Friday, 3 May 2019

Mel Torment

I believe that there is a special place in hell for crooners, jazzers and the terminally unhip with the temerity to attempt ‘smooth’ covers of pop and rock songs, especially those from the flower power or psychedelia years. Last week’s post, with the Lettermen butchering the Doors, is a prime example.

As is this.

One track each today from the brace of lounge albums Mel Tormé released on Capitol in 1969 and 1970, A Time For Us and Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head. For some peculiar reason the singer John Lennon used to call Mel Torment would not issue a studio album of new material again for eight years, I wonder why?

In all fairness, most of the covers on the first of the two albums are reasonably palatable. I had intended to include his version of the Turtles Happy Together, but I found myself quite enjoying that. Instead, from A Time For Us I’ve chosen Mel’s version of the Beatles’ She’s Leaving Home, a recording that although poppy enough, drains all of the emotion and longing form the original. From Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head comes the criminally awful Sunshine Superman, Donovan’s summer of ‘66 US Number One.

By the way, here in the UK the two albums were mashed together. Both US releases feature 10 tracks apiece: A Time For Us was not issued here, but both of today's tracks appear on the UK-only 14-track version of Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head.

There’s nothing wrong with The Velvet Fog’s vocals: he’s a consummate performer and there’s a campy, lounge-y charm to these albums. I can’t fault the band either, it’s red hot. It’s just the choice of material. I feel exactly the same about opera singers attempting pop songs: just because you can sing doesn’t mean you should sing… as anyone who has heard Pavarotti duet with Barry White (or Brian May, for that matter) will attest.


Download Leaving HERE

Download Sunshine HERE


  1. Er, what about:
    1971 - Whose Garden Was This for Flamingo Records
    1974 - At The Maisonette for Atlantic Records
    1977 - All In Love Is Fair with Chris Gunning Orch for Gryphon Records
    1978 - Mel Torme and Buddy Rich for Century Records

    1. Sorry, I could have been clearer. I should have said 'record a new studio album': aren't these all live or archive releases?

  2. Guess that's your opinion, but the fact is that many of these "covers'sold mightily. That tells us a lot of people probably don't agree with you!

  3. My comments don't seem to be getting through to you.
    I'll try again:

    The Flamingo, Gryphon and Century recordings were all new (not archive) recordings; only the Atlantic was a "live" recording.

    And the fact of the matter is that during this period Torme, at the peak of his musical career, was very busy with personal performances, which netted him very much more money than records were ever able to.

    I rest my case...

    1. I'd pick your case up if I were you, Mel. According to Wikipedia, Discogs and 45Cat, Whose Garden Is This was only issued as a 45. According to the book Mel Tormé: A Chronicle of His Recordings, Books and Films, Mel only attended two recording sessions between his final one for Capitol (in 1969) and June 1977 - in 1971 for the 45 mentioned, and in 1974 for the live Maisonette album. The Gunning/Gryphon sessions were, outside of that 45, the first studio album sessions in eight years.

  4. Darryl, you appear to have riled up the worldwide network of Mel Torme fans --both of them!

  5. I never cared much for She's Leaving Home in any version. Sunshine Superman is kind of cool, though. Thanks!


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