rocks In The Attic #539: Glenn Miller & His Orchestra – ‘The Glenn Miller Carnegie Hall Concert’ (1983)

rita539I need to get to Carnegie Hall. It sounds out of place, like it shouldn’t exist anymore. Built in 1891 and still going strong 125 years later, it more than justifies a pilgrimage before it gets shut down and turned into fancy New York apartments.

Glenn Miller, Harry Belafonte, and erm…Florence Foster Jenkins, it’s a venue steeped in history. Only the other day, WTF’s Marc Maron – one of my favourite podcasters – did a show there. What a place. Just imagine what has been seen and heard there over the years. The Beatles, the Stones, Led Zeppelin, the Beach Boys, the list is endless.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, Glenn Miller was the first rock and roll star. Not only are these catchy swing tunes, they’re tight as hell. And with the back line of drums, bass, guitar and piano, Miller’s orchestra contains no less than five saxophones, four trumpets, and four trombones. No wonder the brass section sounds really fat. I bet Carnegie Hall was rocking that night in 1939.

Hit: In The Mood

Hidden Gem: Running Wild

Rocks In The Attic #481: The Steve Miller Band – ‘Book of Dreams’ (1977)

RITA#481jpgUp to last week, I wouldn’t have known Steve Miller if he had passed me in the street. He’s one of those people I’ve just never seen interviewed (as far as I can remember), and his music is just far enough outside of the mainstream that you don’t see him regularly on the likes of MTV or in the music magazines. All in all, I get the impression that he likes his anonymity.

I love his music though; him and his older brother Glenn (that’s a joke, by the way; keep up). Even Steve’s really early stuff, like 1968’s Living In The USA is worth checking out – he definitely hit the ground running. Everybody loves The Joker (or at least everybody seems to have loved it ever since Levi’s used it for an advertising campaign in 1990). Take The Money And Run, Fly Like An Eagle, Jet Airliner – just awesome; and even the later cheese like Abracadabra can be happily put in the guilty pleasures pile.

But then, bursting out of his cloud of anonymity last week, after being inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, he shows his true colours. Half of his complaints in regards to the Hall Of Fame process and the music business in general seemed to be fair enough – and probably needed to be said – but his attitude and treatment of the Black Keys was just disgusting. A severe case of Grumpy Old Man syndrome.

Looking very uncomfortable in a pair of matching leather jackets, Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney gave a lovely speech to induct Miller, but ended up leaving the venue half-way through his set. According to Auerbach, Miller didn’t even know who they were when they were introduced backstage (after the event he complained about the aspect of not being able to choose who inducts you) and was just unpleasant to them throughout the evening.

I don’t think those outside of the USA truly understand the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame process. It does seem to be a very American thing. Most of the coverage of it seems to be from commentators amazed at how certain acts are still to be inducted, decades after their commercial peak. I applaud Miller for holding the institution up to the light, but I just can’t get over that Black Keys thing.

I’m not a huge fan of the Black Keys. In my eyes they sold out a long time ago, but Miller’s attitude seems to stem from reverse ageism – disrespecting them for being a younger band. What a battler.

Hit: Jet Airliner

Hidden Gem: Threshold