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September 10, 2000

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What WERE They Thinking?

We all make mistakes, but when public figures like actors make them, they're likely to end up recorded for posterity and provide a source of continual embarrassment. This week we present the results of some really bad decisions by people who should have known better.
Selection Source Performer(s) Comments
Turn Me Loose on Broadway Hollywood Hi-Fi (1996) Bette Davis The "joyously giddy" opening number from Two's Company (1952), Bette Davis' first (and, happily, only) Broadway musical. Despite scathing reviews, Davis' fans managed to keep the show afloat for 90 sold-out performances until the star quit, claiming an infected tooth.
First, the Singing Sex Symbols set:
I'm Ready to Groove Hollywood Hi-Fi (1996) Raquel Welch From the soundtrack of A Swingin' Summer (1965), a typically lame beach movie that's mostly an excuse for appearances by The Righteous Brothers, Gary Lewis and the Playboys and more obscure acts like The Rip Chords. It was Welch's first film and first singing (sort of) role.
That Makes It Hollywood Hi-Fi (1996) Jayne Mansfield Despite her public image as a dumb blond sex bomb, Mansfield was actually highly intelligent. But you wouldn't know it from records like this one from 1964. It's an "answer" to the 1958 hit "Chantilly Lace".
Bikini With No Top on Top Hollywood Hi-Fi (1996) Mamie Van Doren and June ("The Bosom") Wilkinson Van Doren alleges that she, Wilkinson and a third (uncredited) bombshell recorded this topless. Maybe that's why it sound so bad - the band and engineers were distracted.
Light My Fire Golden Throats II (1991) Mae West West was technically limited as a singer, but in her younger days managed to very effectively sell songs like "Frankie and Johnny". By the time she recorded this in 1972, however......
The TV Has-Beens set:
Your Cheatin' Heart Hollywood Hi-Fi (1996) Joey Bishop From the 1968 ABC Album Joey Bishop Sings Country Western. We'll probably never know what posessed this deadpan Las Vegas comic and Rat Pack member to attempt a serious album of C&W, and it's probably just as well.
Nights on Broadway Golden Throats II (1991) Chad Everett Remember Chad Everett? Probably not, unless you were a fan of the TV show Medical Center (1969 - 1976), where he played Dr. Joe Gannon. His mid-70s LP Chad (whence cometh this) sank like a stone. This cut illustrates why.
Hard Day's Night Golden Throats IV (1997) George Maharis Maharis reached his peak of fame as Buzz Murdock on the classic '60s series Route 66. It's unlikely that anyone remembers him as a singer despite seven (!) LPs and numerous singles. This cut is from the 1966 LP New Route: His Exiting Café Debut, Recorded Live at the Persian Room of the Plaza.
The Beam Me Up Before I Sing Again set:
Proud Mary Golden Throats (1988) Leonard Nimoy Has he got soul or WHAT?
It Was a Very Good Year Golden Throats II (1991) William Shatner Shatner emotes his way through the Sinatra classic.
Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds Golden Throats (1988) William Shatner Like "It Was a Very Good Year, this is from Shatner's LP The Transformed Man, which he recorded in 1968 after a "mysterious dark figure" led him to safety following a motorcycle malfunction in the desert.
The Jive Talkin' set (actors who abandoned any pretense of singing and decided to talk their way through the material):
It Ain't Me Babe Sebastian Cabot Actor, Bob Dylan Poet (1967) Sebastian Cabot (actor) The late theatre, film and TV actor talks his way through an album of Dylan songs, complete with sappy arrangements by Irving Spice.
Try a Little Tenderness Golden Throats (1988) Jack Webb Sgt. Friday gets romantic, with the expected results. From the LP You're My Girl
Bridge Over Troubled Water Golden Throats II (1991) Sen. Sam J. Ervin, Jr. You young whippersnappers may not recall this, but Ervin was the chairman of the Senate Watergate Committee that dug up the dirt on Nixon. In 1973 Columbia decided to capitalize (or it that Capitolize?) on his high media profile by issuing Senator Sam at Home, an LP of homey philosophy and (oddly) "performances" of this song and "If I Had a Hammer".
The Who Needs Viagra? set (geezer actors on love and sex):
What Is Love? Hollywood Hi-Fi (1996) Anthony Quinn More insight than you probably wanted into Quinn's ideas of romance. At least it explains his divorces. He has since become a Druid and talks to trees (we're not making this up, you know!).
Didn't We Telly Savalas (1975) Telly Savalas Who loves ya, babe? Savalas actually recorded four LPs, which probably goes beyone a simple mistake.

Acronyms and other mysteries defined:

OC: Unless otherwise indicated, the Original Cast recording of a Broadway show, along with the date.

OS: Unless otherwise indicated, the Original Soundtrack recording of a film, TV show, etc.

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