It's time for another Battle of the Bands, the blogging event first introduced by our friends at Far Away Series and StMcC Presents Battle of the Bands. This event happens twice each month on the 1st and 15th. The premise is simple: Listen to the songs presented below and then in the comments vote for your favorite and tell us why you liked it. Then visit the links listed near the bottom of this post for more Battle action.
In this round I'm doing something different from my normal approach. We've been discouraging using more than two versions of a song, but this time I'm going with three and I'll do some explaining later. Also I'm going to tell you in this post which version I'm voting for, not to influence anyone's vote, but once again for reasons I'll explain after you listen to the first two brief offerings.
This post is packed with some great music so let's get on with it!
I Only Have Eyes For You
I thought I gave some pretty obvious clues in my guessing game of the previous two posts, but no one quite caught on even though this song is such a well known classic.
"I Only Have Eyes For You" was written in 1934 for the film Dames. The song is on ASCAP's list of the 25 most recorded songs of the 20th Century. Several different recordings of the song have appeared on the charts by a number of artists. The recording by The Flamingos ranks #157 on Rolling Stone magazines 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
The song was composed by Harry Warren, a songwriter in whose long career successfully turned out numerous well known songs including 21 that charted at #1 on "Your Hit Parade", and Al Dubin, a lyricist best known for his collaborations with Warren.
The Flamingos "I Only Have Eyes For You" (1959)
Starting off we have what I think is the most romantic do-wop recording ever. I'm not a big do-wop fan, but this cover of "I Only Have Eyes For You" transcends the genre to create a piece of music that I think would be nearly impossible for anyone not to like. The vocals are celestial with an insistent hypnotic rhythmic background that draws us into a nearly dreamlike trance. To me pop music does not get much better than this fine arrangement of an old song. Yes, this is actually an old song first introduced in a 1934 film. More on that later. First the Flamingos.
Chris Connor with Maynard Ferguson "I Only Have Eyes For You" (1960)
I'm pretty sure that some of you who were sure they'd vote Flamingos will be faced with an agonizing decision after hearing this next version. If you've never heard this swinging big band take with veteran jazz singer Chris Connor backed by the legendary Maynard Ferguson, be prepared to get blown away. Great horn playing with classy swing singing makes this version of the song almost irresistible. Will you only have ears for this version? Take a listen.
Busby Berkeley and gang "I Only Have Eyes For You" (1934)
There are few things that can make me smile more than this wonderful film clip. The clip runs a few seconds over ten minutes so it is a long one, but I think it might be worth your time to view whether you've seen it or not. In a sense this is a compilation of variations of essentially the same arrangement of the song--in the stage musical form combination of conversation and singing, in angelic choral singing, and then in a pop-style near symphonic proportions orchestral arrangement. Smooth vocals of tenor Dick Powell with assistance of the lovely singer, dancer and actress Ruby Keeler makes this production an absolute delight.
This excerpt of Dames displays movie magic attained not by computer generated images, but achieved with meticulous planning, clever editing, elaborate stage sets, and real people behind everything seen by the viewer. The camera work is quite striking as well.
I do enjoy much of the amazing CGI work in today's films, but much of it still has a fake quality that becomes a bit boring to me after seeing so many of these effects driven films. I'll take work such as these great old Busby Berkeley numbers any day. I've watched this clip over and over and never fail to grow tired of it. It's truly amazing! All I can do is encourage you to watch this clip carefully to see if you agree with what I'm saying about it.
If you aren't willing to invest the ten minutes it takes to evaluate the clip from Dames then just pick from the first two versions and we'll see how the vote goes in the end. As much as I like the versions by The Flamingos and the jazzier take of Chris Connor, I'm going with the original Dames version not only for the sentimental reasons from my heart, but most of all for the spectacular song arrangement and the production quality of the scene in the film. For me it is amazing, romantic, and happy.
If you are willing then take a listen, but be sure to watch the visuals as well:
Time to Vote!
Which do you prefer? I've started off the voting with one vote for the original version from the film Dames which as I said earlier is an optional choice in this contest. I hope you will consider this one, but I'll understand if you only choose between the shorter versions.
Now it's up to you to determine the winner. Please vote on your favorite by letting us know your choice in the comment section and tell us why you prefer the one you chose. Then after you've finished here, please visit the other blogs listed below who may or may not be participating this time around. And if you've put up your own BOTB contest let us know that as well so we can vote on yours.
Here are some other places where you might find BOTB posts:
‘FAR AWAY SERIES’
StMcC Presents Battle of the Bands
‘YOUR DAILY DOSE’
DC Relief Battle of the Bands
The results of my Battle will be announced on Friday January 23rd. On Monday January 19th I'll have some more to say about the films of Busby Berkeley and a further commentary about film making in our era. Stay with me on this, but most of all please vote on this current contest as this one is near and dear to my heart in another way that I'll explain on Wednesday the 21st.
If you don't like any version of this song, why? (You'd better have a darn good explanation for that one!) Do you feel that older songs captured the concept of romance better than today's songs? Why do you think that musicals are less popular in our time than during the first few decades of talking pictures?