Various - The Popsters: Vol.4, The Popsters - They Tried To Rock (CD)
1-CD Digipac (4-plated) with comprehensive booklet, 33 tracks. Total playing time approx. , , , minutes.
Contains rarities that will surprise both pop fans and collectors.
Includes tracks by established stars like Sinatra, Dean Martin, Peggy
Lee and Doris Day, who you'd never think would 'stoop so low.'
Reveals the importance of 'cover records' in the era just before the
emergence of 'singer/songwriters' all but ended that industry-wide
Contains tracks that give new meaning to the word 'clueless.'
Reveals the efforts (some of them desperate) of singers, songwriters,
musicians and arrangers to come to terms with what 'rock 'n' roll'
Shows some surprising successes at coming to terms with rock 'n' roll by singers you'd never expect to 'get it.'
Here are the companion Volumes to the successful 'They Tried To Rock: The Hillbillies '– Volumes 1 and 2 (BCD 17350, BCD 17406).
By mid-1956, it was official: Rock 'n' roll was not a fad. It was threatening to take over American popular music. You could ignore it at your own peril, and that choice might cost you your career.
The warning signs had been there for a few years. There was a new style of music that the teenage kids were drawn to. Some of it seemed primitive, but not all of it was simple. Some was categorized as 'Rhythm & Blues.' Much of it was uptempo dance music but some of it was classified as ballads. One thing for sure: The records sounded different from the top songs of just two or three years earlier. The singers had a different approach, the bands behind them sounded different, even the songwriting was different. Whatever this new stuff was, it plainly couldn't be dismissed. Hard as it was to admit, this new music was the future. Nobody in the music business wanted to be left behind. The hell with ego. It was time to capitulate. Do it or be left in the dust, watching while the world moved on.
The question for the 'major' record companies was, "What should we do about it?" And the answer depended on who 'we' was. For record company bosses and A&R men there was one obvious thing to do, something they'd been doing for years. If a song is getting popular, let's record it with one of our artists and hope that ours is the most popular version. This tradition of making 'cover records' was standard practice for decades before the rock 'n' roll era. Close to the dawn of rock 'n' roll, Les Paul recalled rushing into the studio with Mary Ford to make a better version of Patti Page's 1950 record of Tennessee Waltz, weeks before a Capitol Records vice president suggested covering it. (Patti's record was itself a cover of Pee Wee King's country original.) In 1954 five different versions of Stranger In Paradise were Top 20 hits. Everyone knew how to make cover records, at least within the styles of music that were popular and familiar to them.
But this was a little trickier. Cover records now had to cross into unfamiliar territory. Could you ask big band musicians and arrangers to write and play stripped down charts? Brassy horn arrangements, a staple of pop music for over a decade, were no longer what the kids wanted to hear. What to do?
A major label's music directors could wonder: "We've got successful popular singers recording for us. Can they do this new music successfully too? Or is rock 'n' roll so different that we need totally new personnel to make covers?" And those same questions arose for performers as well. "Can I sing rock 'n' roll and still sound like myself, or do I need to change my style?" Worse yet, can I change my style and be successful? Will I seem like a square old guy trying to sound like one of the kids or their new musical heroes? It was a scary and sobering thought.
For songwriters, there was a similar but obvious choice: If this kind of music is becoming popular, then it's what we'll learn to write. We're adaptable. We'll create songs targeted at this new teenage market. This choice contained more than a germ of arrogance. It assumed a Tin Pan Alley writer who had created successful tunes for an adult generation could suddenly shift gears and still turn out hits. Just because rock 'n' roll was 'simpler' music didn't mean it was simpler to write.
We'll hear a lot of singers, musicians, arrangers and writers struggle with exactly those questions here. As you'll see, some of those struggles were a lot more successful than others. In this collection we will hear how the industry evolved (sometimes smoothly, sometimes awkwardly) and how rock 'n' roll came to be a central part of popular music of the mid-1950s and after. It's a story with heroes but, really, no villains. There are wise and unwise people in the story, as is true in most stories. But we shouldn't feel smug just because our hindsight is 20/20. Things were changing fast and it was hard to know what to do.
We should be impressed by the huge amount of musical talent that got involved in this fascinating story. Both good and bad records emerged from wise and unwise decisions. Some of them featured really strong performances by good musicians, singers, writers and arrangers. Let's give them all a listen.
Article properties: Various - The Popsters: Vol.4, The Popsters - They Tried To Rock (CD)
THEY TRIED TO ROCK Try to imagine it. You're an established country musician. You've got a career. You're writing songs, recording songs, selling re- cords. Everything is just humming along and then all of a sudden – there's this whole new style. You don't particularly like it. But people are starting to ask for it at your appearances. It's cutting into your record sales. What are you going to do? You listen to it. You're starting to get pressure from your record label – maybe it's worth trying just for the hell of it. You're a little older than most of the kids who are doing this stuff, but so what? If you have a receding hairline nobody's gonna see it over the radio. These crazy rock 'n' roll records are selling in the millions. That's a lot of money and a whole new audience. You don't want to miss out on that. You don't want this train to go by without you getting on board. You can always get off again if you don't like it.
Or try to imagine this. You're a young country musician and you hear some new sounds, perhaps on the radio, that grab your attention. They're exciting – maybe you can find some like-minded musicians out there and work some of these new sounds into your own style. On two volumes of 'They Tried To Rock' you will hear music with these and other stories behind it. We have collected a variety of examples of country musicians making the transition into rock 'n' roll. Some were very successful; others were less so. The re- sults are all fascinating: the story of a genre struggling to hold its own against enormous forces of change in the 1950s. Tradi- tional American music battling against stylistic and economic pressures that threatened to engulf it. Country musicians wondered, "Do we fight it or join it?" They did both as the new music began to spread. Here's some of what happened.
Part 3 & 4 - The Popsters
Volumes 3 and 4 follow the early struggle by Popsters, including Frank Sinatra, Doris Day, the Mills Brothers, Perry Como and Law- rence Welk, who tried to come to terms with rock 'n' roll's challenge to traditional pop music. This took place during the early to mid-1950s, before anybody knew whether it was just a fad that would blow over or something that truly threatened to re- volutionize popular music.
Many Popsters hated it and privately made fun of it, while at the same time they saw their record sales plummet and their radio play and personal appearances affected. Popsters were faced with the same career-altering choice that affected the Hill- billies in Volumes 1 and 2: Do we fight 'em or join 'em?
Some Popsters were equipped to adapt and did a fine job of it. Others, weren't and didn't. For the first time, BEAR FAMILY has col- lected some vintage performances by Popsters who tried their best to pass themselves off as rockers. Many of these tracks – by both the famous and the not-so-famous – have become quite rare. You'll marvel at how good some of them were. Others may draw a well-deserved snicker after all these years. But good or bad, they all remind us just how potent a force rock & roll was in the early days, and how even well-established Popsters believed they had to change to survive.