Friday, March 24, 2006:

The Roots Canal (guest blog): Radio was great, but it's out of date

Dianne Reeves — TV Is the Thing This Year
Dinah Washington — TV Is the Thing This Year
Did you see Good Night, and Good Luck? It opens with a live performance by Dianne Reeves giving us a laugh with a lively number called "TV Is the Thing This Year." (If you're an eMusic subscriber, you can download the whole soundtrack here.)

The critics like to complain that Dianne Reeves doesn't stick to jazz. I think they're full of shit. This song shows off one of the all-time great R&B voices. Her duets with Lou Rawls on his At Last album — the title song and "Fine Brown Frame" — are R&B classics.

Ironically, the original singer of "TV Is the Thing This Year" was also controversial for her genre-switching. The great Dinah Washington was "Queen of the Jukeboxes" with her swinging bluesy jazz for more than a decade before she started a second career as a pop star singing lush orchestral ballads. If you just know her from her later pop, her earlier R&B is a revelation!

You'll get a kick out of the original. They really cleaned it up for the movie. Dianne Reeves left out the best part, as Dinah turns up the dial from Channel 1 to Channel 11.

While we're on the subject of TV, check out this unusual track from 1954 which pairs Big Joe Turner with the great slide guitarist Elmore James:
Big Joe Turner — TV Mama

[Good Night, and Good Luck]
[The R&B Years, 1953]
[The R&B Years, 1954]
I'd gone so far as to write Reeves' name down from the credits, then I forgot to follow up on her.

I really like a lot of Dinah Washington's work. She has a great voice and, as you point out, she's not afraid of a double entendre.

These are good picks.

how very cool. and if i may say so, reeves beats washington in overtime.

The vocal performances are a neck-and-neck race, but the Dinah Washington track wins on the strength of that incredible organ. I'll take it over the sax solo five days out of the week.

Thanks for the songs. Great stuff.

They're both great. No need to choose. This actually isn't Dinah's best work, either. I'll put up some more of her songs later.

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