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#Sinatra100 Countdown: The Curious Case Of ‘Bim Bam Baby’

07 December 2015 @ 21:44

The location: Hollywood C-A.

The place: Columbia Recording Studios

The date: 03 June 1952

The significance: Frank’s last full recording session for Columbia.

The songs recorded:

Luna Rossa (Blushing Moon)
The Birth Of The Blues
Azure-Te
Tennessee Newsboy
Bim Bam Baby

This song set tells you exactly why Sinatra’s days at Columbia were numbered.  What we see here are novelty numbers.  Frank’s Producer, Mitch Miller [boo, hiss], was under pressure to get a hot record for the once best-selling Crooner and he had been feeding him such dreck [Mama Will Bark?] to record for quite sometime in what turned out to be a rather pathetic and wasted effort.

Many think Miller and Columbia were giving Frank such material in a cowardly attempt to get him to walk-out on his contract.  I don’t know, but I suspect that it was a bit of that, a bit of Miller becoming the schlock-meister he would become known as in the years to follow, and a bit of the gods sending a message to Francis Albert to get his act together and ascend to the next level [which he did eventually — thank The Good Lord].

What is interesting is that Frank, despite his anger at Miller and Columbia, and the downward spiral his career and personal life were both in, still managed to produce one classic, The Birth Of The Blues, and one performance that showed he could have conquered an alien genre of music — Rhythm And Blues — if he had felt like it.  Just think, if he had pursued this kind of music, he could have eventually starred in B-movies with Alan Freed!  I’m glad he didn’t, of course, but, with BBB, Mr. S. showed all those youngins, like Elvis, that he could have conquered their territory, if he had wanted to — and they should be very grateful he didn’t.

Bim Bam Baby has the same kind of vibe that you find in the best of Louis Jordon’s repertoire and, a few years later, in Bobby Darin’s Rock And Roll recordings.

Forget the pseudo-Jive lyrics [‘the rim-ram room’!?!*], this is hep platter in the tradition of Caldonia and Choo Choo Ch’boogie, with a touch of Guy Mitchell thrown in [although, Francis puts Albert George Cernik (Mitchell’s real name) to shame here].

As Tony Sclafani remarked:

There is a certain swagger and attitude in that number that transcends the genre.

Indeed.

Look: it’s not a time for serious here, it’s time to jump and jive…

Well friends, we’re gettin’ closer to the Big Day and I look forward each sunrise to see what Pundette, Ms. Evi, and Mark Steyn are doing to prepare for The Main Event [hint: it’s always a gas].

Come on back on the morrow and we’ll still be here setting-up for the Party.

Sinatra100th-OutLogo-001-cx

_____________________________________
Yeah…Mrs. B. picked-up on that one [I had missed
it…or, perhaps, didn’t want to hear it] and shook her
head. Just another case, I suppose, of some
square cat trying to write a ‘cool’ song — where have
you gone, Sammy Mysels? [actually, he did co-write
one of my favorite Sinatra-Dorsey recordings,
We Three (My Echo, My Shadow, and Me).

 

4 Comments leave one →
  1. 11 December 2015 @ 08:10 08:10

    Did I really say that? Well, guess I did and it makes sense.

    Sinatra was such a great singer that he could take silly tripe and make it sparkle. So, for that matter, could John Lennon, Marvin Gaye, and Stevie Wonder.

    If you have the Sinatra box set “The Columbia Years (1943-1952) The Complete Recordings” and go to his final recordings for the label on disc twelve, you’ll find they’re not really bad at all because stylistically, Frank is always Frank.

    Some of the tunes, like “Walking in the Sunshine of Your Love” and “Castle Rock,” sound like dry-runs for his work with Riddle. Others, such as “I’m a Fool to Want You” and “Why Try to Change Me Now,” actually better than his early Columbia stuff.

    Ironically, sometimes when he didn’t care he unwittingly turned in his best performances. I think the greatest example of this is the 1962 album “Point of No Return,” which was his last for Capitol and recorded hastily. But, in my opinion, it’s among his best albums ever (and I’ve held that opinion for around 30 years now, so it’s unlikely to change).

    But that’s not why I’m writing. I’m writing because back in the ’90s “Kids in the Hall” did a comedic riff on “Bim Bam Baby” that perfectly captured the aforementioned “swagger” of the song along with a healthy dose of the irony implied by Sinatra’s vocal. It’s great to know other people picked up on the tune.

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