Friday, October 31, 2014

"Hooked on Swing" by Larry Elgart and His Manhattan Swing Orchestra

Song#:  1059
Date:  06/05/1982
Debut:  83
Peak:  31
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Easy Listening, Pop

Pop Bits:  The medley single "Hooked on Big Bands" (#61) by the Frank Barber Orchestra was still on the chart when this similar-themed tune made its debut. With the backing of the K-Tel label, which got on board the melody train with the #10 "Hooked on Classics," this title had more promotion available and it got into the pop Top 30 (#20 AC). Working as a musician and bandleader in the 40s, Elgart had first-hand knowledge of the material. He was tapped by K-Tel/RCA to get involved with the medley craze and with solid support from the label, Elgart produced and recorded several medleys that would make up the "Hooked on Swing" album. This single got a lot of attention and sales were great. A second volume would be issued, but by then the medley craze was over and so was Elgart's "hooked" phase. This would be his only pop chart entry.

ReduxReview:  Well, at least this one sounds more alive than the dull Frank Barber medley. Other than that, there is not much here to recommend. The strict hand-clapped tempo kills songs like "Sing, Sing, Sing," however, the overall arrangements are pretty good despite having to conform to a specific beat. I believe I've said before, if these dorky singles introduce younger ears to this kind of music and they seek out the real deal, then having these around ain't so awful. But to just listen to them...I'll pass. I'm hooked on the originals.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Larry's brother Les was also a musician and bandleader. The two formed their own band early on in their careers, but it was not a successful venture and they went back to performing as sidemen with other bands. Then in 1954, the brothers signed to Columbia and began to use their own recording the technique that produced the "Elgart sound." This proved popular and the brothers released a string of successful albums throughout the 50s and 60s. Each brother also recorded their own solo projects. Les was able to get a minor hit along the way reaching #56 on the pop chart in 1956 with "Main Title - Golden Arm," the theme from the film "The Man with the Golden Arm." However, their most enduring legacy may be via a TV dance/music show. Their recording of "Bandstand Boogie" served as the theme song to "American Bandstand" throughout the late-50s and 60s.


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