Thursday, February 14, 2013


YEAR:  1963
LABEL:  Canadian American Records Ltd.
TRACK LISTING:  This Could Be the Start of Something,  Fly Me To the Moon,  I'll Get By,  Speak Low,  As Long As He Needs Me,  My Man,  Let's Face the Music and Dance,  They've Got A Lot To Learn,  Mean To Me,  Gravy Waltz,  Someone To Watch Over Me,  Nice 'n' Easy
IMPRESSIONS:  This album first came to my attention when it appeared on a wall of lounge albums behind the drag queen Lypsinka in a photo on the back cover of RE/SEARCH:  INCREDIBLY STRANGE MUSIC VOLUME 1 (a bible for space age bachelor pop lounge music aficionados.  Only about a third of the album cover is visible behind Lypsinka's outrageous hair but that didn't stop me from tracking it down.  Inside the music is what one would expect.  Jennie Smith was a minor night club vocalist of the late 50 - early 60's with a pleasant, sunny voice who landed a gig on "THE STEVE ALLEN SHOW" singing nightly (hence the title of this album).  It is perhaps no surprise, owing to her Steve Allen connection, that the album opens with Allen's own composition "This Could Be the Start of Something" (probably the most well-known of his hundreds of songs) which Smith sings in a suitable "ring-a-ding-ding" style.  The album is an amalgam of songs from the Depression era ("Let's Face the Music and Dance") to contemporary early 60's hits like "As Long As He Needs Me" (which have always seemed to me to have a bleakly depressing air about them).  And, being the height of the lounge music era, "Speak Low" fittingly breaks out the bongos!  Smith tackles Fanny Brice's torch song "My Man" in a playfully spry style while her "Gravy Waltz" seems to be an attempt to duplicate Kay Starr's number one hit "Rock & Roll Waltz".  Smith is no Ella Fitzgerald but as a second tier vocalist she is nice to listen to; particularly strong is her rendition of "Fly Me To the Moon" (in the slowed-down ballad version) which seems to bring forth a warmth of feeling absent in some of the other up-tempo songs on the album.  A short and sweet dozen songs (enriched by an extra bonus track for the cd).
MY FAVOURITE TRACKS:  This Could Be the Start of Something,  Fly Me To the Moon,  Speak Low,  Let's Face the Music and Dance,  They've Got A Lot To Learn,  Someone To Watch Over Me,  Nice 'n' Easy
FACT SHEET:  Born Jo Ann Kristof in a coal mining hollow in Burnwell, West Virginia, Jennie Smith grew up with a love of movie musicals and popular song.  After landing a contract with RCA Records via the auspices of Ray Ellis, Smith got a spot performing on "The Steve Allen Show" when the host heard a song from her album.  This eventually led to a permanent spot on the show singing on each episode.  Smith also began performing in nightclubs around the country; the first being Chicago's Black Orchid with comedian Jonathan Winters.  Smith went on to feature with other top stars of the time including Bill Cosby (during his early stand-up years), the Smothers Brothers, Red Skelton, Pat Boone and Buddy Hackett.  When the constant touring lost it's excitement, Smith retired from the stage and began working for the General Reinsurance Corporation where she met and married her husband Arthur Brown in 1978.  Now retired, Smith and her husband live a quiet, happy life.  NIGHTLY YOURS was issued on compact disc in 2009 with a different album cover and the sequencing of all the songs shuffled around; a non-album track was also included as a bonus which bizarrely leads off the cd version.  A contemporary piece in Life Magazine seems to make an awful lot about Smith's dieting and weight loss of 15 pounds for stardom.  The singer is quoted in the article as saying:  "I love strawberry shortcake which I'm not allowed to eat anymore.  So far it's been the greatest sacrifice I've made for my career".

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