Burt’s hurts

Oct 1, 2003 at 12:00 am

What insights into Bacharachia are to be found in this new book?

We learn, for instance, that in 1965 Burt Bacharach was an opponent of early rock ’n’ roll (but had nothing but praise for the Beatles). Here’s an excerpt about the Peter O’Toole film What’s New Pussycat, which featured Manfred Mann’s version of Bacharach’s “My Little Red Book” that Arthur Lee hijacked into the charts:

“Arthur Lee became enamored with the song at a movie house, but rather than shell out money for the single or sound track, he simply ran the song down to his group, Love, the way he remembered it — or mis-remembered it. … Love’s translation soared all the way to No. 52 nationally, much to the chagrin of Bacharach, who bemoaned the loss of most of the song’s original chords. Since it was the hit version, most hard-rock and punk acts covering the tune just followed Love’s streamlined arrangement. Lee may have further incurred Bacharach’s irritation by naming a song on Love’s third album ‘A House Is Not a Motel.’”

And there’s this tidbit about the 1963 tune “Wives and Lovers,” which became a favorite among crooners and jazz musicians with versions cut by Duke Ellington and Ella Fitzgerald (together), Wes Montgomery, Stan Getz, Frank Sinatra and many others:

“Earlier installments of this discography haven’t exactly been kind to Jack Jones, and we’re not about to break a tradition here. For most styles of pop song, Jones is the worst kind of singer. He enunciates rather than emotes, reduces words to mere syllables and hits the notes square on the head like he’s going down a shopping list. … If male chauvinist pigs needed a pledge drive song, they needn’t have looked further than this king-of-the-castle anthem. And Jones sounds all too happy oinking the news — that a house is not a home, it’s a sex slave camp where a breadwinner has a moral obligation to commit adultery if his wife sees him off to work with curlers in her hair. …”

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