Producer/songwriter Bob Crewe enjoyed initial success in the fifties, scoring with records like “Silhouettes” for the Rays and “Tallahassee Lassie” for Freddy “Boom Boom” Cannon. He’s even better known for the stunning series of hits he cut with Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons. He also created such classics as “Navy Blue” for Diane Renay, “California Nights” for Leslie Gore and “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Any More” for the Walker Brothers. In the mid-sixties, he turned a
Coca Cola Pepsi commercial into a smash with “Music To Watch Girls Go By” with his own studio conglomeration, The Bob Crewe Generation.
For the soundtrack to the Jane Fonda vehicle, “Barbarella,” Crewe teamed up in 1968, with composer Charles Fox, who also wrote the theme songs to “H. R. Pufnstuf,” “Love American Style” and “Laverne & Shirley.” The stars aligned for the birth of a kitsch classic. The duo struck next with The Bob Crewe Generation album “Let Me Touch You,” an attempt to wed the futuristic psychedelia of “Barbarella” to the mainstream easy listening pop market, applying “Barbarella” arrangements to such standards as “Moon River,” Wives And Lovers” and “Stella By Starlight.”
I love this record, for its faux Tiajuana-Brass horns, shimmering strings and Vincent Bell “water-guitar,” but also because it reminds me of the time back in 2000, when I first discovered Luxuriamusic.com. It was like discovering a long lost brother. The station not only shared my preoccupation with “outré lounge and Latin jazz, breezy swinging instrumentals and vocals, groovy 60′s go-go,psychedelia, quirky oddities, retro pop and surf music” (as they put it), but their record collection vastly outshined my own. In no time, they turned me on to a dozen thrift stores’ worth of great music that I’d never heard before.
But Luxuriamusic’s sensurround hat trick environment of live stream, chat and webcam was entirely too addictive. I spent far too many hours at my old job locked in my office pretending to work while I abused the company’s broadband connection. And when the station went off the air in the spring of 2001, the experience was all too withdrawl-enducingly traumatic.
During a visit to Los Angeles shortly after Lux’s demise, I spent a lovely afternoon with the station’s masterminds, Chuck Kelley and The Millionare. After exploring the invigorating environs of the L. Ron Hubbard Museum on Hollywood Boulvard, we sat down for lunch, where I preached the gospel — as I always do — of moving on. To Chuck’s credit, he gave about as much credence to my advice as did some other old acquaintences of mine.
Luxuriamusic Mach Two started up in the spring of 2003, with new funding and new management, but no live deejays, no webcam and a chat culture that had to start nearly from scratch to achieve its former glory. I sent them dozens of hours of personal rips from my vinyl collection — I even filled out the massive Excel spreadsheet they were required to keep on file for every song. Before long, however, my need to receive actual monetary compensation for my efforts took its toll, and I was forced to devote most of my time and energy to the unpleasant pursuit of financial security. In the melee, I stopped following the doings over at Lux.
Nowadays, I finally have an office again, and I’ve started firing up the Luxuria stream again. But I share my workspace, so I only listen when none of my cohorts are around (they claim it puts them to sleep). I like the canned stream; it’s much less distracting than in the old days, when they always seemed to choose the middle of the work day to schedule their most attention-hungry on-air personalities.
It is therefore with not a little trepidation that I offer congratulations to Luxuriamusic on the occasion of their return to live broadcasting this week. It remains to be seen whether or not it will fit in to my new hectic distraction-eschewing lifestyle, but it stands none the less as a great achievement for them, and a tribute to the tenacity of all involved.
In is in the spirit of Lux, then, that I offer this fresh new rip of “Let me Touch You” by The Bob Crewe Generation. If they want to download it and add to their playlist, they are certainly welcome to. But they’ll have to fill out the spreadsheet for themselves.