There are vocals, but no words, indeed, no individuality. We hear blended voices bopping along, making "ba" and "ah" sounds, as if they were another section of the orchestra, a section less important then the trumpets which get way out in front at times. Whoa! Settle down, you might want to say to Doc Severinson, blaring out in "Three Coins in the Fountain."
The idea is to take "biggest hits of the past ten years" — like "Three Coins" — and put them through the Conniff-grinder, which processes familiar songs into bright, incredibly perky instrumentals. Check out "Tammy."
My favorite rendition was "Unchained Melody," which you can listen to here. If you're used to The Righteous Brothers' achingly soulful version, you might find this hilarious or awesomely refreshing. Since, as noted, the words are never sung, you can use this as a karaoke background track, perhaps inspired to revise the words to fit the very cheerful instrumentation:
Time goes by so quicklyLike both of my parents, Ray Conniff served in the U.S. Army in World War II. I was 9 years old when this album came out, and I conveniently avoided living through the Depression and WWII, so I was in no position to understand the emotional impact this music had on the people it was designed for. When I look at the 1960 Top 100, I remember liking "The Twist," "Cathy's Clown," "Running Bear," "Puppy Love," "Ally-oop," "Chain Gang," and "Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polkadot Bikini." I liked the singers and the words of these songs (whether I knew what a chain gang was or not, I got "Give me water! I'm thirsty!").
But time can't mean too much
Are you still mine?
I need your love
If not your love
Some other love for me!
Oh, my love, my darling
I'm hungry for some lunch
It is lunch tiiiiiime!
But my father enjoyed the wordless Conniff, who explained his musical revelation like this:
"One time I was recording an album with Mitch Miller - we had a big band and a small choir. I decided to have the choir sing along with the big band using wordless lyrics. The women were doubled with the trumpets and the men were doubled with the trombones. In the booth Mitch was totally surprised and excited at how well it worked."I love the front cover of "Memories Are Made of This." That lady in what we used to call a bulky knit sweater is charmed by her charm bracelet. But the back cover is pretty dull, so I'm hiding it below the jump:
The back covers for albums often had, like this, advertisements for other albums. In this case, lots of other albums by Ray Conniff. When I finally got around to buying my own record albums — this was my first — in 1962, I did not like seeing any ads for records my father might buy. I wanted clear separation from the things that were his and the things that were mine. In the 1960s, this was called the "generation gap." This series, "Records From My Father," is a belated effort to bridge that gap.