Torch Singers & Thrushes


Abbe Lane: The Lady in Red

There is no broader instrumental idiom than the human voice, and female singers outnumber male in population, if not also in pop. But there are not as many great female-vocal albums as could be expected. Partly the problem was limited, stale repertoire (standards beaten to death), and partly it was the unnatural selection of beauty over singing ability. "Torch singers" evolved out of the jazz bands' habit of letting a singer take a stab at a number, only perhaps to gain regular status. A single song would maintain interest at the start or close of a set, but a woman on tour presented other problems.

LPs allowed audiences to appreciate female voices in intimite high fidelity, quite apart from physical appearances. Such "blind" intimacy allowed great but less beauteous singers to flourish, while other records predictably furthered the extant popularity of such movie and television stars as Julie London. In any case, the langorous, bluesy "torch" style of Billie Holiday developed in the throats of thousands of "thrushes." The advent of the LP meant the atmosphere of the boudoir or empty nightclub could be simulated as easily as belting out a standard over the frenetic pound of the bongos.

Buying: Torch singers do standards; part of the appeal is discovering earlier versions. Californian labels are at their best with pop-jazz nightclub singers and screen stars. Singers identified with jazz are likely to more polished, if less sensational. Other than that it is strictly subjective.



Female Vocal LPs

Rating
7Edie Adams: Behind Those Swingin' Doors; Decca DL-74488 (torch/beatnik/dance rock)
9India Adams: Comfort Me with Apples; RCA Victor LSP-1943; 1958 (w/Ray Martin)
4Maya Angelou: Miss Calypso; Liberty LRP-3028; 1956 (calypso jazz)
->Ann-Margret
8Leda Annest: Portrait of Leda; Columbia Adventures in Sound WL-114; 1958 (w/Phil Moore; exotic/abstract)
7Annette [Funicello]: Annette; Buena Vista BV-3301; 1959
Annette: Annette Sings Anka; Buena Vista BV-3302; 1960
8Annette: Hawaiiannette; Buena Vista BV-3303; 1960
6Annette: Italiannette; Buena Vista BV-3304; 1961
Annette: Dance Annette; Buena Vista BV-3305; 1961
Annette: The Story of My Teens; Buena Vista BV-3306; 1962
7Annette: Annette's Beach Party [ST]; Buena Vista BV-3316; 1963 (three songs repeated from Hawaiiannette)
7Annette: Muscle Beach Party [ST]; Buena Vista BV-3314; 1964
Annette: Annette on Campus; Buena Vista BV-3320; 1964
Annette: Annette at Bikini Beach [ST]; Buena Vista BV-3324; 1964
Annette: Pajama Party; Buena Vista BV-3325; 1964
Annette: Something Borrowed Something Blue; Buena Vista BV-3328; 1964
Annette: Annette Sings Golden Surfin' Hits; Buena Vista BV-3327; 1965
Annette: Annette Funicello; Buena Vista BV-4037; 1972
6Ray Anthony & his Orchestra: This Could Be the Night ST; EMI/MGM C-761 (UK; torch/Latin/20s)
6Ethel Azama: Exotic Dreams; Liberty LST-7104 (w/Paul Conrad; prod. Martin Denny)
5Bonnie Baker: Oh Johnny!; Warner Bros. BS-1212; 1958 (w/Wilbur Hatch, Carl Brandt; mainly for "The Bongo Song")
->The Barry Sisters
6Yvonne de Carlo Sings; Masterseal (no #); 1957 (w/John Towner)
7The Western World of Tsai Chin; Decca LK-4717; 1965 (UK Decca; torch/Chinese)
7Rosemary Clooney w/Perez Prado: A Touch of Tabasco; RCA Victor LSP-2133; 1960
6Rosemary Clooney: Come On-A My House; CBS/Encore P-14382; 1981 (mainly for Mambo Italiano)
7Dorothy Collins: Rockin' Boppin' & Jivin'; Revival 3018; 1991 (Denmark compilation; rock[abilly] & torch)
5Chris Conner Sings Gentle Bossa Nova; ABC-Paramount ABCS-529
7Sylvia Copeland: The August Child; Mainstream S-6030 (mainly for Yma Sumac-esque "Wild is Love")
6Catherine Deneuve w/Serge Gainsbourg: Souviens-toi de m'Oublier; Philips 6313.172; 1981
6Mamie Van Doren: The Girl Who Invented Rock 'n' Roll; Rhino RNLP-70819; 1986 (compilation)
6Ethel Ennis; Pickwick SPC-3021 (mainly for "Blue Prelude")
7Jack Fascinato Arranges Things; Stepheny MF-4004 (w/Doris Drew & the Mellowmen)
8Frances Faye in Frenzy; Verve V6-2147 (w/Russ Garcia, Jack Costanzo)
5Ella Fitzgerald; MGM/Metro MS-500 (for "Like Young")
6Eydie Gorme: Blame it On the Bossa Nova; Columbia CS-8812; 1963 (w/Johnny Pacheco, Mundell Lowe, Clark Terry, Dick Hyman)
6Neal Hefti: Sex & the Single Girl ST; Warner Bros. WS-1572 (Fran Jeffries: "Sex & the Single Girl," "Anniversary Song")
7Jeannie Hoffman: The Folk-Type Swinger; Capitol ST-2021 (jazz treatments of folk songs; w/Shelly Manne, Howard Roberts, Jack Marshall..)
[Billie Holiday]
5Lena Horne: Like Latin; MGM/Charter CLM-106 (w/Shorty Rogers)
Lena Horne: Feelin' Good; United Artists UAS-6433
Lena Horne: Lena in Hollywood; United Artists UAS-6470
7Lena Horne: Lena Soul; United Artists UAS-6496 (partly mod soul)
5Lurlean Hunter: Stepping Out; RCA Vik LX-1116; 1958 (w/Phil Moore)
6Fran Jeffries: Sex & the Single Girl
-Eartha Kitt
8Abbe Lane: Be Mine Tonight; RCA Victor LSP-1554; 1958 (w/Tito Puente)
7Abbe Lane: The Lady in Red; RCA Victor LSP-1688; 1958 (w/Sid Ramin)
8Abbe Lane: Where There's a Man; RCA Victor LSP-1899; 1959/1958 (w/Sid Ramin, Xavier Cugat)
8Abbe Lane; Mercury SR-60643 (w/Xavier Cugat)
6Abbe Lane: The Many Sides of; Mercury SR-60930
8Linda Lawson: Introducing Linda Lawson; Chancellor CHLS-5010; 1960 (arr. Marty Paich)
6Katie Lee: Spicy Songs for Cool Knights; Specialty SP-5000 (novelty folk)
8Katie Lee: Songs of Couch & Consultation; Commentary CNT-01 (w/Bob Thompson, Bud Freeman; Reprise R-6025; 1961)
7Katie Lee: Life is Just a Bed of Neuroses; RCA Victor LSP-2214; 1960 (w/Ray Martin)
6Ketty Lester: Where is Love?; RCA Victor LSP-3326; 1965
5Julie London: Yummy Yummy Yummy; Liberty LST-7609
7Myrna March: Explosive Vocal Percussion; Strand SLS-1033
7Kay Martin & her Body Guards; Roulette R-25014
8Kay Martin at Las Vegas; Laff A-107 (jacket: A5015; torch/rock/sex-ed/Xmas/beatnik)
8Kay Martin & her Body-Guards: I Know What He Wants for Christmas [but I don't know how to wrap it]; Laff 1005 (torch/rock/sex-ed/Xmas/beatnik)
8Kay Martin At Las Vegas--Recorded Live--The Wild, Wild Early Show; Record Productions Inc. LP 3,000,004
8Kay Martin Sings Naughty & Nice Songs; Record Productions Inc. LP 3,000,005
8Kay Martin at the Lorelei; Dyna D-104 (torch/sex-ed/Xmas/beatnik)
7Jaye P. Morgan & Orchestra 10"; Royale 18162 (A-side only; B-side has covers of "Bloop Bleep" & "Cement Mixer")
7Jaye P. Morgan; Rondo-lette A13
8Ella Mae Morse: Barrelhouse, Boogie, & the Blues; Capitol T-513 (w/Dave Cavanaugh)
8Ella Mae Morse: The Morse Code; Capitol T-898; 1957 (w/Billy May)
8Ella Mae Morse: The Hits of Ella Mae Morse & Freddie Slack; Capitol rec. 1942-55 (EMI 1553041; 1984)>
8Ella Mae Morse: Sensational; Capitol; rec. 1951-57 (EMI 1566211; 1985)
8Enid Mosier: No Cover No Minimum; Decca DL-8804 (partly calypso)
8Della Reese: Cha Cha Cha; RCA Victor LSP-2280; 1960
7Della Reese: Moody; RCA Victor LSP-2814; 1965
4Ann Richards: The Many Moods of; Capitol ST-1406 (w/Tak Shindo)
7Lee Scott w/Tony Luis Quintet: Cool Music for Warm People; Wynne WLP-101
5Serena Shaw: Cry My Love; Rama RLP-5001 (rare)
7Jeannie Smith: Nightly Yours on the Steve Allen Show; Canadian American SCALP-1010 (name should be "Jennie")
7Gene & Pinky Steede: Step Through a Moongate with Gene & Pinky Steede; GG-2 (calypso/torch/lounge act; Hugo Pedell Orchestra dir. George Cort, James Gregory; prod. Don Gibson)
Joanie Sommers: Positively the Most; Warner Bros. WS-1346; 1960 (w/Tommy Oliver)
7Joanie Sommers: The Voice of the Sixties!; Warner Bros. WS-1412; 1961 (w/Neal Hefti)
7Joanie Sommers: For Those Who Think Young; Warner Bros. WS-1436; 1962/1961-2 (1/2 live; w/Marty Paich & Bob Florence)
7Joanie Sommers: Johnny Get Angry; Warner Bros. WS-1470; 1962
7Joanie Sommers: Let's Talk About Love; Warner Bros. WS-1474; 1962 (w/Tommy Oliver)
7Joanie Sommers with Laurindo Almeida: Softly, the Brazilian Sound; Warner Bros. WS-1575 (w/Emil Richards; liners by Leonard Feather)
7Joanie Sommers: Come Alive!; Columbia CS-9295/CL-2495 (with Mort Garson)
7Pat Suzuki: Miss Pony Tail; RCA Victor LSP-2030; 1959
7Caterina Valente: The Greatest in Any Language; Decca DL-4052
8Caterina Valente: Golden Favorites; Decca DL-74504
8Caterina Valente w/Edmundo Ros: Fire 'n' Frenzy; London SW-99019
6Caterina Valente w/Edmundo Ros: Silk 'n' Latin; London SP-44125
7Sarah Vaughan & her Trio: Swingin' Easy; Mercury/EmArcy MG-36109
7Sarah Vaughan & Count Basie; Roulette Birdland SR-52061
->Ruth Wallis
9Gretchen Wyler: Wild, Wyler, Wildest; Jubilee SDJLP-1100
8Songs for Your Boyfriend; Verve MG-V-2097 (Marlene Willis, Linda Lawson, Joan O'Brien, Linda Leigh)
7Three Great Girls; RCA Victor; 1963 (Ann-Margret, Kitty Kallen & Della Reese
5Various: Music for Pussy Cats; Pickwick/Design DLP-198; 1962
7Various: Hawaii Calls--The Young Hawaiians; Capitol ST-262 (Jeff Apaka, Varoa Tiki, Mate'Ng ("An Occasional Man"), Alex McAngus, Boyce Rodrigues, Barney Isaacs..)


Partly Torch/Female-Vocal LPs

Rating
6Burt Bacharach: Casino Royale ST; Colgems COSO-5005/COMO-5005; 1967 ("The Look of Love"; w/Herb Alpert, Dusty Springfield)
7Dominic Frontiere: Hammersmith Is Out ST; EMI/Capitol SW-861; 1972 (funky rock/guitar/torch "For Openers"--Sally Stevens/organ; U.K.)
7Various: Here is Hawaii; Bluewater SLP-800; 1981 (Hawaii/slack-key/torch/exotica "I Love You"; Keola Beamer-produced show for the Kapa Room at the Maui Surf)
7Various: Waikiki Swings; Hula HS-520 (reissued as Capitol/Tower ST-5101; Don Ho, Kui Lee & Nani Lee "Where is My Love Tonight", Alvan, Zulu, Sonny Chillinsworth)


Torch/Female-Vocal 45s & EPs

Rating
7Yvonne de Carlo w/Nelson Riddle: Take it Or Leave it/Nelson Riddle: Three Little Bears; Capitol F-3206
8Jill Corey w/Glenn Osser Orch.: Wherefore Art Thou Romeo?/Big Daddy; Columbia 4-41202 (rock/torch; B-side from film "Senior Prom")
7Judy Harriet w/Hall Daniels Orchestra: Goliath (Big Man)/The Music of Love; AIP/American International Records 545 (female vocal; both sides penned by Les Baxter & Lenny Adelson, based on "Goliath & the Barbarians" ST; A-side is a Scopitone)
8Ella Mae Morse: Love Me or Leave Me/The Blacksmith Blues; Capitol F-1922; 1952 (w/Nelson Riddle; A-side from "I'll See You in My Dreams")
7Ella Mae Morse: Good/The Guy Who Invented Kissin'; Capitol F-2343 (w/Nelson Riddle)
9Ella Mae Morse: An Occasional Man/Birmingham; Capitol F-3210 (w/Billy May; both songs from film "The Girl Rush")
7Ella Mae Morse: Sing-Ing-Ing-Ing/When Boy Kiss Girl (It's Love); Capitol F-3263 (w/Big Dave Cavanaugh)
8Ella Mae Morse: Won't You Listen to Me Baby/Give Me Love; Capitol F-3320 (w/Big Dave Cavanaugh)
8Ella Mae Morse: I'm Gonna Walk/Coffee Date; Capitol F-3458 (w/Les Baxter)
7Ella Mae Morse: What Good'll It Do Me?/Mister Memory Maker; Capitol F-3688 (A-side w/Big Dave Cavanaugh, song from "Hit and Run"; B-side w/Nelson Riddle)
6Mae West: Love is the Greatest Thing/All of Me; Decca 9-29452
8Betty Roche: September in the Rain/Take the "A" Train; Bethlehem 45-11017
7Nancy Sinatra: Lightning's Girl/Until It's Time for You to Go; Reprise 0620 (Lee Hazlewood psyche/ballad; picture sleeve)
8Sarah Vaughan: One Mint Julep/Mama (He Treats Your Daughter Mean); Roulette R-4413
7Various: All-Star Pops EP; Columbia B-2088 (Belmonte w/Bernadine Read: Learnin' the Blues/Felicia Sanders: Blue Star//Xavier Cugat & Merv Griffin: Sweet & Gentle/Doris Day: I'll Never Stop Loving You)


Female-Vocal 10" 78s

Rating
7Ella Mae Morse: Shoo Shoo Baby/No Love No Nothin'; Capitol 143 (w/Dick Walters; music from films "Three Cheers for the Boys" & "The Gang's All Here")
Ella Mae Morse: Tess's Torch Song/Milkman Keep Those..?; Capitol 151 or 153
7Ella Mae Morse: Invitation to the Blues/Patty Cake Man; Capitol 163 (B-side some scat)
Ella Mae Morse: Hello Suzanne/Why Shouldn't I; Capitol 176
Ella Mae Morse: No Love No Nothin'/Shoo Shoo Baby; Capitol 193 (w/D. Walters)
8Ella Mae Morse: Captain Kidd/Ya' Betcha; Capitol 193 (w/Billy May)
8Ella Mae Morse: Rip Van Winkle/Buzz Me; Capitol 226; 1945 (B-side on The Hits of Ella Mae Morse & Freddie Slack)
7Ella Mae Morse: That's My Home/The Merry Ha! Ha!; Capitol 301 (w/Ray Linn)
9Ella Mae Morse: The House of Blue Lights/Hey Mr. Postman; Capitol 251; 1946 (A-side on The Hits of Ella Mae Morse & Freddie Slack; w/Freddie Slack & Don Raye)
8Ella Mae Morse w/Freddie Slack: Your Conscience Tells You So/Pig Foot Pete; Capitol 278; 1946 (B-side on The Hits of Ella Mae Morse & Freddie Slack)
8Ella Mae Morse: Pine Top Schwarz/Hoodle Addle; Capitol 370 (w/her Boogie Woogie Four)
8Ella Mae Morse: Get Off It & Go/Old Shank's Mare; Capitol 424; 1947 (w/Buddy Cole's Boogie Woogie Seven; A-side on The Hits of Ella Mae Morse & Freddie Slack; in Canada as C-963)
8Ella Mae Morse: Early in the Morning/On the Sunny Side of the Street; Capitol 487 (w/Dave Cavanaugh)
8Ella Mae Morse: House of Blue Lights/Rip Van Winkle; Capitol 1605; 1946
7Ella Mae Morse: Tennessee Saturday Night/Sensational; Capitol 1903 (w/Nelson Riddle)
Ella Mae Morse: Love Me Or Leave Me/Blacksmith Blues; Capitol 1922
8Ella Mae Morse: Love Ya Like Mad/Oakie Boogie; Capitol 2072; 1952 (B-side on The Hits of Ella Mae Morse & Freddie Slack; in Canada as C-963)
8Ella Mae Morse: Greyhound/Jump Back Honey; Capitol 2076
Ella Mae Morse: Asleepin at Foot/Male Call; Capitol 2186
Ella Mae Morse: Point of No Return/Give a...; Capitol 2369/TD>
8Ella Mae Morse: Big Mamou/Is It Any Wonder; Capitol 2441 (w/Nelson Riddle)
7Ella Mae Morse: Happy Habit/Goodnight Sweetheart; Capitol 2800
Ella Mae Morse: Razzle Dazzle/Seventeen; Capitol 3199; 1955


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