February 8, 2012

Joni James - Synonymous with 50's Pop.

It occurred to me as I was doing my homage to Pop-Music last week that I really only managed to stay in the 1960's and go nowhere else. The world of Pop-Music and hit-tunes goes back a very-very long ways to the dawn of recording.

So I thought I would give you a taste of what pre-rock n' roll Pop Music sounded like 60 years ago via Joni James.

Very much a cult figure these days (she's still singing and doing concerts at the tender age of 81), Joni James was that link between singers of the previous decade (the 1940's) and what was just around the corner in the early days of rock n' roll. A thin but sweet voice, James scored out of the starting gate with a two sided hit, of which tonight's track is the second side.

Purple Shades raced up the charts in 1952 and stuck around for a considerable period of time. Like most every Pop-music entry during this decade, it was wildly over-produced and over-arranged with seemingly hundreds of strings running up against a wall of horns. James runs the risk of being dwarfed by all the instrumental pyrotechnics but it's the simplicity of her voice that carries the tune in the end.

Needless to say, it got lots of radio and jukebox play. Yes, Jukeboxes were a major medium of musical exposure in the pre-transistor 50's and jukeboxes were just as responsible for making a hit record as the Disc Jockey was. And just to let you know we're being authentic in our excursion to the 1950's, we're playing an original 78 rpm disc of Purple Shades, not one of the many reissues available over the years.

Remember, we're talking 60 years ago. It's come a long way since.

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