Like a jack-in-the box, it's always fun to see what pops up from the Sinatra Society of Japan Presents series. Indeed, the series comes up with albums that are so fascinating. One of these two extremely rare recordings is "Half Past Lonely" by Flo Bennett, a singer who worked as a club performer in Los Angeles as well as a demo singer. Even now she is active in Palm Springs as a performer. Nevertheless, she was not given the opportunity of a legitimate recording despite the fact that she was in such demand among songwriters for demo work. Consequently, she recorded only one album which was produced by herself and mostly given to friends. The album was recorded in 1962. And now, voila, here it is available in the marketplace as a Sinatra Society One Shot Wonder. A very important aspect of the album is that Bennett asked songwriters of her acquaintace to provide most of the music. She then added a few standards. Also playing a big part are the talents of such musicians as Plas Johnson and Irving Ashby. Bennett sings rather straightforwardly with a slightly husky voice in an emotional style that is most mesmerizing. Her singing is quite convincing causing me truly fall in love with her voice.
Male vocalist Dick Noel was a mainstay of Ray Anthony's band. After leaving Anthony he released a few singles with several minor labels. But after moving to Chicago he gained a reputation as a singer for jingles, including numerous ones for United Airlines and MacDonald's, thus losing the opportunity to record on his own. This One Shot Wonder CD, "A Time for Love," was recorded in 1978 when a pianist Larry Novak, recognizing the talent of Dick, brought him into the studio to produce the album on their own in Chicago. It is believed to have sold 5,000- 6,000 copies. Later, label owner and producer Wayne Knight, who liked the album, released the record on his label, Sounds Great. The new release had a slight change of repertoire (liner notes for this issue were written by Knight's good friend, Mel Torme). With the accompaniment of just Novak's piano, Noel sings ballads with well-controlled emotion---no haste---in a quiet, soothing manner. The end results are quite incredible. I would like to hear more and more of Dick Noel. ---Y. Omura, translated from the Japanese by J.
Both are available at dustygroove.com