🎵 AOTW BUTCH CASSIDY & THE SUNDANCE KID-Burt Bacharach (A&M SP-4227)

Rudy

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For me, the most memorable bit of music is the reprise of the theme that closes the film. It's like you knew the story's outcome when you watched the beginning of the film, but were hoping that they'd be alright in the end. Still, despite the limited amount of music, it's all quite memorable.

I own this one on laserdisc, but have been waiting for this one (and The Sting) to come out letterboxed on DVD.

What is it about Newman and Redford anyway? There was some great chemistry on the screen in both Butch Cassidy and The Sting...these two should have made one or two more great films together.

Even the music of both films made a major impact. Butch gave us a #1 hit that just about everyone knew, and while B.J. Thomas may not have become a household name, his voice was certainly recognizable after this hit. The Sting revived ragtime music (especially that of Scott Joplin) and made Marvin Hamlisch into a household name. Those of us who pounded the ivories got the music book to play along at home with (and this wasn't any watered down, play-by-numbers book, either--there were a couple of songs in there that I was never able to get a handle on).

-= N =-
 

Harry

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A practically pre-historic thread being revived for an addendum:

Something just occurred to me that I think I instinctively knew, but wasn't sure. The soundtrack version of "Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head" is not the same as the actual radio hit version that appeared on Scepter Records. And there's one very easy way to tell them apart (besides the HAECO-CSG mess, which Scepter didn't use), and that's the opening vocal line. If B.J. starts his vocal with "Raindrops keep fallin' on my head...", then it's the A&M soundtrack version. If he starts with "Raindrops are fallin' on my head...", then it's the hit Scepter version.

I figured this out while cleaning up my old LP of B.J.Thomas' GREATEST HITS VOL. 2.

Harry
 

jfiedler17

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Wow! Good catch, Harry! You know, I've owned both versions - the Butch Cassidy soundtrack and the Scepter recording (both the single and the aforementioned B.J. Thomas hits package) - for well over twenty years now, and I've actually never noticed that difference before! Learned something new today. :D
 

Mike Blakesley

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Wow I've never noticed that! I have the song on Bacharach's "Something Big: The A&M Years" box set, the Rhino Bacharach box, and on a best-of-BJ Thomas collection that I've had for a long time. I'll have to check the various versions.

I would have to say that I've mellowed out on the Butch Cassidy album. I still think it should have just been an "EP," but I like "Not Goin' Home Anymore" and "South American Getaway" more now than I did when I wrote my post above. I like the fast parts of "Getaway" the best though....I've been thinking about trying to create a re-edit of the song where there is more fast and less slow, but it's one of those things that's perpetually on my list of things to do.
 

Rudy

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I guess I've never heard the Scepter single, then. The Bacharach Rhino box has the A&M version.
 

Harry

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I think this is the Scepter version. This is the one I heard on "hit" radio of the day.


Harry
 

Rudy

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I hear the differences now. :agree: It's not the A&M version I'm familiar with. I wonder if it's an alternate take and mix, or if they had a completely different recording date for it (possibly due to contractual issues).
 

Harry

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It's pretty obvious that both recordings were produced by Bacharach. What the deal was with two different recordings for two different labels, I can't say. All I know is that every time I heard it on the radio back then, it must have been the Scepter version, which makes sense. That was B.J. Thomas' label, and they would have been the ones to release the single to radio.

Once I heard the soundtrack version, I knew something was up. The recordings are very close - yet different.

Harry
 

jfiedler17

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Okay, so now that you guys have me investigating the different versions of this thing, I had to do some research, so I found this info in The Billboard Book of Number One Hits:

Thomas was suffering from a bad case of laryngitis at the time and was ordered by his doctor the night before the first recording session of the song to not use his voice for two weeks; Thomas explained how he would be recording the theme for a Paul Newman movie the next day and pleaded with his doctor, so the doctor treated his throat again and gave him some medication to keep it lubricated. The next day, Bacharach had Thomas do five takes before he was satisfied. (Thomas confessed later that if he had had to do one more take, his throat wouldn't have made it.) Hilariously enough, one of the 20th Century Fox execs who attended the session and was thrilled with the results was unaware of the laryngitis issue and congratulated him for sounding "so much like Paul Newman" and asked how he got the idea to use a raspier voice than normal! :laugh:
A few weeks later after Thomas' laryngitis had went away and his voice was back to normal, he and Bacharach met up in New York to re-record the vocal with Thomas' normal crystal-clear voice for a 45 release. (The book doesn't explain why the single was released on Scepter rather than by A&M, but it's certainly not the only instance of artists' own labels handling the single releases from soundtracks on other labels. Columbia, for instance, issued the 45 releases of Aerosmith's "Come Together" and EWF's "Got to Get You Into My Life," which both appeared on the RSO soundtrack to Sgt. Pepper, and Chrysalis issued the single for Blondie's "Call Me," even though the American Gigolo soundtrack it came from was on Polydor, just to think of a few examples off the top of my head.)
So the two versions (both produced by Bacharach, as Harry correctly guessed) were actually recorded weeks apart from each other.
This may already be familiar knowledge to most of you, but the book also reveals that the song was originally intended for Ray Stevens, oddly enough, who passed on it, and it was actually Dionne Warwick's (who was similarly on Scepter Records at the time) idea for Bacharach and Thomas to work together and hooked them up.
 

Rudy

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So the two versions (both produced by Bacharach, as Harry correctly guessed) were actually recorded weeks apart from each other.

I know that explains movie version itself being first (with the hoarse voice), but does not explain the two different takes that ended up on the A&M album and the Scepter single--they are very close and the differences are subtle. (So that makes three versions floating around out there.) The early song recorded that appears on the movie is actually called "On A Bicycle Built For Joy" which has the fast musical interlude sandwiched between BJ's parts.

I should dig up clips (or make my own) of the two tracks from the album for comparison.
 

Rudy

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To add yet another version of "Not Goin' Home Anymore"/"Come Touch The Sun", the same melody was released as "Etta's Theme" as a single. If you count the piano reprise, that is four versions of this melody associated with the soundtrack.

I'm confirming some additional information but will have more on "South American Getaway" shortly...
 

Rudy

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Harry's version above is likely the Scepter/hit single version, so I will call it that below. For the life of me, I cannot find the A&M album version on YouTube. I found other versions uploaded to YouTube, including one from a Magic Moments compilation that is the same as the Scepter single.

Differences?

First chorus, right after "...won't defeat me...", the backing vocals come in. On the A&M, the vocals come in abruptly, and in the left channel. On the Scepter, the vocals fade in gently and are more subdued.

At the end of the first chorus, the bassline is just "there" on the A&M. On the Scepter, you can hear it is a picked bass guitar part. Also, listen for the additional vocal inflection on the word "me" in "...steps up to greet me" on the Scepter version, as opposed to singing it straight on the A&M version. He does this inflection in a few other spots on the Scepter version.

Finally, the A&M version has, as Harry pointed out, "Raindrops keep falling on my head" as the first words of its first verse, whereas the Scepter is "Raindrops are falling on my head."

And finally, "On A Bicycle Built For Joy", the song is sped up, BJ is hoarse, and the orchestral sweetening as a bed under BJ's vocals is far more recessed than it is on the complete versions above. Large difference between the two.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=MzypDV-KWyg

Last thing to note: the film did not use much music in it. "Sundance Kid" was obviously the main title music. Three musical montages made use of the songs "The Old Fun City," "A Bicycle Built For Joy" (which includes "Raindrops..."), and "South American Getaway". And the film closes on the notes to "Not Goin' Home Anymore (Reprise)". Unless I'm mistaken, the other songs do not make an appearance in the film.

More on "Getaway" shortly... :wink:
 
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AM Matt

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One of those songs was used during Saginaw, Michigan WNEM TV 5 (All Stars) baseball commercials back then but since 1985, it was all over!! Matt Clark Sanford, MI
 

JMK

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The Carnival (Janis Hansen & Jose Soares) also recorded "Where There's A Heartache", and I think it charted for them on AC.
 

Rudy

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Didn't Dionne also record that song? There were a lot of album tracks of hers that I've missed over the years.
 

Mike Blakesley

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"Sundance Kid" was obviously the main title music.

Actually I don't think "Sundance Kid" appears in the film, either. As I remember, you hear just a piano slowly playing the "Not Goin' Home Anymore" melody while the "old movie" footage plays, and you hear the clickety-clickety of the movie projector over the music.

Somewhere in this thread it's said that there's only about 25 minutes of music in the movie but I remember hearing somewhere (or maybe I read it) that it's really only about 12 minutes of music. Guess I'll have to watch the movie one of these days and time the songs for a fun project.

The difference between the "Raindrops" hit-single recording and the version that appears in the film is quite drastic. For a while I thought it was some kind of mistake on the label, because it really didn't sound like B.J. Thomas at all...I remember the first time I heard it, I thought it was a Bacharach vocal!
 

Rudy

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I think you're right--"Sundance Kid" probably isn't in there either. I haven't watched the film in several years--I can't even recall if I ever bought it on DVD.
 

Dave

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Benny Hill actually did a skit of BUTCH CASSIDY & THE SUNDANCE KID, as "Burt Cavity (OK, maybe, not, but some play on words!) and The Halitosis Kid" (well, the last part of the spoof title I do remember)...

So of course, there came the climactic moment of the skit where "Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head" plays there, too...!

The closest that I've seen of that movie, unless when it made it to Network TV, then it had to have been playing sometime in my earliest infancy, if my folks happened to have it on...


-- Dave
 

A&Mguyfromwayback

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Saw the movie for the first time just last year on a transatlantic flight that had a back library of classic films. Really great, of course. The idea of a non-period Burt score with a story from the old West, mid 1800s, always seemed strange - but it totally works.....whimsy carries the day.....
 

Mike Blakesley

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Benny Hill actually did a skit of BUTCH CASSIDY & THE SUNDANCE KID, as "Burt Cavity (OK, maybe, not, but some play on words!) and The Halitosis Kid"
Reminds me of the Mad Magazine version...it was called "Botch Casually and the Somedunce Kid."

By the way, for any of you out there who subscribe to Amazon Prime, the movie is available in HD for free on Amazon Instant Video (as of today, that is....it can change at any time).
 

Rudy

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First a small back story: having heard this album for decades with HAECO-CSG processing, in a sense I "remastered" the CD by running a 90 degree phase shift on one channel, which brought the music out in different ways and improved the clarity since the sound was no longer so phasey, if you will.

I was listening closely to the voices in "South American Getaway" to make certain that the phase shift was correct. Pinpointing one voice such as the soprano, or bass, or any recognizable solo voice was helping me try to fine tune the phase setting, and make the voice come from only one point in the soundstage.

While growing up, I always thought the track was...different. I grew to appreciate it more as I got older of course, but listening so closely, over and over again while working on removing the CSG processing, I was fascinated by the vocal arrangement. There are some unusual harmonies and voicings. As I listened to the track a few days ago with the revival of this thread, it also struck me how challenging those vocal parts are--one has to be quite an elastic vocalist to tackle arrangements like this. You need incredible range, and your pitch has to be dead on. Trying to figure out how many vocal parts there are was a challenge also--I guessed five or six. Turns out I was pretty close!

A couple of accounts on the Internet made wild guesses at who the vocal group was, anyone from the Anita Kerr Singers or Swingle Singers, to the Ron Hicklin Singers, and included stabs at who sang bass. The latter was a vocal performance group that has probably appeared on dozens if not hundreds of hit songs you have heard in the past, many of those associated with the Wrecking Crew. (The group's vocals backed up the Partridge Family.) Since a couple of the names looked familiar, I had our fellow staffer @Chris May get in touch with Tom Bahler, whom he had interviewed recently. Tom and his brother John were members of the Ron Hicklin Singers.

As it turns out, Tom did not sing on the track, but John Bahler did, and graciously filled us in on who the vocal group was on that track, along with some interesting tidbits about how the vocal parts were used in the film itself. The group consisted of Sally Stevens (soprano), Jackie Ward (alto), John Bahler (tenor), Ron Hicklin (tenor 2), and Gene Morford (bass), which was in essence most of the core vocalists of the Ron Hicklin Singers. He reports that the session was tense, but enjoyable! I know from accounts I've read that Bacharach was a real taskmaster and perfectionist in the studio, and I imagine this was no exception.

John also mentions that parts of the movie were scored with just voices--check out how the vocals (with no sound effects) are used during the South American chase scenes. In addition, you'll notice that the vocals are very dry (no reverb). Very unique, and likely hasn't been used in any other film. And to build on what @A&Mguyfromwayback wrote in his earlier post, using this type of song--the arrangement, the scat vocal style--in no way fits the timeframe of the film, but it works. And how would you categorize it? Jazz? Pop vocal? It defies any description you can throw at it. I consider it one of Bacharach's most ambitious works.

So, this post helps end a lot of the guesses out on the Internet as to who performed the vocal parts on the song. Many have said Thurl Ravenscroft sang bass on the track, and he did perform as an added vocalist with the Hicklin group at times, but apparently in this case it was group regular Gene Morford who sang the bass parts.
 
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Mike Blakesley

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I recognize the Sally Stevens name, she sang on several other Bacharach cuts including one of my favorites, "There is Time" (from the Woman LP).
 

A&Mguyfromwayback

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Sally was definitely one of Burt's go-to vocalists in the studio - for example, "The Balance Of Nature" from LIVING TOGETHER. It would be an interesting thread to figure out who were the featured vocalists through the years - "I'll Never Fall in Love Again", etc....
 

Harry

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Fabulous info. Thanks Rudy, Chris, and especially John Bähler for filling us in on one of those great mysteries in the A&M world. I've gotten endless questions over the years with guesses that it's Lani Hall on that track.

Harry
 

Dave

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Ah, but the B.J. Thomas album, Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head (Scepter SPS 580) is almost a different matter, entirely... It features the title track, produced by Bacharach, who also lent his production on a couple other tracks on the LP, "Little Green Apples" and even "This Guy's In Love With You", while also featuring a couple Jimmy Webb compositions, "If You Must Leave My Life" (originally recorded by Richard Harris) and "Do What You Gotta Do" (done by Johnny Rivers, Al Wilson and Bobby Vee), while a few other tracks were written by other writers...

And somehow no matter how much the record cover photos traded on the film (particularly BJ and a woman on "that bicycle built for Joy", making me wonder if she was the "Eve, that Thomas had asked earlier to pass the apple to"), this was a period BJ was making fewer hits and albums like this (quickly going pout of print) were somehow simply getting lost in the shuffle... Though he'd rebounded a few years later w/ one of best hits, "Rock 'N' Roll Lullabye"...


-- Dave
 
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