The Great Song Stylists
One of my recent purchases at BJ’s Records in Barrie was a Leiber & Stoller compilation.
Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller wrote Hound Dog, Jailhouse Rock and most of the hits by The Coasters and The Drifters (Poison Ivy, Yakety Yak, Under the Boardwalk, Save the Last Dance for Me).
And in scanning the list of 75 songs one name jumped out at me: Jack Jones.
My Dad thought rock and roll was nothing but noise and Jack Jones was his favourite singer, and when Dad stacked his record player….it was one of those turntables with a magnetic arm that held several discs and dropped them one by one….Jones was always part of the playist.
Sadly if Jones is remembered at all it’s for two songs: The Love Boat theme (love, exciting and new, come aboard we’re expecting you) and a misogynistic number called Wives and Lovers. Jones recorded the latter tune in the late ’60s and it told housewives they’d better look their best when their husbands came home from work or they might lose them to some sexy ladies at the office.
But, like Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand and Elvis Presley, Jack Jones was a great song stylist. He still is. Jack performs on a regular basis and from what I’ve read, his pipes are as strong as ever.
I also remember Dad challenging me when it came to naming a great singer/songwriter. Meaning, someone with a great voice who also wrote their own songs. I didn’t have an answer then but today I’d reply with Sam Cooke.
An incredible stylist who composed his own material.
Then again, a real singer interprets. Elvis took the songs of Leiber & Stoller and made them his own and few vocalists in history have done this better than Jerry Lee Lewis. The great Chuck Berry wrote and recorded Little Queenie but the Killer put his unique stamp on it.
Shelby Lynne is one of the finest contemporary interpreters and her album of Dusty Springfield covers is well worth checking out.
So cheers to Jack Jones, Elvis, Jerry Lee, Barbra, Sam, Old Blue Eyes and many others who sang, and still sing, with great style and emotion.