Thursday, April 5, 2012

"Galveston" by Jim Nabors (1969)


All the album cover pics I found were expressly copyrighted.  First time this has happened.  Jim Nabors' website doesn't even have a picture available for this thing.  The Owen Mills-esque collage of him belting something out in a red sequin jacket is copyrighted, so I can't link to that either.  But I can link to his homepage - just click on "Photos" when you get there.  There's also a pic of Jim with Bill Clinton on page nine...

View the Premise & Ground Rules for Revisiting Vinyl.

Filed between: A big band compilation called "Music from the Dance Years" assembled by the Dole Food Company and Nazareth.  Lordy, oh Lordy, why couldn't it have been Nazareth?

Key Tracks: Um...

Obvious Filler & Swings-and-Misses:
The whole damn thing.  You can't even call any of the songs failed attempts because they never bother trying.

My Overall Rating of the Tracks Separately:
Don't bother.  Seriously, don't bother.

Okay, first let me explain how I came into possession of a Jim Nabors LP in the first place.  When I first got back into vinyl, my mom wanted to give me all of her old records.  That was fine with me because she had some cherries.  Problem was, she couldn't find them.  Then one day she was visiting the old family property where she grew up and found a box of records.  In a chicken coop.  Where they had sat for almost forty years.  With chickens.  Hand to God, I am not making this up.  She brought them home, assuming they were hers.  On top were the "Help" soundtrack and an old 78 RPM single by the Carter Family.  I knew immediately two things: these were absolutely NOT my mom's records and I absolutely wanted them.  My mom hates The Beatles and anything remotely bluegrass; I love them both.  So I took them home and pored through them.  I didn't consider it stealing because they had been sitting in a chicken coop for nigh on forty years, so they couldn't have been missed that much.  Unfortunately, after those first two records, most everything else was Lawrence Welk, Barry Manilow, Liberace and... well... Jim Nabors.

Jim Nabors is terrible.  I have to go ahead and get that out in the interest of full disclosure.  I found myself looking for something else to do during every moment of "Galveston."

In doing so, I realized something.  This godawful record from 1969 exemplifies a whole lot of what I really hate about popular music in the 2000's.

I began my diatribe on "The Nashville Sound" when I discussed Alabama.  Here's part two.  The country music industry has always had this annoying habit of taking already popular songs and redoing them.  It was rampant in the sixties and it's still going on today.  One of my favorite games is to guess which pop or R&B song has gotten so big that some random country artist (my default answer is Gary Allan) is going to do a "down home" version of it.  Nowadays, that means a twangified glam-metal-power-ballad rendition, because that's what Nashville seems to think the kids like.  Just ask Rascal Flatts.

And covers are rampant on "Galveston" - most of them had been released only a year or two before.  I can kind of understand something like Green Green Grass of Home.  It is to country singers what Kim Kardashian is to professional athletes - everybody's had a go at it.  But, by the time Nabors got around to doing it, it had already been covered by Porter Wagoner, Bobby Bare, Johnny Cash AND Merle Haggard.  You do the math.  Then there are crazy, random things like I've Gotta Be Me, which Sammy Davis, Jr. had a hit with in '68.  Nabors also has the stones to cover recent, quirky hits like Glen Campbell's Wichita Lineman and Roger Miller's Little Green Apples.  What's more, he tries to do it without a smirk of irony or self-deprecation.

But the most egregious offense has to be his cover Stevie Wonder's For Once in My Life.  'Nuff said.

So, pursuing the Nashville trend of picking songs that have already been road tested (if they liked it once, they should like it again) without significantly altering the arrangements leaves you with only one thing to make anybody want to hear this music - the voice.  Unfortunately, that only works if your name is Frank Sinatra.  Hell, even Michael Buble changes the arrangements around.

And I HATE Jim Nabors' voice.  He is so concerned with being pitch perfect that he loses every ounce of soul and gives a flat, robotic delivery without fail.  It's operatic without being bombastic.  That's bad.

And that's another thing that grouses me about music right now.  It's lost its soul in a big way.  Whenever I accidentally stumble across a few minutes of "American Idol," it seems like it's always people trying to out-perfect each other without any guts or depth.  I miss depth.  I miss that oomph that comes from reaching for a note and breaking before getting there, rather than succeeding.  Auto-tune and Pro Tools make sure that never happens.

So, is it an album?  No.  Granted, the sound is cohesive.  However, it's all other people's visions with no interpretation or any hint of trying to reflect his own personality.

Up next, we see if country music can redeem itself.  It's "Take It to the Limit" by Willie Nelson & Waylon Jennings.  (By the way, the title track is a cover song.)

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