Graham Reid | | 2 min read
There could be no greater proof of the random nature of Elsewhere's The Album Considered pages than this one pulled off a shelf.
Few in their right mind would want to play this ancient, MOR release by Howard Morrison let alone write about it.
And even fewer would want to admit to having it.
But here it is, pulled out at random.
So here goes.
But first the title track, which had been recorded by British singer Matt Munro two years before Morrison's version and had been sprung from the soundtrack of the film of the same name based on the book by Joy Adamson about raising a lion cub in Kenya.
It was a hugely successful book and film . . . and subsequently a hit song.
But Munro's song almost didn't see the light of day.
With music by John Barry and lyrics by the extraordinary Don Black, it was scheduled into the film but, according to Black biography Wrestling With Elephants, one of the film's producers Carl Foreman cut the song from the version screened at a royal premier in London.
Instead the film opened with the orchestral version, without those universal lyrics which Black had penned and Munro delivered in his warm baritone.
By sheer chance, the American bandleader Roger Williams heard the song, loved it, recorded it and the song went onto the US charts.
Then the race was on to get the song back into the film and mount a marketing campaign for it in advance of the Oscars . . . where it won best song in '66, beating out material by Burt Bacharach and Leonard Bernstein.
And then it became an unofficial anthem in apartheid-era South Africa, was covered by everyone from Andy Williams and Frank Sinatra to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir . . . and Howard Morrison.
Given the song was originally about a captive lion being nurtured and released back into the wild, the cover of Morrison's album is oddly amusing.
Perhaps, understandably, Howard's people thought roping in a lion for the shoot might have presented some danger.
Unless it was an in-joke reference to the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds' cover?
Yeah, but nah.
This album, was recorded for the Joe Brown Label, a decade after Morrison's career began with the famous Howard Morrison Quartet and four years after their break-up.
It found Howard on a strongly sentimental selection (My Mother's Eyes, Time Changes Everything, a dreary version of The Last Waltz, the country standard Wallpaper Roses and his heroic treatment of I Believe) alongside songs which would work for him on the cabaret circuit where he was now making his living (Snap Your Fingers, Lay Some Happiness, Sweet Georgia Brown, Detour).
Lotta country songs and standards in the selection.
And oddly enough, the hippie anthem by John (Mamas and Papas) Phillips', San Francisco (Wear Some Flowers in Your Hair).
All this diversity was arranged by the towering, versatile, former jingle-writer Brian Hands who knew how to bring in big horns and strings, and twanging country guitar.
But as to the inclusion of San Francisco – which is kinda nice and Hands excels given the limitations of the time and distance – well, it was '68 after all and despite the suit on the back cover, Howard and other MOR entertainers were colouring up their attire, as on the front cover.
As the anonymous liner note writer observes, “The judicious choice of familiar standards intermixed with new tunes, adds up to a well-balanced package, designed to appeal to the discriminating modern day music lover and will be a welcome addition to anyone's record library.”
Elsewhere has a record library.
This album happened to be in it.
This album is not on Spotify but is doubtless in many discount bins, if not free-to-a-good-home boxes.