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My diverse musical taste

I love music but perhaps in the sense Sir Thomas meant in his aphorism, “the English hate music but they love the noise that it makes!”

As a young person I had a sizeable record collection (that’s what music came on folks, before you downloaded onto an iPod).

In High School I wrote an article for the school paper called “Rattling Records With Rafe”. I actually collected a bit of slush as the lovely Helen, who ran the records department for Thompson and Page in South Granville, would slip me the occasional record free. Whether I took that as a bribe to write nice things about the record and Thompson and Page I simply will not discuss!

My tastes were and are catholic – perhaps country music was the only genre I ignored but in later life when singers like Patsy Cline, Jim Reeves and that ilk came along I listened and liked.

In earlier years – about 1947 – I fell for what we would now call “Standard Jazz” which now, thanks to iTunes I have a significant collection of. I saw a couple of Jazz at the Philharmonic (JATP) concerts and became a great fan of the likes of Illinois Jacquet, Lester Young, Earl “Fatha” Hines, Oscar Peterson and so on. I subscribed to Downbeat and Metronome Magazines.

There were “crossover” artists such as Nat “King” Cole and Frankie Laine that I loved; on the distaff side were Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn, Dinah Washington, Lena Horne and others.

In the popular field it was Frankie Laine, Frank Sinatra before 1950 when he began faking it, Vaughn Monroe; Jo Stafford (the best by far of the balladeers) Dinah Shore, Patti Page, and by far the best of the band thrushes, Helen Forrest, Kay Starr et al.

Probably the most interesting crossover was Benny Goodman who was called “The King of Swing” for reasons I can’t fathom for that certainly was Glenn Miller and his “crossover” sidemen like Harry James, Lionel Hampton and Gene Krupa all of them, especially Harry James being popular music stars as well as Jazzmen.

I want to deal today with smaller groups and tell you (by asterisk *) which ones would be in contention for what I would take for a long period on a desert island.

Let’s start with some of the singing groups like the Andrews Singers (I didn’t care for them), the Mills Brothers* and the Ink Spots. There were band groups like the aforesaid  Andrews Sisters like the Modernaires with Glenn Miller and the Pied Pipers* (with Jo Stafford) with Tommy Dorsey.

In the 50s a spate of singing groups Like The Crew Cuts, The Four Lads, the Limelighters, the Kingston Trio* and Peter, Paul and Mary* came on the scene.

In the 60s we saw the arrival of the Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Animals, our own Poppy Family*, later the Manhattan Transfer, the wonderful Mommas and the Papas*   and many, many others.

On The Jazz side, nothing for me comes close to matching the Benny Goodman Quartet* with himself on clarinet, Gene Krupa on drums, Teddy Wilson on piano  and the irrepressible Lionel Hampton on vibes. I would take as many songs as the rules allowed of their magic.

There is one group, however, that doesn’t really fit into the genres provided by your iPod.

It was in 1993 I was driving on my way to Scotland with my step-son Steve to do some fishing and he had a CD going.

Now I’d become pretty good at tuning out the popular music of the day but I heard a sound that I’d heard before but I was too lazy, I suppose to ask Steve or Kim, his sister who it was. The song I heard was Waterloo and the group, of course, was ABBA*.

I became instantly hooked and I realized that I’d heard that group for many years and had become, if only subconsciously, a fan.

Later on that trip when it became a tour led by me, I met my darling Wendy who agreed to marry me on the fourth day we’d known each other. Somehow it became obvious that not only were we in love, we were great ABBA fans. When I moved into her pad in Abbotsford I played ABBA on the long journey to the radio station and back.

Fast forward to 1999.

Wendy and I love London and since we got together in 1993 we’ve been there together some 30 times (I’ve been over 100 times and in 1999 learned that ABBA had a hit musical called Mamma Mia and somehow we got tickets. To date we’ve been nine times in London and Wendy saw it once in Toronto; she’s seen the movies 4 times, I once (I didn’t care for it). The musical was the most fun you could have with your clothes on! The best part is after the show and the cast comes back for a sing-along and I can stand up and belt out Waterloo.

My only quibble is that they didn’t close the show with “Old Friends” which seems so appropriate.

That’s it then – of all the stuff I’ve seen, listened to live and recorded, the greatest is by that tremendously talented foursome, that write their own songs and were so popular that they brought more hard currency into Sweden than Volvo, ABBA********

6 Responses to “My diverse musical taste”

  1. Roland Morgan says:

    Did I notice the name ABBA being mentioned? Please, nowhere in my life! Please, in the name of Allah, do not ever mention that name again. ABBA is to music what IKEA is to furniture.

  2. admin says:

    Roland, you’re very unkind to IKEA. It is at least possible to sit in an IKEA chair, or sleep in an IKEA bed. On the other hand…

  3. Gavin Bamber says:

    ABBA rules!

    Rafe… you must listen to ABBA’s Spanish CD… it rocks!

  4. Rafe our musical tastes, jazzwise, are very similar although many of my favourites lean to the 50’s beebop Jazz that flourished in 1950’s New York. You have to tune into Mose Allison as well. Perhaps you have.

    I was LMAO reading about your adventures with Chauncey. I totally got that, as they say.

  5. Dick Goold says:

    Saw Momma Mia in London and again in Vancouver. Great show! If it comes back we will see it again! Also saw Porgy and Bess, Chicago and a poor rendition of the Sally Ann show. My wife and daughter and I were going to London and Paris and I booked a few shows in London. In fact I had never heard of Abba although I had heard their music. Momma Mia was great. Porgy and Bess was great untill the leading lady fell and put her leg out of joint. The show was held up for two hours till an ambulance attended.
    An idiot behind us demanded they get her off the stage and carry on. My daughter turned and said “whats your name? Mr nice guy!” He told her to F off and his wife intervened, apologized and took him out of the theatre. After the show we had to walk to Picadilly to find an open underground.

  6. Dick Goold says:

    I well remember Thompson and Page on Granville as well as Kellys on Georgia.

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