Shelly Taylor – Accordion Stylings of West Side StoryMay 11, 2014
I never would’ve looked at this record twice, normally. I am somewhat averse to accordion records and have this fear that if I buy one, I’ll soon have to start a whole partition for them in my collection. The thought of accordion versions of West Side Story seemed even more daft. Maybe it was the mood I was in. The back pictures and write up on the back sort of sold me on it.
It sounded kind of weird from the copy. It says Mr. Taylor used a stereophonic accordion through effects and that he had ‘high-frequency microphones’ on his fingertips to record the ‘maraca-like’ sounds of his fingers on the keys and buttons.
I ended up buying it. Goodwill makes it really hard to want to take a chance on records, since they sell shit records that aren’t worth 25 cents for a ludicrous $2.99 now – but I did it anyway.
It’s hoot, let me tell ya. It seems Taylor is really enamored of his vibrato unit. It sounds like he’s playing accordion underwater in over half the tracks and I’m not sure what’s going on with the crazy panning. I had to stop listening more than once to assure myself that there wasn’t something wrong with my setup, as the audio creeps from side to side often. I suspect someone was going apeshit during mixing. Or maybe it was Mr. Taylor’s live rig, as I found references to him being a big dinner theatre draw in the 60s, with the ad copy referencing his ‘stereophonic’ sound. One one particularly spirited track, he beats on his squeezebox like a pair of bongos.
Shelly Taylor was (is?) a great player, no doubt. Was he nuts? Probably.
The bulk of the album is dedicated to West Side Story (What? No Officer Krupke?) and then there’s a few maniacally played standards and a few original tunes for good measure.