If you have been reading this blog for a while, you may already have been exposed to small doses of Sam Sacks on Phonoanomalies for Hi-Fi Bugs and the Cool And Strange Thrift Store Compilation (where his last name is misspelled as "Sachs"). Now it is time for a whole album by the "singer's singer" Sam Sacks, who can "endow even simple lyrics with new meaning" and "sketch subtle variations around a familiar melody without violating its integrity". Without further ado, here are all the MP3s from the record Sing It Again, Sam! - The Inimitable Song Stylings of SAM SACKS, released on Arliss Records. I don't know the exact recording date, but I would guess that it came out in the late 60s, shortly after Mrs. Miller hit the big time.
Ol' Man River (MP3) - Frequently served up as a semi-classical number, this durable favorite is given a different treatment by Sam Sacks. Notice especially the lower register, where Sam's range and resonance are shown to their fullest.
You Too, You Too? (MP3) - Sam asks a musical question to which the answer is clear. Telling of a romantic encounter in Cuba, this beautiful ballad evokes the mood and magic of the tropics: full moon above swaying palms, the scent of bougainvillea blossoms, lovers silhouetted against a silver sea.
Secret Love (MP3) - The cantabile quality of Sam's vocal style is here brought into sharp focus. With cheery optimism, Sam dispels the melancholy mood of the opening strains, replacing the somber tones with notes of brighter hue. As his narrative moves toward the conclusion, the listener looks forward to its happily ending.
Yodel Blues (MP3) - A rollickin' roundelay done in the best Western tradition, proving that Sam is not only a sentimental balladeer but is equally at "home on the range". In lively tempo, Sam tells of his longing to return to the wide open spaces "to get a breath of air". His vivid vocalizing is sure to stir the same longing in the listener.
That Old Black Magic (MP3) - This popular perennial has had many interpretations during its long life but none quite like this one. Two "takes" are included - along with Sam's comments in between - as evidence of his tireless striving for perfection.
Diana (MP3) - A rock & roll hit of a few seasons back, "Diana" gives Sam still another chance to demonstrate his amazing versatility. Here, notice how verse and chorus are blended together into a smoothly integrated whole so as not to break the melodic continuity.
This was the first side, would you now please turn the record over for side two?
There's Only One Of You (MP3) - ...a comment that might well be said of Sam Sacks. Given a chance here to improvise freely, Sam shows how he can spin a web of variations around a central theme without infringing on the melody itself.
Bei Mir Bist Du Schön (MP3) - Sounding off in a minor key, Sam's crisp, incisive style is nowhere shown to better advantage than on this evergreen, a coinbox favorite since 1937. Here again, we get a striking example of Sam singing ad lib, in which he deftly avoids over-emphasis of the familiar theme in favor of his own fresh embellishments.
Love Letters In The Sand (MP3) - A woeful tale of sadness by the seaside, love gone astray, letters washed away. Swept along by the sentiments expressed in the lyric, Sam spontaneously breaks into a second chorus, following a 3½-bar instrumental interlude.
It's A Lie, It's A Fake (MP3) - Neither too slow nor too sprightly, the half-fast tempo here perfectly matches Sam's melodic concept.
Hi Lili, Hi Lo (MP3) - To the gay French flavor of this cafe favorite, Sam adds a pinch of poignancy, a soupçon of spice and voila! - Lili à la Sacks! Witness here yet another aspect of Sam's artistry: his quick and sensitive ear for his accompaniment. Hear how he takes a subtle melodic suggestion from the piano, then shapes and embroiders it to his own end.
Love Is A Many Splendored Thing (MP3) - The quiet streets of old Hong Kong spring to life as Sam renders this hit from a celebrated motion picture. Against this exotic backdrop, Sam sets the mood in the verse, then glides easily into the chorus without interrupting the lyric flow or anything.
Quotes and comments are taken from the original liner notes and do not represent the opinions of WFMU, myself, or anyone else, for that matter.