Musical Satire MOR Style

Harry

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That Yakety Sax titles reminds me of an incident back in the 60s. Dad always listened at work to WIP in Philadelphia (a full-service MOR station) and would tip me off whenever he heard them break a new Herb Alpert record. One day he came home all excited that he heard a new one called "Yakety Brass". No-one at the record store knew anything about it, so we listened faithfully to try and record it off the air. When it played, I was able to clearly hear the DJ say that it was the Tijuana Brats with "Yakety Brats". Big disappointment.

 

Michael Hagerty

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There were always instrumental successes (I probably should have clarified Prado's hit being among the "MOR instrumentals"), but none dominated the top of the chart like "Cherry Pink" past that point Granted, it was also tied to the film Underwater! which added to its success, but that trumpet hook was probably the biggest attraction to the song. With the influx of rock and roll, the tastes of older listeners were supplanted by an increasing number of rock and roll records (especially Elvis, early in his career) so, instrumental MOR never had the staying power it used to.

I suppose one could arguably say that "Cherry Pink" was a mambo single and not MOR, yet if you compare this to his earliest records from the late 40s and early 50s (which were pure mambo), this was an Americanized/popularized mambo, recorded in the US with Los Angeles studio musicians, that had become part of the mainstream. Maybe instrumental MOR with a mambo flavoring to it is a better description of what it really is. Prado was always chasing a hit, so he would latch onto whatever would sell records, especially after the success of "Cherry Pink." (He even embarrassingly tried to add a rock and roll flavor to his repertoire...it failed miserably. It sounded like the soundtrack to a bad B-movie.)

Many in those lists were not MOR hits either, especially the bulk of the 70s tracks. Rock instrumentals and even jazz cuts appeared on the charts, and it's evident that MOR instrumentals were a fading relic of the past, waning in the 60s (compare the early 60s to the later 60s) and nearly gone by the 70s. It's also interesting that many of the instrumental hits (MOR or not) were tied to films or TV shows.
What I missed in your post, Rudy was that "Cherry Pink" was #1 for ten weeks. The closest any instrumental got after that was Percy Faith's "Theme From A Summer Place", which held it for nine.

Beyond longevity at #1, I think non-rock instrumentals were still healthy in the 60s ("Love Is Blue", "Love Theme From Romeo and Juliet" and a bunch more). Once into the 70s, about the only remnants were "Music Box Dancer" and "Love's Theme" (which if you took out the disco beat and slowed it down, might have passed in an earlier era).
 

lj

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Thread Starter
I did some research and found out that the producer of Perry Como's "And I Love You So" was none other than Chet Atkins. When two musical legends like that team up-- small wonder Perry had a world-wide hit and was a Grammy Nominee for his vocal. They teamed up again in 1973 for this beautiful ballad "Love Don't Care Where It Grows." Arguably, no male pop vocalist could handle a ballad better than Perry. And arguably, no one could handle an up-tempo tune better than Frank Sinatra.

 

Harry

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Just as Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme made the rounds on TV variety shows of the 60s and beyond, so did this lady: Shani Wallis. She was on the Garry Moore Show, This Is Tom Jones, Ed Sullivan,Red Skelton, etc., and she even acted in TV shows like NIGHT GALLERY.

A singer/actress, she was most famous for her role in the musical OLIVER in the role Nancy. But she also released several albums and singles through the 60s before disappearing. As I was digging though some old radio tapes, I came upon a song of hers that I hadn't heard in 50 years or so, called "Reaching Far Too High." It's a peppy little tune whose arrangement soars on the chorus. It took awhile but I found a copy of the promo single on the web. The single was out in 1969, and that could have been at the end of her contract with Kapp. This song never made it to an album.

I've done my best with clean-up and placed the song on YouTube.

 

Michael Hagerty

Well-Known Member
Contributor
Just as Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme made the rounds on TV variety shows of the 60s and beyond, so did this lady: Shani Wallis. She was on the Garry Moore Show, This Is Tom Jones, Ed Sullivan,Red Skelton, etc., and she even acted in TV shows like NIGHT GALLERY.

A singer/actress, she was most famous for her role in the musical OLIVER in the role Nancy. But she also released several albums and singles through the 60s before disappearing. As I was digging though some old radio tapes, I came upon a song of hers that I hadn't heard in 50 years or so, called "Reaching Far Too High." It's a peppy little tune whose arrangement soars on the chorus. It took awhile but I found a copy of the promo single on the web. The single was out in 1969, and that could have been at the end of her contract with Kapp. This song never made it to an album.

I've done my best with clean-up and placed the song on YouTube.

I had to look Shani Wallis up. I remember her now, but had forgotten.

I stumbled across a British newspaper piece on her from 2018, in which she says her career pretty much went off a cliff apart from bit parts after OLIVER!---but says it was her fault---for turning down the role that went to Florence Henderson in THE BRADY BUNCH:


Interestingly, though, in a story published in a different UK paper four days earlier, she said she couldn't remember if it was THE BRADY BUNCH or THE PARTRIDGE FAMILY.


Despite the reams of stuff written about THE BRADY BUNCH and THE PARTRIDGE FAMILY over the years, the only place Shani's name appears in connection with either of those shows is in her own 2018 interviews.
 

Michael Hagerty

Well-Known Member
Contributor
That Yakety Sax titles reminds me of an incident back in the 60s. Dad always listened at work to WIP in Philadelphia (a full-service MOR station) and would tip me off whenever he heard them break a new Herb Alpert record. One day he came home all excited that he heard a new one called "Yakety Brass". No-one at the record store knew anything about it, so we listened faithfully to try and record it off the air. When it played, I was able to clearly hear the DJ say that it was the Tijuana Brats with "Yakety Brats". Big disappointment.

Ladies and gentlemen, the music that killed MOR radio.

They all were guilty of it---at least the ones I heard (KMPC, KFI and KGIL, Los Angeles; KSFO and KNBR, San Francisco; KOGO, San Diego).

Legend has it that WNEW had impeccable taste in music, but I never heard them and there aren't a lot of day-to-day airchecks of them in the late 60s and early 70s (when stations in the format started to wobble) to prove or disprove it.

Before lj busts me, I really think of KBIG in those days as a hybrid of MOR and beautiful---and, in my memory, anyway, always with great taste.
 

Bobberman

Well-Known Member
There were so many MOR/EASY stations I loved listening to from as far back as I can remember as a child on both AM and FM bands I was hooked by 1995 all of them had changed formats or disappeared completely but eventually resurfaced on Cable TV as multiple Digital audio only channels Music choice and Digital music Xpress ( DMX) immediately comes to mind in my experience long before internet radio ever existed this was the way I got my MOR easy listening until I was able to get all I was looking for into my collection I have to say there were a lot of those novelties I heard over the years ironically they played stuff that was not on CD at the time and in their advertisements they made it a point to mention " In the case of non CD or non Digital selections the best quality available source is used"
 

JOv2

Well-Known Member
From a listener's perspective: By 1975 I had catalogued all of my dad's LPs, and to this day recall how round about 1969-71 he transitioned from Mancini and Billy Vaughn to Charlie McCoy and Johnny Cash. I think for many from his generation (born in the early '30s), the '70s music wasn't much to their liking and as Percy Faith, Ray Conniff and others significantly changed their sound in the early '70s, my dad simply lost interest altogether and jumped ship for '70s c/w. I remember the neighbor and the fella across the street -- all of whom were born in the early '30s, made a similar musical switch.
 

lj

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Thread Starter
Michael--you are right about KBIG AM back in 1970-71-72-73. It was a hybrid of MOR and beautiful music. Take 1971--this is how I had my car radio buttons set. KBIG could play in a row unbelievably varied music such Sinatra's "Drinking Water", then El Chicano "Cubano Chant", then Paul Desmond "El Condor Pasa", then The Lettermen's "Feelings" written by Mann and Weil, and then two boring songs with nondescript strings--not everything the station played was my cup of tea--so then on the radio I would switch to either KOGO with DJ Ernie Myers or KFMB here in San DIego. Or Los Angeles MOR stations KMPC with Dj Roger Carroll or KFI and DJ Jerry BIshop. But invariably I would push the radio button back to KBIG and they would play in a row songs like Bacharach's "Nikki" then Streisand's "TIme and Love", then 5th Dimension's Light Sings", then Brasil 66 "Chove Chuva" and this musical quality is why it was my "go-to" radio station in spite of those nondescript strings they would also program. A few years earlier, my go-to radio station in the late 60s was KDEO AM in San DIego. They played a ton of classic MOR by the greats starting with SInatra and abundantly programmed A&M music, with practically no commercials. Alas, by 1970 they switched to Rock and I switched to KBIG.

With hindsight, I can now see by the summer of 1968 that something was in the air for MOR music, when the mighty KFI Los Angeles dropped NBC Radio Monitor (which featured news, interviews and a lot of MOR music) from its weekend programming. Indeed, this was a harbinger of the future, as slowly but surely the MOR dominos would begin to fall on nationwide radio.
 

Michael Hagerty

Well-Known Member
Contributor
From a listener's perspective: By 1975 I had catalogued all of my dad's LPs, and to this day recall how round about 1969-71 he transitioned from Mancini and Billy Vaughn to Charlie McCoy and Johnny Cash. I think for many from his generation (born in the early '30s), the '70s music wasn't much to their liking and as Percy Faith, Ray Conniff and others significantly changed their sound in the early '70s, my dad simply lost interest altogether and jumped ship for '70s c/w. I remember the neighbor and the fella across the street -- all of whom were born in the early '30s, made a similar musical switch.
Records like Ray Price’s “For the Good Times” and pretty much anything from Eddy Arnold and Charlie Pride made the transition from MOR smooth.

I got so burned out of Charlie Rich’s “Behind Closed Doors” and “The Most Besutiful Girl“ from radio airplay that it wasn’t until this year that I listened to the album BEHIND CLOSED DOORS. It’s excellent.
 

Harry

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Site Admin
NBC Radio Monitor
Yes, I remember NBC Monitor on the weekends. It had hosts that I was familiar with from variety shows and game shows on TV like Gene Rayburn, Henry Morgan, Hugh Downs, Garry Moore, etc. The distinctive tones that they used in-and-out of the hour are quite memorable to me, in fact, it makes a >wonderful< ringtone on my phone.

 

Michael Hagerty

Well-Known Member
Contributor
Michael--you are right about KBIG AM back in 1970-71-72-73. It was a hybrid of MOR and beautiful music. Take 1971--this is how I had my car radio buttons set. KBIG could play in a row unbelievably varied music such Sinatra's "Drinking Water", then El Chicano "Cubano Chant", then Paul Desmond "El Condor Pasa", then The Lettermen's "Feelings" written by Mann and Weil, and then two boring songs with nondescript strings--not everything the station played was my cup of tea--so then on the radio I would switch to either KOGO with DJ Ernie Myers or KFMB here in San DIego. Or Los Angeles MOR stations KMPC with Dj Roger Carroll or KFI and DJ Jerry BIshop. But invariably I would push the radio button back to KBIG and they would play in a row songs like Bacharach's "Nikki" then Streisand's "TIme and Love", then 5th Dimension's Light Sings", then Brasil 66 "Chove Chuva" and this musical quality is why it was my "go-to" radio station in spite of those nondescript strings they would also program. A few years earlier, my go-to radio station in the late 60s was KDEO AM in San DIego. They played a ton of classic MOR by the greats starting with SInatra and abundantly programmed A&M music, with practically no commercials. Alas, by 1970 they switched to Rock and I switched to KBIG.

With hindsight, I can now see by the summer of 1968 that something was in the air for MOR music, when the mighty KFI Los Angeles dropped NBC Radio Monitor (which featured news, interviews and a lot of MOR music) from its weekend programming. Indeed, this was a harbinger of the future, as slowly but surely the MOR dominos would begin to fall on nationwide radio.
Monitor was problematic for any station trying to create its own identity, like KFI. Affiliates began bailing out around ‘68-‘69 and by 1973, NBC was so desperate that they let Robert W. Morgan, Don Imus and Wolfman Jack host it.

There’s a remarkable Monitor tribute website, with a lot of audio. Here’s the audio page for the 70s. The first Imus show shows how desperate they were.

 

Bobberman

Well-Known Member
Monitor was problematic for any station trying to create its own identity, like KFI. Affiliates began bailing out around ‘68-‘69 and by 1973, NBC was so desperate that they let Robert W. Morgan, Don Imus and Wolfman Jack host it.

There’s a remarkable Monitor tribute website, with a lot of audio. Here’s the audio page for the 70s. The first Imus show shows how desperate they were.

I remember monitor in that period from at least 1967 till the end in 1975 I was very little at the time but I liked it because it kept me company living in a rural area where there wasn't much going on I loved the variety and fondly remembered I visit the monitor tribute website often and I like listening to the older segments from early years it's interesting how it evolved over the years I admit the imus audio made me laugh myself silly to me it was radio comedy
 

lj

Well-Known Member
Thread Starter
Yes, I remember NBC Monitor on the weekends. It had hosts that I was familiar with from variety shows and game shows on TV like Gene Rayburn, Henry Morgan, Hugh Downs, Garry Moore, etc. The distinctive tones that they used in-and-out of the hour are quite memorable to me, in fact, it makes a >wonderful< ringtone on my phone.

NBC Monitor was my favorite radio program in the '60s. Scroll to the following aircheck: Monitor '67 with Bert Parks, Gene Rayburn, and Ed McMahon Sept. It has some marvelous easy listening music which we celebrate here at our forum. You will hear TJB "A Banda", Brasil 66 "The Frog", Sinatra "The World We Knew", Vikki Carr "It Must Be Him" and so many more. I also liked those distinctive tones that Harry referenced. Monitor had fantastic interviews--the aforementioned aircheck had Hugh Downs interview Carl Reiner. It had commentaries by the famous Al Capp--the creator of Lil Abner. Comedy shorts by the legendary Nichols and May. Top news broadcasts from the renown Morgan Beatty and Frank Blair. Tremendous variety and never boring. It had a long 20 year run from 1955-1975. Network radio will never see its likes again. A good read is the book "Monitor (take 2) by Dennis Hart.

 

Harry

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Staff member
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From 1970, The Al Capps Band and "Odyssey Park Rock", a mash-up of the Zarathustra theme from 2001, and the instrumental section of "MacArthur Park".

 
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