The Easter Beagle has risen! Soon the days will be sunny from start to finish, (and we'll all fry due to global warming) (so wear sunscreen) (and stay away from those tanning beds!) (I'm only looking out for you). And if it's spring, then it must be time for Patachou, an adored French cabaret singer who made the trip across the Atlantic for her featured role in "Folies Bergere Direct From Paris!" on the Great White Way in the early 1960's, along with with singer-composer Georges Ulmer and the incomparable Liliane Montevecchi.
Unfortunately, Liliane isn't featured on this original Broadway cast recording - a Fantastique Cheerful Exclusif! - but Patachou and Georges are, along with a seriously sassy orchestra; you'll feel like you're in a rousing time-warp when the "Can-Can" kicks in. And just imagine all the glamorous les girls. Interestingly, topless nudity didn't come to the Folies until 1911 (the year Maurice Chevalier appeared) (he was labeled "painfully unfunny" on his opening night by critics, nearly derailing his career). The new bare-it-all strategy prompted critics to gush as follows: "A mesmerized hush fell over the audience, followed by an immense
In keeping with our springtime theme, isn't it time to break out the bonnets?
Actually, I'm not sure what's on top of Gisele MacKenzie's head (a teeny baby dinosaur?), but I do know she's ready for the season given her "look" on the album cover below. Those inquisitive eyebrows, the carefully pursed lips, those fabulous tiny blue octopi earrings. Perfect, don't you think?
Actually, it is. This delightful Canadian-American singer - a staple on popular variety shows in the 1950's and early 60's - coos wonderfully in her namesake 1958 LP, "Gisele," a Peppy Cheerful Exclusive! "Peppy" and "perky" get a bad name in some quarters, but not in this case, since Gisele embodies them both to a T on songs ranging from "Hey, There!" to "Answer Me My Love," and more. Fair warning; the album starts with a somewhat glum version of "Stranger In Paradise," but don't be scared. Everything gets sunshiny in a jiffy.
And now on to a lady who's fantastic no matter what season it is. Yes, it's the one, the only, Anita O'Day:
Her 1963 LP "Anita O'Day & The Three Sounds" is an anomaly in her catalog. Her jazz vocals are restrained (yes, restrained), and some O'Day purists prefer to ignore it altogether. They are foolish, mindless little peeps. Why? Because O'Day's minimalist vocals are obviously in keeping with The Three Sounds' minimalist arrangements (duh!). And make no mistake, she's just as deliciously precision-oriented here as she is elsewhere. So, yes, it's an unusual O'Day LP. It's also one of my favorites.
He's one of the greatest piano players of all time, we know this, so what's to say? I know, let's say springtime isn't complete without Oscar Peterson. Which is totally true. Dont'cha think?
"Night Train" isn't just a masterpiece, it's also a blast. Take "The Honeydrippers," with Oscar's winged arpeggios, or the buoyant "Georgia On My Mind" and "C-Note," the latter with breathtaking trills and runs. Everything here glistens and makes you happy. What more can you want for the season?
Actually, you might want a little more, though be careful what you wish for, because today we're finishing up with Michel Legrand...the disco years. I'm not joking. I sort of wish I was, yet I'm sort of glad I'm not (if that makes sense), because this is as prime a chunk of cheese as any you're likely to find anywhere.
But then, people in the 70's wore things like this, and snorted coke with them, and did the "walk of shame" in the early morning hours like this, so it kind of makes sense. I'll admit, some of the music on this 1978 LP is genuinely hair-raising, but you must. If only for the epic opening track "Disco Magic Concorde." Trust me, you so-o-o want it.
Many people want the Secret Song File, and even try to force their way. She'll have none of that, springtime or not. Sure, you can back her against a wall, but then she'll GLARE at you (with her eyes at half-mast) (that's when you know she really means business). What else will she do?
She'll sing, yo! Specifically, the fourth song on a spanking new CD, in which a soulful poptart tells you - and how! - that "you ain't all you're cracked up to be." Ooo, burn! This is only her second CD, but it was worth the wait. See how I'm not mentioning her name? Is she, um, Alice in Wonderland? Or Willow Smith? Hmm. Let's just say that italics are your friend.
Bunnys are your friends, too, so don't run them over.
Hippity-hop all over the comments! It's fun!