Jul 27, 2013

Caterina Takes Free Rein, Pearl's Mystery LP, Plus More Swingle Sisters, Corigliano's Rocket And A Nearly-Blind Secret Song!

Look at Caterina! All shiny and pink - and with a startling, gleaming yellow background. I swear the illustrator must have been flying on dexies because it's all so bright-bright-bright! And so unreal, but then maybe that's as it should be, because Caterina Valente - multitalented, multilingual, Italian-born daughter of circus performers - sounds as if somebody combined one-part Charo, two parts Carmen Miranda, a dollop of Sophia Loren, then pressed puree on a blender. How can she be real? But she is. And she's wonderful.

Recorded in 1963, Caterina's "Songs I've Sung On The Perry Como Show" is a lively collection of tunes that include "Make Someone Happy," "Couci Couca" and "Stella By Starlight." It's like your own little dexy - on vinyl!

Did you know? Lots of old time stars posed nude. There's Tab Hunter, of course, and Lucille Ball, Greta Garbo, Sal Mineo, and look below, it's our old friend Pearl Bailey in a stunning 1940s-era portrait by Carl Von Vechten.

If you can get past all that blinding, unselfconscious beauty, then you'll want to check out "Pearl Bailey Sings!" - a Cheerful Pearl Exclusive! - which was recorded...when exactly? I ask this, because there's no copyright date on the LP, virtually no information about it on the Internets (all the listings leave out the recording date), and certainly no reviews. In fact, it's not even included in most Pearl discographies. It's a mystery!

Which is strange, because it's not as if it's from some fly-by-night company or something - Columbia Harmony is the label - yet the cover picture is kind of cheap-looking and blurry, and the notes on back are non-existent (except for recommendations for other Harmony records). But still, it's a terrific LP - I love "Old Man, You Been Gone Too Long" - and, yes, Pearl, as is her wont, takes breaks in several songs to chit-chat with you. Because she can. Because she's Pearl. 

Jeez-louise, you guys really like The Swingle Singers, because there were mucho downloads of their LP on the Legrand post last week. The group still exists and performs, as you may know, but - and it's a big but - not with the original members below: 

So let's say "encore" with "Place Vendome," their irresistible 1966 collaboration with The Modern Jazz Quartet. It's an almost ridiculously happy LP. And those xylophones - perfection.

Look at John Corigliano below. Why is he smiling like the proverbial cat who caught the canary? Is it because he has this to come home to every night? Oh, JohnCo, you sly puss, you.

If you haven't heard his "Symphony No. 2" or "The Mannheim Rocket," treat yourself right now. "Symphony" is absolutely gorgeous, of course (and won a Pulitzer, too), while "Rocket" features this singular composer at his most splashy and playful. Snobs say it quotes too heavily from Wagner and Strauss and all the rest of the Germans, but duh, that's kind of the point, isn't it (or at least partly)? But even if you don't get all the references, and I certainly don't, it's still a ten-minute rush of surprising fun.

The Secret Song File begs your indulgence while she hoovers up a toot (or-two-or-three-or-four). Ahhh. All better (it's medicinal). Or is it? Can't some things just be fun? You know, like this spanking new, now complete, CD from a certain white R&B singer who just happens to be this guy's son (don't hold it against him) (which is difficult, I know, but try).

"Entertainment Weekly" calls it "zero-calorie R&B." To which I say, "Bitch, please." It's springy, light summer fun (and it's certainly better than this guy's latest) (which I've played only once) (and will nev-ah play again) (just sayin'). Does everything have to be a masterpiece for the ages? It's summer. It's hot out. Can't we all chill?

I'll make the cocktails if you go inside and grab the carrot sticks and bean dip, m'k?

Give a holla if you wanna in the comments!


James said...

I thought Columbia Harmony sounded familiar: It was a budget label that churned out discount LPs. But a lot of its titles sound quite appealing!

The Cheerful Earfull! said...

Ah ha! Now we know the year of release: 1959. You're a better detective than I am. Thank you! And that explains the kind of slapped-together artwork. Here's another mystery though. Was Pearl's LP an original or a compilation?

whorfster said...

Many thanks for the Corigliano but last time I tried it wasn't available. Perhaps mega is a better option? Thanks again.

The Cheerful Earfull! said...

Sorry you're having trouble. I'm moving it to another server, so try again in about an hour. :)

whorfster said...

Many thanks for that!!

E Craig said...

Here's a link for Chausson's Concerto by his father who is also named John.


If anyone wants it's there in Flac and Mp3.

Your post sounds great by the way.

E Craig said...

Pearl Bailey is a Compliation I think. According to Wikipedia, at the time of release Harmony Records was a label owned by Columbia that started as a low price label for releasing 78rpm records in the 20's and 30's. It was brought back in the 1960's and used to re-release tracks from the 50's on 9 or 10 track complations continuing into the mid - 1970's.

The Cheerful Earfull! said...

Thanks, E Craig!

Larry said...

Wow. I just found your wonderful blog. Looks as if there are a huge amount of treasures in store for me. Just finished downloading the Caterina Valente LP but I'm too dumb to figure out what the password is. Please help this dunce with a voracious appetite for good music. Thanks!

The Cheerful Earfull! said...

Welcome, Larry!
The password is thecheerful.
In case you forget in a day or so, just scroll down after the comments on the right side and it's there in bright orange.

Larry said...

Many thanks! Oh boy, now I have a stack of wonderful downloads to listen to. Who will be first, The Dinning Sisters, The DeCastro Sisters, Beverly Kenney, Caterina Valente, the wonderful Irene Kral, or one of the others?

I'm looking forward to reading all your delightful posts.