Tuesday, February 19, 2008

That Ol' Keely Magic

When I was a kid, my parents bought my brother and me a portable record player. I believe it was a Christmas gift, sometime in the late ‘60s. To make sure we had something to play on it when we opened this present, they also purchased a bunch of 45 records. For the most part, I’m sure they picked the records at random, but there were a treasure trove of classics that I imprinted on that probably explains my rather eclectic taste in music.

These included novelty songs like “Winchester Cathedral” and “Little Blue Man,” as well as singles by the Troggs, Doris Day, Andy Williams, and Petula Clark (“Downtown”).

Also included among these records was Louis Prima and Keely Smith’s “Old Black Magic.” Prima’s catalog has experienced a deserved resurgence in recent years, as has Smith, who is actively recording and performing again—her Swing, Swing, Swing CD (2000) is on my frequent playlist. Unlike some singers, her voice has remained virtually unchanged over time, as shown in her appearance in this year’s Grammy’s, where she reprised “Black Magic” with Kid Rock.

Smith has an incredibly pure, strong and sultry voice, and on-stage she projected a deadpan, could-care-less attitude though she frequently broke character—undoubtedly as a wink to the audience—in response to Prima’s antics.

So without further ado, here are two great clips of Keely (and Prima) in their prime—"Old Black Magic" and "All Night Long."


benton jew said...

I learned about Keely Smith via listening to Louis Prima, one of my favorites of the three great Louis' ( the others being Armstrong and Jordan )
Her voice was a perfect compliment to Prima's wild and wooly vocal style.

Anson Jew said...

One of the great musical duos of all time. As seen in the documentary "The Wildest" (which I highly recommend) theirs was an incredible story with a very sad and tragic ending. But they left behind an incredible musical legacy.

I wasn't aware of the Kid Rock stuff, though.