Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Amazing reworkings of old Prima standards
David Gasten | Denver CO USA | 09/12/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
""The Golden Hits Of Louis Prima." Prima One Magnagroove Records, 1965.
Buona Sera/Oh Marie (medley)
Civilization (Bongo, Bongo, Bongo)
Just a Giogolo/I Ain't Got Nobody (medley)
Bei Mir Bist du Schon
That Old Black Magic
"The Golden Hits of Louis Prima" is the first studio recording on Prima's independent Prima One Magnagroove label. It contains newer recordings of a number of his standards, several of which are given amazing makeovers.
Louis Prima was at the top of his game in the early 1960's, being one of the top Vegas performers and one of the rowdiest and most exciting adult contemporary acts of his time. But during this time period, two things happened that would alter his musical direction. The first was the advent of the Beatles, which left Capitol and the other majors of the period scrambling to pick up all the "young" acts with "The New Sound" and leaving many of the more established acts of the period to fend for themselves. The second was the departure of Keely Smith, his most famous singing partner, and the entry of her replacement, Gia Maione. Both situations required Prima to revise his act again, which had become a way of life to him, as he had proven with the musical success of transitioning from big band to the quasi-rock and roll of his Capitol Records period. This time Prima was dealing with a wider musical generation gap that would widen even further in the 1970's just before his death. But amazingly, a fifty-something Prima took all of this in stride without ever sounding like a laughably desperate old codger trying to keep up with "The Kids"' musical tastes.
We see the beginnings of these newest changes with the "Doin' the Twist" album on Dot, the "Twist All Night" single on "The Wildest Comes Home", the "Continental Twist" movie, and in Gia Maione's very teenage-sounding "Sunday Lover" b/w "Little Girl Blues" single on Capitol Records. Prima then decided to tell the teenybopper-obsessed record companies to take a hike, opened up his own record company, Prima One Magnagroove Records, and began selling these self-produced records at his live shows.
Prima released a couple of live recordings first, and then went for a surefire sell: a collection of rerecorded old hits. But for Prima fans it's more than just a rehash, because it offers a chance to hear different versions old tunes, including a few that hadn't been recorded since Prima's big band period. Thankfully this record never goes into the giant string sections and chorus vocals like some of the Dot material does; it's all fun, energetic smaller-band arrangements.
Two of the biggest treats here are the reworked versions of "Just a Gigolo/I Ain't Got Nobody" and "That Old Black Magic". "Just a Gigolo/I Ain't Got Nobody" (originally from the 1956 Capitol album "The Wildest!") is in and of itself an amazing reworking of two older standards that has gone on to overshadow the original songs, and is by far Prima's best and most successful attempt at fusing two songs into one. However, what has happened over time is that Prima's "Just a Gigolo/I Ain't Got Nobody" has become oft-repeated old hat in and of itself, with jazz bands all over the world still regurgitating the originally spontaneous lines of "Loop-da-Loop, Neely Nelly, Skriezy Skriezy" in time with the original. What we get here is a rare opportunity to hear a new studio version of this medley with The Master Himself giving it a slightly new treatment, including a much clearer "And I sing her sweet love songs all of the time" and, at one point, the inclusion of "nobody knows the trouble I see" rambled into the chorus. It's a mellower take than the original, but that's half the fun; the best comparison I can think of is hearing Robert Plant sing with a gently aged, longing mellowness in his voice on "Walking into Clarksdale" or "All of My Love" rather than hearing him screeching away in "Black Dog" or "Immigrant Song".
Louis and Keely's Capitol-era reinvention of "That Old Black Magic" hasn't become quite the cliché that the former has, but it's on its way. "Golden Hits"' version has Louis and Gia doing a fast-paced, rhythmic mambo version of "That Old Black Magic" that is a lot of fun and has a whole different feel than the more famous version, even though the basic song pattern is very similar to the Louis and Keely version.
The fun doesn't stop there, though. We also get to hear Prima go mod on "Oh Babe"! If you think of the white-folks-doing-R & B sound of Brian Auger's Trinity or Rod Stewart's 1960s material, that's exactly what this version of "Oh Babe" sounds like. And it works! Another fun one is "Civilization (Bongo Bongo Bongo)", which has a similar 60's R & B sound with a little guitar added. If you've ever heard the original big band version, you'll be amazed at what an improvement this version is on the passable and somewhat annoying original. "Bei Mir Bist du Schon" and "Josephina" also get great makeovers here, and "Buona Sera" and "Oh Marie" get put together as a medley, which offers Prima veterans even more opportunities to hear their old favorites fresh again. There's a couple of tunes that plod along without adding anything new, but that's only a couple of songs and they're not even that bad.
Now this is probably not the place to *begin* your Prima collection--that honor would go to either the 1956 album "The Wildest!" or else to the "Capitol Collectors Series" collection. But if you're a longtime Prima fan, or else a new fan sold on the three or four Prima albums you currently have, this would be a great choice. Plus you'll be hipper than all your swingin' friends because you'll be able to say you have rare stuff from Prima's DIY period that nobody else has. Louis Prima going DIY, doesn't that sound great? Well, it is."