Report From The Country, Part Three: The Floyd Cramer Craze

by Derrick Bostrom


There's not much we can say about the fabulous career of Floyd Cramer that hasn't already been said. Crack Nashville studio player famous for his "slip note" piano, Floyd is probably best known for his solo hit from 1960, "Last Date." His work was an integral part of the oft-maligned "countrypolitan" sound pioneered by producer Chet Atkins, a sound usually held responsible for moving country music into the mainstream during the 1960's through its reliance on clean arrangements and a light instrumental approach.

That approach is well evident on Floyd's 1967 outing, "Here's What's Happening," an album of contemporary favorites designed to appeal either to the young or to people who like album covers with pictures of the young on them. The simple, arrangement-driven "Nashville Sound" is on full display here, as is the exceptional session work of everyone involved. Of special note are the orchestrations by Bill McElhiney, under whose care even such shopworn evergreens as "Born Free" and "Cherish" take on extra sparkle.

My personal favorites are the Tony Hatch tune "Who Am I" and Burt Bachrach's "I Don't Know What To Do With Myself." For most listeners, however, Floyd's version of the Beach Boys' "Good Vibrations" will be the album's major selling point. Given a relaxed, good-natured reading by the group, stripped of manic Beatlesque experimentation and lavish Spectorian ambiance, the tune's vibrations are better than ever.

It's a Sunday afternoon here at Bostworld. It's chilly outside; a light but steady rain has broken a near record stretch of clear skies that numbered over 140 days. As we enjoy a warm cup of tea and put the finishing touches on this post, we've got Floyd's album playing softly in the headphones. All's right with the world.