Music Article

Torched Songs

Unusual pop music recordings -- Bing Crosby, William Shatner, Muhammad Ali, and other stars' musical massacres

Bing Crosby crooning ''Hey Jude''? Mae West warbling ''Light My Fire''? Phyllis Diller attempting ''(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction''? No, it's not a nightmare, it's Volume 2 of Golden Throats: The Great Celebrity Sing-Off!, Rhino Records' series of pop-song massacres by big-band balladeers and singing actors. The first volume, released in 1988, featured such priceless works as William Shatner's ''Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds'' and Joel Grey's lounge-act version of Cream's ''White Room.'' The LP sold a respectable 35,000 copies, according to Rhino's Gary Peterson, who assembled both compilations with Pat Sierchio. ''When the first one came out, a lot of people wrote in and suggested things,'' says Peterson. ''So we came across so much other stuff. Most of them are pretty surreal, and that's the connecting thread.''

Volume 2 — scheduled for April release — certainly does promise to be unusual. In addition to the Crosby, West, and Diller tracks, it also will include Mitch Miller's male-choir version of ''Give Peace a Chance,'' Shatner's ''It Was a Very Good Year,'' Mel Tormé's ''Sunshine Superman,'' Muhammad Ali's ''Stand by Me'' (recorded when he was still Cassius Clay), and Sammy Davis Jr.'s ''Theme from Shaft.''

And what do the celebrities think of the project? ''We heard that William Shatner thought we took the songs out of context,'' Peterson says. ''And we tried really hard to get something from Telly Savalas' album, but his lawyer wasn't into it. But we dealt with Jack Jones directly, and he thought it was a great idea.''

Originally posted Mar 22, 1991 Published in issue #58 Mar 22, 1991 Order article reprints
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