Sunday, February 9, 2014

Percy Faith Orchestra -- "Theme from 'A Summer Place'" (1959)

"The Church" was the nickname given to Columbia Records' legendary 30th Street Studio in New York City.

The 30th Street Studio had been built as the Adams-Parkhurst Memorial Presbyterian Church in 1875.  It was eventually abandoned, and had been empty for some time when Columbia Records rented it and converted it into a recording studio in 1949.  The last recording session at "The Church" took place in 1981, and the building was torn down some time ago.

"The Church"
The recording studio at the 30th Street facility was about 100 feet around, with a 100-foot-high ceiling, and by all accounts had remarkable acoustical properties. 

Before Mitch Miller became a best-selling recording artist and the star of the "Sing Along With Mitch" television series, he was the head of A&R for Columbia Records.  ("A&R" stands for "artists and repertoire."  The A&R department of a record label is responsible for finding and developing musical talent.)  Once the Columbia engineers had configured the studio to its satisfaction, Miller made it clear that no one was to do anything that altered the space -- according to one account, the janitorial staff was even told not to mop the floor.

Glenn Gould at the 30th Street Studio
The list of legendary albums recorded at "The Church" is as long as your arm.  Glenn Gould recorded Bach's Goldberg Variations there, and most of the classic Miles Davis albums (like Sketches of Spain and Kind of Blue) were recorded at the 30th Street Studio, as were Dave Brubeck's Time Out (which included "Take Five"), Tony Bennett's I Left My Heart in San Francisco, Bob Dylan's Bringing It All Back Home, and the original Broadway cast recording of West Side Story.

John Coltrane, "Cannonball" Adderley, Miles Davis
and Bill Evans recording Kind Of Blue in 1959
The Percy Faith Orchestra recorded "Theme from A Summer Place" at the 30th Street Studio on September 11, 1959.  The world little noted nor long remembered A Summer Place, a 1959 movie that starred Sandra Dee and Troy Donahue as two young lovers named Molly and Johnny.

Here's the trailer for the movie:

"Theme from A Summer Place" is not the main title theme of the movie, but rather the love theme of Molly and Johnny.  It was written by the legendary film composer Max Steiner, who composed over 300 film scores (including the score for Gone With the Wind) and was nominated for 24 Academy Awards.

Hugo Winterthaler recorded the version of the theme used in the movie, but it was Percy Faith's recording that spent nine weeks in the #1 spot on the Billboard "Hot 100" singles chart in 1960.   No instrumental has ever stayed at #1 longer.

Faith, who virtually invented the "easy listening" format, re-recorded the song twice -- his disco version was the the last record he made before he died of cancer on this date in 1976, aged 68.

Faith also composed the theme song for "The Virginian," the third-longest-running TV Western ever.  Click here to hear it.

Many artists recorded vocal version of "Theme from A Summer Place," including Andy Williams, Julie London, Bobby Vinton, and Joanie Sommers (whose recording was the B-side to her 1962 hit, "Johnny Get Angry").

Here's Percy Faith's recording of "Theme from A Summer Place":

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

1 comment:

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