Dec 14, 2013

LaVerne Goes Live, Hitchcock's Best, Chakiris Croons, Plus Pyewacket And A Stunt Queen Secret Song!

Think only today's singers are raunchy? That only they cross the line? Oh, hahahahaha! LaVern Baker laughs at you. In fact, "Think Twice," LaVern's duet with Jackie Wilson, was so racy it was banned outright - and that was in the late 60s. But some things are just too good to remain hidden. Give a listen:

Haven't heard of LaVern? She was a popular R&B queen in the 1950s who started out singing in nightclubs under the name "Little Miss Sharecropper." Like most legends, she couldn't, or wouldn't, leave well enough alone. Thank goodness. She was still truckin', as they used to say, live in Hollywood in 1991 in this Sassy Cheerful Exclusive!, the year she was inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall Of Fame.

Believe it or not, she sounded better than ever, maybe because she returned to her jazz and blues roots, especially on cuts like "Slow Rollin' Mama" and "I Cried A Tear." Oh, and in the song, "Saved," where she claims she no longer "smokes, cusses, drinks and dances the hootchie-coo," you get the distinct feeling that she's bending the truth a little. Yes, the song ends with her "stepping on to glory," but I'm sure she did it on her own terms.

Look, the couple below is making sweet love. Actually, it's a murder, but with Hitchcock, as you know, love, cruelty and death are one and the same.

Have you ever seen "Frenzy?" It's late-era Hitchcock, so not as well known, but it's one of my favorites, and the music by Ron Goodwin is appropriately upbeat, yet menacing. A track from that film can be heard in "Psycho: The Essential Alfred Hitchcock," a wonderful two-CD set which includes essential tracks not only from Bernard Herrmann, but Dimitri Tiomkin ("Dial 'M' For Murder," "Strangers On A Train"), Franz Waxman ("Suspicion," "Rear Window") and a host more going all the way back to music for 1935's "The 39 Steps." In other words, there's something for every Hitchcock fan to celebrate!

Meanwhile, who's the swaggy-looking dude leaning out of the truck cab below?

Why, it's our old friend George Chakiris: dancer, Academy Award-winning actor, singer and all-around nice guy. How do I know he's nice? Because me and my Cuban Luvuh met him briefly a few weeks ago at a tribute to his career. He could not have been more gentlemanly, and at seventy-nine years old, he still has a tall dancer's build - from a few feet away, you'd swear he was in his mid-forties. In fact, given the way he moved, I'm almost certain he can still do this:

Chakiris hasn't gotten his due as a singer - he was one of the few who wasn't dubbed in "West Side Story - and as we learned that night, it's what brought him his greatest pleasure besides dancing. "Memories Are Made Of This" - a Dancing Greek Cheerful Exclusive! - is one of his better LPs. The orchestrations are smart (it's Frank Sinatra's official Capitol band) and Chakiris' vocals are sharper and more confident than in past efforts, especially on "Witchcraft" and "A Taste Of Honey." Though he can tend to overuse his lower register for woo-woo-woo effect, this is a stylish LP from beginning to end.

Since Christmas is coming, shouldn't we celebrate a famous puss?

Yes, it's Pyewacket, the famous puss from "Bell, Book & Candle" (that other puss is awfully nice, too). It's a terrific movie, of course - not "great," necessarily, but perfectly pleasant - and the soundtrack by George Duning, believe it or or not, is a brightly fizzy listen for the holidays. No, really. Wonderful to listen to while hanging lights on the tree 'n' such. Or for cuddling your own little Pyewacket.

There are stunt queens - and then, guuuuuuurl, there are Stunt Quenns! The Secret Song File has to give it up for this pop singer's midnight dump earlier this week: an all-new CD, plus accompanying videos, out of nowhere. Who cares if it's any good or not, because at least this mess and this mess were pushed off the news cycle for a few hours.

Some of it's not bad, and it's definitely better than her last CD (which The Secret Song File listened to once, then promptly deleted). Are the videos good? Who knows - and they aren't here, but the music is. Yet the question remains, how will music's other pop divas one-up this?

Good God, what will Mariah do?!

Pull your own stunt in the comments, if you like.