Way Out Wednesday: “Modern Barbershop Quartet”

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of barbershop music, and this interesting novelty album from 1974 takes it to a whole new level. Snuff Garrett was a well-known record producer that worked with a number of different acts — Bobby Vee, Gary Lewis and the Playboys, and Sonny and Cher to name a few. He came up with the concept for this album, which was to take popular music and arrange it for a barbershop quartet. This was done somewhat tongue-in-cheek (at least going by the tone of Gary Owens’ liner notes), but it’s really not too bad. In fact, the album is ahead of its time, considering it’s not that unusual to hear a cappella groups doing the same thing with songs now. Here are a few examples of what we’ve got here.

We start with the classic “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree,” originally performed by Tony Orlando and Dawn. This type of song really lends itself well to an a cappella arrangement. In fact, I think I like this just as much as the original!

Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree

Next we have the song “If.” It’s a nice song anyway, and this arrangement is quite pretty. See if you agree.

If

Barbershop songs often seemed to gravitate to songs about ladies, so here’s the Modern Barbershop Quartet’s take on Helen Reddy’s hit “Delta Dawn.”

Delta Dawn

Here’s another tidbit about me: I grew up in a family of bowlers, and I used to bowl in a league on Saturday mornings when I was a kid. The bowling alley had a jukebox, and some songs got played constantly. One of them was the song “Behind Closed Doors” by Charlie Rich. After hearing it so many times, it sure is nice to at least hear a different version!

Behind Closed Doors

Finally we have what might be the perkiest remake of the song “Me and Bobby McGee” you’ve ever heard. It’s still good (and you get the feeling they were having fun with this one), but a bit of a change from what you’re used to hearing.

Me and Bobby McGee

If you’d like to hear the rest of this album, just look for it over here. And by the way, if the bass singer in this group sounds a bit familiar to you, that’s because it’s the great Thurl Ravenscroft. Ravenscroft was probably best known as the voice of Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes mascot Tony the Tiger, as well as singing “You’re a Mean One, Mister Grinch” in the animated special How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

Have a great week, everybody. See you next time!