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 Posted:   Dec 8, 2017 - 9:14 AM   
 By:   Jim Phelps   (Member)

The other day I had on the Romantic Moods of Jackie Gleason CD playing while getting dressed in preparation for my daily descent into the salt mines.

Listening to The Great One’s surreal symphonic orchestra swirling its way around and through “Out of Nowhere”, “But Beautiful”, “From Russia with Love”, and “Tenderly” makes me think that I'm a Cold War-addled sap from, say, 1959-63 who’s listening to these soothing, yet slightly melancholy standards from the American (and British) Songbook.

Oh, how I love those easy listening orchestral albums Gleason released on Capitol in the 1950s. Swirling, surreal-sounding strings and cushy brass enveloping the Mid-Century listener who was hopefully and probably under the influence of some strong booze or better still, the allure of a woman.

Gleason's vivid, even explicit descriptions of what he wanted for any given song are highly amusing, but The Great One knew what he wanted and more importantly, what his middlebrow listeners wanted. I believe there is something subversive about this mood music, but not subversive in a "The Evil Government is in Control" kind of way, but rather "Mood Music" in the truest sense of the term in that any given tune has the power to create an environment. Gleason's arrangers and orchestra respect the melodies of the songs they recorded, but there's something more to those albums that enable them to create environments that are worlds unto themselves.

Thank you, Jackie (and once upon a time, we shared the same dentist...true story).


"Out of Nowhere"


"Tenderly"

 
 
 Posted:   Dec 8, 2017 - 9:52 AM   
 By:   eriknelson   (Member)

I love the Gleason touch too. I grew up hearing these records, and my father humorously called it "Music to Commit Suicide By."

 
 
 Posted:   Dec 8, 2017 - 10:04 AM   
 By:   PeteP   (Member)

How much do you think Gleason actually contributed to these?

 
 Posted:   Dec 8, 2017 - 10:10 AM   
 By:   Jim Phelps   (Member)

How much do you think Gleason actually contributed to these?

From what I've read from Joseph Lanza's fine book Elevator Music, Gleason was the dark figure holding the lit cigar in the control booth of the studio. I take this to mean that he oversaw the proceedings and served as the one who may not have known much about music, but who knew what he wanted; this may have had at least some impact on the finished product.

Whatever Jackie's input was or wasn't on those albums, the finished product remains a delight to behold. I've been listening to these albums for half my life.

 
 Posted:   Dec 8, 2017 - 10:14 AM   
 By:   Jim Phelps   (Member)

More transcendent Gleasiana:

"From Russia with Love"

 
 Posted:   Dec 8, 2017 - 10:19 AM   
 By:   Jim Phelps   (Member)

I love the Gleason touch too. I grew up hearing these records, and my father humorously called it "Music to Commit Suicide By."

That's great. Pop Nelson clearly had, the "proclivity to cope." (paraphrased from Kolchak: The Night Stalker).

 
 Posted:   Dec 8, 2017 - 10:49 AM   
 By:   Sean Nethery   (Member)

Jim, you've stated the feel and appeal of Gleason's uneasy listening music very well.

I had his How Sweet It Is album in the sixties, and was confused as a kid why it wasn't funnier.

 
 Posted:   Dec 9, 2017 - 9:09 AM   
 By:   Jim Phelps   (Member)

That potty-mouthed Jackie Gleason and his orchestral work:

http://www.spaceagepop.com/gleason.htm

 
 Posted:   Dec 10, 2017 - 11:36 AM   
 By:   Jim Phelps   (Member)

Another favorite, "Glamour."

 
 Posted:   Dec 11, 2017 - 5:54 AM   
 By:   Jim Phelps   (Member)

Now I know how Golden Age film score and Morricone fans feel. Loving good music is a damned lonely proposition at this board.

"Melancholy Serenade" (1953 version)

 
 Posted:   Dec 14, 2017 - 9:31 AM   
 By:   Jim Phelps   (Member)

"Laura"

 
 Posted:   Dec 14, 2017 - 9:57 AM   
 By:   MusicMad   (Member)

I struggled to get to grips with the idea that this (late) actor who I knew from only one or two films also produced music ... and did wonder if it was simply a case of the same name.

So, a while back, I bought a two album CD release: Love Embers and Flame / Champagne, Candlelight and Kisses (1962/63) and the sleeve notes gave me a little info along the lines stated above. Did Mr. Gleason arrange or conduct any of these 24 tracks? Probably not but then the end result of many an album lies with the producer and maybe this was his role.

As for the music ... all very nice, the one album being somewhat more varied (and, to some extent, sounding more like a compilation rather than a themed work) but ... would I buy more? I won't say no, whereas I recently added to my collection of albums by Paul Weston and have many albums by other easy-listening artists, such as Mantovani, Geoff Love, Manuel & the Music of the Mountains, Ron Goodwin, Stanley Black, Bert Kaempfert.

All of which (style-wise) I prefer. but, perhaps, those two albums by Mr. Gleason are not best representative of his talents. When the current music finishes I shall try some of the samples linked above.

NP: Bartók: String Quartet #5, Sz.102 BB110 - Keller Quartet (1994) ... not easy-listening!

Mitch

 
 Posted:   Dec 14, 2017 - 10:26 AM   
 By:   Ray Faiola   (Member)

For the other side of Gleason, this album is the Berries!!!

https://www.amazon.com/Awaaay-We-Go-Jackie-Gleason/dp/B000000IAI

 
 Posted:   Dec 14, 2017 - 5:15 PM   
 By:   Jim Phelps   (Member)

Yeah, that bright yellow cover doesn't exactly scream "melancholy", but that checkered suit sure does!

 
 Posted:   Dec 14, 2017 - 5:28 PM   
 By:   Dana Wilcox   (Member)

Now I know how Golden Age film score and Morricone fans feel. Loving good music is a damned lonely proposition at this board.

"Melancholy Serenade" (1953 version)



Was this not "The Honeymooners" theme? It's my single favorite tune from the Gleason discography, and seems to best capture a sense of The Great One's personality...

 
 Posted:   Dec 15, 2017 - 9:40 AM   
 By:   Jim Phelps   (Member)

It's similar, yet it sounds different. Haven't watched a Honeymooners episode in decades, but I'm still not certain it's the same theme. Maybe the arrangement or tempo is different? Shame on us both for not being absolutely sure...

 
 
 Posted:   Dec 15, 2017 - 6:22 PM   
 By:   Howard L   (Member)

Ultimate melancholia--the lifelong kind from youth onward:



And I've never heard a more heartrending arrangement of "Little Girl" than Gleason's.

 
 Posted:   Dec 15, 2017 - 7:58 PM   
 By:   'Lenny Bruce' Marshall   (Member)

might i also rightly assume you read those "subversive" STAR TREK novels 'written' [lol] by Billy Shatner?

 
 Posted:   Dec 15, 2017 - 8:01 PM   
 By:   'Lenny Bruce' Marshall   (Member)

my 'Holy Grail' is a box set of the complete symphonic works of Steve Allen
(I would settle for Red Skelton)

 
 Posted:   Dec 15, 2017 - 8:03 PM   
 By:   'Lenny Bruce' Marshall   (Member)

how long before HONEYMOONERS is banned for its casual attitude towards domestic violence?

 
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