YouTube Discoveries: The Swingle Singers

I get majorly annoyed whenever people turn their collective nose up on the Swingle Sisters.

Maybe they think it’s the dreaded Hollyridge Strings, the studio orchestra that recorded all those God-awful easy-listening instrumental albums in the 1960s and ‘70s of music by The Beatles, Beach Boys, Elvis Presley, etc. I’m only afraid that if I heard one of them today, at my advanced age and declining discretion, I might actually like them.

Thank God there’s no such problem in discerning the eternal greatness of the Swingle Singers, perhaps the most intricate and exquisite a cappella group ever. They formed in Paris in 1962 under American vocalist/jazz musician Ward Swingle, who brought the scat singing concept from his previous group Les Double Six. Christiane Legrand, sister of composer Michel Legrand, was the Swingles’ lead soprano through 1972.

A version of the Single Singers still survives, but come Christmas I always dust off their 1968 album Christmastime.

2 thoughts on “YouTube Discoveries: The Swingle Singers

  • December 14, 2014 at 7:01 pm

    Whenever I bought a Philips LP by The 4 Seasons, the album sleeve would picture covers of other albums by The Swingle Singers, Dusty Springfield and Nina Simone, among other artists on Philips at the time. I was curious about the Swingles, but never checked them out. Guess I should have. I eventually bought albums by the more revered Staple Singers, a very different act despite the similarity of the two groups’ names. By the way, the 4 Seasons used to play the Hollyridge Strings instrumental album of their hits as fans filed into their concerts. Its mellow versions heightened the anticipation without whipping the crowd into a frenzy prematurely.

  • December 14, 2014 at 7:50 pm

    Thanks, Charles. Now I probably need to go back and check out the Strings!

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