Jun 30, 2013

Sittin' Around With Liza, Doubling Up With Teresa, Monographic Formica, Plus A Zombie Dubstep Secret Song!

She may sing "What use is sitting alone in your room?" but dammit if Liza doesn't have more fun sittin' 'round than any person I know. Whether in a hot-cha! pose like above, or kicking up her heels forty years later below, nobody - and I mean nobody - works the sittin' biz like Liza! Sit, Liza, sit! Liza can hand-jive, of course, but did you know she can feet-jive, too? There really is no one like her.

Liza's so versatile, that before "Cabaret," she tried to break into the soft-rock market with "Come Saturday Morning," which didn't quite work, or at least not as much as going soft rock did for Streisand a decade later.

Undaunted, Liza next tried for country-soul in 1970's "New Feelin'" - a hot-cha Cheerful Exclusive! - the strategy being that she wouldn't sing rock songs, but instead, the Gershwin and Porter standards she was known for, but with a new country-soul vibe. That means twangy guitars, female gospel back-up singers and organ riffs on numbers like "Stormy Weather" and "How Long Has This Been Goin' On."

The reception was (ahem) mixed, at best, but it's fascinating to listen to now. Why? Because whatever musical milieu you put her in, Liza will always be Liza. Whether she's sittin' or not!

Like most rock, pop or electronic groups in the 80's and 90's, the group below frequently posed for pictures wandering about - thoughtfully, ponderously, slightly wind-blown - through moody wooded landscapes. I have no idea why I'm bringing this up, except to say that it never made much sense to me. But then a lot of things don't.

Like, why do some groups, who start out so fantastic, suddenly vanish after only one CD or so? Case in point is Mono, a forgotten, but singular, vocal trip-hop group. Heavily influenced by 1960's-era soundtrack composers (especially John Barry in his groove-a-licious phase), the group found some success in the U.S. with their 1998 CD "Formica Blues," but from there, the party was over. They disbanded after its release.

Once you listen to this CD - with haunting vocals by Siobhan De Mare and still modern-sounding production by Martin Virgo - you'll be left scratching your head. Were they too cool and sophisticated, or did they just get lost in the shuffle with similar-seeming, though less inventive, groups during that time? We'll never know, but trust me, you so want this CD. You really-really do.

Get this. More than a few people snickered when allegedly "helium-voiced" singer Teresa Brewer decided to move from pop to jazz.

They were soon eating those words, for Teresa, in what seemed like just a few short years, became almost universally beloved by the jazz community. The voice was as child-like and sunny as always, but you didn't need to listen all that closely to realize that jazz must have been her true calling all along. All the greats wanted to work with her, like Duke Ellington...

...in "Duke & Teresa," her 1973 LP which wins you over right from the start when she sings, "Swing with Duke! Swing with Duke!" She also worked with Count Basie...

...on 1973's "The Songs Of Bessie Smith," paying tribute to the renown blues singer in a sparkling set of her signature tunes. I've yet to meet anyone who hasn't had a smile brought to their face by listening to Teresa. Yes, she's that much fun.

Will the Secret Song File ever smile - even when hugged by her bestie? Probably not, but that's just the way she is. Will this endlessly inventive, experimental-electronica composer ever lose his touch? Let's hope not, because his latest 2-CD opus is thrilling, confounding and mesmerizing all at once.

Who is it? Hmm. How to put this. Okay, I got it. You know those things that chase after Brad Pitt in "World War Z?" No, I'm not talking his hair-styling crew (given how gorgeous his highlights and cut look throughout the movie) (but then his hair is always flawless). You know what's chasing after him, right? Okay, so spell it incorrectly. That's the name of this artist. And remember, no matter what the Secret Song File is doing, her hair will always be fierce.

Remember when hair conditioner was called cream rinse? Yeah, I liked it better that way, too. 

Give a hair-flip in the comments if you like!


Anonymous said...

I think you're right---Mono was just too cool and sophisticated. This is the kind of music I don't really even think about until I hear it and then I flip out and play it constantly for the next 2 months. Thanks for turning me on to MONO!--GW

The Cheerful Earfull! said...

You're welcome, GW! For my part, I didn't flip out right away. I listened to it the first time and thought, "What's the big deal?" A day or so later, I put it on...and it hit me (finally). Glad you're enjoying it, too.

Regularjoe said...

I caught Mono back in the day, their 15 minutes was the inclusion of one of their tracks on the soundtrack for the Ethan Hawke version of Great Expectations.

Alpha was the first signee to the Melonkolic label which was run my trip hoppers Massive Attack. Their sound is nothing like MA, these are people who make dreamy trippy soundscapes and sample Burt Bacharach and soundtracks.

Faze said...

From Liza's thighs to Hillary's hair, you cover the waterfront with this post. But I'm really looking forward to Teresa Brewer singing Bessie Smith. Cognitive dissonance is my thing.

The Cheerful Earfull! said...

Cognitive dissonance! Great new name for my blog. ;)

Brian said...

Hey Cheerfull Earfull,

Love the Blog.

Bought the Mono CD many years ago when a Blogger compared the vocalist to Claudine Longet.

Two things....

1. Was wondering where in the world you are.

2. Are you familiar with the Canadian singer Chantal Chamberlain? If not you should check her out.


The Cheerful Earfull! said...

Hey, Brian, I live on Planet Debbie (I kid) (of course) (I live in Hollywood. USA).

As for Chantal, do you mean "Chamberland?" (that's what came up on Google). I haven't heard of her, but now you have me intrigued!

Brian said...

Sorry...yes...it's Chantal Chamberland.....I have all her albums and I still got it wrong...LOL

Based on your posts, I think you will like her.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of Cognitive dissonance... did I do something wrong? With "Duke Ellington & Teresa Brewer - It Don't Mean A Thing If It Ain't Got That Swing" I lost #5."Don't Get Around Much Anymore"

The Cheerful Earfull! said...

Oh, no. Go here: http://www.2shared.com/file/Btlxaqu_/05_online.html