Monday, October 31, 2011

Count Floyd

Artist: Count Floyd
LP: Count Floyd
Song: "The Gory Story of Duane and Debbie"
[ listen ]

Here's a frightful treat from Count Floyd, aka. Floyd Robertson, aka. Joe Flaherty. Flaherty played Robertson playing Floyd as the howling vampire host of the "Monster Chiller Horror Theater" on SCTV, a Canadian comedy sketch program that ran in the late 1970s. SCTV launched the careers of other popular comedians too—like John Candy, Martin Short, Eugene Levy, and Catherine O'Hara, who's credited with snapping the photo of the count's backing group, The Wally Hung Experience, for the back of this 1982 4-song EP. To read more about Count Floyd and SCTV, click here and here. Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 30, 2011


Artist: Europe
LP: 7" single
Song: "Carrie"
[ listen ]

I came across this 1986 Europe single while cleaning the riff-raff out of my collection of 45s a few weeks ago. I mainly only bought it because one of my best friends is named Carrie, but I think now it's time to let go...of the single I mean, not my friend. You can read about these Swedish rockers here.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Dave & Susanne

Artist: Dave & Susanne
LP: Walking In the Sunshine
Song: "Walking In the Sunshine"
[ listen ]
Song: "Little Green Apples"
[ listen ]

My good friends John & Aine (how about starting a singing duo, guys?) gave me this lovely made-in-Seattle Dave & Susanne LP for my birthday back in August. Not to be confused with the globe-trotting duo who were last seen in Poughquag, NY, this Dave & Susanne released their first album in 1969 just a few months before I was born. Not only is the copy Aine & John found for me actually signed by Dave & Susanne themselves, but it also evidently once belonged to Dick Bell, who contributed to the album's cover photo and artwork. I can't find any info about Dave & Susanne Phillips-Lamplighter on the web, so if they or anyone who knows or knew them is reading this, I'd love to hear what they're up to nowadays and learn more about the making of this record and about their music careers. The LP liner notes, photos, and artwork are included below, and go here to read a 1992 Seattle Times review of The Legend Room restaurant and lounge, where Dave & Susanne once performed.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Thornes Trio

Artist: The Thornes Trio
LP: Jesus, Use Me
Song: "I'm In Love With a Man"
[ listen ]

This 1977 LP was still sealed when I found it at Silver Platters up by the Northgate Mall a few months ago, and the liner notes don't say anything about the gender of the singers. I was sorta' hoping The Thornes Trio would turn out to be an all-male group, inadvertently causing much congregational anxiety by announcing the title of their next number: "I'm In Love With a Man." A collective sigh would pass over the pews when everyone realized the guys were only going to be singing about Jesus Christ. Anyway, The Thornes are actually a trio of sisters—Selina Allen, Naomi Mackall, and Elaine Dennis—who have been making music together for over 40 years. And they're also only singing about Jesus Christ. You can read more about The Thornes Trio of Baltimore, MD and find a link for buying their 2008 "Authentic" CD on the CD Universe website here.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Helen O'Connell

Artist: Helen O'Connell
LP: Green Eyes
Song: "Tangerine"
[ listen ]

The lovely and talented Helen O'Connell was born in Lima, Ohio in 1920 (hey! I've been there, remember?) and began singing with bandleader Jimmy Dorsey in 1939, quickly becoming one of the most popular female vocalists of the era. She retired from the music biz when she married in 1943, but came back after she and her husband split in 1951. Helen became popular with morning audiences in the early days of TV when she landed a job as one of "the girls" on NBC's "The Today Show," where she was regularly called upon to interact with a chimpanzee named J. Fred Muggs. Helen co-hosted the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants with Bob Barker from 1972-1980, earning an Emmy nomination for her coverage of the Miss Universe pageant in 1977. You can read more about the life and career of Helen O'Connell and see her famous dimples here, find a photo of her grave here, use the links below to watch some video clips featuring the charming singer, and find the 1959 "Green Eyes" LP's liner notes included below.

Helen O'Connell on YouTube:
[ "Man That's Groovy" ]

[ Helen O'Connell: May 23, 1920 — September 9, 1993 ]

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Drums of Bora Bora and Papeete

Artist: Drums of Bora Bora and Papeete
LP: Tahiti Dances
Song: "Hellaby"
[ listen ]
Song: "Moorea"
[ listen ]

This lively recording filled with the native songs of Tahiti—some with singing, some with only throbbing percussion—features one of the cutest fellas I've seen on the cover of any record since the release of this single back in 1983. With all the talk of gaiety in the LP liner notes, I really thought I might stand a chance with this guy... until I got to the part where it says that the people of Tahiti shun foreign imports. Oh well, it would have been tough to compete anyway with all those graceful Tahitian women running around in grass skirts with no panties on underneath.

[ Tahiti—a world of exotic beauty, carefree romance, gaiety, and no underpants. ]

Monday, October 24, 2011

Bette Bright

Artist: Bette Bright
LP: Rhythm Breaks the Ice
Song: "Hello I Am Your Heart"
[ listen ]

In this cute little reggae-influenced ditty from Bette Bright's 1981 LP on Korova Records, the former Deaf School vocalist receives a message from her heart. It's leaving and going on vacation because Bette keeps getting it broken and hurt over and over again. I once received a similar notice from my legs after riding my bike up Denny Avenue to the top of Capitol Hill. You can read about Bette Bright on Wikipedia here, and go here to see a 2009 photo of Bette w/ her famous husband.


Sunday, October 23, 2011

Female Body Inspectors

Artist: Female Body Inspectors
LP: 7" single
Song: "The Girl Pulled a Dog"
[ listen ]

Here's a song sung from the perspective of a guy who went out one evening and saw his girlfriend dating another man, which he refers to as "pulling a dog." But if you ask me this guy totally deserved to have the dog pulled on him. His gal's new gentleman friend probably takes her out for romantic dinners, to baseball games, and to the art museum—and I bet he's way too classy to be part of something called the "Female Body Inspectors" or to put "69" on the cover of his records.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Aramite Band

 Artist: The Aramite Band
LP: Hot Sands
Song: "Hot Sands"
[ listen ]
Song: "Zungalo"
[ listen ]

Hot sounds from Hot Sands! This 1958 record by The Aramite Band features instrumental songs as well as tracks with vocals, so I've included one of each. I wasn't able to find much info about the group on the web, but the LP liner notes are included below, and you can hear (and briefly see) oudist Leo Barsamian working his musical magic at the 2009 St. Stephens Armenian Apostolic Church Picnic at Camp Haiastan, Massachusetts here. Please note that the exotic and captivating music included on this album was recorded in one of the finest studios in the East! Ace Recording Studios in Boston, to be precise.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Marika Rökk, Zarah Leander, Marlene Dietrich, Hildegard Knef

Artists: Marika Rökk, Zarah Leander, Marlene Dietrich, Hildegard Knef
LP: Die Großen Vier

According to my online English-to-German dictionary, "Dame" is the German word "Queen." This (1960s?) "Die Großen Vier" LP offers a collection of songs by four female singers-actors-performers-beauties who were popular in Germany in the first half of the 20th century. There's info, songs, photos, and video clips for each of the four "Dames of Hearts" included below.

 Artist: Marika Rökk
Song: "Alles Ist Noch Wie Ein Traum Für Mich"
[ listen ]

Born in Cairo, Egypt in 1913, Marika Rökk grew up in Budapest before her family moved her to Paris in 1924, where she danced at the Moulin Rouge. A few years later she was offered a film contract in Germany, where she had an illustrious career in movie musicals throughout the 1930s. In 1940 Rökk appeared as herself in the Nazi propaganda film WUNSCHKONZERT and as a result, a ban was placed on her professional career for several years after WWII ended in 1945. In addition to being a popular operetta singer, Rökk was also no slouch in the rug-cutting department, as you can see for yourself in the movie clip below. You can read more about the life and career of Marika Rökk on Wikipedia here.

Marika Rökk on YouTube:

[ Marika Rökk: November 3, 1913 — May 16, 2004 ]

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

Artist: Zarah Leander
Song: "Du Machst Mich So Nervös"
[ listen ]

Zarah Leander was born in Karlstad, Sweden in 1907, and it was there she first found success as an actress and singer. Her popularity eventually spread throughout Scandinavia and to the European continent, where she was especially beloved by the Germans. She received an invitation to Hollywood to make pictures—where other European beauties like Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, and Luise Rainer had been transformed into world-famous movie stars—but Zarah settled in Berlin instead, figuring a move to the USA would be difficult for her two young children. Plus, she already spoke fluent German! Leander stayed in Germany during WWII, and two of her most popular songs of the time, "That Is Not the End of the World" and "I Know That Someday a Miracle Will Happen," were seen by some as Nazi propaganda, though Zarah refused to hobnob with Nazi party leaders and claimed she was only trying to lift the spirits of the German people with her music. In any case, when Leander's villa in Berlin was bombed during a raid in 1943, she decided to hightail it back to Sweden. Unfortunately, she received a cool reception upon her return, since, though Sweden was officially neutral during the war, public opinion there was largely with the western allies. Though Leander continued singing and acting after the end of the war, she never again regained the popularity she'd enjoyed before and during WWII. Zarah Leander still lives on in the hearts of many, including singer Nina Hagen, who idolized the wartime chanteuse as a youth and covered one of Zarah's hits once she'd grown up to become a freaky new wave discotheque sensation. To read more about Zarah Leander's life and career, click here.

Zarah Leander on YouTube:

[ Zarah Leander: March 15, 1907 — June 23, 1981 ]

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Artist: Marlene Dietrich
Song: "Mein Blondes Baby"
[ listen ]

Of the four performers featured on this record, Marlene Dietrich is the only one to have made a name for herself in the USA, and she's the only one I was familiar with before finding this LP. Born in Berlin in 1901, Marlene studied the violin in school and took a job performing in a pit orchestra in 1922, providing music for silent films at a Berlin cinema. She was fired after just four weeks. After that, Marlene took bit parts in local plays and films until landing the lead role in director Josef von Sternberg's THE BLUE ANGEL in 1930. The film was an international sensation, von Sternberg took Dietrich to Paramount Pictures in Hollywood where they made six more films together, and the rest, as they say, is history—a history you can read about here. If you'd like to know more about the brilliant Ms. Dietrich, I highly recommend watching Maximilian Schell's 1984 documentary called MARLENE.

Marlene Dietrich on YouTube:

[ Marlene Dietrich: December 27, 1901 — May 6, 1992 ]

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

Artist: Hildegard Knef
Song: "Illusionen"
[ listen ]

Actress, singer, songwriter, and author Hildegard Knef, who you can read about here, holds the honor of having presented German audiences with their first-ever cinematic nude scene. The year was 1950, and the film was DIE SÜNDERIN (aka. "The Sinner"), a love story between an artist and a prostitute. Born in Ulm, Germany at the end of 1925, Hildegard once masqueraded as a soldier in order to stay close to her Nazi lover, Eward von Demandowsky. Already famous for her roles in films like THE MURDERERS ARE AMONG US and THE SNOWS OF KILIMANJARO (she refused David O. Selznick's invitation to Hollywood after finding out she'd have to be called Gilda Christian and pretend to be from Austria), Knef starting her singing career in 1963. Fans were drawn to her deep, smokey voice and her talent as a writer of lyrics, and she sold millions upon millions of records.

Hildegard Knef on YouTube:

[ Hildegard Knef: December 28, 1925 — February 1, 2002 ]