Jack Webb of Dragnet recorded a bizarre album of jazz standard covers

No, he doesn’t sing – they’re all spoken word. Hear Sgt. Joe Friday reciting "Try a Little Tenderness."

Image: Warner Records

In 1958, the original Dragnet series began its final season. Jack Webb had successfully transitioned his LAPD detective drama from radio to television and shepherded the production for eight seasons. It was already the project that defined his career, a fact further cemented by later iterations of his straightforward, buttoned-up portrayal of Sgt. Joe Friday. But Jack Webb had a different side.

1958 was also the year Mr. Webb released a jazz album — of sorts. He was a lifelong jazz enthusiast, so recording an album was a next step. Webb enlisted prolific composer Billy May to arrange and conduct lavish orchestral instrumental versions of "You’re My Girl," "When Sunny Gets Blue" and "Try a Little Tenderness," among others. Billy May, who worked with Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole and many more, was a natural choice.

Somewhat less conventional was how the songs were put together. Webb spoke the lyrics for each song in his trademark monotone voice. These “vocals” were put together with the full orchestral accompaniment to form an absurd, poetic masterpiece.

The album contained twelve songs and was appropriately titled You’re My Girl: Romantic Reflections by Jack Webb. In 2000, Rhino Entertainment released You’re My Girl and Jack Webb Presents Pete Kelly Lets His Hair Down, a series of instrumental jazz tunes inspired by the colors blue and red, as a collection called Just the Tracks, Ma’am. Pete Kelly was the name of Jack Webb’s jazz ensemble. The moniker came from Webb’s character in the 1955 movie Pete Kelly’s Blues.

Sit back, relax and enjoy Jack Webb’s strange yet soothing rendition of Try a Little Tenderness.

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14 Comments

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RalphArcuri 20 days ago
Thank you so much for all the wonderful memories daily, and hourly, and minutely, Oh! and seconds too!
cajuntractor 28 days ago
Webb at his best is the Copper Clapper Caper with Johnny Carson on the Tonight Show. All over Youtube, great watch if youve never seen it.
Lacey 28 days ago
This was a common practice of the time and lasted well into the 1970s.
Marketing your talent across many platforms.
rory49 1 month ago
No...no...this only empowered the likes of William Shatner years later...
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AB3uVARNhmM
Utzaake 1 month ago
Obviously not in Ken Nordine's class. Not even in Telly Savalas-Does-Bread's-"If" class.
MarkSpeck 1 month ago
Almost had a copy of You're My Girl...I saw it in a bunch of thrift-store albums, but didn't have the money to get it! I do have the Pete Kelly album, though.
Tammy 1 month ago
Nice..... and compared to today's junk swoon worthy
AgingDisgracefully 1 month ago
No sound necessary.
Just picture an at-ease Jack with an especially open collar saying...
..."Ladies?"
Sudden, hilarious...comedy.
GaryGoltz 1 month ago
Webb was going to do a CHP type show and then at the last minute dropped it due to 'Pete Kelly's Blues' his show about jazz being picked up by NBC. This led Ziv to doing 'Highway Patrol'. Read more about this in my book 'Broderick Crawford, Starring in Highway Patrol', 10-4!
jholton30062 1 month ago
Jack Webb was a huge jazz fan. He always said that he was more like Pete Kelly from "Pete Kelly's Blues," and he played the cornet. He was married to Julie London, who later married Bobby Troup, both of whom starred in "Emergency!"
RobCertSDSCascap 1 month ago
Webb laid the foundation for Gary Numan, The Pet Shop Boys, and others.
harlow1313 1 month ago
"Try a Little Tenderness" brings a tear to my eye.
JKMallaber 1 month ago
The albums "You're My Girl" and "Just The Tracks" can be found on Amazon Unlimited Music.
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