Doesn't Bertice look luffly? And she's back today - just for you and yours - in this So Bertice Cheerful Exclusive! It's her 1976 LP (restored in 1991) "The Two Moods of Bertice Reading." Aren't you glad you stopped by? Get this. In the late 1960's, jazz fans were so bowled over by her performance at Amsterdam's Apollohal that after the finale, they stormed the stage - and it collapsed. Luckily, no one was seriously injured, but the scene made the front pages of newspapers all over Europe.
Bertice could sing almost anything - jazz, pop, blues, gospel - and in "Two Moods," she swings from New Orleans jazz to pop to mellow blues and ballads. Her version of "A-Tisket, A-Tasket" is a delight, and on "I Cried For You," her smoothness just barely conceals the heartbreak.
Oh, and here's a nice little bonus. Bertice speaks! In this wonderful 1984 BBC interview, she chit-chats about her birth - it caused a literal splash - her life, her high-flying and sometimes camel-riding career and the eight LPs she'd take to a desert island:
If I had to take LPs to a desert island (I refuse to limit it to just eight), I'm sure I'd take one by Lena Horne, along with this picture:
Lena collaborated with just about everyone under the sun, of course, but her work with Michel Legrand on 1975's "Lena & Michael" is maybe her most head-turning. Why? Because she didn't just sing his catalog of songs as everyone else had - in a straight-ahead fashion, following the melody line - but instead, in her own Lena style. Trust me, you have never heard "I Will Wait For You" like this. It doesn't just swoon, it swoons, simmers, then explodes. That's our Lena.
And now, gaze upon the quintessential New York cabaret singer, the tres elegante Sylvia Syms:
When I think of Sylvia, I think of Bobby Short, Peggy Lee and all the singers who worked the cabaret circuit pre-Giuliani - back when I paid 900.00 for a huge one-bedroom with separate dining room in the West Village (it now goes for 3700.00). I was there for fourteen years, long enough to enjoy the neighborhood's last creative heyday, and then its arguable decline into a Haves-Only playground for the top one-percent (or people like this)
But I digress. "Lovingly," Sylvia's 1976 LP (yet another Cheerful Exclusive!) is silky, low-key jazz - and the kind only this Brooklyn-born singer could do. She was a regular at Cafe Carlyle, and no less than Frank Sinatra called her "the world's greatest saloon singer." As you listen to the songs on this LP, you can almost hear the faint clink of cocktail glasses, detect a whiff of lingering cigarette smoke and from the corner of your eye, catch a red-coated Carlyle waiter whisking past. It was a wonderful time to be in Manhattan. And it's gone forever.
Gone, but never forgotten, is Jane Wyman, who became famous anew after Ronnie Rayguns became President. She'd long divorced him, which prompted much commentary after he took office.
In the early 1950's, Jane starred opposite Bing Crosby in "Just For You," a lark-ish movie which had Jane smitten with Bing and contending with his two children, including that industrial-made charmer Natalie Wood (or the movie's answer to the Princess Phone). The soundtrack has several buoyant songs performed by Bing, Jane, and the Andrew Sisters, too. How can you go wrong?
Back in the day, The Secret Song File had to audition for everything - and hated it! Oh, the patience she endured when casting director after casting director failed to see her charms. When they told her to leave after a gorgeous reading, she just couldn't believe it.
That's all a memory now, thank God, but when those irksome memories resurface, they're easily swept away by listening to this upbeat, daisy-tripping, multifaceted pop group. Their newest release does not disappoint. And, yes, their name is partly a nod to a musical term which describes two or more simultaneous lines of melody performed at once - and getting along like gangbusters. Oh, happy day!
Are you happy yet? I am!
Trip on daisies or whatever in the comments, if you like!