May 17, 2014

Vince Experiments, Nancy Times Two, Plus Vicki Restored And A Double-Blonde Secret Song!

What a fine day you've chosen to stop by! It's a day of discovery and innovation, which means that genres are mixed and matched, comedians go country-pop and mass-market artists take wild risks. It's craziness, I tell you, sheer craziness.

Case in point is Vince Guaraldi, a happily accessible jazz artist who decided to get funky in 1971's "Oaxaca," a Wild White Boy Cheerful Exclusive!
But what really makes this LP notable is Guaraldi's use of the electronic piano, or The Fender Rhodes, as it's known, a then-revolutionary piano whose hammers hit magnetically amplified metal reeds. So modern! The result is a landmark of electro jazz, and a wonderful experiment that still sounds kicky and fresh.

It's time to switch gears to mix-and-match genres. But first, let's ponder the early 1960's phenomenon known as Nancy Kwan. She didn't sing, of course, but she did act. She also posed beautifully:

Born in Hong Kong, Nancy became a major Hollywood sex symbol when she was chosen to play the female lead in movie producer Ray Stark's "The World Of Suzie Wong," replacing France Nuyen, a seasoned Vietnamese-French actress who was suddenly unavailable (she was in the throes of a nervous breakdown given her tumultuous relationship with Marlon Brando).

Nancy's career has given us two milestones of Asian representation on screen; "Suzie Wong," because the female lead was not played by a Caucasian actress, and "Flower Drum Song," notable for its all-Asian, all-singing, all-dancing cast. Whatever you think of these movies - do they perpetuate old stereotypes or are they "guilty pleasures," as playwright David Henry Wang says of "Flower Drum Song?" - there's no denying their splashy early-60s loopiness. And their music.

George Duning's music for "The World Of Suzie Wong" - a Mod Cheerful Exclusive! just for you - mixes and matches cliched "Asian sounds" with Henry Mancini-style melodies. In other words, it's delicious. "Flower Drum Song" is stranger still, and features B.J. Baker singing for the lip-syncing-for-her-life Nancy in the musical's best (silliest?) number, "I Enjoy Being A Girl." In other words, it's delicious.

We're all familiar with Carol Burnett look-a-like and partner in comedy Vicki Lawrence, right?

And, of course, you know that she surprised everyone in the 1970's when she scored a top ten hit with "The Night The Lights When Out In Georgia." AM radio was suddenly alive with a comedian-gone-country-pop! And guess what? The namesake LP has been gorgeously restored - with additional tracks - in this Cranky Mama Cheerful Exclusive!

But did you also know (I didn't) that just after her first LP, she put out another? Her "Ships In The Night" LP, a Mama, Too, Cheerful Exclusive!, wasn't released in the U.S. for some reason or another, and that's a shame, because it has some terrific songs, including "Old Home Movies." Like the song "The Night The Lights When Out In Georgia," "Old Home Movies" is both sultry and a touch menacing, a mini-pop-genre where Vicki excelled.

The Secret Song File knows all about sultry (obvs). She also knows how to relax, and helpfully advises all of her tricks to relax, don't do it - when you want to come (also obvs). Oh, and she would prefer if you're flaxen-haired, too.

So many clues, so many familiar songs, so many new interpretations of old classics. It's a feat only a blonde punk could pull off, and the Secret Song File gives a respectful curtsy to this rocker who's still rocking in her spanking new double-CD which mixes old and new. It just goes to show that there's no bitch like an experienced bitch (which the Secret Song File knows everything, and yet nothing, about because she's perpetually 29) (but you knew that).

If you like her, you can call her (and she don't mean 'maybe')!

Color her your color in the comments, if you like. 


Anonymous said...

You never fail to make my day with your brilliant posts. I've been looking for these Vicki Lawrence tracks forever! Thank you so much.

The Cheerful Earfull! said...

You're welcome. Hope they bring back some fun 70's-era memories - and create spanking new ones, too! :D

Bob said...

Hard to disagree with Anonymous. Two of my favourite VL albums - lost for many years (eaten by my dog I think) and now you've shared them back.

The Cheerful Earfull! said...

Who knew Vicki was so popular!