Tallulah Bankhead does Bette Davis does Tallulah Bankhead. Got that? No, this is not a new version of "Victor/Victoria," but Tallulah playing the lead role in this Cheerful Exclusive!, "All About Eve," a delicious 1952 radio play version of the classic movie. Tallulah nails it with her own sassy, inimitable style (of course), as if she were the only actress to ever play the role.
And why not? Davis had already played plenty of movie roles which Bankhead had originated on stage, like "The Little Foxes," so here was her chance to do Davis one better. Not that Tallulah would have cared much about the comparison. She was completely unique and she knew it, and by all accounts, too sanguine to care seriously about a movie "career," the result being that she's usually remembered by movie audiences for only one role, her turn as an epically witty, jaded lady - or Bankhead playing herself, as many thought - in Hitchcock's "Lifeboat."
Sure, there's campy fun to be had listening to this "All About Eve," but the camp value wears off fast and Bankhead's skill as an actress jumps to the forefront. It's remarkable how modern her rendition is - there's little, if anything, about it that's "affected" - and how direct and emotionally genuine she can be. Even lines that you thought were forever beholden to the Bette Davis canon - and you know which one I'm talking about in this case - spring to life in an entirely new fashion. It's a great performance.
Have you heard of Johnny Keating? I hadn't till I happened upon "English Jazz - Johnny Keating And All-Stars," in which this wowza Scottish jazz musician, composer and performer conducts an orchestra of trumpets, tubas, bongos and more.
The tunes, all original compositions by Keating and others, have the playful buoyancy of swing and bebop and the orchestra is tight. Oh, and Keating was self-taught, by the way, and by the time he was in his late teens, he was already composing and arranging for Big Band leaders. And, yes, he's still kickin' and performing to this day. Hooray!
I really wish I'd had the chance to see Sophie Tucker live. Preferably when she was older, when her performances were a part of her skin and the jeweled barbs dropping from her mouth had a lived-in sting.
And, yes, this is another Cheerful Exclusive!, so sit tight and prepare to have this definitive "bawdy dame" tell you how it is in songs like "No One Man Is Ever Going To Worry Me" and "You Can't Deep Freeze A Red-Hot Mama." She doesn't really sing, of course, as much as sing-speak, and you can practically feel the entire history of vaudeville in her intonations and in the way she delivers a zinger with unrivaled, old school ka-pow. And when you hear her perform "I'm Having More Fun Since I'm Sixty," trust me, you believe her.
I've always had a soft spot for jazz legend Beverly Kenney, probably because every time I hear her, I can't quite place who it is - because I assume I'm listening to some fantastic new jazz-vocal performer.
That's how contemporary her sound is - still! - even in 1960's "Like Yesterday." Just listen to her take on "Sentimental Journey" or "A Sunday Kind Of Love," which feel spontaneous and quietly heart-breaking. If ever there was a jazz singer who felt as if she were singing just for you, it's Kenney. Her career, commencing just as rock was coming into its own, sadly never took off. She committed suicide at age 28, leaving behind only a handful of LPs and "Like Yesterday" is one of the best.
Sometimes the Secret Song File has to work much too hard. Sometimes people just aren't even interested, like the distracted guy below, who's probably thinking about saunas and such, and how much he'll have to pay off a certain pesky masseuse (or two) (or three). Talk about frustrating! It's enough to make you want to move to Bangor, or maybe even Northern Ireland (cough-cough).
Wherever you go, be sure to pass through a few doors, maybe two (cough) and maybe catch a flick at the local cinema (cough-cough). While you're there, revel in this spanking new, indie rock-electronica band's latest. It's so good, you may even think that something good can work, at least for the moment. Just don't go finger-slurping on any sauna-loving guys. They won't care, I tell you, they won't!
It's good to know where your best shot is, don't you think?
Titter and gab in the comments if you're moved!