DEAR JERRY: In the late 1950s I saw Frances Faye in the lounge at the Thunderbird Hotel in Las Vegas.
Never before had I seen an act with such energy and this gal was truly at home singing and playing her piano, while having no regard for acting proper during the show.
A few years later, while on liberty from the Marines, I saw Faye again, this time at the Crescendo Club in Hollywood.
Each time at her shows there was something special about her act, and the audiences knew how she felt by the way she phrased a lyric or changed the tempo of a song.
It's difficult to explain but, needless to say, I came away impressed.
What can you tell me about her career, and her recordings?
Dale Hall, Winter Haven, Fla.
DEAR DALE: Frances, sometimes mistakenly shown as Francis (1912-1991), made her first record in 1936, “No Regrets” (Decca 916), backed by Perry Botkin and His Orchestra.
Though she released at least a dozen singles in years ahead, Faye is regarded more as an albums artist. From 1954 through '64 Frances averaged a little more than one LP per year.
Not a one of Faye's records charted, though, as you twice discovered, her fame and fortune came from her predictably unpredictable concerts.
Frances liberally laced her lounge shows with risqué double entendres and homosexual humor. Decades ahead of Ellen, k.d. Lang, and other openly gay and lesbian stars, Faye repeatedly outted herself on stage.
Even those who regarded her act as over the top were quick to admit the lady was unique.
DEAR JERRY: There was a song that came out in the 1960s that I think might be titled “Dreamland.” It could be the flip side of a better known tune.
I do recall it begins with “my girl looks like Venus.”
Can you come up with a correct title and the artist?
Charlie Sandles, Flower Mound, Texas
DEAR CHARLIE: Certainly, though yet to be determined is whether it will be with one or two words.
The most likely choice is “Dream Land,” the flip of “Time Machine” (Madison 135) which is a 1960 hit for Dante and the Evergreens their follow-up to “Alley Oop.”
Both sides of both singles are produced by Herb Alpert and Lou Adler, significant because option number two is “Dreamland,” released in 1961 by Herb Alpert.
For this single (RCA Victor 7918), and several others that followed, Herb chose to record as Dore Alpert, a name borrowed from his son.
I doubt additional options are needed, but here are two other “Dreamland” issues from the same time: (1961) Dee Jones, backed with “Hideaway Heaven” (Brent 7023), and (1961) Dicky Doyle, backed with “My Little Darlin'” (Wye 1009).
An interesting coincidence is how the title “Dreamland,” and names of the four artists singing it, all begin with D: Dante; Dore; Dee; Dicky.
DEAR JERRY: I still have a record I bought around 1970 by Kent LaVoie. The songs are “Happy Days in New York City” backed with “My Friend Is Here.”
I never heard of Kent before or after, but I liked his style and am wondering if he ever recorded again.
Jessica Elbert, York, Pa.
DEAR JERRY: Oh yes, and it's very likely you know a few of his songs.
That Laurie single, issued in October 1969, is LaVoie's first solo release. About a year later, known only as Lobo, he began a string of self-penned hits.
Among them are: “Me and You and a Dog Named Boo;” “I'd Love You to Want Me;” “Don't Expect Me to Be Your Friend;” and “Don't Tell Me Goodnight.”
IZ ZAT SO? “Happy Days in New York City” is Floridian Kent LaVoie's musical homage to the Miracle Mets, out of the blue winners of the 1969 World Series.
LaVoie did record before the Mets made sports history, as a member these local garage bands: Sugar Beats (1965); Me and the Other Guys (1966); Uglies (1966); and U.S Male (1967).