Monday, July 30, 2012

Bobby, Roger and The Animals

© -  Steven A. Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.

Ahmet Ertegun, one of the co-founders of Atlantic Records, was a big supporter of Rhythm and Blues music as well as a devotee of Rock ‘n Roll in its fledgling years.

His brother, Nesuhi, produced Jazz recordings for the Atlantic label including the Modern Jazz Quartet’s No Sun in Venice and Pyramid, John Coltrane’s Giant Steps and Coltrane Plays the Blues, and a host of other Jazz albums by Milt Jackson, Mose Allison, Jimmy Giuffre and Shorty Rogers, among others.

Ahmet always maintained that his involvement with the commercially lucrative Rock and R & B music enabled him to subsidize his brother Nesuhi’s less-than-profitable ventures into Jazz.

One of his most successful forays into Rock was Ahmet’s decision to record Bobby Darin’s Splish, Splash. It was a record that would sell a million copies for the then, virtually unknown Darin.

Ironically, almost 10-years later, Darin, now and internationally recognized celebrity, would leave Atlantic and establish his own label [Direction Records] over a dispute with Ahmet and Arif Mardin [who had become Bobby’s producer at the label in 1963] involving Bobby’s fervent wish to record the music from Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley’s Doctor Dolittle.

As recounted by Fred Dellar in his notes to Bobby Darin Sings Doctor Dolittle:

“Bobby Darin constantly re-invented himself. Initially, he'd been a teen idol, littering the charts with the likes of Splish, Splash and Queen Of The Hop. Then he opted to become the new Sinatra, fashioning songs such as Beyond The Sea and Lazy River for a whole new set of swingin' lovers. Once, Bobby even moved into R&B to cut an album of Ray Charles songs, using Ray's own back-up singers, while in 1966 he moved on yet again, linking with the contemporary folk field, and emulating the likes of Tim Hardin. After two critically hailed albums (If I Were A Carpenter and Inside Out) filled with material mainly penned by Hardin and John Sebastian, Darin decided that it was time for a change yet again. No-one was going to classify him, place him in some 'file under' category. It was time for a return to show-biz, a time to dust down the tux, head in a Hollywood direction. But, being Darin, it would not be a mere return to former glories. Nothing as easy as that. Instead, Bobby decided to create a whole album based around his interpretations of a film score. His choice for the project was Doctor Dolittle, a musical penned by Leslie Bricusse, who'd previously collaborated with Anthony Newley on The Roar Of The Greasepaint - The Smell Of The Crowd and Stop The World -I Want To Get Off, the latter a Broadway hit that ran for 555 performances.

Doctor Dolittle, a movie that co-starred Rex Harrison, Anthony Newley, Samantha Eggar and Richard Attenborough, featured a score that had taken Leslie Bricusse 18 months to write. During that period he'd discarded 10 songs and constantly reshaped others. Darin, who'd earlier recorded Bricusse and Newley's Once In A Lifetime, heard the score and loved it. His decision to record it as a complete album pleased Arthur C. Jacobs, the film's producer who claimed: "When Bobby came to us and said he wanted to do his musical impression of Doctor Dolittle, we were flattered but felt that the musical content of our production was out of Bobby's usual style. I mean, in one scene Rex sings a tender ballad When I Look In Your Eyes to a seal! How would that sit with a chap who whirred and whirled with Mack The Knife? Bobby's reply: 'Lead me to it'."

Others were even more incredulous that Darin should want to record the score, his album producer, Arif Mardin, advising him not to go ahead with the project. But, after working on a fine set of arrangements with Roger Kellaway, Bobby made that trip to Western Recorders and shaped an album that has stood the test of time. …”

Pianist-composer-arranger Roger Kellaway summed it up best when he observed: “Bobby was a sensation to work with. He had the knack of knowing exactly what was right for him.”

See what you think as Bobby sings Roger’s arrangement of Talk to the Animals in the following video made with the assistance of the ace graphics team at CerraJazz LTD and the production facility at StudioCerra.

Our latest montage is set in HD images, a format we’ve returned after a long absence.