Jan 31, 2013

Exclusive Nancy And Maurice, Plus Herrmann's Tender Finale And A Me-So-Bull Secret Song!

Sing it, Sweet Nancy! With seventy LPs and three Grammy Awards, Nancy Wilson is still way under-appreciated (or at least it seems that way to me). At the wee age of four, she already knew she wanted to be a singer, and by fifteen, she was singing in clubs and on TV. Sometimes it really does happen that fast - and for good reason. She was also the most beautiful jazz singer on the scene (and still is), which earned her many appreciative nicknames, like "Sweet Nancy" and "Fancy Miss Nancy," and in reference to her voice, "The Girl With The Honey-Coated Voice." She even had her own Emmy Award-winning TV show.

In 1960's "Something Wonderful," a Fancy Nancy Cheerful Exclusive!, Nancy is at the peak of her powers, bringing her deceptively easy going, crystal clear voice to a solid collection of tunes like "I'm Gonna Laugh You Out Of My Life," and the album's terrific opener "Teach Me Tonight." The technical range of her voice is astonishing, especially when you consider she can't read music - she learns all her songs by listening to the melody. She was voted one of jazz music's Grand Diva's by Essence Magazine in 1992. And, yes, she's still going strong.

A (very) long time ago, American women positively swooned over Gallic crooners - none more so than Maurice Chevalier. Ooh la la! Tres tres beau! But first, he hit London in 1917, and British women nearly toppled over themselves during his ragtime and jazz performances. Once in the U.S., he hit Broadway and Hollywood. At last, America's first French Himbo had arrived. 

A skilled singer and light comedian, Chevalier won an Oscar for Best Actor in 1929's "The Love Parade," (young Cary Grant had been rejected for the role because his neck was "too thick"). A Pre-Code early-talkie musical, the movie was a huge nationwide hit, and not just because of the music and performances...

...but the story, too, which managed to not-so-subtly suggest that couples, upon first meeting, should have sex right away (especially if one of them happens to include Chevalier). The 1960 LP "Tojours Maurice" - a Tres Tres Joyeux Exclusif! - gives you a broad overview of Chevalier's heyday, with tunes from 1929 to 1947; half of them in French, the other half in English, and all sung in so-called urbane and comique styles. My favorites include the bawdy "Oh! That Mitzi!" and a spirited French version of "You Brought A New Kind Of Love To Me."

As a slight warning, Track 7 on this LP is a bit scritchy-scratchy-skippy, but don't be sad, the rest of the tracks are tip-top, and overall, this is a fascinating listen. Chevalier was briefly re-introduced to a new generation in 1958's "Gigi," but make no mistake, his particular type of music - and especially, his ooh la la Boulevard performance style - will never be duplicated.

Can you believe we've made it all the way through Herrmann at 20th Century Fox? It's true, we have, and what better way to herald the final two discs than with Jennifer Jones:

The highlight this time is Herrmann's score for "Tender Is The Night," a real clunker of a movie that tries (and fails) to bring Fitzgerald's novel to life (though it's nice to see the Riviera at its chic, early-60's best) (but otherwise, don't bother) (and I mean that).

Still, the score has Herrmann pulling out all the stops, and if you can get past the somewhat dopey-sounding opening choral number, a lovely, even suspenseful, score awaits you, one that recalls "The Ghost And Mrs. Muir" and anticipates both "Marnie" and "Endless Night." In other words, it's a major overlooked score.

"Overlooked" is something that will ne-vah happen to The Secret Song File. Just look at the gal below; she simply can't rip her eyes away from The Secret Song File's egg-squisite loveliness. Will she, um, get anything in return? If not from yours truly, then from a certain Spanish Bull? The Magic 8-ball says "yes."

The Spanish Bull will also bring forth music - from himself, or moi, as he says specifically. Okay, enough with the hints. Let's put it another way. This Filipino/African-American artist has bluntly stated that he's moved "beyond chillwave," and his spanking-new CD proves him right, since it's a whole lot more fun and musically adventurous than any chillwave I've ever heard, plus the vocals are terrif. So g'on, try it. Have I ever steered you wrong?

Just shake your head and say 'no.'

Feel free to spout, declaim and pontificate in the comments, if you like! 


Daddy Squeeze Me! said...

Omg I almost had a heart attack getting here to Nancy. Sadly, I have this album but I thought you were going to post LIKE IN LOVE. I have been after her debut for sooooo long!

L'apprenti-poète said...

a big thank you for the Hermann box set...I'm a composer and I love his work...I have some of his studio music scores handwritten...fantastic!

A very grateful Cheerful fan

The Cheerful Earfull! said...

You're very welcome! And how wonderful that you have some of his music handwritten. That really is amazing.

Mike said...

Would you be so kind as to reup Nancy Wilson?

There is so much great (mostly little known) music here! Thanks so much :-)

The Cheerful Earfull! said...

Nancy's all yours now. ;)