Lani Hall - Blush

Discussion in 'A Small Circle of Friends: The Music Forum' started by David S, Aug 3, 2017.

  1. Michael Hagerty

    Michael Hagerty Well-Known Member

    Jazz was big in Los Angeles thanks to the West Coast Sound (of which Shelly Manne was a part). It also had a couple of top-notch FM jazz stations, KNOB and KBCA. KNOB sold and went to beautiful music in '66, but KBCA had a couple of exceptionally strong years in 1969, when it ranked #8 overall in the ratings and 1970, when it tied for 8th. But in 1971, when the music changed to jazz-rock fusion, KBCA fell to 23rd and never saw the top 20 again.

    That was about the same time that Shelly's Manne-Hole moved and then closed. There were a handful of small clubs (the Dresden Room in Hollywood, some small clubs in coastal Orange County), but for the most part, that kind of jazz was over and didn't really come back until it became a nostalgia thing in the mid-late 80s/early 90s.
    Intuitive Samba likes this.
  2. Mr. Hagerty really knows his stuff.
    Lani's hobby ("hobby" w.c.?) was writing poetry -- and poetry can be transformed into lyrics if musical notes (pitches) are applied. I think of Mose Allison. Maybe Lani could have done some poetry readings of her own written works (somehow, in some venue). I was mentioning Europe in my previous post. English-language poetry/lyrics would have been best for an English-speaking audience.
    This approach probably wouldn't have brought any big commercial success, again, but ...
  3. I just can't quit this thread : )

    I suppose my last idea would be this:
    Lani could have done a duet back in the early 1970s. (On YouTube I find a 1980s duet with a Latin-American crooner.) (She also did one on T.V. with Herb in 1974.)

    I know Stevie Wonder did "Pretty World" ("Sa Marina").
    Imagine if Lani sang that with Mr. Wonder ; and maybe Lani could have learned the original Portuguese (Brasilian) lyrics and Stevie would have sung the English-language ones, along with her -- or in turns.

    In fact, you've probably seen the MoolMixes on You Tube ...
  4. Harry

    Harry Charter A&M Corner Member Moderator

    Lani did quite a few duets on her Spanish-language albums - with Jose Jose, Camilo Sesto, Jose Feliciano, and Juan Carlos Calderon, not to mention Herb. And those duets were rather big hits in Latin America.
    Bobberman likes this.
  5. "The material was too hip for the times for Adult Contemporary, and where it wasn't, we simply would have played the originals. And album rock would have ignored covers of artists they were already playing."

    "Too hip"!? Is there such a thing -- especially when we're talking about Lani Hall !? : )
  6. Michael Hagerty

    Michael Hagerty Well-Known Member

    Let's put my quote back in context---I was referring not to anything Lani actually recorded, but to Intuitive Samba's list of songs he thought she should have (Steely Dan's "Aja", "From the Beginning" by Greg Lake, "Oh Well" by Peter Green, "Alive and Well and Living Within" and "Living in the Past" by Jethro Tull, "Don't Bother Me" by Beatles/George Harrison, "South Side of the Sky" by Yes, "Rock 'n Roll Woman" by Buffalo Springfield).

    None of those songs would have flown on Adult Contemporary radio in 1980.

    And as noted earlier in this thread, Lani had an image problem---her fan base from Brasil '66 was (largely) in their 40s and 50s. Herb and Lani tried to position her for the early 70s with the James Taylor/Carole King/Paul Simon fans, and SUNDOWN LADY (and for that matter, HELLO IT'S ME) should have accomplished that. But she couldn't make the transition with radio programmers and the public.
  7. Yes, I took what you wrote a bit out of context.
    I was just being tongue-in-cheek. That's all.
  8. I had in mind --
    Nile Rodgers (of Chic) told a story about how, when he was working in the studio with Davie Bowie on "Let's Dance!"
    Nile seemed concerned and asked Bowie if maybe the arrangement was getting a little bit too funky for David's tastes and style.
    And David looked at him and responded, "Is there such a thing?"

    I suppose A/C radio wouldn't play (even big hit) songs that were too funky, either.
  9. Michael Hagerty

    Michael Hagerty Well-Known Member

    Nope. But fortunately for David, he needed CHR airplay---and got it.
  10. Mike Blakesley

    Mike Blakesley Well-Known Member Moderator

    I wonder what it would have taken to get Lani into the top 40. I think part of the problem (and I may have stated this before) is that she was too much of a "Streisand" type of singer, while the female singers of the day like Joni Mitchell, Carole King, and others had more of a "rock/pop" sound to their vocals. That is, less emphasis on things like vibrato, polish, "technique" and other stuffy terms, and more on the rhythm section. In other words she had kind of a refined sound, where the "modern" vocal sound of the day was something much more casual. She sounded old-fashioned for the time. I do know, of course, that Barbra Streisand had hit LPs right up until today, but she was long gone from the top 40 by the time Lani came along....until she hit big with Barry Gibb and "Woman in Love," followed by the Guilty album, which tapped into that pop sound that eluded Lani.

    As much as I liked the Sun Down Lady album, I found myself wishing for more uptempo goodies like "Tiny Dancer." (I thought her later tune "Double or Nothing" could have been a hit with the proper promotion.) The followup album Hello It's Me doubled down on the jazzy angle, rather than going in more of a pop direction...and the blurry, odd-colored cover photo on that album didn't help either. I have a feeling Herb knew deep down that Lani would never be a top 40 singer, because she never really did fit the mold.
    toeknee4bz and Bobberman like this.
  11. Michael Hagerty

    Michael Hagerty Well-Known Member


    Streisand actually did well on Top 40 right about the same time Lani was trying to crack it as a solo act.

    Prior to 1970, Barbra made the Top 40 exactly twice, with "People", which made #5 and "Second Hand Rose", which managed #33.

    But in 1970, "Stoney End" made #6, "The Way We Were" (1974) hit #1, as did "Evergreen"(1976), "My Heart Belongs To Me"(1977) peaked at #4, "You Don't Bring Me Flowers"(1978) was another #1, "The Main Event"(1979) was #3, and "No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)(1979)" was also #1. After that came the duets with Barry Gibb. And that was it until her 1996 duet with Bryan Adams.

    Now, Streisand had advantages. Movies drove "The Way We Were" and "Evergreen" (less so "The Main Event", which didn't do well at the box office). Duetting with Neil Diamond and Donna Summer didn't hurt. But Top 40 radio played the records and people bought them. Streisand transcended her beginnings and her image.
    Rhymes with Music likes this.
  12. Mike Blakesley

    Mike Blakesley Well-Known Member Moderator

    Wow, that's what I get for posting late at night after kitting the Nyquil (I have a cold). I wasn't really considering movie songs, since like you said, they get boosted by the movie. But you're right, there are a few hits on that list that I just plain forgot about. I stand corrected.

    However, some of those hits do bear out my theory -- "No More Tears" and "Main Event" were both uptempo, snappy disco numbers -- which was what was hot then. She jumped on the trend, like many others did, and got results. That's why I thought Lani's "Double or Nothing" could have had a shot. And I do think I'm right that Lani's leaning toward the jazzy sound with her second solo album didn't help matters.
    Michael Hagerty likes this.
  13. Michael Hagerty

    Michael Hagerty Well-Known Member

    BLUSH was Lani's big chance. "Come What May" should have been promoted to AC and to softer Top 40s (which were a thing in 1980) as a Herb Alpert record featuring Lani (Herb was still hot from "Rise"), followed by "Where's Your Angel" and "I Don't Want You To Go" as Lani following up the duet.

    Again, though, as we've discussed in this thread, it doesn't seem like Lani really had a burning desire to be big, and getting airplay is just the first step.
    toeknee4bz likes this.
  14. Rudy

    Rudy ᕦ(ò_óˇ)ᕤ Site Admin

    I do like her Spanish album, and the Brazilian album is a keeper (that unfortunately suffered from a poor vinyl pressing). I am tempted to find A Brazileira and do my own tedious "restoration" using a few newer digital tools I have at my disposal, and a lot of editing by hand. Since it appears it'll never be reissued.

    I like that she is a niche performer, staying out of the spotlight but still making a lot of memorable albums along the way. :)
    Bobberman likes this.
  15. I had to "Google" "CHR"
    I found the Wikipedia article:

    Labels and names are often imprecise, and their exact meaning can vary -- but Michael can tell us more about that -- unless he already has explained the C.H.R. format elsewhere on this forum, somewhere.
  16. Michael Hagerty

    Michael Hagerty Well-Known Member

    Sorry, Rhymes. Yep, CHR is "Contemporary Hit Radio"...a term coined by the now-defunct trade paper Radio & Records (which called Adult Contemporary "Pop/Adult"). It caught on beyond R&R's pages when the burst of FM stereo hit music stations driven by MTV's playlist began having huge success in '82/'83. Calling them "CHR" instead of "Top 40" was a way of separating them from the old, largely AM Top 40 stations that had been in the doldrums the previous couple of years.
  17. lj

    lj Active Member

    Lani--along with Herb--have in the past 20 years comfortably settled into singing and performing truly great music, i.e., The Great American Songbook, jazz and Latin/Brazilian songs. Elsewhere what we hear today masquerading as "Pop Music" will quickly disappear into the trash heap of history. It's made to be ephemeral, completing forgotten as quickly as it is produced. The real stars in today's so-called music is the recording engineer in a lonely studio creating a simple, mechanical sound. But a sound is not true music. The actual human performers are interchangeable cogs in wheel--here today gone tomorrow. The synthesizer and sampling has created the ruination of pop music. I am old school and proud of it.

    Herb in a rear guard action is vigorously trying to promote music appreciation classes in our schools where the basics of melody, harmony and rhythm can be taught. And hopefully students can realize there can be other musical avenues out there besides today's so-called music. Can he and others like him succeed? We can only hope. Interestingly, in Europe and Japan good music still flourishes along side today's musical dreck.
    DAN BOLTON and Bobberman like this.
  18. Bobberman

    Bobberman Well-Known Member

    I totally agree with you Ij you nailed it perfectly Dreck is Dreck and much of today's top 40 and modern music in general is Exactly what you described I long for the day when Real music that we know and love will be appreciated and played on radio regularly once again and as I work in a free form radio station myself I'm trying to do my part to educate my listeners that " There is a world of music way beyond top 40" like Herb said something to the effect of " My favorite music is what's Not On The Radio" i probably messed that up my apologies in advance
    lj likes this.
  19. Rudy

    Rudy ᕦ(ò_óˇ)ᕤ Site Admin

    I'm good with synthesizers--it was all part of music in the late 70s when they started gaining attention. There are long-running groups still using them, like Depeche Mode, and theirs is hardly lightweight music. Prince also used them heavily in his earliest recordings, as he was a one-man band for essentially his first few albums. (He also featured the Linn Drum heavily on 1999, which became part of his signature sound.) And like any good artist, he grew and changed over the years, still keeping some synths but incorporating an entire band, complete with horns, after a while. Hell, even Sergio still uses them. :)

    But it's like anything--use them poorly, and you will get poor results. I used to endure $mooth Jazz radio and heard many wannabe saxophonists slaughter tunes with their soprano saxes (to where I now can't stand any soprano). There's some rock music out there where the players barely have a grasp on three chords. And synths, and drum machines? Yep, they do get overused, especially today. It's too easy to stick some flavor-of-the-month vocalist in front of a mic (with Autotune as their crutch, since they can't carry a tune) and give them some generic lame synthesizer and/or hip hop rhythm and call it a hit. It isn't about brains or talent--it's about marketability. At least in the Top 40 world. There are so many good independent artists out there today that to paint all modern day music with the same brushstroke is missing out on a lot of good music.

    I'm waiting, though. One day, someone is going to create artificial intelligence to the point where they could select parameters of the type of tune they want from a checklist, enter a few key phrases, and have the software create both the music and the lyrics. They may not even need vocalists. Just churn out something catchy and rake in the dollars.
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  20. Mike Blakesley

    Mike Blakesley Well-Known Member Moderator

    I can imagine a time when you can feed all of an artist's work into a computer, and the computer will slice and dice it and store every nuance, to where if you want a new Tijuana Brass record, you just pick a song (or write your own melody) and the computer will allow you to tweak the tempo, key, instruments used, and etc. and you can make your very own Tijuana Brass record. It's already happening on a rudimentary scale, with sampling. Vocalists will be tougher to run through this process due to all the nuances of the voice, but that'll probably happen too.
    toeknee4bz, Bobberman and Rudy like this.
  21. I realise, maybe that song ("More Fool Me") could be described as being in a style similar to Cat Stevens (who was on A&M).
    Phil Collins's vocals, at that time, sound like Seals and Crofts, too, in a way.
    The point I am making is -- "More Fool Me" isn't "Progressive" Rock in any sense (no Art Music elements). Instead, it is a simple, melodic pop song. So, maybe it's not so "off-the-wall", musically-speaking. (Again, Phil and Mike did write a number of very popular hit pop songs in the 1980s.)
    It seems to suit the vocal style that Lani was using on her "soft Rock" singer-songwriter -type 1970s albums. I'm glad that Rudy agrees, and that I'm not the only one who thinks that.

    "Your Own Special Way" is a great love song by Mike, but that probably was getting some airplay in the U.S., particularly, by 1977. (In fact, on Y.T. there is an appearance by Genesis miming to it on the Mike Douglas show.)
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2019
  22. I'm curious, Michael -- Is your wife's opinion of Lani's Hall's singing based more on the Brasil '66 records, or instead more based on those post-1960s solo records that Lani put out (or, even more specifically, the later-day Herb and Lani tours)?

    I mean, did your wife hear "So Many Stars" and think: "hmm, she's okaayy." ?

    Who are your wife's favourite vocalists?

    (I even read a comment on YouTube from a professed Barbara Streisand fan who said that as much as he loves Barbara, even she can't sing "So Many Stars" better than Lani did back in 1967 -- and that Lani "owned" that song.)
    Opinions, opinions -- I know. But I'm just curious.
  23. Michael Hagerty

    Michael Hagerty Well-Known Member

    My wife's heard them all (and continues to) over the five and a half years we've been together. She isn't dismissive of Lani's talent, respects her enormously, and understands what I find appealing about her voice, but it doesn't appeal to her in the same way.

    Her absolute favorite vocalists would be Ella Fitzgerald and Pat Benatar.
    Intuitive Samba likes this.
  24. Did anyone at A&M get fired because of Lani's low record sales (and airplay)?
  25. Michael Hagerty

    Michael Hagerty Well-Known Member

    No idea. In general, promotion people who couldn't deliver on songs the label believed in (whether it was their fault or not) were in fear of losing their gigs---and a decent number went from label to label after being bounced. My A&M rep (the late, great and wonderful Jan Basham) has been dead for 15 years, so I can't ask.
    Intuitive Samba likes this.

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