Jul 13, 2014

Thelma Lays Down the Law, Julie At Least Wants Coffee, Plus A Gaggle Of Femmes And A Coming Change Secret Song!

If I were a waitress, I'd like to wait on Thelma Jones. Look how happy she is to see me (and, yes, the flower is for yours truly). Miss Thelma, as you may know, is a singer who can perform in just about any genre - though she's most noted for her R&B recordings - but I like her best when she does the blues, baby, blues.

And, yes, she's the the real deal, which isn't all that surprising, since her past as a gospel singer infuses 2006's "Law Of Old" - a Cheerfully Blues Exclusive! - with an almost palpable urgency. Just listen to her on "Get By Blues," a honky-tonk infused number, or "All Tears Fall," which takes her in a jazz direction, and you'll wonder why she hasn't cut more LPs like this one.

Let's leap back a few years. If you were a fighting man during WWII, you had this picture hanging in your locker:

Yes, it's Julie London, barely a legal teen at the time, and already giving men wood something nice to look at (I'm not sure if her dress is wet or some sort of form-fitting polyurethane, but I don't think the men in the barracks cared). Thereafter, she became a celebrated vocal sex-pot - admired by both men and women - and in 1967, released an album whose title stated that it was improper for a "nice girl" to stay overnight at a gentleman's apartment for breakfast. In a publicity photo for the LP below, she seems to have changed her mind:

True, it was a teensy bit passe for Julie to be making such claims this late during the sexual revolution, but make no mistake, "Nice Girls Don't Stay For Breakfast" - a Cheerfully Lossless One-Night Stand Exclusive! - is a prime slice of breathy-sexy cheese. The voice is low and throaty, the arrangements suave and seductive, and the song choices, like "Everything I Have Is Yours" and "Baby, Won't You Please Come Home," wonderfully lacking in subtlety. Yet the capper is the LPs final song, Julie's tender take on the "Mickey Mouse Club Theme Song" (I'm not kidding). I really wish I was in the room when she pitched this to her record execs. "But, you guys, c'mon, those ears! So-o-o hot!"

Ah, cherchez la femme, or at least French women, because they seem to be the only ones allowed to age - realistically - on screen. Case in point is Ms. Isabelle Huppert, the award-winning tragedienne (who, incredibly, started out long ago as a bawdy sitcom star).

Have you seen "8 Women?" It's a delightful comedy involving a mysterious murder, bitchy back-stabbing and French film's best known divas . It also features Huppert, in the movies best performance, hilariously sending up every neurotic she's ever played. Oh, and it's a musical, too - no, really - and if the ladies aren't always capable of carrying a tune in a traditional sense, they more than make up for it with le personality-plus. This is likely the only LP where you'll hear vocal performances from the likes of Fanny Ardant, Catherine Deneuve, and more. Plus the score by Krishna Levy is a slinky delight.

The Secret Song File is so American. She hasn't had plastic surgery, but she's thinking about it, which means she's not ready to go it (seemingly) au naturale like her French counterparts (then again, the French routinely make fun of Deneuve's fluctuating weight). There's also the matter of "black-don't-crack," and in the case of singers like Sade, this seems to hold true.

It also holds true for an R&B singer who's been around longer than you think, and she's just released her best album to date (for reals). Is change gonna come (*cough*) with her face in later years? Don't bet on it. And don't bet on it with The Secret Song File, either. As she's said to us many times, she's a "youthful-looking" thirty-nine (and plans to stay that way) (for good).

If she's always 39, we can all be!

Botox or chemical peels? Share your tricks of the trade in the comments, if you like!


Tim said...

WW2 history is an interest of mine s my late father was in the Army Air Corps. While reading about the war I learned that Julie London was painted on the nose of the some of the bombers. When I read that I didn't know that she had any sort of following in the early 1940's but apparently she was a pin-up favorite of GI's.

The Cheerful Earfull! said...

Thanks for your comment, Tim! It's amazing how long London's hold on the GIs was. They would have been nearing age 50 or so by the time "Nice Girls Don't Stay For Breakfast" came out - but then, like you mentioned, since they went so far as to paint her on their planes, maybe I shouldn't be surprised.

If you have link to the Julie London-painted bombers, I'm sure we'd all love to see it!