Judy, Judy, Judy. She's still relevant after all these years, isn't she? True, our modern age has definitely given us some wonderfully talented pop music train wrecks - Whitney Houston being one of the few who counts, because she actually had talent, unlike other train wrecks - yet there's nothing quite like Judy, the first of her kind in the 20th century.
Unfortunately, a lot of what made her great got lost amidst her erratic behavior toward the end. People always believed the worst about her, even when she was at her best. Case in point is the recording of her concert at the Manhattan Center in 1962, shortly after her triumph at Carnegie Hall. It was meant to be her big follow up, but for a variety of reasons - her mild laryngitis, Capital Records balking at the LP promotional expenses - it was never properly released.
But here it is now, and I'd say it's equal to her Carnegie Hall stint (with the exception of one number, "Something's Coming") (even Judy can't defeat a klunky arrangement), and on "Joey, Joey, Joey" and "Some People," to name just a few, she reaches jaw-dropping new heights. What performer has ever pushed herself so far? Who else but Judy shot so high - and kept going higher?
In the mood for some primo jazz purring? Why, look no further than Miss Monica Lewis. She certainly isn't:
Monica was a popular 1940s and 50s-era jazz singer, her biggest hit being "Put The Blame On Mame," a song which kicks off the restored "Monica Lewis Sings Songs Of Love" from 1955, a Lovely Lewis Cheerful Exclusive! You'll understand why she was so popular once you give her a listen (she sounds so smoooooth!) and why she proved so popular for U.S. troops in Korea (she looks so oomph!). Naturally, moviemakers took notice.
Her film career was erratic - the Old Hollywood system was newly unstable at the time - but her TV career was a happy surprise. She became a favorite guest star on variety shows, and a much sought-after Madison Avenue pitchwoman (her most memorable commercial featured her as "Miss Legs-O-Genic" given her slinky gams). Though a happy married life followed after, she made a big comeback in the mid-1980's at L.A.'s Cinegrill Lounge.
At age 92 as of this writing, she's still vital and only recently wrote her biography. So give her a listen, and remember, she may keep it classy (of course) given the era, but if you listen close, that soft, purring voice promises so much more. Oh, and did I mention that Ronald Reagan proposed marriage? And she turned him down flat? Now you love her even more, don't you?
Sex symbols, as we're led to believe, went from the Monica Lewis shy-type to the Marilyn Monroe sex-bomb to bold, new-era sex symbols like Raquel Welch. But there was a transition between Monroe and Welch, namely Rusty Warren, a ribald, frank-talking comedian and musician who, in a lot of ways, paved the way for the sexual revolution and much harsher content on stage and in movies.
Her persona is that of the hard-partying, chain-smoking gal who makes no excuses and who's ready to rumba - in your bed, in your car, or, in the case of 1962's "Rusty Warren In Orbit," in a new-fangled spaceship, baby, right to the moon (and with President Kennedy, too). Her material won't make anyone gasp nowadays. There's no naughty words here ("boobs" is as racy as it gets), yet her blunt double-entendres are purest Borscht Belt gold - with a mod kick.
She must have been a blast to watch live, and by the sound of it, the hammered-seeming audience is positively thrilled. This isn't an exclusive, of course, but I did do some minor restoration work and broke up the tracks (which has never been done before for who-knows-what reason). But then Rusty deserves restoring. How better to listen to her anthem for The Department Of Socialized Sex? Or her brilliant corruption of the words "missile," "blast" and "nosecone?"
When The Secret Song File thinks of nosecones, she thinks of noses, fake noses (hers is real, don't get any ideas), which sadly leads her to think of a certain dead pop star who had a one-of-a-kind, Benjamin Button nose that kept getting smaller and smaller and smaller until (allegedly) it was capped with a fake one, ergo, a nosecone.
Right, so you already know who it is - and if you're don't, beat it on outta here - but the question is, is it any good? Should you bother? Should you care? Is it as good as the critics are claiming it is? No. But it is mild fun and may remind you of his better, earlier albums. You know, back when he still had a schnoz, when his skin didn't look like polyvinyl chloride and he took kids on shopping sprees to Toys R Us (and they didn't have to put out) and he didn't go on creepy public date nights with Corey Feldman and Macauley Culkin and Emmanuel Lewis and Bubbles. Remember?
If your memory fails, two espressos. Works like magic!
Share a giggle in the comments, if you like (they don't even have to be caffeinated).