I Hate Middle of the Road Music
There, I’ve said it, but it’s taken 30 years.
One of the great mysteries to me working in radio in the sixties was how MOR (Middle of the Road) radio stations ever survived.
Rock and roll stations had all the life and vibrancy of the pulsating music culture of the time MOR seemed to be a tepid rehash of the best of pop music.
There was always a place for easy listening stations (as they were later to be called) but the choice of music at some was inexplicable.
For me, MOR was Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Junior, Shirley Bassey, Barbara Streisand etc. Not The Ray Conniff Singers, Johnny Mann Singers, Manuel and his music of the Mountains* or Living Marimbas. And have I mentioned the 50 Guitars of Tommy Garrett?
How did Jimi Hendrix get away with just one?
Sinatra, Streisand and co. marched to their own beat not swayed by contemporary music (although they were know to dabble occasionally i.e. Sinatra having a shot at Bad, Bad Leroy Brown.
The Conniff, Mann, ensembles would gives us wall to wall bland. Now if that does it for you fair enough but it would have to be the least adventurous musical outpouring since the metronome.
But what used to get me angry while working at 3AW was playing MOR artists covering the hits of the day – Ray Conniff does the Bee Gees and other great hits. Spare me!!
Poor old Ray just didn’t get it ,and when his Singers recorded Gilbert O’Sullivan’s Alone Again, Naturally, I almost puked.
25 five singers (count ‘em) lamenting loneliness, in chorus.
And there were others – All Alone Am I (except for 24 other breathless singers) You’ll never Walk Alone ( not with 25 tune twisters around) Oh Lonesome Me, and I could go on.
At least when they covered The Captain and Tennille’s Love Will Keep Us Together I could wear that. Although I think it was Ray’s big fat pay cheques rather than love, keeping them together.
Mind you between 1957 and 1968, Ray Conniff had 28 albums in the American Top 40. Johnny Mann Singers covered The 5th Dimensions Up Up and Away which actually was a bigger hit in the UK than the original.
So what do I know.
*Manuel was in reality West Yorkshireman Geoff Love but that didn’t have quite the same ring as Manuel.