Niagara Gazette

Columns

June 9, 2013

SINGER: The power of certain oldies

Niagara Gazette — Certain oldies have been grossly overplayed, including in restaurants and pharmacies, and for me at least, have lost their emotive power, if they had it in the first place. You just say to yourself: hey, I heard this particular one 8,000 times on the radio when it first came out, then another 8,000 over the years, and now I have to hear it again?

However, some offerings one gets on local stations like 1440 AM can still move heck out of me and among the latter, I include two recorded back in the early ’60s by a brother-sister duo born in a place called Niagara Falls. I’m referring of course to Nino Tempo and April Stevens, the professional names they adopted and which they made deservedly famous

Some will recognize the first of these records as quintessentially theirs, though it was done almost as an afterthought, cut very quickly, and included Stevens’ spoken parts against Tempo’s fine riffs almost by accident. This hardy salmon of a record was then released only after vigorous opposition from a heavy-hitting producer of the time, Ahmet Ertegun (I guess one shouldn’t trust the suits inevitably to have taste or foresight). And then? The record became a monster hit and as it turned out, the biggest ever for Tempo and Stevens. And indeed, though this song “Deep Purple” went back to the Swing Era before World War II, the brother-sister version of the early ’60s was and remains truly unique and wonderful.

Another by them that you occasionally hear on 1440 may surprise more — I certainly don’t remember it on radio back in the day: the Tempo and Stevens rendering of “Stardust,” done in the same thrilling manner as their “Deep Purple,” and which can almost tear me up as I drive.

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