Louis Armstrong

Mame

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The radio hit "Mame," like many great moments in music history, can almost be seen as something of a defiant act in the face of a Hit Parade that had was increasingly rock-oriented. Yet the '60s charts were also a place where strange nuggets of the standard archive and easy listening productions nestled alongside bizarre novelty concoctions and psychedelic experiments. It wasn't that there was anything considered revolutionary about "Mame" at the time; in fact, if anything it was further reason to short-sightedly brand Satchmo as a kind of fawning entertainer, not to be taken seriously. The classic, grinning open-mouthed pose is what decorated the back cover of this "hits"-type package, also reissued in a rush on the budget Pickwick line about half a dozen years later when this great artist died. The producer's mindset seems to have been that the title tune, combined with another song from the same Broadway show and an obligatory "Saints," would make the whole thing look like a greatest-hits set and the sale would be made. There are much better tracks from the jazz point of view in the leftovers, including a sizzling "Tyree's Blues," featuring the trombone majesty of Tyree Glenn, who like all the other sidemen goes uncredited. The boss has a hand in composing more than half the tracks and these are enjoyable jazz vignettes, although an eye is definitely on the studio clock and the imaginary disc jockey sitting on the other side of the wall waiting for the results.