Jan 20, 2014

The Elusive Lucy, Swingin' George, Anita in 'Cisco, Plus Cece's Finally Movin' And A British Grammar Secret Song!

Who was Lucy Reed? Good question, and I'm afraid I don't have much of an answer, though over the years, she's developed a loyal cult following due to her sharply dramatic vocals. Happily, her personal life wasn't marred by any on-going troubles, like drug-addiction, for example. She enjoyed a decade-long career at Chicago jazz clubs in the 1950's and even made it to New York a few times to record. Some of her recording sessions resulted in her second LP, "This Is Lucy Reed," a Cheerfully Lucy Exclusive! 

Sadly, like her first LP, it didn't create much of a stir outside of jazz circles (she earned kudos from a roster of greats, such as Duke Ellington). She was a devoted mother to her children - her first husband died during WWII; she remarried after - and maybe because of this, she was unwilling to go on the road for promotional purposes. Whatever the reason, the record company lost interest in her. Lucy slipped into obscurity not long after (though she popped up seemingly out of nowhere in 1994 to record one more LP before her death in 1998).

If you've never heard her before, hold tight. Take one song, "Love For Sale," which she performs in a wholly unique manner, beginning with plain-spoken patter, as if she were a typical prostitute working a corner. Yet once she's into the vocals, the drama builds - from a girl who's dutifully going through the motions to one who's outwardly distraught. The number concludes with patter again, only now, she sounds slightly unhinged, as if life on the street has driven her mad. It's a hair-raising conclusion. This is jazz performed by a genuine dramatist.

Meanwhile, Sami the Dog just loves his owner (or his "guardian," as we're now supposed to say):

All together now: "Awwwww." Who's the guardian? It's George Chakiris, who seems equally thrilled to be in Sami's company. Picture, if you will, George in the park playing with his little doggie, the perfect image to keep in mind as you listen to "It's Been A Swingin' Summer," a 1965 collection of easy, breezy, ever so slightly cheesy, hits and ballads, and, yes, it's a Swingin' Cheerful Exclusive! He even dips into Tom Jones territory with his cover of "It's Not Unusual," and his delivery is less leering, so to speak, than Tom's, more casual and loose. I think I prefer it.

Anita. Live. 1991. Do I really need to say anything more?

"At Vine Street Live" is terrific late-era Anita - one of her best, in fact, and a Go, Anita, Go, Cheerful Exclusive! While you might assume that she's passed her sell-by date at age 71, oh, boy, how she'll prove you wrong. Yes, she did all the songs here with better vocal tone in her younger days, but her incomparable, whip-lash rhythmic faculties are better than ever in this very hot session. I repeat: Anita. Live. 1991. Annnnd......go!

Finally, in honor of MLK Day, two LPs from the very first black artist to perform after the fall of apartheid in South Africa. Yes, it's Miss Ce Ce:

If you were alive in the 1990's, no matter what your age, then you're already familiar with quite a few of the songs on Ce Ce Peniston's debut 1992 dance LP, including the irresistible title track "Finally." If you play any off the songs on this LP at a gathering large or small, I guarantee the crowd will be up on their feet within seconds.

Unfortunately for Ce Ce, by the time she recorded 1996's "I'm Movin' On," a sleek and sexy R&B LP, her record company had also moved on. Literally. How dare their dance floor diva explore her R&B side, the thinking seems to have been, and they gave the LP scant support in the marketplace. It's a shame, because it's just as infectious as her dance LPs, and happily, it hasn't aged a bit. Given her wide-ranging vocal talents, you can play this alongside any of today's R&B hitmakers and she'll still come out of top.

Now it can be told: the Secret Song File sometimes enjoys a bit of tall, dark and handsome on the side. Okay, okay, so two out of three, since "Little Joe" doesn't exactly qualify as tall. But the rest of him? Please, he's "fyne," as the kids say. Equally fyne? A winning debut CD from a certain indie Brit trio - with a lead singer whose voice has been compared to "liquid gold," while the album itself has been hailed as "sensual," "beautifully melodic" and "an astonishing surprise."

Which is kinda funny, because "sensual," "beautifully melodic" and "an astonishing surprise" are exactly what the Secret Song File said after a roll-about with Little Joe (co-wink-ee-dink?). Will he come back? Probably not. But then some things are best left to memory.

Andy only wish he had (and you know I'm right). 

Have your own roll-about in the comments, if you like. 


Kevin said...

Thanks for the Lucy Reed! Some interesting interpretations and arrangements on that one. And I'm always happy to see an Anita I don't have.

Thanks again!

The Cheerful Earfull! said...

You're welcome, Kevin. Glad to hear you're enjoying Lucy (and Anita)!

Jack Gardner said...

The Lucy Reed and George Chakiris links are broken :-(

The Cheerful Earfull! said...

And now they're not!

Tune Smith said...

Sorry again, but I had trouble downloading Chakiris. Couldn't get tracks 06 to 09. Would you please take a look at this.
As I didn't know yout blog I started with present date and went back until 2014. Made a lot of downloads. Only problems with Chakiris and Sassy.

The Cheerful Earfull! said...

Chakiris downloads all tracks on my end. Maybe try again with different browser....?
If you're still having trouble, let me know and I'll re-up elsewhere.

Tune Smith said...

It worked out fine with Chrome. Thanks.
nabulabula.blogspot.com resumed activity this week after the owner went to a spree in Iran and I took the family to the beach for a two weeks holiday. I post on wednesdays under the name of Jazzmin and on thursdays and friday under Tunesmith. Lots of old links are dead but if you email the administrator he'll put them up again.