Harry Belafonte and Nana Mouskouri- An Evening with Belafonte/ Mouskouri

This record was one I see a lot of when I go looking for records.  That usually means in must have been a popular record when it came out .  So when I finally found it for a dollar, I knew it would not go any lower so I jumped on it.

I knew a lot about Harry Belafonte but virtually nothing about the other singer, Nana Mouskouri.  Well, Mouskouri, whose name I am know hating to type out, is one of the most famous international singers of all time.

Born in Chania on the Greek isle of Crete in 1934, Mouskouri has released over 200 albums as well as singles in multiple languages.  She has also been parodied by such luminaries as Benny Hill, Ronnie Barker, and SCTV’s Andrea Martin. She retired to Switzerland in 2008.  She also gave up her pension after the Greek financial crisis of 2010.  Perhaps this led her to return to show business the following year. I believe she is sporadically active here and there.

According to the liner notes, Belafonte saw Mouskouri while working in Athens in 1960 and helped her gain fame across the ocean in the US of A.  Mouskouri’s career at the time was taking off in Europe ( Wikipedia credits Quincy Jones in 1962) Anyway, their first performance together was in 1964.  The two would tour together thru 1965 and 1966. Wikipedia also states that Belafonte convinced Mouskouri to remove her trademark black rimmed glasses during her performance.  When she tried it, she hated it so much that she nearly quit the tour.  As a result, Belafonte relented.

This record, released by RCA Victor in 1966, features the pair of singers, singing songs in Mouskouri’s native tongue, Greek.  Ten songs, four solos by each singer and two duets. All the songs have song writing credits so I do not know if these were just songs that were popular in Greece at the time.  Despite Belafonte being the bigger star at the time, this album is all Mouskouri. Belafonte’s singing is slightly subdued on this effort. This is a little less fair to Belafonte as he is singing in a foreign tongue. I also believe Belafonte was being respectful, allowing Mouskouri more of the spotlight.

Anway, for samples, I went with Mouskouri’s “Dream” and the duo’s “Irene”.

Good stuff.  Satisfactory.

Julie London- Julie Is Her Name

This was $1.00 Probably the red hair against the green back drop drew me towards this purchase which was more than likely made at Sig’s Lagoon.  Ah, poor Sig’s.  I used to go there once a month but since I have to many records as it is and I usually walked away from Sig’s with 30 or so per trip, I have stopped going.  Some of the best cheap records were procured there (* they also have a great selection of regular priced records as well).  Someday I will return Sig’s, some day.

Anyway, here is this from Julie London.  London, born in Santa Rosa, CA in 1926, was a singer, turned film actress, turned tv star.  She is best known for the 32 pop/jazz records she put out mostly during the 50’s and 60’s but she did some film work of note as well as time on the small screen with a 6 year run as nurse Dixie McCall on the show Emergency!.

It should be noted that she started with her husband at the time, Bobby Troup while the show was produced by her ex-husband, Dragnet’s Jack Webb.  So much for keeping your family life away from your work life.  Anyway, London, who was a chain smoker since age 16, suffered a stroke in 1995 and passed on in 2000, at age 74.

This was London’s first record, released by Liberty records in 1955.  It went to #2 on the US charts, driven by the strength of what would become her signature song, “Cry Me A River”.  Pretty decent album of 50’s jazz type numbers.  

Barney Kessel lends his guitar to the album along with bass from Ray Leatherwood. The sparce instrumentation   makes for a good effect.  Most of the songs if not all are love ballads and are pretty slow.

For a sample, I went with the one up tempo song on the album, the b-side to “Cry”, “S’Wonderful”.

Not exactly my cup of tea, but not a bad record either.  Satisfactory.

Petula Clark- Color My World/ Who Am I

Perhaps you have noticed that the quality or length of my posts goes down the closer to the end of the month. Well, if I am getting smart ( and I think I am), I should start using artists who appear frequently on this blog towards the end. And so there is this, which I bought for 80 cents.  

This was Petula Clark’s 6th US record, released in 1967 (with a similar record released in the UK).  The two title tracks were singles in the US the year prior. The album contains songs from various artists including Roger Miller and Paul McCatrney as well as collaboration between Clark and others.  

One such collaboration was this track, “Las Vegas” which I felt was really swinging.  That it kind of belonged in the movie Casino.  I really liked this track for many reason, one of which that this is an English woman belting out a song about the bright lights and dark underbelly of Vegas.

Other than that, this was a pretty good album of songs.  Satisfactory.

Timi Yuro-The Best Of

I got this for a dollar back in 2015, way way back.  Not sure why I got it.  Probably because it was a cheap, a Best of, and maybe because the name was curious to me.  I thought she was perhaps Asian-American.

Well, that would be wrong, Timi Yuro is Italian-American who would be influential for a period in the US, UK, and the Netherlands.. Born in Chicago in 1940, she moved with her family to Los Angeles where she sang in their restaurant and later night clubs. This brought her to Liberty Records and her first and biggest hit, “Hurt” in 1959.  She was one of the first Blue-Eyed soul singers and was quite influential in the UK Northern Soul scene (not that it is the same thing, but Morrisey is a fan).

Others hits followed but by the late 60’s, her career slowed down and after her marriage in 1969. she quit the business all together, save a brief comeback in the Netherlands.  She would die from throat cancer in 2004.

This is a collection of those hit singles.  released in 1963.  Pretty good stuff.  Kind of a mix between Motown and a female version of Frankie Valli.

For a sample, I went with “If I Never Get To Love You” although “I Ain’t Going To Cry No More” got serious consideration.

Good album. Satisfactory

Rusty Warren- Banned In Boston?

This was $2.  The alliteration in the title probably caught my eye when I purchased this.  There were a couple of Rusty Warren albums on sale at the time of this purchase. I think the Banned in Boston label is what snagged me on this one.

Rusty Warren, born in New York City on 1930, and shortly adopted thereafter to a couple from Milton, Mass, is a comedienne/singer who made her fame singing about sex.  She studied piano at the New England Music Conservatory of Music and was mentored by none other than the Boston Pop’s Arthur Fiedler. Known as the mother of the sexual revolution, she began her comedy career in Phoenix, AZ before taking her act to Las Vegas. She did around 11 records or so.  Her biggest hit was “Knockers Up”. I am not sure what she is doing now.

Warren’s webpage

Pretty comprehensive interview

 

This record is of a comedy show at the Surf Club at the Revere Beach , four miles north of Boston.  For the record, I am not sure if she was actually banned from the city or not (the interview from this link has a story about this). Anyway, the record is her comedy routine augmented by four songs.  Her routines are filed with euphemisms, double entendres, and  innuendo about sex which quite frankly, in the age of Amy Schumer, sounds quite dated. But that is how things were back then so, there you go.

For a sample, I went with the least smutty song on the album, Warren’s version of the folk standard, “Greenback Dollar”.

I liked this album just as much as the Elsa Lanchester album I reviewed two weeks or so ago.  So, meh.  Perhaps this is not fair and I do not mean to discredit the pioneering that Warren did.  However, outdated beating around the bush on issues that are out in the open today really does not do it for me.

 

The Tigressions-Debut

This was a dollar.  It was also autographed.  That is why I bought it. 

The Tigressions were (and still are) an a capella group from Princeton.  Tired of the male domination of Ivy League collegiate a capella, the group founded by Debbie Gobetz (Class of ’83) presented a female alternative. Past members include singer/songwriter Deborah Hurwitz (Class of ’89).  The group still performs, tours, and puts out recordings.

Link to Tigressions page

The autographs on this album are made out to one Mr “M.A.” and document what must have been a performance for Tenneco (bought by El Paso Energy and then Kinder Morgan).  Located at 1001 Louisiana, it is my bet the performance happened in the underground downtown complex as one autograph references singing in tunnels.  Multiple messages reference a great lunch with the performance and a good time seemed to be had by all.  In the words of the fore-mentioned Hurwitz, the show was one of the “most fun shows possible, I love Houston”.

 

This record is a good collection of the early works of the group featuring two songs which  were early favorites of the collective “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” and ” Get Happy”.  Other highlights include “Java Jive”, “Hold That Tiger”, and “Canada in Springtime”.  It is my guess this album came out sometime around 1985.

For a sample, I went with the Carole King tune “It’s Too Late”.

Being a fan of more blue collar things, it is hard to really get behind an Ivy League record, but it is decent enough.  And I knew what I was gettign into when I bought it.  So satisfactory.

 

Patty Duke- Don’t Just Stand There

This was $2.80.  I get inflation so I understand that the records at Half Price could not be $1 forever, but the increments of 50 cents have made the discount math harder than normal.  Of course that is because my math skills have been eroded by calculators.  

Patty Duke, born in Queens, NYC in 1946, started as a very successful child actress, with her first big role on stage (and later film) as Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker.  For her work in the film version, she became the youngest person at the time, to win a competitive Oscar (Best Supporting Actress).

This success led her to her own television show, The Patty Duke Show, in which she played a set of cousins.

Upon the show’s demise, she took up her first grown up role as Neely O’Hara in The Valley of the Dolls (whose soundtrack has been posted on this blog). While her character was truly one hot mess, in 1982, Duke went public with her struggles with chronic depression, now diagnosed as bipolar disorder.  When her symptoms were bad and her appearance became rambling, many industry folk thought she was drinking or on drugs.  She became one of the early advocates for the disease.  

A fixture on television, Duke worked more or less up until her death of infection in 2016. 

During Valley, Duke’s singing parts were overdubbed, which upset the actress as she had a successful singing career or sorts.  She had two top forty singles (including the title track of this album which reached #8) and released five albums including one folk album, which now that I know exists make me want to hear it. This album, released by United Artists in 1965 was her first.

Pretty decent album.  A lot of pop standards on here including “Downtown”, “What The World Needs Now”, and “The End of the World”.  Pretty good 1960’s teen pop.

For a sample, I went with the Lennon-McCartney number “World Without Love.  It was written by McCartney who did not think it was good enough for the Beatles.  It was sold to Peter and Gordon who made it a hit.  I also went with this blog’s unofficial namesake, “Danke Schoen”.

Probably was planning to do more on this post but I felt comparing losing control over a hot dog to mental disease was a bridge too far for myself to poke fun about.  Also, really gunning thru these posts this week.  Anyway, satisfactory record.

Elsa Lanchester-Bawdy Cockney Songs

This was 25 cents less 20%.  If my math holds up, I believe this makes it an even $0.20.  I bought it as I used to like actress records as well as bawdy cockney songs.  However, I have been greatly disappointed with the bawdiness of the material I find.  I find it mostly tame.  Furthermore, I had listened to this album and prepped the songs for this some months back, only to shelve it I felt the month I had it slated for needed more bang.  This month, however, I felt that I wanted to lessen my burden of listening to albums by including one I have already been through.  Thus, here we are.

Elsa Lanchester, born in London in 1902, worked on the British stage before meeting her future husband, Charles Laughton.

From there, she made the leap to film.  Playing notable smaller roles in some important films on both sides of the ocean, the role for which she is most famous is that of The Bride of Frankenstein. She would die in the Los Angeles area in 1986 from pneumonia.  

But back to Lanchester’s origin, her career began in night clubs and cabaret’s where she sang song similar to the style presented here. During this time, she made several 78’s of her material including “Please Sell No More Drink to My Father” in 1926 (also included on this album).  After she was established as an actress, she made several albums in the 1950’s.  These albums all featured tawdry songs with vague lewdness and double entendres, which were wildly popular in an age of censorship and repression (double entendres, that is.  Not sure how successful these records were).  

This album, from Tradition records, was released in 1968.  I believe it consists of materiel from the albums above.  Lanchester is accompanied by pianist Ray Henderson.  Songs such as “The Husband’s Clock”, “Rat Catcher’s Daughter”, and “Lola’s Saucepan” do not really hide the subject for which they are skirting around.

Well, I decided to take the high road and go with “Please Sell No More Drink To My Father”, one of the early cabaret songs of Lanchester.

Overall, I felt this album was pretty weak and not really bawdy enough for my liking.  Or perhaps, the double entendres is a lost art. Anyway, meh.

Loretta Lynn- Woman of The World/ To Make A Man

Welcome to yet another month of Donkey Show despite the fact that June started 5 days prior.  Since the last post I wrote, I begrudgingly bought about 50 or so records from the Half Price Books at Veteran’s Memorial, quite fittingly on Memorial Day during the 20% off sale.  They have the most discount records but low and behold, they are mostly priced in the $2. range as opposed to the $1 range they were two years ago.  The moral of this story is that I just have too many records.  Anyway, I got this one earlier this year for , with no discount.

Loretta Lynn is a favorite of this site and as you may have heard, is recovering from a stroke suffered last month.  She has been moved into a rehab facility and is doing well according to her website.  Some shows in the interim have been postponed.  Not sure what is happening with the Houston show this August.  Lynn also has a new record coming out this fall as well.

This gem was released in 1969, was Lynn’s 13th album.  It went to #2 on the Country Charts and #148 on the overall charts.  The title tracks also served as the two singles reaching #1 and #3 on the Country single charts respectively.

This album also contained a cover of “Stand By Your Man” which of course for done by Lynn’s biggest rival at the time, Tammy Wynette.  And for this reason, I am using this as a sample.

Pretty good album.  That is the beauty of the old country records.  You pretty much know what you are getting into.  Satisfactory record.  Here is hoping to a good recovery to one of the true Queens of Country.  As a side note, I will be performing my tribute to her and some of the other big women of early country at Dan Electro’s Talent Show this month of the 25th.  It is similar to the country act I did at the Maple Leaf in March but less focused on the Hanks and more female-centric.  More details to follow.

Connie Francis- Live At The Sahara In Las Vegas

This was one dollar.

Concetta Rosa Maria Franconero, born in that beautiful part of the world that is known as Newark, New Jersey in 1938, became a pop star in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. I believe she was one strike away from giving music for medicine when she scored a hit with “Who’s Sorry Now”.  Despite not liking the end result, the song eventually became a hit and Francis became an international star. Her career has been marked by several tragedies as well as Francis’s ability to bounce back from them. She is still relatively active today with an autobiography coming out this year.  She also works with various US Veteran groups.

Connie’s Webpage

This album came out in 1966.  Recorded at the Sahara Casino,  this was oddly enough released by MGM.  The Casino was one of the last Rat Pack Casinos in Las Vegas and closed briefly in 2011 before reopening as the SLS Hotel & Casino. They had a real cheap steak and lobster combo there for a while.  I went one year with friends and we walked all the way down their from our hotel until we got there and found it was closed.  I had been talking about the combo for some time and my friends did not have the heart to tell me it was closed. I wish they did.  It would have saved me the walk.

But here is this record, which is a pretty decent collection of tunes.  Francis’s skill is pretty evident on this disc, both singing and ad-libbing between songs.

For a sample, I went with something that details both of these with “La Bamba”.

Decent album.  Satisfactory.