Friday, June 24, 2005

A Sweet One

Most of the songs I will write about here, including this one, will be uploaded to
The username for my site on gmail is Bashleo
The password is Fatghar
The log-in IS case sensitive.

I chose this to be the initial record because it is one of my favorites, and a virtually unknown one at that, by Thurl Ravenscroft. I chose to start with Thurl because of his death, earlier this month, at age 91.

Thurl Ravenscroft is one of my musical heroes, and I began to collect his records about 23 years ago, after I learned a few facts about him. I began searching out his records more frequently after I the song "This Old House", a # 1 hit from 1954, sung by Rosemary Clooney, with an essential assist from Thurl on the choruses of the song.

I had, of course, heard him since childhood, both as Tony the Tiger and in his performance of "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch". But around 1982, after hearing "This Old House", I quickly snapped up the many Walt Disney records on which Thurl appeared, a few Sesame Street records and even another couple of pop hits on which he appeared.

Then, over the next twenty years, one by one I found a more intriguing batch of recordings, all of which appear to be from the mid '50's. Basically, it appears to me that at least a few record label people felt it was likely that Thurl Ravenscroft, middle aged basso profundo, was just the right person to become the next romantic balladeer and/or the ideal duet partner for romantic hit songs. Perhaps this was due to his appearance on that # 1 record, but whatever the logic, I'd say it was faulty.

But regardless of the reasons, several labels released records by Thurl as a solo artist or duet partner. The first one of this sort I found, and a favorite of mine to this day, is "Oh, You Sweet One", released on Chicago's own Bally label. Here we have Thurl, singing a lightly romantic song, based (I believe) on a German folk tune, accompanied by the most exuberant backing singers a happy-go-lucky man could ever want to have along with him, as well as sliding trombones punctuating each verse.

I find this wonderfully ridiculous - upon hearing the opening four part harmony trombones and four part backing warbling, the last thing I'd expect from a lead singer, particularly one who is going to ask "Isn't This a Lovely Day?" would be that it was someone singing in roughly the same range as a tubist. And yet, he makes it work, for me anyway, and like so many of the songs I will share here, I wish this was a song which had become a hit, and a fondly remembered oldie.

Or, failing that, I'd have loved to be present at this recording session. And finding this record, and finding it so irrisistable, was the catalyst for my continued searching for Thurl records. Have a listen, if you please.


Stuart Shea said...

It is amazing to think of the happy accidents that resulted from some record company man's misjudgement...thank God for human error.

Michael said...

Hey Bob! I totally hear the influence on your music! Ha! Great! Thanks for this blog!

Sammy Reed said...

Is this the same Bally that became involved in pinball machines, and best-known (to me, anyway) for Pac-Man?!