Apr 19, 2013

Ladies We Love! Blondes, Brunettes, Plus Gisele, Betty And A Terrifying Secret Song!

Certain kind gals do certain kinds of things. No, not things like that (get your mind out of the gutter). It's obvious from the picture above, for example, that Diana Dors is displaying her scintillating gams talent for singing. That's all. Nothing else!

A few years back, DDC Classic released a compilation CD set with "Sex Kitten" songs from the likes of Diana, Peggy Lee, June Hutton, Eartha Kitt, and many more, divided equally between Blondes and Brunettes. Even if you have some of these tracks, you probably don't have them all, and this compilation is unusually well curated. And really, I don't care how many times I hear Jayne Mansfield sing "That Makes It" - which starts with the breathiest porny-phone intro ever - it always seems like the very first time.

Whom do I blame for the decade-long trend of screaming, screeching Broadway vocalists? Maybe her:

Or maybe "American Idol." Or maybe the techies who split your eardrums open by making the screeching even louder (whoever's responsible, please knock it off). I bring this up because in this current environment, there's no way a vocalist like Gisele MacKenzie would be welcome. Anywhere.

A popular light singer in her time, Gisele could certainly deliver a showstopper with the best of them, but she wasn't out to mow you down. She was "light" and "pleasant," and if we've lost the ability to appreciate these small charms, then we're in a world with no variety or varying color. In Gisele's era, there was room for both ends of the spectrum (and everything in-between), from Ethel Merman (who didn't need mics to be heard in the back balcony, thankyouverymuch), to Gisele herself.

In 1959's "Gisele MacKenzie In Person At The Empire Room" - a Cheerful Exclusive! just for you - Gisele displays her sharp, gimcrack personality and sings a wide variety of songs, including a few Merman standards, and brings her own charming elegance to each of them. "This old piano bench is full of happy memories," she says. She has plenty to share. Broadway and standards, of course, but also French standards and an Irish tune,  "The Piper O'Dundee," in which she adopts a delightful hammy brogue.

Lucky for Gisele, she was able to cut several LPs. That wasn't the case for WWII's favorite pinup (note how she displays her singing talent similarly to Diana Dors above) (good singing involves lots of lounging on plush surfaces):

While under studio contract, or during her most active years, Betty Grable was forbidden from cutting an LP (Judy Garland was, too, and many more). That's a shame, because "Sweetheart Of The Silver Screen" - yet another Cheerful Exclusive! - which brings together songs culled from her movies and several radio shows - shows that she was more than able to capture an audience with only her voice. I love her festive, jazzy version of "It's Only A Paper Moon," and in "Embraceable You," she strikes just the right balance between sexy and vulnerable. 

"Dude, what-choo lookin' at?" That's what the Secret Song File is thinking. And yet, guys always stare, their eyes bugging out, their lips hanging down - even the flaming ones. It's enough to give any gal the terrors! Sheesh, that's a whole bucket-load full of hints. You may have caught on by now - unless, of course, you're embryonic.

I've always liked this psychedelic band (even though they want to collaborate with THIS train wreck) (why, why, why?), and their latest trippy CD does not disappoint. Will it win you" fwends?" I suspect it will, though you may need a bit of telepathic surgery afterwards. Goodness, that's too many hints. It's not even sporting. But then the Secret Song File is feeling generous today. Stare all you like.

Just don't expect her to stare back. 

Have something to say? Let 'er rip in the comments!


Anonymous said...

Hi! Thanks for the Sex Kitten's albums, but both links contain the Blondes :-( The Brunettes was not uploaded.

The Cheerful Earfull! said...

Should be okay now.

Faze said...

Didn't know about the Grable and Garland LP ban. I wonder what that was all about?

The Cheerful Earfull! said...

Just another way the studios controlled EVERYTHING about their stars - their voices, images, you name it. Garland only recorded after she was let go by MGM.

Unknown said...

Hey Cheerful--
My first post! I love your blog and all the great music--and the witty comments. No one else comes close to the wide range of stuff you post and I look forward to it each week. Thanks!!
Also just wanted to say that I am pretty sure the b&w photo is Mitzi Gaynor from Les Girls, not Grable.
All the best--GW

The Cheerful Earfull! said...

I'm shocked and MORTIFIED! Thank you for pointing that out. I'll have to find an appropriately dishy photo of Miss Betty.

Thanks again, GW!

E Craig said...

Another set of great posts. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Hi Cheerful,

Thanks so much for the MacKenzie post. I was just listening to a recording on YouTube of her singing "If He Walked Into My Life" from a production of MAME. I agree about your comments re her control and taste, but she could really belt too.

I have to contradict your assertions re Garland. Ms Gumm recorded many sides for Decca while she was signed to MGM. I'm not sure how many, if any, were released in album format. Wasn't an album in the 1940s a collection of 78s, rather than a single (or double) LP album, i.e. the format we know from the 1950s onwards?

I think the format issue was more of an influence than MGM meddling. Garland was allowed to record most of her movie songs on Decca. That would have changed, I imagine, once MGM records was founded.

The Cheerful Earfull! said...

Hey, E. Craig, glad you enjoyed!

And hey, Anon,
You're right that Judy released on Decca during her MGM years, but this was strictly controlled by MGM. She received no compensation, no choice in selection - zip. It wasn't till after she left MGM that she could record what she wanted (and with whom) and actually had a financial stake. Also, the MGM 78 releases were basically just radio-ready versions of her movie songs only. So it was for promotional purposes, really, which is why I don't count them as proper LPs (78 or not), but technically, you're correct, and I should have been clearer.

boppinbob said...

A Big thanks for Betty Grable. her recordings are often aired on my local Community Radio. I've played a few of hers too on my show "Gems From The Vaults".

Thanks for linking my humble blog too.
Highest Regards. Bob

The Cheerful Earfull! said...

You're welcome, Bob! And of course I link to your blog. It's a must read. :D

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your comments about Gisele MacKenzie. I have all the CDs of her singing that have been made available. She could really sing anything, from lovely ballads to dreadful novelties. I encourage anyone to listen to her.

The Cheerful Earfull! said...

I agree, Anon. Here's hoping more of her work is re-released soon.