"Codeine...bourbon." Those were Tallulah Bankhead's last, whispered words before she died. Isn't that delightful to know? During her life, Tallulah was a beautiful, witty, wonderfully stylish train wreck - in a time when stars really knew how to do it right (not like sloppy Brit-Brit or Amanda-whoever-she-is).
It's why Noel Coward, amongst many others, wanted only her to play their parts or sing their songs. And she was very quotable. "My heart is as pure as driven slush, darling," she once said, and "Only good girls keep diaries. Bad girls don't have time," and to one of her (several) paramours, she was overheard to say, "I'll come and make love to you at five o'clock, darling. If I'm late, start without me."
"Tallulah, Volume One: Singing, Acting, Ranting, Raving" - there is no Volume Two (of course), and yes, this is a Cheerful Exclusive! - is a delightful bootleg LP that brings together a wide variety of tracks in which Tallulah sings and chats and carries on as only she can, so it's a must. My favorite track? "You Go To My Head." Why? Because it's obvious that whatever Tallulah's just popped, snorted or smoked, it's already gone to her head. Deliciously.
Let's move on now to less soused territory. Below is the original, 1973 Broadway cast of "A Little Night Music." So klassy, so refyned. Yet so itching...
...for jazz! And who better to reinterpret this wonderful show for jazz than the irrepressible Terry Trotter Trio. Sondheim purists may well be aghast, but not after the first few tracks. Somehow, the Trio has always been able to find the essential funk, if you will (and you should) in Sondheim, and their turn on "A Little Night Music" is no different. Trust me, you'll love this.
You can trust me about Ella Mae Morse, too, a fabulous 1940's-era singer who excelled not just in jazz, but blues, pop, country, rock 'n' roll and just about any other musical genre she tried. A lot has been written about how this musical wanderlust, if you will (and you must) (I insist) prevented her from becoming as popular as she might have been - and surely would have been today - since no one could peg her down.
Was she a jazz singer? A country singer? A pop singer? Ella Mae was that and more. It's a shame she wasn't appreciated in her time. She's definitely one of the more seriously overlooked "great singers."
But then, we still have her, don't we? Hooray! Her "Barrel, Boogie And The Blues" is a rousing, low-down LP that shows off practically everything she was capable of in only eight tracks. "Love me, daddy, for a long, lo-o-ong time," she sings in the blues classic "Daddy, Daddy," and very few artists give it quite the oomph that Ella Mae does. Legends like Louis Armstrong just adored her. Yes, she really is that good.
Some gals are not what they seem to be, like the Secret Song File's best gal pal below (look at that mug; how can you not love her, too?). However, some are exactly what they appear to be, like a certain seldom-fully-clothed rock singer who has a spanking new CD. It's a "newborn" CD - all bright and pretty and ever-so pink (*cough*) (and I won't even say, 'if you will,' because, sheesh, with a hint like that, you already have).
So go on, delight in her new tunes (I know I am), and take some advice from the Secret Song File's best gal pal above: don't be afraid if you're misunderstood (*cough*cough*). And, by all means, go on, get that damn party started, already (*cough*burp*). Tallulah insists. And so do I.
I just adore parties with open bars, don't you?
Raise a toast in the comments, if you like!