Go, Anita, go! Never stop, never give in. The life of Anita, as you may know, was like a runaway freight train, so it still amazes me that her jazz performances were so fantastic - especially the live ones, given that she was struggling with heroin addiction for at least a third of her life. She never, however, shot up before a performance (only after), which may explain something. Or maybe she was just that good.
You'll get a good taste of Anita live in both CD's below - each of them a Go, Anita, Go, Cheerful Exclusive! - the first highlighting an array of terrific performances in Stockholm, Newport, Miami and Manhattan throughout the late 1950's.
The second marked her triumphant 1981 return to live performing in Tokyo (they worshipped her in Japan) (and still do). Oh, and this was just after she'd beaten her addiction. I know, right? She just couldn't be stopped. Her vocals were as sharp as ever, maybe more so, since her usual technical mastery was met with a newly rich, sometimes darker, emotional range. If you j'adore Anita like I do, they're both essential.
From one tough jazz babe to another. Yes, Doris Day (no, really). She wasn't all sunshine and rainbows, you know, though in her heyday, she certainly came off that way.
Still, she didn't pull any punches in 1955's "Love Me Or Leave Me," the (mostly) fictionalized account of jazz singer Ruth Etting. It's the one movie her fans repeatedly point to when they're told that Doris can't act, and for good reason. Her Etting is by turns coldly ambitious, lovelorn and anguished - and liberated only on stage. Plus Doris gets to sing, of course. The soundtrack is chock full of great numbers, like "Shaking The Blues Away," a definitive "Ten Cents A Dance," and, of course, "Love Me Or Leave Me."
Still, most people are surprised (I know I was) to learn that Doris was a serious jazz and Big Band singer before she was candied-up by La La Land. First discovering her love of song as a child while listening to Ella Fitzgerald on the radio, she later became the favored "girl singer" for Big Band leaders everywhere, most notably Les Brown. Together, they shot to the top of the radio charts.
"Doris Day, Complete Recordings With Les Brown" - which starts off with her buoyant take on "Dig It!" - is just about perfection. If you only know Doris from "Que Sera Sera," then you're about to learn how gifted she really was, and, yes, why Hollywood beat a path to her door and snatched her up. Oh, and you'll also realize why, at the height of her Hollywood fame, Oscar Levant once quipped "I knew Doris Day before she was a virgin."
From jazz to Big Band...to alternative-rock-mixed-with-electro-with-a-bit-of-punk-ska-and-flamenco-tossed-in. I know, you're confused (I know my head's spinning) (but then I'm still on my first cup of coffee). Have you heard of "Les NeGresses Vertes?" They're still France's most successful worldwide rock export. Why? Because their music was instantly, sometimes insanely, likable, but also, I think, because of their "we'll try anything" ethos, which gave a point-of-entry for all musical tastes.
I remember exactly where I was in 1993 when I sampled the first two tracks of the group's "10 Remixes." There I was, just a wee little sprite at the Virgin Store. I didn't have to listen to more than a few tracks before I flew to the cashier with the CD, then ran home to play it. All their biggest hits are here, masterfully remixed (but not overwhelmed) by the likes of William Orbit, Clive Martin and many more. Trust me, this is ear candy of a very high order.
By 1999, the group had regrouped and reconfigured after the heroin overdose death of one of its members, and decided to add the all-new element of electro to their already brimming bag of musical styles. The result was "Trabendo," a collection of seductive, still contemporary-sounding, grooves. It's one of their best.
Gunslinger Gilda - the Secret Song File's BFF - is always prepared. Yes, that's a submachine gun under her pillow, but c'mon, who would ever suspect? She looks so very innocent.
I'll shake, I'll stir, but I refuse to twerk!
Shake it down in the comments, if you like.