Sunday, October 05, 2008

Number 447 - Bobby Darin

Number 447

Bobby Darin

"Mack The Knife"

Genre:Jazz Pop
art by emmanuel-evangelist
"Mack The Knife" is one of those songs that can never die. For 3 generations it has been covered and covered and ... well, covered. Since 1928 this song, originally a German musical has been popularised from Louis Armstrong [1956] to Kevin Spacey [2006]. In fact, you might even know of some other well known superstars who have recorded this particular tune like .. "Bill Haley & His Comets" [can't even imagine what that would sound like], "Bing Crosby" [no surprise there], "The Doors" [need drugs for that version], "Psychedelic Furs" [as good as they are, something seems wrong with that], "Nick Cave" [sounds like par course to me], "Sting" [about his pace], "Robbie Williams" [as Offspring once said ... spare me the details], "Westlife" [Oh God .. please no], & "Slut" [er?]. Well, anyway, as you can see the song itself is immortal, question is .... does it belong in the "Definitive 1000 Songs of All Time", you decide.
It was fun, yanno
There's been considerable discussion about whether Bobby Darin should be classified as a rock & roll singer, a Vegas hipster cat, an interpreter of popular standards, or even a folk-rocker. He was all of these and none of these. Throughout his career he made a point of not becoming committed to any one style at the exclusion of others; at the height of his nightclub fame he incorporated a folk set into his act. When it appeared he could have gone on indefinitely as a sort of junior version of Frank Sinatra, he would periodically record pop/rock and folk-rock singles whose principal appeal lay outside of the adult pop market. At one point he started calling himself Bob Darin and recorded songs with vague anti-establishment overtones that could be said to be biting the largely bourgeois hands that fed his highest-paying gigs. It may be most accurate to say that Darin was, above all, a singer who wanted to do a lot of things, rather than make his mark as a particular stylist. That may have cost him some points as far as making it to the very top of certain genres, but also makes his work more versatile than almost any other vocalist of his era.
Always hated dentists
When Darin had his first hits in the late '50s, he was a teen idol of sorts, albeit a teen idol with much more talent and mature command than the typical singer in that style. The novelty-tinged "Splish Splash" was his breakthrough smash, followed by "Queen of the Hop" and the ballad "Dream Lover." There was a slight R&B feel to Bobby's delivery that may well have influenced R&B-pop/rock singers such as Dion, though it would be an exaggeration to call Darin a blue-eyed soul man. In late 1959, he found a new direction when the swinging "Mack the Knife," a tune from Brecht-Weill's +Threepenny Opera musical, made number one. The song came from an album of pop standards, heralding his move toward light big band jazz, which was consolidated by the Top Ten success of "Beyond the Sea" in 1960.
Wha? no not "Big Mac" tonight
Darin may indeed have been far hipper and more politically aware than the average nightclub act, covering tunes by Dylan and the Rolling Stones, participating in a 1965 civil rights march to Alabama, and penning some Dylan-influenced songs of his own in the late '60s. It doesn't seem accurate to say that this was the true Bobby Darin, shedding his show-biz skin for something that came to him more naturally; in 1967, the same year he covered Jagger-Richards' "Back Street Girl," he also recorded material for an album entitled Bobby Darin Sings Doctor Dolittle. By the early '70s he was working Vegas and similar joints again, exchanging his blue jeans for a tuxedo, and hosting a TV variety series. In a much odder turn of events, he was now recording for Motown, though these efforts met little success.
Three Penny
Afflicted with a rheumatic heart, Darin was always aware that his time might be limited, and he died near the end of 1973 during open-heart surgery. He left behind a considerable quantity (and diversity) of recorded work, and underwent a critical reevaluation of sorts, especially among rock critics, which might have aided his election to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990. A 1996 four-CD box set, divided into thematic discs, attempted to put his wide-ranging efforts into perspective. In 2004, actor Kevin Spacey starred as Bobby Darin in the feature film biography Beyond the Sea. Spacey also directed the film and sang Darin's songs for the film, which were released as the film's soundtrack. ~ [Richie Unterberger, All Music Guide]
For Louis Armstrong see Number 717
For Bing Crosby see Number 750
For The Doors see Number 729, #746 & #851
For Nick Cave see Number 701
For Robbie Williams fly to MM vol 1 #126
For Offspring see Number 493 & MM Vol 1#045
For Westlife see Number 897, MM Vol 1 #118 & MM Vol 2 #129
For Frank Sinatra see Number 933
For Bob Dylan see Number 491, #841 & #929
For Rolling Stones see Number 689 & #767
What does Rolling Stone think about Bobby Darin?
On its surface, Bobby Darin's is one of the strangest, saddest stories in popular music. Restless and driven, the man born Walden Robert Cassotto in the Bronx hit the upper reaches of the pop charts in 1958 with the novelty ditty "Splish Splash" and stayed on the charts steadily through 1967. His only #1 came in 1959, and stayed at the top for nine weeks straight, with a swinging interpretation of Brecht-Weill's "Mack the Knife" that exuded Rat Pack ring-a-ding-ding brio. That hit provided his entree into adult pop and the Vegas cir-cuit, where he became one of the town's most popular draws through the remainder of the ensuing decade. When Ray Charles fused country and R&B on his 1963 LP, Modern Sounds in Country & Western Music, Darin followed suit with a #3 single in the same vein, "You're the Reason I'm Living," and his own experiment with various fusions involving country music. But that same year, he positioned himself in the vanguard of the folk-rock movement, assembling a band that included future Byrds founder Roger McGuinn on guitar. ~ [Source: RS - From 2004's The New Rolling Stone Album Guide]
For Ray Charles see Number 518
Rolling Stone magazine deemed their '447th Song of all Time' was "Leader of the Pack" by The Shangri-Las. The Shangri-Las has not appeared in The Definitive 1000
Other songs with reference to Bobby Darin #453, #698, #884
Rolling Stone Top 500 Songs ranked this song at Number 251 and the Album ranked at (Thats a big Splish Splash no)
This song has a Definitive 1000 rating of 77.2 out of 108
Search Artist here:1-2-3-A-B-C-D-E-F-G-H-I-J-K-L-M-N-O-P-Q-R-S-T-U-V-W-X-Y-Z

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