Rocco Granata- Z’n Gouden Hits

All this week, we will be showcasing records I bought during my last vacation to Amsterdam, which now seems like a decade ago.  We are starting with this one that I bought for a dollar.  I got all my records in one swoop at a stall at the Waterlooplein Swap Meet

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So I went to Amsterdam, last year, one year ahead of schedule as I normally go every to years.  I also normally go during Thanksgiving but this year I went during December, mainly to see the Festival of Lights.  Weather was pretty bad  It snowed three days, and rained two, basically leaving a lot of slush on the ground.  The long underwear my aunt gave me last year for Christmas made all the difference in the world.  Also, I did not realize it at the time, but it was wonderful to get away from the US news cycle for a week.  I strongly recommend to anyone here to go abroad for this reason alone. But all in all, it was a good vacation.  Did a lot of the things I normally do; go to the zoo, hang out at Vondelpark and Oosterpark, the bars, and what not.

It is very odd but I seem to take the same pictures every trip so if you go back to the posts from December 2016, the pictures are basically the same. It has been about 12 years since I first went and I did a bit of reflecting on the subject.

There are a handful of people who have been working at the same bars during this period.  Most everyone who was working last year were still at the same bars as well.  The guy of Dam Square however, how shakes his change box to music from a wind up box was not there this year.  He had been there every year prior.  I did a few new things this trip which I will document in this week’s posts.  I stayed back at the Grand Kranspoly Hotel, as I did last year.  Overall, good time.

So there is this record that I bought by one Rocco Granata. Born in Figline Vegliaturo, in Southern Italy in 1938, Granata’s family immigrated to Belgium when he was ten. Choosing a career in music over coal mining, he played accordion and toured Belgium with his band.

Rocco’s Webpage

His 1959 B side single, “Marina” became a smash hit in Belgium, Germany, and other parts of the world , including the US.  Granata was able to parlay the single’s success into a pretty good career and world wide success.  A movie , titled Marina, was made in 2013 detailing his early life, showing the many struggles he and his family went thru before he was famous, ending with his appearance at Carnegie Hall (although it is noted they made his father a lot more strict in the movie for dramatic effect or so I am told).

This is a greatest hits album from Negram Records, released in the Netherlands in 1971.  The same copy with a different cover was released that same year in Belgium.  Real typical Italian type crooning or schlager if you will.  This seems to be a mix of various languages on here and that would be reflective of his international appeal.  With the exception of a few tracks (most notably “Marina”, not as much accordion on here as I would have thought at least in a dominant sense, but  then again, subtlety is a lost art. Overall pretty good album.

For a sample, I went with “Te quiero”.  which is Spanish for I Love You.

Pretty decent album and I got into the whole growing up with adversity backstory so satisfactory.

Jacques Brel- Le Formidable Jacques Brel

This was $5. I like French records from the 60’s in general, plus I like a lot of Jacques Brel’s songs that have been translated into English (“Seasons in the Sun” for example).  That made this purchase pretty simple, even at the high price. This record was previously owned by one Janis Childs, whose 7 digit phone number on the back reminds me of a simpler time in this town.

Brel, born in Brussels in 1929, was a singer/songwriter/actor/director who cast a large influence not only over the French speaking world, but over Europe as well. He was a giant in the French world of Chanson music.

His songs, theatrical an introspective in nature, were also translated into English and covered by some of the biggest stars this side of the Atlantic including Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles, Nina Simone, John Denver, and perhaps most famously, Rod McKuen.

If you Google pictures of Brel, you will find a whole lot of pictures him smoking.  It should come to no surprise that he developed a tumor in his lungs.  The majority of the 70’s were spent in ill health.  He also spent a vast majoirty of his time sailing.  Despite being quite sick for some time and being told his time was short,  Brel lived more years than planned, finally succumbing to complications due to lung cancer in 1978.  He was 49.

Offical Web Page

This record, released on Vanguard in 1967 was the US version of Brel’s ninth album, Jacques Brel 67, released on Barclay Label.  Backed by Francois Rauber conducting and arranging, this album contains 10 songs written or co written by Brel.  Pretty good numbers.  Interestingly enough, Brel retired from the stage the year this album was released. He would release 4 albums thereafter.

For a sample, I went with “Le Cheval” which translates into horse.

Good album,  Satisfactory.