A little while ago, Planet Vinyl explored a dance tune, “Tango Desiree“, the work of a slick orchestra led by one Ricardo Santos. I couldn’t find out much about Santos, and mused:
His records came out on Polydor, a Dutch label, and were first released in Germany. I suspect that Santos was a German band leader from Dusseldorf whose real name was Reinhardt Schmidt.
Wrong in the particulars, but on the right track. Another Santos work has come up, so I decided to dig a bit deeper, and can now reveal the truth about the identity of the mysterious Senor Santos.
This is him. Not very Latin looking, it’s fair to say. His real name was Werner Müller, and he was born in Berlin in 1920. He was a composer and conductor of great success, both in classical and what was called “contemporary light music” from the 1950s on. A fine website dedicated to the cocktail lounge music of this period, Space Age Pop, says of Müller:
In an odd flip-flop, several collections of French, Italian, and other national tunes Müller recorded for Decca were released in Europe under the name of “Ricardo Santos,” but in the U.S. under Müller’s own name.
Nothing odd about it, really. In the 1950s, a German name carried some baggage in much of Europe. It was not quite so personal in the States. Whatever, Santos-Müller was an arranger and band leader of great skill. Some of his arrangements put too much maple syrup on the pancake to my taste, but that he knew his craft is undeniable.
This EP, Holiday in Italy Vol. 2, came out in 1956, when shellac 78 rpm records were still what most people bought and played. Hence this grave warning on the back sleeve:
As the title implies, Santos had already been on holiday in Italy before, and also went on holidays to France, Japan, Mexico and Brazil. Nice work if you can get it.
This track, a lively and engaging take on the Italian standard “Funiculi-Funicula” is lighter on the syrup than most, and showcases the full, rich sound which Santos-Müller mastered.
- Artist: Ricardo Santos And His Orchestra
- EP Title: Holiday in Italy Vol. 2
- Track: A1 “Funiculi-Funicula”
- Format: 7” 45 rpm
- Label: Polydor, 20 521 EPH
- Manufactured in: Australia
- Year: 1956
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