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What Is The Whitest Recording Ever Made by a Black Artist?


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Showing 1-25 of 133 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Sep 26, 2012 5:56:57 PM PDT
When Pat Boone covered Little Richard's "Tutti Frutti" he had a radio hit, but what a travesty. No offense to Pat or his fans, but never did the man sound more white-bread bland than when he did this song, which he obviously did not understand. I heard it on the radio recently, and the thought crossed my mind, is there a recording by a black artist that sounds even more devoid of funk than Pat's "Tutti Frutti"? Well, there are quite a few, in fact. Some by Johnny Mathis or Charlie Pride or Sammy Davis, Jr....gifted as these singers are or were, they were not disciples of the James Brown church, let's face it.

If I had to pick one, the ultimate, it would have to be a rarity by Nat King Cole titled "The Happiest Christmas Tree". "And a HEE and a HO and a (clap-clap) HI-HI, and a HO and a HI and a (clap-clap) HEE-HEE..." is how it begins, and oh Lordy, it slides downhill rapidly from there. I venerate Nat King Cole, I own three of his box sets, but this recording makes Burl Ives's "A Jolly Holly Christmas" sound like Mahalia Jackson doing "Oh Holy Night."

Remember the movie ABOUT A BOY? Hugh Grant plays a guy who doesn't have to work, because his late father wrote a Christmas novelty song that became a freak hit, and he lives off the royalties. When people hear about this, they inevitably break out singing the wretchedly cute song, to Hugh Grant's mortification. Remember that song? How awful it was? It sounded quite a bit like "The Happiest Christmas Tree", except it was better.

I think we have a winner. But I welcome other candidates....

Posted on Sep 26, 2012 6:11:11 PM PDT
Incidentally, I hope we can agree to agree that although any artist can record anything he or she wishes to record and sing in any manner he or she finds artistically valid, to claim that some recordings are funkier than others and some more white-bread than others is not regarded as racist. Nobody could listen to "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" and deduce that the singer is white, and nobody can listen to Patti Page's "How Much Is That Doggie In The Window?" and conclude that the singer is black. Many singers of both races don't sound particularly white or black. But there is a spectrum of white-bread to funk.

Posted on Sep 26, 2012 6:18:07 PM PDT
D. Mok says:
"Arienne" by Tasmin Archer is very "white". Everything by Kimya Dawson sounds very white as well.

Posted on Sep 26, 2012 6:19:00 PM PDT
Gene McDaniel's Point of No Return gets my nomination.

Posted on Sep 26, 2012 6:25:05 PM PDT
Love, "Orange Skies" or "Andmoreagain". Although that was all very deliberate on Lee's part.

Posted on Sep 26, 2012 7:27:38 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 26, 2012 7:28:13 PM PDT
J. Hand says:
Anything by Sammy Davis Jr. or Charlie Pride. No knock against either as human beings or performers or their fans.

Admittedly, I was never able to look at Sammy the same way again after reading some of the things he (allegedly) did in Linda Lovelace's book Ordeal. Not that it's in my collection or is in my list of music I like, but 'Candyman' creeps me out!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted on Sep 26, 2012 7:40:54 PM PDT
"Candyman" is indisputably creepy, but it was the source of one of the funniest movie scenes ever, in "The Fabulous Baker Boys".

Posted on Sep 27, 2012 4:35:16 AM PDT
S. Stalcup says:
"Anything by Sammy Davis Jr." Agreed. Any station playing his version of "The Theme from Shaft" needs reporting to Amnesty International for human rights violations.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 27, 2012 5:49:56 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 27, 2012 5:50:12 AM PDT
Oooh, a great BAD record. I have the album, SAMMY DAVIS JR. NOW, MGM SE 4832. Has "The Candy Man" and his version of "MacArthur Park." I'm still looking for his Motown Lp that just preceded it.

Posted on Sep 27, 2012 6:00:05 AM PDT
Johnny Bee says:
Can't Get Enough Of Your Love, Babe

Posted on Sep 27, 2012 6:17:32 AM PDT
Randy says:
Cracked Rear View

Posted on Sep 27, 2012 6:36:39 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 27, 2012 6:41:23 AM PDT
Oh, almost forgot: Sammy Davis, Jr. did a Nashville country record, CLOSEST OF FRIENDS, c. 1982 on Applause Records, produced by Larry Butler. Cowboy hat, cowboy books, back cover posing in jeans rolled up over his boots, standing under a street sign that shows "Music Square E."

Songs are:
(Side one) --What I've Got in Mind/Come Sundown/Mention a Mansion/You're Gonna Love Yourself in the Morning/Smoke, Smoke, Smoke (that Cigarette)
(Side two) --Oh Lonesome Me/We Could Have Been Closest of Friends/Hey Won't You Play (Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song)/Please Don't Tell Me How the Story Ends/The River's Too Wide

Whatcha know, it's been CD-d, too:

Closest Of Friends (Remastered)

...Anyone ever run across the LaToya Jackson country CD?

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 27, 2012 7:45:49 AM PDT
Mr. P says:
Lionel Richie ....aint been Black since the Commodores....and whats with that redneck twang!?

Beyonce so crossover [in sound and image] its gets hard 2 tell. Musically, she increasingly gone 2 the pop side.....no difference between what she does and Lady GaGa etc.

Musically, Whitney Houston got the Sony/Davis 'Whitifying' wash-out/sell out process 2 full effect for most of her career. [exception: The Gospel & 'My Love Is Your Love'.]

[BTW Nat Cole may have got real washed out with certain arrangements of tunes by the end of his career, tho not always his decision, and certainly did a few square White Preppy howlers of tunes.....but vocally he never, ever sounded White!]

Black Eyed Peas now effectively sound like White people doing 'Coonery & Bufoonery.'

Posted on Sep 27, 2012 8:01:21 AM PDT
vivazappa says:
Up Up and Away--The Fifth Demension

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 27, 2012 8:51:37 AM PDT
S. Stalcup says:
Mr. P

Lionel was getting that twang during the Commodores. Tommy Davidson used to knock it in his stand-up act.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lonC3qKlguM at the 1:29 marker

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 27, 2012 9:41:28 AM PDT
Andy B says:
Darius Rucker - Hootie and the Blowfish - nobody thought this guy was black.

I think Sammy Davis was more show biz and that type of singing was more accepted for the big screen and pop stars of the day. So I can understand his style. Nat Cole was a crooner and was the rival/equivalent of Sinatra. For them I don't think it was a black/white thing. I am not sure they were trying to necessarily sound "white" I think they were trying to be successful in the popular style of the day.

Posted on Sep 27, 2012 9:47:40 AM PDT
D. Mok says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

Posted on Sep 27, 2012 9:50:17 AM PDT
<<<Darius Rucker - Hootie and the Blowfish - nobody thought this guy was black.>>>
after hootie he went honest to God country!!!

Posted on Sep 27, 2012 10:00:56 AM PDT
JCRB says:
Terry Evans - Puttin' It Down

My girlfriend and I took a West Coast Swing dance class, heard this CD everyday. We were the youngest people in the class, and while neither of us are the darkest people we certainly felt like it in that class.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 27, 2012 11:47:36 AM PDT
Andy B says:
I think he even went into smooth jazz

Posted on Sep 27, 2012 11:51:54 AM PDT
Aqualung says:
I never knew Dobie Gray was black till I went to look for "Drift Away" and saw his image on the disc.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 27, 2012 11:54:05 AM PDT
I never knew Dobie Gray was black until I read that post!

Posted on Sep 27, 2012 12:19:34 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 30, 2012 8:55:06 AM PDT
Johnny Bee says:
Phil Lynott - doesn't really sound black on any of his records.

Posted on Sep 27, 2012 12:32:02 PM PDT
Steelers fan says:
"Drift Away" sounds kind of black.

Posted on Sep 27, 2012 12:33:18 PM PDT
Steelers fan says:
The opposite question is more interesting: What is the blackest recording ever made by a white artist?
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This discussion

Discussion in:  Music forum
Participants:  42
Total posts:  133
Initial post:  Sep 26, 2012
Latest post:  Nov 7, 2012

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