Ray Conniff’s Greatest Hits. c’mooon. Seriously committed to his craft, I might say. This album cover with it’s usual Conniff saucy vixen model on front, is again the best part of the experience. Rethrift, orchestra section. Ray put out a record 114 albums before he died in 2002. That is impressive. They can’t all be winners. It would be nice though.
Here’s a bio/ discography review: With the advent of American involvement in World War II by 1941, Conniff joined the Army, though the closest he came to Wake Island was Hollywood, where he worked as an arranger with Armed Forces Radio. At the end of the war, Conniff worked with Harry James but lost interest in arranging when bop moved to center stage during the late ’40s. Completely divorced from the music business, he studied conducting and music theory during the early ’50s, emerging by 1954 to accept a position with Columbia Records and notorious pop producer Mitch Miller. The following year, he put his theories to practice with Don Cherry (the vocalist, not the jazz trumpeter) on a Top Five hit, “Band of Gold.” Close on its heels were some more big hits of 1956-57, including the number ones “Singing the Blues” by Guy Mitchell and “Chances Are” by Johnny Mathis, plus Top Five entries by Johnnie Ray (“Just Walking in the Rain”), Frankie Laine (“Moonlight Gambler”) and Marty Robbins (“A White Sport Coat [And a Pink Carnation]“). Columbia, undoubtedly ecstatic over the success of its arranger, agreed to let Conniff record an instrumental album, and the result, ‘S Wonderful (1956), spent months on the album charts. With a similar intent (though far tamer results) to Lambert, Hendricks & Ross’ album of the same year, Sing a Song of Basie — which transcribed classic Basie orchestra solos into vocal parts — Conniff arranged parts for an easy-going chorus of singers just as he had with instrumentalists in the past. ‘S Wonderful was background instrumental music for adults who still liked to hear the human voice, and the technique grew to define the “Muzaky” feel of much of the adult pop of the 1950s and ’60s.
During the rest of the late ’50s, four Ray Conniff albums reached the Top Ten, led by the gold-certified ‘S Marvelous and Concert in Rhythm. Conniff did well in the early ’60s as well, with popular theme albums like Say It with Music (A Touch of Latin), Memories Are Made of This, So Much in Love, ‘S Continental, and We Wish You a Merry Christmas, which continued to chart during the holiday season of the next six years after its 1962 release date. The rise of rock & roll in the mid-’60s obviously hurt Conniff’s record sales, though in 1966 the inclusion of “Lara’s Theme” in the film Doctor Zhivago resulted in Conniff’s only significant singles-chart placing at number nine, and a million-selling album with Somewhere My Love. During the late ’60s, he began to include the softer side of rock and Bacharach-David pop into his repertoire, with artists from Simon & Garfunkel to the Carpenters and the Fifth Dimension all receiving the Conniff treatment (alongside more questionable attempts, such as “Theme from ‘Shaft’”). He continued to record albums and perform to his large Latin American audience into the 1990s. On October 12, 2002, Conniff passed away after falling down and hitting his head. He had suffered a stroke months prior, but Conniff’s health continued to deteriorate. He was 85. ~ John Bush, All Music Guide
- the most famous movie theme ever written *Tara’s theme from Gone With The Wind.. gets rethrifted (justfortherecords.wordpress.com)
- it’s not unusual… to dislike choral covers of vintage hits (justfortherecords.wordpress.com)