Over the next year Terje Fjelde has agreed to listen to nothing but David Foster on his iPod. He’s loaded the thing with over 1,200 songs produced, arranged, composed, and/or played by David Foster. A deal with the devil? He keeps wondering.
Book a seat. David Foster is set to score a new musical about Betty Boop, and the show aims to debut on Broadway in the 2010-2011 season. David Foster has worked on Broadway musicals before – he won a Grammy for his production work on Dreamgirls starring Jennifer Holliday in 1982 – but this will be his debut as a composer. And I may be some sort of Foster expert, but never in a million years would I have predicted that his next career move included Betty Boop. David Foster continues to surprise and amaze us.
This is an appropriate time to bring out some of the weirdest and most unlikely collaborations throughout the recorded history of David Foster, wouldn’t you agree? I’ve been waiting for the right moment and this seems to be it.
Foster has been so eclectic and productive in his career that it’s tempting to assume that nothing he has ever done can come as a surprise at this point. Yet he has specialized in music so firmly planted in the “middle-of-the-road” that it’s hard to convince people he’s actually done anything in his career besides overproducing piano-driven ballads with high-pitched male vocalists and divas.
Of course, faithful readers of this series know better. The Rocky Horror Show and Jaye P. Morgan hardly fit the bill of your average Foster gig. He played on the Wheel of Fortune theme and he co-wrote a song called “Thicke of the Night” with Alan Thicke. Here are a couple of sessions which may make your jaw drop even further. Then again, maybe not — Betty Boop probably did the trick.
“A Man Who Used to Be Me,” by Ted Knight. From Hi Guys, 1975.
The biggest surprise here is no doubt that Ted Knight released a musical album at all. But yes, he did, and David Foster plays on it. Knight is, of course, better known as an actor; he portrayed the inept newscaster Ted Baxter on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and some of you may recognize him as Judge Elihu Smails in Caddyshack (1980). This is Ted Knight’s only musical album — and it’s out of print. I’m sorry to disappoint you.
The album credits doesn’t reveal which tracks Foster played on, but I’m definitely putting my money on this track – a bittersweet ballad with time-flavored, vibrato-deficient synth strings all over it. The album was produced by Jackie Mills, and in addition to Foster and another keyboardist, the rhythm section consists of Jay Graydon (guitars), Lee Sklar (bass) and Mike Baird (drums).
“If I Didn’t Have You,” by Eric Idle and Don Rickles. From the soundtrack Quest for Camelot – The Magic Sword, 1998
I guess I might as well have chosen Gary Oldman’s “Ruber” from the same album here — but I can’t resist posting a duet with Idle and Rickles, even though it isn’t very good. Quest for Camelot – The Magic Sword (1998) is an animated feature from Warner Bros and David Foster did the musical score. The movie didn’t fare very well — it received mostly negative reviews and was criticized for being too bland.
Speaking of bland: The soundtrack also gave us “The Prayer” with Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli. I have six versions of “The Prayer,” and that is why I don’t use the shuffle option on my iPod any more. If you’ve never heard the song, this is all you need to know.
* This is not 100% verified. I don’t have the original liner notes, but I have noted one or two discographies where Foster’s name pops up among Rick Dees’ Cast of Idiots. Also, Jay Graydon’s webpage says that Graydon played on it, which indicates that my information on Foster may be correct.
That’s all for now. Join me next week as we descend further “Into the Ear of Madness.” It’s all downhill from here.