Friday, 4 March 2011

3. The International Teen-age Sensation LSP-2900

1. Remember me (Shelley Coburn)  5 May 64 – ar.: Teacho Wiltshire
2. Wait and see (Larry Kusik-Richie Adams) – ar.: Stanley Applebaum
3. Big deal (James Smith-Phil Andreen) – ar.: Teacho Wiltshire
4. Don’t tell me not to love you (Chip Taylor) – ar.: Stanley Applebaum
5. I can’t hold back the tears (Kornfeld-Keller-Kauffman-Ross) – G. Sherman
6. Kissin’ time (Kal Mann-Bernie Lowe) –  5 May 64 – ar.: Teacho Wiltshire

1. Just once more (Al Western)  – 5 May 64 – ar.: Teacho Wiltshire
2. Like I did (Ben Raleigh-Russ Damon) –  6 May 64 – ar.: Stanley Applebaum
3. The boy most likely to succeed (Lor Crane-Nadine Lewis) 6.5.64 S. Appleb.
4. Little by little (Jean Thomas-Ted Cooper) –  6 May  64 – ar.: Garry Sherman
5. Too many (Earl Shuman-Leon Carr) – ar.: Garry Sherman
6. Say goodbye to Bobby (Stewart-Bryant) – 6 May 64 – ar: Garry Sherman

By the end of 1963 with Soeur Sourire, the Belgian Singing Nun strumming ‘Dominique’ all the way up to Number One in the Billboard charts, the executives at RCA in New York thought it would be a good idea to try and record the tiny Italian singer Rita Pavone in English for a big US launch. Pavone, the 1963 European rock’n’roll sensation had been selling records like hot cakes not only in her native country but was also at the top of charts in Germany singing  in German, and making inroads in France singing in the French language. 

Rita was invited to come to New York to record a whole album under the guidance of independent producer Joe Rene of ‘Tossin’ and turnin’’-fame (1961's best selling single). A language-coach would deal with pronunciation problems that Rita might have and RCA would have a gold mine in the shape of myriads of 45 rpms sold State-wise and around the world.

Rita had been successful in Germany singing ‘Wenn ein Junge waer’ in German, so why shouldn’t she do it again in the US? Even though she didn’t know a word of English she would surely ‘pick it up’ as she went along. She had everything going for her: a strong voice that could be melodious too, a natural rhythmic sense and most of all... an atittude. She was telegenic even though she had a face covered with freckles and was very short. She had ‘oomph’ as they used to say in the 1940s.

The only thing the RCA executives didn’t realize at that point was that the winds of change had arrived in America in February 1964, with the Beatles and the British Invasion. The likes of  Bobby Rydell, Bobby Darin, Bobby Vee, Bobby Vinton (Bobbys for all tastes), Frankie Avalon, Fabian and all the so-called ‘teen-idols’ were on the wane to give way to the more rebelious Liverpoodians. The times they were a-changing, indeed, as the ‘other’ Bob... Dylan had stated.

But as the project was already on, Rita recorded the album at the RCA Studio on 24th Street and went on a promotion tour of radio stations around the East Coast and Mid-west. 

So Joe Rene assigned three of the best arrangers in the RCA hit-factory to work on a bunch of songs; gathered the very best session musicians  and back-vocal singers to record one of the best orchestral accompaniments of the early 1960s. Each arranger had one-third of the album (4 tracks) and after a few listens one can easily tell them apart. 

Teacho Wiltshire arranges the up-tempo numbers with a stress on a lively brass section. Stanley Applebaum arranges the slow-ballads with the use of a lot of xylophone and glockenspiel and, finally, Garry Sherman the mid-tempo numbers with a pench for good choral harmonies. Actually I would have bought this album even if it had no Pavone’s voice; the orchestrations are precious. I really like the arrangements for themselves. It’s a magnificent collectively work done by the best session musicians in New York circa 1964. 

Rita was featured twice at the Ed Sullivan Show on CBS, and appeared a few times in ‘Shindig’, Hullabaloo and other teenager TV shows. Rita did the most she could to become a household-name in the US but she was swimming against the tide. Not knowing English properly was an unsurmountable mountain in a extremely competitive market like the US, and soon enough she left the States to go on a tour of South America where she was a really big star! 

When Rita finally returned to Italy in the summer of 1964 she was in for a shock: new talents had taken her place and she had to work on the double to regain the time she'd lost trying to break into the US market to no avail. As the old saying goes: a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

Here’s the whole album track by track:

REMEMBER ME’ – Teacho Wiltshire – If one doesn’t consider the pre-women's-lib lyrics it is an impressive track. I’ve heard versions of ‘Remember me’ sung by Helen Shapiro and the Shirelles and none of them is nearly as good as Pavone’s. I kept wondering why Rita’s version is so much better and I think the secret is in its phrasing. Rita’s phrasing is sort of staccato whereas the others are ‘legato’. Rhythm is king in a simple song like this. That’s why Rita’s Italian version (‘L’amore mio’) was such a dud. The Italian arranger couldn’t reproduce the ‘dry’ pace Mr. Teacho Wiltshire devised. It’s one of the best tracks in the album and the right choice for a single. There are 3 guitar players in the recording plus bass, drums, 2 guys playing percussion, piano, baritone saxophone, 2 trumpets, 2 flügehorns, trombone, reeds and 4 female back-vocal singers that were double-tracked. 

'WAIT AND SEE’ – Stanley Applebaum – Beautiful ballad magistrally arranged by Mr. Applebaum with clever use of glockenspiel when it comes the time for ‘now I pray like all young lovers till the day that I’m free’.

'BIG DEAL’ – Teacho Wiltshire – That’s a powerfull arrangement. RCA thought it might be a single but ‘Just once more’ won in the end. I prefer ‘Big deal’ even though lyrically is not appropriate for a girl to sing. It’s easy to see that the subjetc matter is a male conundrum and not of a girl’s concern. ‘Big deal, so you’re going steady? You’re not her only one, she’s only out for fun, but I’m not gonna let her make a fool of my baby!’ This ain’t no girls’ talk but clearly a matter of male’s dominion. The brass section juxtaposed with the female background voices and a vigorous rhythm section makes it irresistable. It’s been released in Brazil as a B-side to ‘Kissin’ time’.

'DON'T TELL ME NOT TO LOVE YOU’ – Stanley Applebaum – A good sweet ballad that goes like: ‘You say you’re not good enough for me, I say that you’re good enough to be anything you want yourself to be!’ Well, try and top that self-help advice! Not even Mr. Dale Carnegie would be so positive-thinking. Then she goes on: ‘You say that you’re of another class; my friends don’t want our love to last; I know but my love’s still holding fast, it won’t let go.’ Wow, that’s another example of affirmative-action in the making. Chip Taylor, its author, proved that he didn’t have a chip on his shoulders.

'CAN’T HOLD BACK THE TEARS’ – Garry Sherman – That’s a winner too. I particularly love the female chorus and the lively rhythm. ‘I let him go because I wanted my freedom, how would I know just how much I would miss him...’ That sets the tone of the narrative. Then she goes on about crying: ‘I’m gonna cry till my eyes are sore as they can be, I’m gonna cry till I bring him back to me.

'KISSIN’ TIME’ –  Teacho Wiltshire – A rocker indeed. It’s a pity the song had already been a hit by Bobby Rydell in 1959. Besides, as in ‘Big deal’, lyrically it doesn’t make much sense for a girl to sing it. A girl singing this sort of lyrics would be called a ‘whore’ or a ‘hooker’.  Mr. Wiltshire rocks again! He was a master in arranging brass, guitars and a swinging rhythm section.

'JUST ONCE MORETeacho Wiltshire – the B-side of ‘Remember me’ US single. A sexually charged atmosphere where lovers have just kissed and want more of the same. Rita opened her second tour in Brazil singing it. It was a number one hit in Argentina translated in Spanish as ‘Pido paz’. It was recorded by Brazilian Jovem Guara (Young Guard) queen  Wanderlea as ‘Peço paz’.

'LIKE I DID - Stanley Applebaum – The whole B-side, apart from ‘Just once more’, is slow and melodic. This is the track that opens the tear-gates. It may be silly but it is pretty: ‘You found someone new but I doubt she loves you like I did.’  Look at the sequence:  ‘And when her kiss is no more a thrill and you’ll say goodbye like I know you will, will she go on loving you still like I did?’  Gee, how much more square can you get?

THE BOY MOST LIKELY TO SUCCEEDStanley Applebaum – That’s a cutie! ‘As years went by, you made me cry;  you thought that teasing me was so smart; if credit’s due they’d give it to you ‘cause you’d be the boy most likely to succeed in breaking my hear!’ Do we have to say more? One of the best tracks in the album. Its arrangement reminds me of the Brazilian Bossa-Nova rhythm that was catching up in the USA then.

'LITTLE BY LITTLEGarry Sherman – Nice little ballad about a girl who’s been left behind ‘little by little’. ‘The feeling’s going from your kisses and each kiss is ending much too fast;  now you get me wondering which kiss will be our last!’ Mr. Sherman really knows how to work with trumpets and a lonely trombone that is the highlight in this cutie.

'TOO MANYGarry Sherman – Another cutie!  Self-pity abounds again but supported by a nice trumpet playing and a good rhythm section. ‘Too many lies spoken, too many dates broken, too many people saying that they’d see you with somebody new!’  In such a case she should have dropped the dirty double-crossing philander.

'SAY GOODBYE TO BOBBYGarry Sherman -  That’s the last self-pity track. This time her self-esteem is the lowest it can possibly get. She asks her former ‘rival’ who’s taken her Bobby away from her to say goodbye to Bobby while you’re handing hands. I know he didn’t mean to hurt me, tell him that I undersdant!’. Then she goes and demeans herself further: ‘Many times he called me by your name, when you were near he didn’t act the same...’. And then she adds insult to injury by begging the ‘rival’: ‘... and please, love him tenderly, and if you’re not sincere, don’t hurt him, send Bobby back to me!’ Well, I guess that does it! This exercise in self-denial is beautifully arranged by Mr. Sherman in musical tones very pleasing to the ears. Actually if you believe this could be true you may even shed a few tears for such a self-effacing girl who is a strong candidate to be canonized by the Vatican next time around.

Further tracks arranged by Teacho Wiltshire featured at 'Small Wonder' - Rita's 2nd American album:  ‘Splish splash’ & ‘Turn her down’.

George 'Teacho' Wiltshire conducts his band in the 1950s. 

Billboard's add announcing Rita Pavone's appearance at the Ed Sullivan Show on 17 May 1964 and the release of the album 'The International Teen-age Sensation'. 

Stanley Applebaum 

Spanning almost half-a-century, Stanley Applebaum's career has been rich and diverse. His compositions and arrangements have earned him numerous awards, including 35 Top 10 hits and several #1 singles for such as Ben E. King, Bobby Vinton, Neil Sedaka, the Drifters, the Coasters, Connie Francis and Brook Benton. 

Mr. Applebaum's big band arrangements have been written for artists like Beeny Goodman, Glenn Miller, Harry James, Raymond Scott and Cootie Williams. Stan was an arranger and orchestrator for the Hit Parade, the US Navy, the US Air Force, the Goldbergs, Jimmy Durante, Radio City Music Hall, NBC and CBS.

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