This week’s column concentrates on music from the past, beginning with my review of a vinyl Paul Butterfield live recording. Frank Sinatra and friends appear on some late 1950s to early 1960s TV specials after that.
‘Live In New York 1970,’ Paul Butterfield (RockBeat Records, ☆☆☆1/2)
This April 7 heavy-vinyl double-LP was recorded and broadcast from New York City’s A&R Studios in December 1970 with mostly the same band that recorded Butterfield’s Elektra live album from the Troubadour the previous March. Butterfield (Dec. 17, 1942-May 4, 1987) revolutionized blues with his original band, and the personnel here is Butterfield (harmonica/vocals), David Sanborn (alto saxophone), Gene Dinwiddie (tenor sax/flute/vocals), Dennis Whitted (drums), Ralph Walsh (guitar) and Trevor Lawrence (baritone sax).
My favorite tunes include a smooth-sounding “Born Under A Bad Sign,” an extremely lengthy “Driftin’ Blues” featuring a Butterfield harp solo, a high-octane “The Boxer,” which unfortunately didn’t turn out to be a blues version of the Simon & Garfunkel hit and the closer, “So Far So Good.”
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Fans of electric blues with horns will enjoy this record.
‘The Timex Shows Vol. 1: The Frank Sinatra Timex Show,’ (Eagle Rock Entertainment, ☆☆☆☆)
This May 19 DVD/digital set of releases presents four different shows that Sinatra did for Timex. The first one here is called “The Frank Sinatra Timex Show,” which aired on ABC Oct. 19, 1959.
Frank’s guests on this one are Bing Crosby, Dean Martin, Mitzi Gaynor and a brief pop-in by Jimmy Durante.
My favorite songs among many are Frank singing “High Hopes” with a crowd of children, a medley of “old songs” sung by Frank, Bing and Dean, Mitzi singing and dancing up a “Hurricane” and the closing medley with Durante appearing near the end.
‘An Afternoon With Frank Sinatra,’ (Eagle Rock Entertainment, ☆☆☆☆)
This program was first broadcast by ABC on Dec. 13, 1959, and was the second of Sinatra’s four Timex television specials. The show’s guests are Peter Lawford, Hermione Gingold, The Hi-Lo’s, Red Norvo’s jazz combo, dancer Juliet Prowse and the incomparable Ella Fitzgerald. Sinatra sings “I’ve Got The World On A String,” “I’ll Never Smile Again,” “Too Marvelous For Words” (with Norvo) and duets on “Can’t We Be Friends” with Ella. Juliet’s world-traveling dance routine is also impressive.
‘The Timex Shows Vol. 2: To The Ladies,’ and ‘Welcome Home Elvis’ can’t be reviewed due to lack of space; but “To The Ladies,” broadcast on Feb. 15, 1960, features Frank and guests Lena Horne, Mary Costa, Barbara Heller, dancer Juliet Prowse and in a hopefully non-singing role, Eleanor Roosevelt.
“Welcome Home Elvis” broadcast May 12, 1960, contains Elvis’ first TV appearance after his military service. He sings “Fame and Fortune” and “Stuck On You.”
Other guests: Nancy Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop.
Ricky Flake, a former punk rocker and current music fan, lives in Biloxi. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.