Mar 1, 2013

A Sassy Mouse, A Jazzy Cat And A Super-Racy Girl, Plus Miss Teresa And A Run Amuck Secret Song!

The above is your brain on drugs (or really good pharmaceuticals) (not that I'm advising anything illegal) (ish). Confused? Don't be. Mickey and his friends were big turn-ons for all those acid-tripping hippies and yippies in the late 1960's and early 1970's (Timothy Leary loved "Dumbo") (I know, right?). 

You'll understand things even better when you listen to this super-rare 2003 CD in which members of Pizzicato 5 give their take on "Chim-Chim Cher-ee," Bibidi-Bobidi-Boo" and many more famed MouseHouse tunes. It shouldn't be as entertaining as it is - most of these songs, in their original form, set my teeth to gnashing - and yet some unholy marriages really do work.

Speaking of rare, the sexy-and-she-knows-it R&B artist below couldn't even get her sophomore CD released by her record company. 

Adina Howard hit it big with her first CD - which included her gold single "Freak Like Me - and seemed poised for superstardom. But in one of the strangest turns in R&B history, Elektra Records abruptly gave up on her by the time she finished "Welcome To Fantasy Island," her second CD which had already received advance raves from critics.

Confused fans would have to wait two more years for it to be leaked to the Internet, and while a handful of commercially-pressed CDs were sold in Europe, most of her fans had already moved on. And yet the reputation of "Welcome To Fantasy Island" has endured. Why? I decided to find out; it was either going to be one of those would-be sensations stoked by overenthusiastic rumors or a lost gem. To my surprise, it turns out to be the later. Really, no joke. This slow-jam make-out CD is in a class by itself, and it's obvious that more than a few artists have given it a listen or two throughout the years - especially Madonna, Brittany, Nicki Minaj and Rhianna, who've lifted (read: stolen) quite a lot from it.

Yet unlike all of her imitators, Adina can really sing, and her writing is playful, teasing and smartly produced (and her voice isn't obscured under a deluge of production). Some of the arrangements may seem a little dated, but if a new artist were to release this today, it would turn gold in a nano-second.

I'm a late arrival to the world of Adina, but I've long enjoyed Jimmy Smith and a certain black puddytat.

In college, I bought "The Cat" at a used record store because I liked the menacing black cat on the cover and thought I'd frame it. It never made it to the wall. Instead, I played the record and was gobsmacked, as the Brits like to say, by jazz great Jimmy Smith's sound on electric organ, and by Lalo Schiffren's finger snappin', "big daddy" brass arrangements. The music nearly jumps out of the speakers and grabs you.

Sometime after college, I realized I no longer had the LP. I'd lent it to a friend - damn you, Martha! - who'd wanted to make a cassette tape copy for herself (remember those?). But Martha was gone. She'd moved to Tennessee (of all places) (I'm sure she still feels superguilty about not giving it back) (and, yes, of course, I totally forgive her).

I remembered the LP a week or so ago and got my paws on a fantastic restored copy. And, yes, it's as irresistible as ever. Trust me, jazz-heads, you really want this.

Jazz-heads of the vocal variety have reason to rejoice today, too. The world's sunniest jazz vocalist has arrived with a Super Jazzy-Cheerful Exclusive! courtesy of my Cuban Luvuh.

Fans of Teresa Brewer will surely appreciate her 1992 take on Louis Armstrong's favorite numbers. I know what you're thinking. "Who could sound less like Louis Armstrong than Teresa Brewer?!" No one, of course, but that's part of what makes it work; she has no choice but to sing them in her own inimitable fashion.

And just as wonderful, a different jazz trumpeter joins her on each track, including the likes of Dizzy Gillepsie, Harry "Sweets" Edison, Wynton Marsalis and many more. My favorite is "Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams," which has Teresa getting really low-down and raspy. It's like the girl-next-door's become a Naughty Girl Guide!

Naughty doesn't even begin to describe the Secret Song File's forlorn friend below, who's taken to receiving clandestine instructions from his besties in order to enjoy certain liasons beneath a grimy bridge. A girl's A guy's gotta do what a guy's gotta do, especially when you're messed up with this crew. Poor thing. Can he get no peace? Ever? Why, it's enough to make him run amuck.

Actually, if you change the letter "U" to the letter "O" in the last word above, and get rid of the "C," you'll have the name of this spanking new "supergroup," as they're called (all the musicians involved have day jobs, as it were). And speaking of our friend above, do you think there's, um, fleas under that bridge? And has he ever, um, given head to a radio? Oh, I can't. These hints are just too easy - and filthy! Enough!

Even I have standards. 

Tell me how much you don't believe me in the comments!


Faze said...

The ever-inscrutable Pizzicato 5! Wish they'd dug a little deeper into Walt's 30s and 40s song catalogue - I do like their Give a Little Whistle. How cool is Jimmy Smith? He stays his restrained self on The Cat and lets the horns supply the swagger. Looking forward to listening to Theresa Brewer, although the last late-career recording of hers I heard disappointed. Not her fault. But modern producers just don't know what the heck to do with a voice like hers anymore.

The Cheerful Earfull! said...

Hey Faze! Pizzicato 5 did two more Dig Disney CDs, so maybe there's more obscure Disney tunes on those. Unfortunately, they're almost impossible to find (unless you want to pay a small fortune for them) (arrrgh!). But maybe someone out there has them...

KH said...

"The Cat" is 24-bit 96K! As Neo once said- "Woah…"

Bitrate more than double the CD standard. I saw the file size & thought: "Is this a video?" ;)

Unfortunately, I don't have the gear to exploit this. Is the Cheerful in possession of such exotic stuff?

KH said...

This calls for better cover art:

The Cheerful Earfull! said...

Thanks KH, much nicer pic!

As for the music, it plays swell on my iTunes (especially through my Bose stereo system; twenty-six years old and it's still kickin'!). :D

Someday I hope to be in possession of gear ritzy enough to fully exploit the sound of this LP rip - since it is one of my absolute favs - but for now it still sounds awesome.

I figured I'd put it up this way in case anyone does have the equipment to fully exploit (and, of course, it can always be converted to regular ol' MP3).

KH said...

Well, that's the flexibility of iTunes/Apple audio architecture- it deals nicely with high-definition material.

And the Mac actually supports playback of high-definition material natively, although you have to configure it manually to do this:

"How to find and play high-resolution audio on the Mac"

Of course, you'd need a high-quality audio chain to have any chance of benefiting from this, and a lot of people think it doesn't matter anyway. The main use is for audio production, where you need high resolution for processing purposes.

The Cheerful Earfull! said...

If any of this techie tawk is scaring anyone from downloading this fabulous Jimmy Smith LP, don't be frightened! It will play on any iTunes!

And KH, I had a nice giggle when I read that article - especially the comments. The only person in the world that I know personally who has the cash to play HisRes files full-tilt is, you guessed it, a Dead Head. Rich hippies know how to live!

KH said...

Sure- these files work fine as is with iTunes. Most people will still probably want to convert to MP3 or AAC to save space, though. 700MB+ for this one album is a bit much.

But that's why I like lossless- not because I use lossless files for listening, but because I can make my own choice about how to compress. In my case, that's usually 224k AAC. 1/10 the size of these original Jimmy Smith files, but indistinguishable in essentially all real-world scenarios (incl. high-end gear).

I do keep lossless versions of some of my all-time favorite albums, though.

KH said...

Higher-res Disney cover art

L'apprenti-poète said...

can't again download the cat...and after reading your impressions on this album...I want to hear it...I always got the same message that I have to download a new version of chrome and that it will hurt my brand new mac....thanks in advance..if not thanks anyway!

A fan of your site

The Cheerful Earfull! said...

The only thing I can suggest right now is to try Firefox, as its a less temperamental browser and you probably won't get that warning.

If that doesn't work, I'll move the cat to another DL site on Monday.

The Cheerful Earfull! said...

Ta-da! L'apprenti-poète, you can now download the cat. *meow* :)

Kh said...

Adina Howard's CD on…

seems to be gone. :(

The Cheerful Earfull! said...

Should be good to go now! :)