Janko Nilovic deserves attention. He composed a huge volume of library music in the 1960s and 70s, and what I've heard of his work has all been excellent. Some of it has recently been made available on CD by the Cosmic Sounds label, who are also releasing new work by him. It's hard to sum up his work, because it was quite diverse. From what I've heard, Nilovic was like a jazzier, more wild version of other contemporary library composers like Roger Roger and Nino Nardini.
This is a wonderful instrumental that opens with a bare breakbeat. This is soon joined by bass and electric guitar, which then give way to a Morricone-style harpsichord, which riffs over a descending minor chord sequence. The whole thing remains funky and slightly menacing as different parts drop in and out. The whole piece is really just a simple jam, but the impeccable arrangement takes it to a higher level.
Genius late 60s pop with vocal harmonies. This was composed by Roger Nichols, and has some beautiful chord changes and Bacharach-meets-Brian-Wilson interludes.
The verse is sombre and in a minor key, but when they sing 'close to me' to usher in the chorus, the sun comes out! There's some scat singing in the interludes. I had previously only really known the Vogues for '5 o'clock world', but this is superb - an unusual and memorable track.
What can I say! I always imagined there would be a vocal version of this classic Santo and Johnny instrumental, but I had never located one until I found this recording. This track remained unreleased until the mid-1980s, was recorded in March 1965.
I can't deny that much of the appeal of this song for me lies in the novelty factor of hearing lyrics sung to this classic tune. If you're interested, the lyrics go something like this:
Sleep walk, instead of dreaming I
Sleep walk, cause I lost you and
Now what I am I to do;
Can't believe that we're through
(I don't care how much you tell me)
Sleep talk, cause I miss you I
Sleep talk, while the memory of you lingers like a song;
Darling I was so wrong
(but I'll be right some day)
Fills me my lonelyness;
I see your face
Spinning through my brain
I miss you so
I still love you
And it drives me insane
Sleep walk, every night I just
Sleep walk; and when
You walk inside the door,
I will sleepwalk no more
If you're having trouble imagining how these words would fit to the tune, I think the Supremes did too; this may explain why the track remained unreleased. Don't get me wrong - the overall sound is very cool, and the verses work quite well. But I think the tune is so well-known that they didn't feel they could change a note, and so some of the vocals are a bit laboured.
Still, a great track, which seems to hold up to repeated listens!
from 25th Anniversary (Motown 5381ML3) available on CD - 25th Anniversary Volume 2 (Motown)
When you consider just how wonderful it is, Les Baxter's 'exotic' work is under-represented on this site. From a superb and reasonably easy-to-find album, this cut is an intoxicating mix of shimmering 50s style strings and gentle bongo rhythms.
'Nightingale' is a Xavier Cugat original that is very much in the style of classic Lecuona songs like 'Taboo'. Melodically, it also reminds me of another standard, 'Invitation'.
from Carribean Moonlight (Capitol T-733) available on CD - The Exotic Moods of Les Baxter (Capitol)
The Fleetwoods were an excellent vocal group from the late 50s and early 60s who are best known for 'Come Softly to Me' and 'Mr. Blue'. Both of these are 'classic' oldies tracks, evocative of the late 50s.
'Lonely is as lonely does' came late in their career, and actually sounds much more modern than its 1964 recording date would suggest. This is really a prototype of the 'soft pop' style that would become popular later in the 1960s. The composer, Chip Taylor, went on to write 'Wild Thing' and 'Angel of the Morning'.
The track opens with a nice picked guitar introduction. As in many of my favorite Fleetwoods tracks, Gary takes the lead vocal, with Gretchen and Barbara singing backing vocals. Gary has a very sincere voice. At the beginning the song sounds very routine, but there are some clever chord changes and some cool lyrics. My favorite line is 'As your tears fall, remember this: you're just a kiss away from happiness'.
from the single Lonely is as lonely does (Dolton) available on CD - Come Softly to me - The Very Best of The Fleetwoods (EMI)