Jun 7, 2013

Dames, Dames, Dames, Plus Keely & Jimmy Hit The Clubs, Hitchcock Dances (No, Really), And A JFK Secret Song!

"Va-Va-Voom!," a terrific 1985 2-LP compilation, spotlights classic Hollywood "dames" singing for their supper, like Sophia Loren above. For those too young to know, those were the days when gals wore lovely garter stockings and white gloves to the corner newsstand or the butcher's and such (it was really like that) (you can't tell me it wasn't). And can we talk about that hat? And the nice-girl pearls. Flaw. Less.

How did I come upon such a treasure? It started innocently enough. Me and my Cuban Luvuh were LP shopping a few weeks ago, sorting through what seemed like a giant heap of garbage - yuck, all those Paul Anka and Johnny Mathis LPs - when I happened upon "Va-Va-Voom!" and looked curiously at the list of performers. There's Marilyn Monroe, of course, Sophia, Jane Russell and Jayne Mansfield, but also less predictable entries from Rhonda Fleming, Diana Dors, Mamie Van Doren and more.

So far, so good. Then Señor Cuban examined the records to see what condition they were in - and get this, both LPs were bright pink. Literally. Sold. For a dollar and change. So enjoy, dear reader; it's a Cheerful Exclusive! just for you. And, please, if I could dye the ALAC tracks pink, you know I would.

From the Va-Va-Voom Dames to everyone's favorite Vegas Razzmatazz Gal, Miss Keely Smith. "C'mon down and sing pretty for the people!" cries her husband/announcer in this 2005 live recording "Keely Smith '58 - Today," and she doesn't disappoint.

Keely was seventy-three-years-old when she recorded this CD - a joyful Cheerful Exclusive! - but you wouldn't know it from her voice (and I'm not just being nice).

Keep in mind, this is the same Keely Smith who performed "That Old Black Magic" with Kid Rock at the Grammys in 2008, so you know she isn't fooling around. I especially like the medley "Just A Gigolo/Ain't Got Nobody," which is purest old school Vegas. And, yes, she's been wearing the same damn blunt-cut wig for the last forty years (at least) (it may even be the same one) (bless her heart). But, hey, when you've got a "look," you stick with it.

Let's travel back in time. To the 1960's, to be exact. Meet the funkiest comic tramp known to man; the one, the only, Jimmy Lynch. You haven't heard of him? I hadn't either until I happened upon "That Funky Tramp In A Nightclub," and I'm very glad I did. But be warned, before you listen, hide the children, cover the cat's ears! Things are about to get a little bit obscene.

Actually, not that obscene by today's standards (though it's reputed to be the first LP with an F-Bomb). It was recorded at various comedy clubs throughout the midwest in the mid-1960's when Jimmy was on the road, and the crowd, with their shocked gasps and screaming laughter, were as much a part of the show as he was.

Jimmy was also a singer, and he punctuates his more salacious gags with sudden James Brown riffs or howling, infectious cries. But what's really amazing about this LP is the lack of traditional "jokes" or "routines." Jimmy's fully-formed persona is the real gag here, along with all the stories he tells, which pile up on each other, seemingly at random, and keep getting more and more outrageous. I won't even tell you what happens to that female circus guerrilla, but it's genuinely shocking and very funny.

Have you ever seen Hitchcock dance?

What is he doing, exactly? The Rhumba? The Cha-Cha? Perhaps it's Contemporary. Or Hip-Hop. Actually, he's probably shaking his bon-bon to this second volume (3 whole CDs!) of "The Alfred Hitchcock Hour" (the first is here), which once more has Bernard Herrmann pulling out all the stops.

You know the drill; moody strings, sudden jolts of brass and lulling melodies that soften you for the kill. Speaking of the later, the set of suites entitled "Death Scene" include some of the most beautiful music I've ever heard from this composer. Of course, it can turn on a dime - so don't let your guard down. Mwah-ha-ha!

Remember when America wasn't all sneaky and spy-like and doing skeevy backdoor deals? The Secret Song File does. It was called Camelot, and it's long dead by now, though hopefully not burning in Hell like Carrie White (but let's be honest, things were totally skeevy back then, too) (we know better now) (don't we?). Anyhoo, back to Camelot. It's 1962. Two jazz greats - one a composer and performer, the other a vocalist - are gathered to entertain D.C.'s elite. Are you excited yet? You should be.

This fantastic live recording was released in a truncated form originally, but now here it is in all its uncut glory. Two jazz phenoms - one who left his heart in San Francisco; the other, recently deceased, whose most popular song may remind you of a certain candy bar - together at last. Just remember, Camelot is long gone. And it ain't poppin' back to life like Carrie any time soon.

Okay, so maybe Carrie is, but we'll ignore that. 

Make everyone giggle in the comments, wont'cha? We all deserve a giggle.


Faze said...

What must it have been like to be Keely, married to the beast Louis Prima, and forced to part her narrow fringe for all those Soprano types in the early days of Las Vegas? The poor kid. I can only imagine that Keely was steely on many levels. And yet her piping contributions to Louie's "Old Black Magic" and harmonies on "Jump and Jive" have a kind of midnight magic out of Cocteau -- Keely providing the cool blue moonlight.

Love your lynx, and the "Dark Side of Camelot". As the reviewer says, we forgive JFK Marilyn Monroe as we forgive Antony his Cleopatra (and not the cigar).

The Cheerful Earfull! said...

Keely's still alive, as you probably know. Someone out there must interview her stat. You just know she's got LOTS of story's to tell (!).

Anonymous said...

Love you choice of music & humour. Such a rich source of joy.

I was looking for the 1st Bernard Herrmann Hitchcock Hour - but the computer says...The file link that you requested is not valid. Please contact link publisher or try to make a search. Any chance of a resurrection?

The Cheerful Earfull! said...

OH, NO! I hate dead links, don't you? Check back in about a half hour and all should be well.

Anonymous said...

Many thanks for reload

Anonymous said...

I don't know how you feel about requests, but you should post more Etta Jones. Also some Ethel Ennis if you've got any (her work is so hard to find these days).