Vivian Blaine- Pal Joey/ Annie Get Your Gun

Broadway month just keeps going despite the fact that I am sick of it already. At least only two more weeks. I have had this album kicking around since about the sixth month I started this blog.  Big Vivian Blaine fan from her work on both the stage and film version of Guys and Dolls.

Blaine, born in Newark, NJ in 1921, originated the role of  Miss Adelaide, Nathan Detriot’s oft neglected girlfriend, on Broadway.  She also performed on other stage productions as well as films with a good repertoire of both under her belt.  Towards the end of her career, she had successfully transitioned to TV, with guest spots on various shows of the time. She would pass of heart failure in 1995 at age 74.

This is a collection of songs from two famous Broadway productions, neither of which were performed by Blaine.  First we have yet another appearance of Irving Berlin’s Annie Get Your Gun.  Next we have what is probably the most famous work of Rodgers and Hart, Pal Joey.  This is probably more due to the movie version with Frank Sinatra.  But note, as discussed in previous posts, before the rise of the book musical as the dominate force in musical theater, this would probably explain why the songs are more famous than the actual work.  Anyway, it opened in 1940 and with a run of ten months, it was the third longest running Rodgers and Hart production, despite mixed reviews.  At also featured a young Gene Kelly in the staring role of Joey Evans. On a side note, obviously this month, I have gotten a lot of mileage out of these American Musical segments and totally suggest checking them out.  Julie Andrews, I believe has been doing the narration.

But back to this album, here is a Broadway legend doing Broadway standards in a beautiful fashion.  Released around 1959ish? by Mercury, by what I believe was the height of her fame, the only complaint is that the record is too short.  I mean she hits the high point numbers of each work, but I wish she could have had more space to tackle the deeper cuts from both productions.

Oh, well.  For a sample, I went with Zip from Pal Joey. From Annie, I went with “There’s No Business Like Show Business”.  Honestly, I liked all the Annie selections, but I felt this was the best version of this song from all the albums, except maybe the original (which I believe I already posted a version on an earlier compilation).

Pretty good little record and I am a bit embarrassed it took me so long to post it.  Satisfactory.

Dolly Parton- 9 to 5 and Odd Jobs

Whew! Glad to have this month and Oktoberfest over.  This was $3.50. My folks had it when I was a kid so I recognized the cover.

This album was released in 1980 and coincided with the release of the movie, 9 to 5, starring Dolly Parton along with Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda, and Dabney Coleman.  The underlying theme of this album was working and the album marked a return to a pop-country sound after a few more polished efforts.  The album went to #1 on the country charts and spawned three hit singles including the title track which was also nominated for an Academy Award for best song (it would lose to “Fame”).

Pretty good album but I am done writing for this month so here is Merle Travis’ classic “Dark As A Dungeon”.

Good album.  Satisfactory.  See you next month.

Lolita-Schlager Erinnerungen mit Lolita

This was $2 and purchased for use during Oktoberfest, which is on going this week. Over the last two years of doing Oktoberfest posts on this blog, I have really covered most every detail about the festival which started in 1810 in Munich to celebrate the marriage of the future King Ludwig to the Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen.  Apparently she was also on the short list of possible brides for Napoleon.  Anyway, I would suggest you check out some the past posts to learn more fun facts about this festival.

Link to a search of Oktoberfest posts on this blog 

Well, I guess I should just straight up point out that this next artist is nor German and is in fact Austrian.  Do not want to get accused of trying to pass this off German or for lumping Austria and Germany together.  But as I did not do my research before selecting this album, we are moving full steam ahead with this record by Edith Enzinger, better known by her stage name, Lolita.  Born in ST Polten in 1931, Lolita had her only Gold Record in 1959, “Seeman” or “Sailor” in English.  Not only did it sell well in German speaking parts of Europe, it sold well in Japan went to #5 in US making at the time one of the few successful records in the US not recorded in English. She remained popular in Austria and Germany. She would pass of cancer at age 79 in 2010.

Since this came out in 1973 on Polydor International, I am guessing that this is a greatest hits compilation.  Well, it is pretty good.  All the songs are in the schlager style that I have been espousing for the last week.  Lolita had a pretty good voice.  A few of these songs really hit it out of the park.  The rest are still pretty good.

For a sample, I decided to pick “La Luna’ and “Was Ein Mann Alles Kann” or what can a man do.  I am not sure if this means what can a man do about a certain situation or what can a man do for me, mainly because I saw Raw last weekend.

Good little record.  Satisfactory.

Caterina Valente- More Schlagerparade

This was $2.  I got this for this Oktoberfest spree we are having but if not for that, I would have bought this anyway as I really like Caterina Valente.  She is a great performer, all around.  As of this writing, I am at home on a Friday awaiting Hurricane Harvey, which is expected to bring heavy rains to the Houston area and by the time of reading this, well most likely be an after thought.   On the plus side, I am getting paid today, so in an odd equation of substitution, I am getting paid to write this post today.

International sensation Valente has had smash hits all over the world.  It was her embrace of the schlager that endeared her with German audiences.  This record, from Decca in 1960 , is a US album of German songs and a follow up to her earlier Schlagerparade.  The album notes Valente’s popularity in “her native Germany”.  This is in error as she was born in Paris to Italians.  Despite this, this is a pretty good album, showcasing Valente’s massive talent.

For a sample, there were a couple of choice to choose from but in the end I went with “Auf Ja Ma Maika” and “Ein Bisschen Pompadour”.

Great little album.  Satisfactory.

Three Degrees- ST

This little gem was $4.  I got it to diversify the blog which is much needed given where the second half of September is heading.  What is this you say?  Well, stay tuned to find out.

Formed in Philadelphia, and rising up with the Philadelphia Sound of the 1970’s, The Three Degrees started their career in 1963..  This is the second studio album and the first on Philadelphia International Records, the label of Gamble and Huff (and Thom Bell).  Released in 1973, this features the group with the lineup that brought them their biggest hits.  This lineup, which formed from 1967- 1976, featured original member Fayette Pinkney along with Valerie Holiday, and Shelia Ferguson.  Consequently, a version led by Holiday still performs today.

Link to The Three Degrees’ Web Site

Anyway, back to the record, it was among one of their most successful and spawned four singles; “Dirty Ol’ Man”, “I Didn’t Know”, “Year of Decision” and ” When Will I See You Again”, which went to #2 in the US and #1 in the UK.

For a sample, I decided to go with “Can’t You See What You Are Doing To Me”.

Pretty good album.  Satisfactory.


Jo Stafford- Sings American Folk Songs

This was all of $1.  When I bought it, there was some tie in or something notable about the record, but whatever that was escapes me now.  It does have a bunch of good folk tunes on it.  Today, as I write this, the Great 2017 eclipse happened, which by now must seem like a distant memory to most.

Truly a historical day in Houston if one likes looking a clouds.

Well anyway, here is this by singer Jo Stafford (1917-2008).  Born in what is not a dirty word, Coalinga, California, Stafford was a singer who started in a group with her sisters before joining the Pied Pipers and then parlaying this into singing with Tommy Dorsey. She went solo in 1944 and her biggest hit was 1952’s “You Belong To Me”.  She retired in the mid-60’s with a few pop ups here and there until her death of heart failure at age 90.

During her solo career, many of Stafford’s works were backed by the Paul Weston Orchestra. Stafford and Weston would marry in 1952 and remain in union until Weston’s death in 1996.  The two did perform in a comedy routine, at first for friends and then for a bigger audience.  As two incompetent lounge performers Johnny and Darlene Edwards, the duo released five records.

This record was a 1962 re-release of an earlier record by Stafford.  The original released came out tin 1948, making it one of her earlier solo recordings.  Two years later a second version came out adding two songs.  Then in 1962, this came out with an additional 4, bringing the total to 12. With these songs conducted and arranged by her hubby, Weston, it should be noted that although these are conventional songs, none of these are conventional arrangements.  And I think that is what gives the album its charm.  Consequently, Judy Collins lists this album as highly influential in terms of her getting into folk music.

Lot of good choices on this album.  I really liked “Cripple Creek”, “Single Girl” ,and my perennial favorite, “Poor Wayfaring Stranger”.  However, I decided to go with “Sourwood Mountain”.

Good record.  Satisfactory.

Mirella Freni- Airias

This was $1.  Two opera albums in one month.  I got this recently but unsure what drove the purchase other than price. Probably the inclusion of the piece from Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro which I saw at the HGO if not this season, then last season .  Pretty good production that was.  Set in a 1970’s villa in the country side.

Mirella Freni, born in Modena, Italy in 1935, is a operatic soprano who made her debut in 1955 in Carmen.  She has performed various works of Verdi, Puccini, and Mozart as well as performed on the biggest stages including the Royal Opera House and the Met.  She also starred in the 1975 film version of Madame Butterfly.  She is still alive today but ended her career in 2005.

This is a collection of some of the arias from some of the famous works: Puccini’s Tosca, Verdi’s La Traviata, Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro among others.  .  This is technically, quite good.  Freni is a wonderful singer and deserves more of a write up than this but some where along the way this week, I lost my appetite for writing this post, no slant against the artist.  This one is on me.  Also does not help that my mouse is on the fritz.

So I went with the aria from Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, “Un Bel di Vedremo” as this seems to be the big work she seems to be associated with. For today’s output, I am going top let the music speak for itself.

Technically difficulties and poor attitude aside, this is a pretty good little album. Satisfactory,

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.