"In a sense, a hit belongs to the person who made it popular," says Les Baxter,
is certainly a voice of experience where hit records are concerned.
"But if a tune is good enough to attain tremendous
success," continues Les, "then it
certainly deserves more than one version, one treatment, one approach. Regardless
of who originally made it popular, any hit song becomes a challenge to the ingenuity
and imagination of other musicians and performers."
Here, Baxter meets this challenge with his sparkling
instrumental interpretations of
twelve of 1960's biggest sellers, adding new brilliance to the season's most
"Our idea," Les says, "was to take some of
the top hits, all but one of them (Theme
from A Summer Place) originally a vocal record, and re-interpret them as
instrumentals without copying what already had been done."
His rhythmic orchestral rendition of Tom Dooley, captures
perfectly the tragic beauty
of this lovely folk ballad. His exciting arrangement of El Paso depicts the vast
desolation of the frontier, and reflects the'color and drama that was so much a part
of the Old West. Les has also taken the sprightly little tune, The Battle of New Orleans,
and developed it to magnificently humorous proportions, employing a wide range of
instruments and a stirring drum-beat to obtain delightful effects. The inventive Baxter
string and swing version of Mack the Knife moves along at a smooth uptempo pace,
and for contrast Les offers his lush and lovely arrangement of the tender Erroll
Garner ballad, Misty.
It's an album full of contrasts and surprises, an ideal
showcase for the myriad talents
which have brought Les Baxter to the very top among America's composers,
arrangers and conductors Listen as Baxter's musical magic makes these hits of 1960
glow as never before.