Hello again, fellow roadies! Welcome to the holiday bonus edition of the Route 66 Song Of The Week. Only a few days ago, we treated you to Natalie Cole’s take on her daddy’s big hit and our favorite road anthem. But no sooner had we posted it than a hue and cry went up for Daddy Dearest. Well! This being the ultimate All-American Weekend, what with The Fourth, and it being the height of the road-trip season as well, how could we refuse? After all, who could beat the guy who held the title of King long before Elvis?
So: by popular demand, we give you the definitive Nat King Cole and King Cole Trio’s YouTube version of “Route 66,” as uploaded by Gene Vincent’s Official Nat King Cole Fan Club. This is clearly a filmed/videotaped version meant to look like a club date but is most likely a performance the group did for television. It may even be from Nat Cole’s own brief TV show, which ran in 1956 and 1957. It seems Cole was much more popular as a guest on other people’s TV shows and specials, at least where TV sponsors were concerned.
Howdy, road music lovers! We’re overdue for an installment of our favorite road anthem, and this week it’s Natalie Cole’s turn. Given that her dad, Nat ‘King’ Cole, made this tune a big hit only a few weeks after Bobby Troup and his first wife Cynthia wrote it while driving down said route on the way to L.A. (Cynthia suggested the title), it seems only appropriate to feature the lovely Ms. Natalie right before the July 4th holiday. Nat and his King Cole Trio were playing in L.A. at the time (yes, now you know how he got his nickname); before that, he and the trio spent a while making music in Chicago, a city to which Nat and his family had moved when he was four years old and to which he often returned.
Kudos to Ron Warnick over at Route 66 News for spotting this announcement last week on Yahoo! Finance (riiiight; where else would Universal Music put a new album announcement? Not like you’d be thinking Billboard magazine or anything …). It seems Universal Music Enterprises, which owns the old Capitol Records archive, found some unreleased tracks recorded by Nat Cole at a Chicago session circa 1955. Or rather, Alex Luke, former EVP of A&R at Capitol Records and a big Nat King Cole fan, spent two years working in the Capitol vaults trying to locate missing master tapes, combing through photos, union records, paperwork and tapes to find this material, which evidently got misplaced at about the time Capitol ws moving into its (then) brand new Capitol Tower at Hollywood and Vine in Los Angeles.
The search paid off: the targeted session tapes are still missing, but the unreleased tracks and alternate takes that Luke found were golden. The standard edition of the new release will hav 22 classic Cole performances, whereas the two-CD deluxe edition — that’s the one you want, folks — features 14 rare or previously unreleased tracks, including four never-before-heard vintage songs and previously unissued alternate takes of Nat Cole standards. They’ll all be downloadable, of course.
Yes, we know: we missed the last two weeks, and we’re sorry for that. But in recompense, we’ll double your pleasure this week. Two hep, hip jazz divas who aren’t at all diva-ish in attitude come together to sing our classic theme song in concert: the great Diana Krall and her group with guest Natalie Cole, doing daddy Nat’s hit single of Bobby Troup’s classic, in concert. And the result is wonderful. Give a listen and check it out for yourselves:
Courtesy of Ron Warnick at the Route 66 News blog, we’ve just learned that jazz guitarist George Benson has a new album out called Inspiration, honoring the late great pianist and vocalist Nat King Cole. This does, of course, include our favorite Bobby Troup song, which Cole made a hit in 1946 (shortly after Troup wrote and recorded it himself, in fact). You can find a YouTube video of it here and can buy it at Amazon here. Remarkably, Benson’s voice is reminiscent of Cole’s smooth warmth and is amiably suited to this.