Sunday, August 10, 2008

In Aid Of Babbitt 2

A slide show made up mostly of the watercolors that Dina Gottliebova Babbitt painted in Auschwitz. I used Ferrante and Teicher's Exodus theme for audio. I was accused by a blog commentator of unfairly trashing F&T- giving no reasons. My reasons, the music was boring and banal (unlike hand jive) and reflected the sad state of American pop in the 50's and 60's
from james lileks who offered up two musical samples
I did note yesterday that I wanted to note the passing of a pianist, and that would be Mr. Teicher, one half of Ferrante and Teicher, the middlebrow piano duo who put out 239632 albums of movie themes. When I was younger and contemptuous of Easy Listening, I put them in the Mantovani and 101 Strings camp, stuff my aunts liked, fer heaven's sake, treacly tinkly drivel. Having spent some time going over the catalogue, I was surprised to find that I was exactly right. They were perhaps the only piano duo that managed to sound like one piano. Every song was sweetened with ooohs and aahhs and echoey strings, seasoned with trademark glissandos. On the other hand, they were extraordinarily popular. It’s music you’re not supposed to listen to, but perhaps absorb topically. It gives the general impression of music, it sounds familiar, and it melted down every new tune and poured it into a standard mold. Everything sounded like Ferrante and Teicher when it was played by Ferrante and Teicher, just as anything sounds like a polka when it’s played by on accordion by someone who’s had too much coffee.
Here are two excerpts. The first is “The Apartment,” and it charted in 1960. Standard stuff. The second is the theme from “Midnight Cowboy,” one of John Barry’s better themes. The orchestration has changed, gotten “hip” and “with-it” – the stingy guitar is a classic 60s sound – but it makes you wonder what’s the point, really? Why not listen to the original?

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