Peters and Lee- We Can Make It

This record was a bit pricey at $3.00.  I think the purple suits as well as pink lettering made me buy it.  I also liked the sunglasses on the dude.  I thought it made him look like Jose Felicano and that perhaps he may be blind as well.

Well, that hunch was correct.  Lennie Peters (born in 1931 in London and an uncle to the Rolling Stones’ Charlie Watts) was blinded in one eye after a car accident at age 5.  At age 16, fate cruelly came for the other eye after an incident with a thrown brick.  Despite this handicap, he became a piano player on the British pub circuit with two singles before meeting actress and dancer Diane Lee (born in Sheffield in 1950).  

Although she started as backup singer to Peters, the two became a folk/pop duo in the 1970’s scoring hit records in the 1970’s with numerous television appearances.  The duo split in 1980 with several reunions thereafter until the death of Peters from bone cancer in 1992. I believe Lee still performs in some capacity today or perhaps I just did not want to look into it any further.

This was the duo’s first album, released in 1973.  It was a #1 record in the UK and has the distinction of being one of the few #1 albums in Britain not to be transferred to CD format.  The album was bolstered by their hit single “Welcome Home” which was also #1.  Overall, a decent album.  Peters is really at the forefront of most songs. I really liked “Cryin Time”, “There They Go”, and “Never My Love”.

For a sample, I decided to go with “Good Morning Freedom”, I think because the wah-wah guitar.

Decent album but a bit higher than I would have liked and I do not think it translates well outside of 1970’s Britain.  But being that I am in a good mood today, satisfactory,  That is really what my reviews come down to: what side of the bed I get up on,

 

Martin Denny- Afro-Desia

Saturday means quick posts.  Also, since I have done many posts on Martin Denny, this greatly speeds today’s entry along.  This was from the bunch of records I got from my friend Micahl so it was at a cost of $0.00.  

This could have been Denny’s sixth or so album, released in 1959 on Liberty Records.  This collection as the title would suggest as well as the back cover would state, draws its inspiration from Africa.  Lot of really good songs on here that I have posted from other artists including “Baia”, “Temptation”, “Simba” and “Siboney”.

In what is the ultimate bout of laziness, a link to Ambient Exotica’s album review.

But for a sample, I decided to go in a different direction for once and post “Cubano Chant”.  I think it was the vocal chants that drew me to it. Also, the rest of the album skipped heavily and I was too lazy to clean it.

Really good album though.  Top Rated.

Queen Ida and the Bon Temps Band- Play the Zydeco

Friday could not come fast enough this week.  And what a way to kick of the weekend with some zydeco.  Well, as the Stanley Cup Finals are winding down, so is crawfish season.  Did not eat a whole lot of it this year.  In fact, I ended up eating it once at Ragin’ Cajun this season.  It is hard to judge how well this season was.  I know last season was pretty massive.  Anyway, this was $3.00.

My first memory of Queen Ida is seeing her on Saturday Night Live in 1985(Pee Wee Herman was the host).  This was in the middle of SNL’s decline of sorts, the season that critics called awful but what I quite enjoyed. (For the record, the critics also hated the late 80’s/early 90’s which were probably SNL’s best years).  Anyway, during this time, top musical acts were avoiding the show somewhat in the 1980’s, forcing SNL to take chances on bands that were not necessarily mainstream. Not today.  SNL does not take chances anymore like they used to, music wise.  The music on the show today has become quite boring in comparison (although the fact that I am 40-something and these bands are for 20-somethings and teens may have something to do with it.) Anyway, I rambled enough with this subject.

I believe this is Queen Ida’s first album.  Released in 1976 on GNP Cresendo, this album features Queen Ida’s brother Al, on guitar and vocals as well as .her older brother Wilbert on rub board. Pretty good album as was the last one of hers I posted.  As for Ida, according to wikipedia, she retired in 2010 but still cooks for her family (see last post of hers for more detail about her cooking or Google it).

I had a bunch of choices for samples.  Favorite songs of mine included “Lucille Kanai”, “The Cherry Tree Song” and “Tayo Zydeco”.  I did decide to go with the opener”Rosa Majeur” or Rosa of Legal Age.  I also went with “Creole De Lake Charles” which was Ida and her family hailed from before moving out to the San Francisco Bay Area.

Great little record.  Satisfactory.

Dennis De Souza- Moods 2

This was $1.00  It had a decent amount of songs that I liked on it.  Plus it looked like one of those small localized records that I seem to like.  Oddly enough, the small, local records as well as the tourist/souvenir records seem to be the most viewed on this site.  The way I figure, someone is searching (or possibly Googling themselves) and my blog about their small effort comes up, hence the increased popularity of my site.  

This record as well as Dennis De Souza are from Trinidad.  Well technically De Souza, a musical prodigy,  was from Guyana, (born in 1935?) but a stop over in Trinidad on a trip to England to study composition began a love affair between the artist and the island.  De Souza did not take the trip to England and instead, stayed in Trinidad.  It should be noted that it was not music that initially drew him to stay. It was cricket.  It was during a celebration party at the Port of Spain hotel, that he was asked by the hotel band leader to play piano.  That led to a lengthy stay at the hotel as well as a run at various hotels throughout the Caribbean.  De Souza died in 2012 at the age of 77 from complications due to Parkinson’s disease.  He died in Canada.

Obit for De Souza

This record, which I am guessing is a follow up to Moods 1, is by my guess a hotel souvenir/ tourist album.  It features De Souza’s piano work pretty prominently.  De Souza is backed up by his trio drummer Johnny Marquez and bassist Knolly Sorzano. Kenny Soranzo (who I am guessing is related) provided the occasional acoustic guitar.  A good collection of songs featuring “Mandy”, “My Elusive Dreams”, “The Way We Were” and his own composition “Nicky’s Theme”.  Who is this Nicky? Well your guess is as good as mine.  But overall, this is a nice album.

For a sample, I went with “Jumbie Call” which I felt was a good number.  I probably wanted to go with “My Elusive Dreams” but if memory serves me right, I think it skipped.

Good album. Satisfactory. Lately, my fact checking has been reduced to one source and mainly Wikipedia at that, so if anyone finds something non-factual. please let me know.  Leave me a comment and I will amend my site.

Nirmala Devi & Lakshmi Shankar-Thumri

This was $4 and came from my favorite place for international records, the Half Price Books in Sugar Land.  I obviously got it for the international flare.  On that note, I was approached via the internet by two international folks last week.  One fellow, from the Netherlands, wanted some information on an exercise record as his wife collects 1980’s fitness memorabilia. Another person, a music journalist from Serbia asked me for some tracks from a bassoon album featuring a prominent Serbian musician on backup guitar.  Quite honestly, I was really hoping never to listen to either album.  But being the good host that I am, I complied with their requests.  On that note, I do love hearing from people, especially from different parts of the world than me and I do encourage folks to reach out.

Back to this album, it was released by the Gramophone Company of India Limited, a subsidiary of EMI.  It came out in 1968.  Nimrala Devi, born in Benares (now Varanasi) in 1927, was a Hindustani-classically trained vocalist.  She also acted in film before her death in 1996. Lakshmi Shankar, born in 1926, started life as a dancer before turning to the same vocal style.  She trained under Ravi Shankar, who was also her brother and law.  Lakshmi died in 2013 in California.

The dominate musical style on this album is the thumri.  It is a classical Indian form of music that highlights dance, dramatic gestures, romantic prose, and folk staples.  An important staple of North India music, it’s origins began in the 15th century with the genre as it is known evolving in the 19th.

So here is this album with four songs of the thumri style.  Musical direction, I believe, was provided by Khan Saheb Abdul Rehman Khan, the three Octave singing master who mentored Devi.  Nizamuddin Khan also accompanies the singers on Tabla. Two solo pieces and two duets. Overall, it is a good album.  Real interesting stuff that diverts from the normal stuff I post.

For a sample, I was torn as I thought all tracks were good.  But I must choose so here is this track, “Chain Kahan Se Paoon” which features both women singing.

Good album. Satisfactory.

Perez Prado- Big Hits by Prado

This record was an absolute steal for $1.00.  The Cuban King of the Mambo’s repertoire speaks for its self on this record.

This record, released by RCA/ Victor in 1960 is a re-imagining of Prado’s big hits, including the iconic “Mambo No 5” and its lesser known cousin “Mambo No 8”.  All the songs have a bit of added spunk from their originals. All and all, really good stuff.

Normally I would not post something that I have already featured on this site but I was taken aback by the version of “Why Wait”.  You can check it out on the earlier post to note the differences.  I also went with “Ruletero”.

Link to earlier post of “Why Wait”

Not much to say on this post as it is my last of the week, but great record.  Top Billing.

Caterina Valente- Cosmopolitan Lady

I liked the last Caterina Valente album I bought so I decided to pick this one up.  At $3, it seems a bit pricey considering the cover is falling apart in all directions and there was no record sleeve.

Caterina Valente, the Italian bred, French born singer, made a career out of her international style.  I wrote a bit about her on the last album I posed of hers.  Well, not much, but it is more than I will write today. As the clips show below, she knew how to work early television.

Link to Earlier link

This seems to be, according to discogs.com,. a South African release from 1958 from Polydor.  It is a collection of her early hits, including “Malaguera” and “The Breeze and I”.  In regards to the latter, I found this album’s version of “Breeze” to be quite tempid compared to the last version I posted.  Anyway, she sings in five languages on this album (Spanish, Italian, French, English, and German).

For a sample, I went with “Malaguera”.  I also went with “Bravo Caterina” as I think it takes a pair of brass ones to name check yourself in a song.

Great little album that is falling apart on me.  Satisfactory.

Grupo Cafe- ST

This was $3.  I got it for the international flair as well as the picture of the pretty lady on the cover.  I was slightly disappointed when I found that this was just a model and not a singer in the band.

This effort comes from 1977 and was distributed by Musart Records.  There is some muy importante information on the back regarding copyright.  Other than that, I know nothing about these cats other than their name translates into Coffee Group.  The back cover shows an eight piece of all men with snazzy uniforms.

But the record itself, is pretty good.  A lot of songs I like on here, including “Los Dos” and “Y Hoy”.  For a sample, I went with “Melodia Para Dos” or “Melody For Two”.

Despite not having the female vocals, I still liked this album. That means it was an up hill climb for this record. Satisfactory.  If anyone has info on this band, send me a message and I will update this site.

The Finlandia Male Chorus of Detroit

This was $3.  It had enough songs that have become standard covers of the 60’s.  Finland… an odd country wedged between the Scandinavian countries and Russia, sharing elements of both societies while rejecting others.  I have had the strange honor of playing hockey with a number of Finish people in Houston, more than I thought was statistically probable. From Timonen who weaved his way in and out jail in the 90’s (known for the saying “to jail I go”, to Ansi, who was the first choice for sub defense men in my Thursday league ( I was #2), along with a few other kids with strange names with a lot of vowels.

Of the great Finland migration to the USA, a good chuck of these migrants settled in Michigan, most notably the Upper Peninsula.  There was some over spill however, to some of the bigger cities and Detroit was no exception.  Given the plight and flight of the city, I believe  Finish numbers have dwindled over the years, while the Upper Peninsula still has one of the biggest Finish populations in the country.

This record, released in 1970 under the direction of Eero B. Keranen, features a choir that originated in 1923 under one John Karhu. They performed at mostly Finish function until the 30’s, where they started to branch out slightly.  Keranen became the director in 1966.  AT the time of this recording, the chorus features 50 singers and six string players.

Link to some info on Chorus

The album is a mixture of chorus songs as well as a few instrumentals from all across the board.  Songs include “Born Free”, “Never On  A Sunday”, “Somewhere My Love”, and “Hello Dolly”, along with some Finish tunes as well.  I mean, it is what one would expect.

For a sample, I went with the instrumental Russian classic, “Those Were The Days” as well as what I assume is a  Finish number, “Finlandia”.

Meh.  Maybe, I would rate this better if I paid a dollar for it.

Mireille Mathieu- Fidelement Votre

When I was putting together records for this Anniversary month, I noticed I had no French female singers in the lineup.  Well , this omission could not stand so here is a frequent visitor to this blog, Mirelle Mathieu.  This record was $3.

As is the case with many French female singers who put out great swinging music in the 60’s, later output is generally less appealing and a reflection of musical tastes at that time as well as general aging. Frances Gall’s records of the 1980’s come to mind for me.   This record, released by Phillips in 1978, reflects a more adult contemporary sound for better or for worse.  I mean, one can’t make young, hip records forever.

This record is decent enough but obviously not among my favorite eras of the genre.  A decent collection of slower adult songs done in French with the inclusion of “A Blue Bayou”.

For a sample, I went with “Un peu de bleu” or “Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue” which was an earlier hit for Crystal Gayle.

Eh,  there are better Mathieu albums on this blog.  I have not gone meh this month so here is the first.