Mitch Miller And The Gang – Sing Along With Mitch (1958)

FrontCover1This is the kind of album that Howard and Marion Cunningham (Tom Bosley and Marion Ross) and their neighbors would have been listening to together on Happy Days, if the latter had been a CBS series rather than an ABC series. Seriously, starting with “That Old Gang of Mine,” Mitch Miller and the Gang go through 16 songs (some as medleys) that, even in 1958, felt like they were 100 years old. In fairness, they don’t feel quite like they’re 150 years old when heard on the CD in 2007 — to that degree, they’ve sort of become “timeless” — but they were definitely intended to appeal to parents and grandparents at the time of the album’s release. The performances on such tunes as “Down by the Old Mill Stream,” “You Are My Sunshine,” and “By the Light of the Silvery Moon,” are bold and robust, with little touches of subtlety in TVGuidethe dynamics and the spare accompaniment — often not much more than a harmonica or an accordion, with a ukulele — and the tempos, that make them somewhat more interesting to hear as a body than they are as individual tracks. Actually, Miller and company seem to have planned this album as a total, cohesive listening experience rather than a series of separate, isolated songs, as the numbers come almost right up against each other, with virtually no pause between. Among the individual tracks, those who liked Miller’s hit rendition of “The Yellow Rose of Texas” will probably luxuriate in the version of “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon” featured here. The contrasting tempos and melodies are all very carefully selected, for the greatest variety between songs, and it’s all calculated right down to the light-hearted final track, “Be Kind to Your Web-Footed Friends,” which is here as a jocular, almost self-deprecating finish. It’s almost a concept album, in that sense — and was Miller consciously stepping into territory that his one-time most outspoken in-house critic, Frank Sinatra, was staking out in his then-current berth at Capitol Records? — and a surprisingly well-crafted one. And while it is easy to scoff at this kind of music 50 years on, one should also remember that Sing Along with Mitch was one of the bigger selling albums in the Columbia Records library, staying in print for decades and racking up sales sufficient to earn it a release as part of the label’s first wave of budget-priced CDs (alongside albums such as Paul Revere & the Raiders’ Greatest Hits etc.), thirty years after its original release. (by Bruce Eder)

“I grew up watching this in the early 60’s. What a gas it was. I was in kindergarten and tried to sing along with Mitch and the gang all the time. They just don’t make programs like this anymore.” (maribellevazquez)

MitchMiller1956Mitch Miller in 1956

Mitch Miller And The Gang

01. That Old Gang Of Mine (Dixon/Henderson/Rose) 2.06
02. Down By The Old Mill Stream (Clough/Taylor) 2.37
03. By The Light Of The Silvery Moon (Edwards/Madden) 2.15
04. You Are My Sunshine (Davis/Mitchell) 3.18
05. Till We Meet Again (Egan/Whiting) 2.44
06. Let The Rest Of The World Go By (Ball/Brennan) 3.04
07. Sweet Violets (Coben/Grean) 2.42
08. I’ve Got Sixpence/I’ve Been Working On The Railroad/That’s Where My Mon (Traditional) 4.03
09. She Wore A Yellow Ribbon (Traditional) 2.49
10. Don’t Fence Me In (Porter) 2.05
11. There Is A Tavern In The Town/Show Me The Way To Go Home (King/Traditional) 3.23
12. Bell Bottom Trousers/Be Kind To Your Web-Footed Friends (Jaffe) 2.54