He had the voice but unfortunately not the drive, personality, or work ethic that his father had...
Photo looks very much like Phil.
David and Ron,
Fortunately, the European label Fresh Sound Records has reissued this album by Gary, along with another one, on CD. You can read about the reissue here:
I have it and have listened to it many times, and it shows that Gary was not a bad singer after all. The arrangements are by Marty Paich, so they're top notch, and I think the main problem with some of Gary's vocals is that he often doesn't succeed in relaxing as much as necessary to give the song his best. Of course, comparisons with his famous father can't have helped the chart success of these two albums, but I particularly like the one called Belts the Blues.
By the way, I am not sure if this reissue has been reviewed for BING Magazine, but if it hasn't, I am willing to take on the job in the near future!!!
I'm afraid he "belts" things out a bit too much for me. "Glow Worm" at least (if no others) should surely be treated more gently. It's "glow little glow worm, glimmer" becomes a bit of a fiery furnace.
At least the CD title is apt.
"Bunny Botkin" is in fact Perry Botkin junior, son of Perry Botkin, the guitar player and musical director who worked with Bing on a number of records and radio shows.
An interesting example of collaboration over two generations.
Richard Baker wrote:
I'm afraid he "belts" things out a bit too much for me. "Glow Worm" at least (if no others) should surely be treated more gently. It's "glow little glow worm, glimmer" becomes a bit of a fiery furnace..
I absolutely agree with you about this: more often than not, Gary is quite a belter on these two albums. However (though this is really impossible to know, and I guess not even Gary would have been able to comment on this), could this be a way in which he was trying to distinguish and distance himself from Bing? I mean, Bing was the epitome of a relaxed approach to singing, hardly ever a belter, not counting some of his earliest records. So perhaps belting out the tunes was Gary's attempt to find his own way in the business, to come up with his own style... I agree, though, that a song like "Glow Worm" doesn't stand that kind of approach, of course!
Regarding Perry Botkin, Sr. (the father of Jr.), I think he was a fine jazz guitarist, highly polished, and heavily influenced by Eddie Lang. It is really too bad that he never recorded anything on his own, leading his own combo. At least there are no CDs or LPs available by him at this time, so I don't guess he ever cut any albums as a leader—though I may be wrong.
Last edited by Anton G.-F. (17/11/2015 5:41 am)
Anton, I'm sure you are right. But if he was to "belt" out the material that he was using, it should have been chosen with greater care. There are songs that call for a vigorous approach, even to be "belted" but certainly not "Glow Worm".
The original music, on which Johnny Mercer based the words for his song, "Glühwürmchen-Idyll" or "Glow Worm Idyll", by Paul Lincke, is a charming, gentle piece and Johnny treated it suitably in his own recording. Unfortunately Bing did not record it, though it appears in several radio shows.
I knew that Johnny Mercer had been responsible for the fine song "Glow Worm," but I had absolutely no idea that it was originally a German melody. It is a great tune, and I sing it often to Libby, my two-year-old daughter! The first time I ever heard it, by the way, was by Bing, from one of his radio shows, although the budget-label album it was on didn't have any information about what show or when it was recorded. I definitely much prefer Mercer's own version to Gary's.
I find that the problem with many singers is that they perform songs without paying attention to the lyrics, and that's one of the lessons that the great vocalists from the past (Bing, Frank, Dean, Billie, Ella, etc.) have taught us. Even though they hardly ever wrote their own material, they always succeeded in leaving their own imprint on it, and that comes from an understanding of what the lyrics of the songs mean, from a prior reflection on what the point that the songwriters are trying to make is.
Last edited by Anton G.-F. (17/11/2015 3:33 pm)
Orchestral example here