Sunday, October 19, 2014

"Route 66" by Manhattan Transfer

Grammy Alert!
Song#:  1045
Date:  05/29/1982
Debut:  86
Peak:  78
Weeks:  5
Genre:  Crossover Jazz

Pop Bits:  The Transfer's last chart entry was their biggest pop hit, the #7 "Boy from New York City," from their album "Mecca for Moderns." Before issuing a proper follow-up, the vocal group recorded this standard that was featured on the soundtrack to the Burt Reynolds film "Sharky's Machine." Although it spent only a few weeks on the pop chart (and #22 AC), the Transfer scored a Grammy award for this song in the Jazz Vocal Performance Duo or Group category.

ReduxReview:  This popular chestnut has been a crowd pleaser for decades. The Transfer's low-key version is a winner thanks to their vocals. It's surprising to see it on the pop chart, but the vocal group's popularity at the time plus the film being a major hit probably helped. When I worked with Andy Williams at his Moon River Theatre in Branson, Missouri, he did a version of this song as "Highway 76," which was the main drag of Branson and location of the theatre. He changed the lyrics to be about the areas folks traveled from to get to Branson, along with the various local attractions. Andy usually introduced his band during this song.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  !) This pop/R&B standard was originally recorded in 1946 by Nat King Cole. Many artists ranging from Chuck Berry to The Rolling Stones have covered the song. In the rock era, only Manhattan Transfer and Depeche Mode have reached the pop chart with the song. Depeche Mode's version was in remix medley with their own song "Behind the Wheel." That single reached #61 in 1988.  2) Musician Bobby Troup wrote this song after making the trek along the famous road in a move to California. His second marriage was to singer Julie London in 1959. London's big 1955 hit "Cry Me a River" (#9) was produced by Troup. Both of them were mainly music artists and performers but dabbled in acting as well. They are probably most famous for both being on the hit 1970's TV show "Emergency!" Oddly, it was the show's creator (and London's ex-husband), Jack Webb, who cast the pair. Webb and London had divorced in 1954.


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