Sing it again, Tony

Tony Martin, who died this week at 98, pulled off what I consider two cultural coups: he was married (for sixty years!) to the improbably lovely Cyd Charisse, and he made a couple of spiffy vocal recordings in the middle Sixties for, um, Motown.

Seriously. Berry Gordy had established a small West Coast outpost in 1964, first signing Brenda Holloway (“Every Little Bit Hurts”). Martin cut two singles for Motown, “Talking To Your Picture” (Motown 1071) and “The Bigger Your Heart Is (The Harder You’ll Fall)” (Motown 1082). The latter, which I snagged on a 45, has long been a favorite around here. Hal Davis and Marc Gordon, Motown’s West Coast producers, made no effort to “update” Martin’s sound; the arrangement could work on a Dean Martin or a post-Capitol Sinatra single. No one has YouTubed it, but you can hear it on MySpace, these days as much of a cultural throwback as Martin himself.

(Thanks to Dave Schuler.)

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