More Kay Starr! Exclusively pour vous! Doesn't she look great wearing her something-or-other above? Is it a bathing suit? A kicky summer outfit for tooling around town? Whatever it is, she looks swell. Meanwhile, 1950's "Kay Starr On Stage" is yet another Kay release for all you Kay complete-ists out there (and I know I'm not the only one).
Fair warning, though, it's not an all-Starr LP; it starts with four terrific songs performed by Kay, including a buoyant "I Gotcha Honey" (which I believe she introduced), then concludes with four perfectly dreary tunes sung by Martha Tilton and Curt Massey, neither of whom I have any interest in at all. Oh, well. Even 1/2 a Kay LP is better than none. But don't say I didn't warn you about Tilton and Massey. Do not, I repeat, do not operate heavy machinery while listening to them. They're stronger than Ambien!
But wait! There's more! Even more exclusive Kay. This time a complete Kay - and her very last original LP for a major label, 1968's "When The Lights Go On Again." It's one of her best, I think, and includes her definitive version of "Sunny," as well as her gorgeous take "My Melancholy Baby." Once this LP was released, as you may know, Kay turned from jazz-pop to straight up jazz and never looked back (oh, and thanks Steve53, for pointing out the previous error in this post).
Years ago, I did a handful of 'shrooms with some friends and went to see a spanking new Technicolor print of "Million Dollar Mermaid." It was sheer insanity. The entire theatre was shrieking with delight, especially during this hallucinatory finale conceived and staged by Busby Berkeley:
Now before you say, "Oh, you silly little noodle, everything is a shrieking delight on 'shrooms," please be advised that I've seen the movie sans cremini many times - and it never fails to thrill.
For years, I've been looking for a good Esther soundtrack to recapture the fun, because as devoted to Esther as I may be, even I'll admit that her movies are variably spectacular and dull. In other words, her production numbers are exciting, yes, but what surrounds them - leaden, antiquated romantic plots, with jokes so moldy you wait for the baggy pants to drop - is seldom more than (ahem) workmanlike. Or let's just say that her MGM scribes didn't run out of pencil eraser while scribbling her screenplays. Or maybe they wrote them in crayon.
Luckily, I've come upon the apparently rare "Esther Williams Original Soundtracks" and it does not disappoint. In addition to having most of the songs from "Dangerous When Wet," "Jupiter's Darling" and "Easy To Love," it has their complete overtures, too - with the super-luxe MGM orchestra. It also has Esther's marvelous husband Fernando Lamas (who'll teach you how to act in this), crooning as only a supah-smooth Latin Lover can (it made me sad to learn that Esther didn't like Billy Crystal's SNL parody of Fernando) (but let's cut her a break; she had this dimbo as a stepson).
Plus there's tunes with Marge & Gower Champion, Howard Keel, Tony Martin, and even Jo Ann Greer, who provided Esther's singing voice (and Rita Hayworth's and Kim Novak's and June Allyson's and many more). Intrigued? I knew you would be.
The apple doesn't fall far from the tree, and - behold! - the manicure is always French, as in French manicure (of course) (just don't do this to them). Yes, I speak of Buttah and her little sis Roz. Again, I say, behold: Matching. French. Manicures.
Roz' 1969 LP "Give Me You" (a Nails, Darling, Nails Cheerful Exclusive!) is actually a good deal better than her previous LP. It sounds less assembled-by-committee, and more Roz! This is a blessing and a curse. When she goes for overkill, as she does in the opening title track, seizing specific words as if she were biting into a big, sloppy, Corned Beef hoagie - "All" comes out as "Ahhhh-luh!," "Less" as "Leessssssss-suh!" - she comes into her own. But when she goes for "The Softer Side of Roz," as I like to call it, as in "Who Am I," she gives fuel to detractors who call her a Buttuh wanna-be. Her real personality blooms when she goes big, baby, big, like Liza with sharper fangs. When she does, she's irresistible.
The artwork below from the Nathan Hale Harlem Renaissance Project is as close as we're going to get to imagining what blues legend Ora Alexander might have looked like, since no pictures of her exist, and little is known about her life.
Born in Chicago (probably in the early 1900's), she was reportedly a popular presence in black juke joints and Prohibition-era speakeasies. In the early 1930's, she traveled twice to New York City and began recording for Columbia Records, making a name for herself as a bawdy "barrelhouse" blues singer. After that, she falls off the map.
Only eight songs survive from her Columbia recording days - who knows if she recorded more, or for other labels - and they're all included on "Female Blues Singers, Vol. 1 (A)" (part of an indispensable series I'll post more of if there's interest). Though the first track is poor quality, the rest sound fantastic given their age, and highlight a truly great blues singer. Yet when you listen to "I Crave Your Lovin' Every Day," for example, you don't just hear how skilled she is, you feel the almost giddy pleasure she gets from performing. Ora's early life couldn't have been easy - that's not really much of a stretch - and yet she made it. Fame is fleeting, but in her case, we're still talking about her. And all it took was eight songs.
Gunslinger Gilda, The Secret Song File's BFF, isn't looking for fame. Just a carton or two of Misty Lights, a new AK-47 (to replace the one she's hiding under her pillow), and some chill tunes.
She's in luck. The Secret Song File has turned her on to a Boston-based soprano's seventh album, in which she explores "Victorian, American Gothic themes." Some call her a combo of Patti Smith and Kate Bush, which sounds about right to Gilda. And combos are a good thing: cheddar cheese and crackers; teens and flash mobs; shotguns and rifles; chainsaws and body parts. You get the drift, don't you?
Just nod "yes;" Gilda doesn't like dissent.
Agree or argue in the comments, if you like!