Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by alphanguy, Jan 29, 2016.
Gwen Stefani, Katy Perry and Meghan Trainor don't make ya laugh?
I just have to say, this is one of the most beautiful, sublime songs ever to hit the top spot. I've almost never met a person who doesn't love it. It of course, became an instant standard after that.... Although the song was decades old from a Broadway play.
My dad used to play this when I was small and I have always had a fondness for it. What a performance and what a recording!
It is one of those songs that David Lynch could have used in Blue Velvet or Twin Peaks to make you "float"... as it definitely takes me to a different place and time - although not necessarily of this consciousness...
The music staff at Billboard picked Smoke Gets In Your Eyes to be a hit in their December 8, 1958 issue, one week before the song made its debut on the Hot 100:
The evergreen was originally written for the 1933 stage musical Roberta and the first known phonograph recording of the song was released that same year by Gertrude Niesen on Victor. The tune was later featured in the 1935 film adaptation of Roberta in which it was performed by Irene Dunne:
Famously, both the widow of Smoke Gets In Your Eyes co-writer Jerome Kern and Mercury Records executive Art Talmadge initially objected to The Platters recording the song. A potential lawsuit by Mrs. Kern to prevent release of the song was avoided, in part, when she learned through her lawyer that a new recording of Smoke Gets In Your Eyes could be very profitable. Talmadge wanted The Platters to record more modern material like Short Shorts rather than this “tired old standard”. I am glad the group didn’t follow Talmadge’s suggestion!
Smoke Gets In Your Eyes was recorded while the group was on tour in Europe at the Olympia Theater in Paris, France in September 1958. Mercury’s in-house arranger, David Carroll, was brought in from New York and he conducted the orchestra which was comprised of musicians from the larger orchestra of the Palais Garnier.
If anyone has additional information about the recording session for Smoke Gets In Your Eyes I’d be interested in hearing about it.
"Smoke Gets In Your Eyes" may be the pinnacle of the Platters' recording career. They certainly never surpassed it again, with only a couple of their 1956 hits in the same league. Not only is Tony Williams' vocal just perfect, but the string accompaniment is sublime, with the quotation of a riff from Ravel's Bolero during the bridge adding to the thrill.
And, unlike some early Hot 100 hits, it sounds fabulous in stereo! My preferred version, in its original wide mix, is on the vinyl soundtrack LP of American Graffiti.
Such a lovely song and arrangement to compliment the lead vocal. Loved the use of the song to underscore the prom scene in American Graffiti.
Williams’ performance really does justice to the song. The earlier readings of Smoke Gets In Your Eyes by Niesen and Dunne are emotionally restrained whereas Williams interprets the song with greater conviction and with a gospel-steeped styling.
The tympani is a nice touch too!
I agree. The wide stereo mix has a bit more air and a nice wide sound stage that doesn’t sacrifice the middle. Vocal and instrument placement are altered minimally which allows it to retain the impact of the mono 45 mix.
The Remember When? LP (Mercury SR 60087, released in 1959) also has Smoke Gets In Your Eyes in wide stereo. (Many of the early stereo Mercury LPs, the ones with the black labels, like Remember When? sound very good). The blue label stereo 45 version of Smoke Gets In Your Eyes with the large silver STEREO letters (Mercury SS-10001), released in January 1959 shortly after the mono 45, also sounds very nice.
Unfortunately, numerous LPs and CDs released throughout the years have Smoke Gets In Your Eyes in rechanneled or narrow stereo (i.e. poor stereo separation) so buyer beware.
The original mono 45 of Smoke Gets In Your Eyes (Mercury 71383X45) was released in November 1958 and here’s an idea of what it sounds it like:
From the same Dick Clark Beech-Nut Show as the Conway Twitty clip I posted earlier, The Platters "singing" Smoke Gets In Your Eyes just days before the song moved into the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100:
Note: After The Platters perform but before Fabian comes on, Dick Clark does his own Top 10 countdown which differs from the concurrent Top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100. Something tells me we'll see his #5 song in this thread pretty soon.
Born in '54. I was a wee one when these from the 50's came out. Can remember some from the early 60's when teenage cousins of mine had records....they taught me how to do the twist when I was 7 or so lol. By the time this gets beyond '65, I'll probably know all the songs posted here. I agree, the history of each song is quite interesting.
So this is what started folk music's popularity?
I was a child and can remember my parents getting this Alvin and the Chipmunks song for me lol, it was at Christmastime.
I don't love it! I don't know why - it's a good song, you can't fault the performances, and yet........
Maybe it's something about the melody. I feel like I should love it, but no. I don't hate, or even dislike it. It just leaves me cold.
Like Tony Bennett and Mel Torme, The Platters were a traditional pop act that scored their hits after the rock 'n' roll era began. This was their last #1, but they had some hits after. Their last Top 40 hit came more than eight years later, "With This Ring."
"Rich Corinthian leather"
Truly LOL - thanks for that!
Until I heard Sarah Vaughan's version of Smoke Gets In Your Eyes, I always had felt negative about the song. I didn't like any versions that I had heard. I think the melody sounded kinda sappy to me. Re-listening now to the Platters' version, I do enjoy it some. Sarah Vaughan's version of course is a major re-working of the melody which I know some people scorn. But at least now after enjoying her performance, I will always have a fondness for the song.
After the Kern estate's objections became public, wasn't lyricist Oscar Hammerstein quoted in the press at the time as saying he was grateful to the Platters for reviving the song?
And what could be the basis for a lawsuit? Can't a performer do anything they want to a song (songs, not recordings -- leave sampling out of this), as long as the publisher and composer(s) get paid?
I never realized stereo 45s were being issued this early...Very interesting!
I can't go that far. They were more polished than street corner ruffians in the Bronx or nasal nerds from the 'burbs, but they were definitely a doo wop act.
Thanks, this helps put the reaction to Dylan going electric into proper context for me!
Yes, that is my understanding as well.
I'm not clear either whether there was even sufficient basis to warrant a lawsuit. Eva Kern heard The Platters' version of Smoke Gets In Your Eyes and reportedly hated it. She felt her late husband wouldn't have wanted his songs used for absurdly melodramatic, overwrought rock 'n' roll ballads. She had her lawyer call Max Dreyfus, Kern's publisher at Chappell's, to inquire about taking out an injunction against The Platters. Mr Dreyfus regretfully had to inform Mrs Kern that he had actually been the person who suggested to Buck Ram, the group's manager, that Smoke Gets In Your Eyes would be perfect for them to record. The single was already climbing the charts at this time and was on course to sell over a million copies. Mrs Kern ultimately decided to forego the injunction.
Next we have "Stagger Lee" by Lloyd Price. #1 from February 9 - March 8, 1959. #1 for 4 weeks.
One of the more oft-quoted hits, by everyone from The Black Keys to Pacific Gas & Electric to The Clash. I think there's a whole wing just for the reggae acts. Pretty good mileage for a 120-year-old murder.
Lloyd Price's version of "Stagger Lee" was directly inspired by a 1950 version by the New Orleans pianist who recorded under the name "Archibald" for the Imperial label. "Stack-A-Lee (Part 1)" was a top-10 R&B hit that year. There is a very early pressing of the ABC-Paramount 45 that has the composer credits as "Archibald-Price-Logan" on the label.
Also, famously, Dick Clark refused to play the song on American Bandstand. Price recorded a special version just for Mr. Clark, in which, among other things, the two men were arguing over a girl and not gambling to the death. That bowdlerized version wasn't released to the public until years later, possibly because someone pulled the wrong tape from the archives. It is definitely on a Goldies 45 reissue; it may also appear on the ABC Oldies Treasure Chest 45 and possibly a Roulette Golden Goodies Hit Series 45. I know for sure that it's on the popular TV mail-order album 40 Funky Hits. How "Stagger Lee" made an album mostly composed of novelty songs is anyone's guess.
Sidebar : I only see one or two gentlemen smoking in that clip, and the song has no direct reference to smoking, but who of a certain age cannot make the connection?
I wonder if kd lang considered the song for DRAG?
Kind of funny that this is an era that celebrates diversity. Presentism I guess.
I can't wait until we get to My Ding A Ling.
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