Friday, January 19, 2007

Della Reese It Was A Very Good Year HMV

I am unsure what "scene" started playing this Della Reese 45 but I noticed it creeping onto many diverse playlists across the Net and then someone sent me a CD-R with it on. I was hooked on it from the off as well as loving the B-side "Solitary Woman". I snapped it up on UK HMV the first chance I had. I must be honest it does become a bit of a fetish to have it on a UK release in it's original sleeve - sounds good looks good!!!

The song actually reached #99 on the US pop charts in 1967 ansd was taken from Della's "One More Time " album. I had always associated the song with Frank Sinatra but a check revealed that it was first recored by the Kingston Trio back in 1961. The song has been covered by a host of artists including Nat King Cole, Count Basie, Ray Charles, Lou Rawls as well other versions in the pop field.

What is that captivated me about Della's version? Let's start with the rhythm track laid down by jazz trumpeter Bobby Bryant and his Quintet. Bobby Bryant worked with a host of the jazz greats before either working with his own small bands or working with big band leaders such as Oliver Nelson. Therefore I think the track swings like a big band but has a gritty small club groove which adds to the tension of the song.

Then we come to Della's vocal - she had grown up in the gospel field with the Meditation Singers but the mid 1960's was firmly in the supper club bag. Some of the supper club style vocals come out in the track. The feeling she puts into the words convey for me that the lady has lived the life of the song.

What we are left with is a combination of rhythm with subtle constantly changing chords and abrupt dropping off of beat which allows Della to weave her lived in vocals over the top.


  1. Anonymous1:39 AM

    Great song -- thanks for the write-up!

  2. Della's "it was a very good year" was featured on a Obscure disco compilation here in Canada in the 1970's, The Disco/soul dj's here in canada were hip to it then. I've been incorporating it into my set since the late 80's here in Ontario. Sounds great on the dance floor :D nice post..have never seen the 45