Saturday, March 24, 2007


Raymond Scott composed an electronic commercial jingle for Lightworks cosmetics in the 1960s. Vocal and instrumental versions are featured on the two-CD set Manhattan Research, Inc. (MRI). The Lightworks line was produced by Helena Rubinstein, and included blush, eye shadow, lipstick, and lotions.

The Nashville-based trio Venus Hum recorded a note-perfect cover in 2003. You can download a free mp3 here.

There is some uncertainty about the origins of the Scott jingle. Untitled instrumental versions were discovered by MRI researchers/producers Gert-Jan Blom and Jeff Winner on an analog tape reel dated "1960-63." They also discovered, on another reel, an undated "Lightworks" vocal version. At the time, the singer was presumed (by me) to be Scott's then-wife Dorothy Collins, and was so noted in MRI's liner notes. However, RS and DC's daughter Deb later said the voice was not her mother's.

The Lightworks product line launched around 1967. Winner speculates that Scott adapted an early 1960s instrumental recording for the jingle.

"Some Scott commercials from this period were edited from raw, longer, sometimes rambling 'work-tapes' he'd made years before," Winner recently explained. "It's likely he composed and recorded these 'Lightworks' prototype instrumentals—including versions at different tempos—in the 1960-'63 period. Assuming he got the cosmetics gig later, he may have reached back for inspiration from himself. 'Lightworks' isn't unique in this sense. We included several other examples of this derivative process on the MRI cds. Scott often recycled material. All artists do."

The identity of the vocalist remains a mystery.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Body language

This 1957 LP contained ten recordings made in 1949 by the second Raymond Scott Quintet. Originally released on privately pressed ten-inch 78 rpm discs, the tracks were nicely remastered for the age of microgroove hi-fi.

Five Scott originals (Bird Life in the Bronx, Street Corner in Paris, Ectoplasm, Snake Woman, and Dedicatory Piece to the Crew and Passengers of the First Experimental Rocket Express to the Moon) share platter space with five serenades by Dorothy Collins. It was a strange juxtaposition of lightweight '50s chick-pop and cerebral chamber-jazz.

Collins was Scott's protégée and first sang with his orchestra in 1944 at age 16. Both commenced seven-year star turns on TV's Your Hit Parade in 1950, and they exchanged wedding vows in 1952. The LP cover photo (by Burt Owen) appears contemporaneous with the album release. The often-stormy marriage ended in a 1964 divorce.

In this 1957 photo, for an album on which they are musically paired, husband and wife sit comfortably, holding hands—at arm's length. In the foreground, she gets the fruit, he gets the ashtray.