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Album Review

Ray Conniff's first LP of 1968, It Must Be Him, was a fairly typical collection of easy listening interpretations of pop hits from 1965-1967 that had been fairly easy to listen to in their original recordings. In a sleeve note, Conniff praised "the harmonic structures, melodic lines, and rhythmic backgrounds" of contemporary pop that were bringing about "the most radical and exciting change I have witnessed in the entire 25 years I have been associated with the recording industry," and in his arrangements he retained much of the flavor of the hit versions, to the point of using a studio band that featured electric guitars. But that didn't mean he was covering the Rolling Stones, by any means. Rather, he took advantage of a softening in pop after the British Invasion that allowed new middle-of-the-road performers like Engelbert Humperdinck ("Release Me") and Vikki Carr ("It Must Be Him") to emerge. His version of the 5th Dimension's "Up, Up and Away" sounded a lot like the original, if only because his perky singers took the same approach as the popular vocal group. His singers were sometimes asked to tackle unlikely lyrics, particularly the bitter, obsessed "It Must Be Him," which was given an oddly androgynous tone when what were clearly male singers joined in with the females on the chorus, an effect repeated in "Don't Sleep in the Subway." But Conniff's fans didn't mind. His albums were intended for an older audience that occasionally heard a song they liked on AM radio, even if they were put off by the long hair of some of the performers. For them, albums like It Must Be Him were useful hits collections, and this one was useful enough to earn a gold record award.


Genre: Vocal

The man who popularized wordless vocal choruses and light orchestral accompaniment on a mix of popular standards and contemporary hits of the 1960s, Ray Conniff was a trombone player for Bunny Berigan's Orchestra and Bob Crosby's Bobcats before being hired as an arranger by Mitch Miller for Columbia Records in 1954. After he wrote the charts for several sizeable Columbia hits during the mid-'50s, Conniff became a solo artist as well, applying his arranging techniques to instrumental easy listening...
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It Must Be Him, Ray Conniff and The Singers
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