Apr 5, 2015

It's Time For Sunny, Plus Peggy & George, Cocktails With Connie, Kai's Bunnies And A Controlled Secret Song!


It's spring! Hooray! Time for happy, sun-shiny things, like Miss Sunny Gale, the long-forgotten, pint-sized singer (she stood only 5'1") who, for a brief period, had a shot at the brass ring - and almost grabbed hold of it. Born in the early 1920s, she was already thrilling crowds as a fourteen year-old belter in her native New Jersey. By the 1950s, after extensive touring with numerous swing and rockabilly bands, she released an LP on a small indie label.


Unfortunately, her first single, "Wheel Of Fortune," abruptly nose-dived when the already well-established Kay Starr was ordered by Capital Records honchos to release her own version of the song - simultaneously. Kay's "Wheel Of Fortune" was a nationwide smash, all but obliterating Sunny's (it was also a song which Kay has long stated she never liked). Though Sunny released a few more LPs thereafter, her career was basically over as soon as it had begun.

Which, in hindsight, is a bit strange, since Sunny and Kay share many vocal similarities (they're both instantly accessible, with a laid-back, easy-going timbre). We'll never know if Sunny was as versatile as Kay, but on the basis of her 1961 LP "Sunny" - a Sunny For Springtime Cheerful Exclusive! - she distinguishes herself with a no-holds barred raucousness, especially on her versions of "Everybody Loves My Baby" and "Did You Ever Seen A Dream Walking." Her career may not have lasted all that long, yet I like to think she's still triumphant (we're still listening to her, right?).


Behold Peggy Lee doing the Lady Gaga monster-rawr pose long before Gaga was even a stye in her mother's eye.


Our friend George Shearing is at it again, this time with Peggy Lee in 1959's "Beauty And The Beat," an alleged "live set" recorded in Miami and wonderfully restored in the early aughts. I say "alleged," because though the LP originally claimed to be a live recording, audience applause and ambient noise were added to studio recording sessions which Peggy and George did before and after their Miami performance. Pretty sneaky, sis. But, really, who cares? Peggy and George's quintet sound terrific together. I only wish they'd paired up more often.


Speaking of springtime 'n' such, bunnies had a whole new meaning in 1960 when Hugh Hefner first opened his Playboy Club in Chicago.


Anyone who was anyone was there. Look, amidst that gaggle of giggly bunnies, isn't that The Candy Man? Why, yes, yes, I think it is.


Depending on your point-of-view, the Playboy Club was either a sexist horror show or a wow-za good time (it was probably a bit of both). But there's one thing no one can deny, it was tops in music; both in terms of their star singer bookings and their heralded orchestra, which, in the early days, was commanded by Kai Winding. A Danish-born jazz whiz, Kai arrived at Playboy in the nick of time; it was the last heyday of cool be-bop and lounge as the premiere party music before rock edged it off the map (forever). This CD transcends kitsch, the usual zone occupied by lounge tunes, instead giving you music which sounds as sensational as the day it was recorded. I'm not kidding. This is real deal - at its height.


Is there anything springier for spring than Connie Francis? Look into her eyes. She's daring you to disagree.


Yet another New Jersey native - like Sunny! - Connie broke though in the 1950s when she sashayed onto Dick Clark's "American Bandstand" TV show, after decades of false career starts and stops, and sang "Who's Sorry Now?" That's all it took. American was in love and Connie finally had the success she long sought, especially with teenagers. In fact, many consider her the first female teen star. Extending her reach into the 1960s, the hits just kept coming - and in multiple tongues, since she sang convincingly in many languages, endearing her to an international audience.

What's striking about this terrific compilation - at least for me - is her versatility, from pop to torch to jazz and more.  Oh, and get this, despite having countless chart busters over at least two decades, she's still not in the Music Hall Of Fame. What the hell? As late as 2013, she was still performing. Go, Connie, go!
The Secret Song File has always enjoyed an international reach - a Brazilian boyfriend here, a Czech boyfriend there, with a soupcon of Peru and Vatican City (those naughty Bishops!). So has a certain EDM master, whom many consider one of its originators. Born in London, he's worked with everyone from Sinead O'Connor to Maximum Joy to just about anyone who's wanted a "nu" sound. And don't we all?


Now he has a spanking new compilation CD. So throw open your doors, let the springtime in and blast his music, because nothing says "spring" like a "nu" electro-bash. Ama'rite? But be careful. If you saunter outside and contemplate walking on water, remember, Jesus knew where the rocks were.

Have a Happy Hippity-Hoppity Spring!

Make everyone giggle like a bunny in the comments, if you like!

14 comments:

tony said...

Thanks for some silky songs by Connie, and for introducing to me to Sunny Gale. Let's not forget that "Spring Break" IS Connie Francis and Ft. Lauderdale!

The Cheerful Earfull! said...

You're right! How could I forget that? ;)

KH said...

Sherwood at the Controls is very cool- but you're not going to believe this- iTunes skips every single track at 2:33 - again (?1?)

I'm completely baffled. Thanks for the fix last time, and I understand if this is getting to be too much to bother with.

I've never seen the issue even once with AAC…

Puzzled in NYC…

KH said...

The only way I've found to fix this is to convert the tracks to lossless AIFF with a non-iTunes tool (I use "XLD" http://sourceforge.net/projects/xld/ which is crazy useful for getting in and out of FLAC.

Next, I transcode to AAC. The big issue with this is that what you're doing is re-encoding one lossy format (mp3) into another (AAC), which is like the biggest sin of all for audio people (compression on top of compression).

But it's something I've done in the past to preserve my sanity. Technology! :(

KH said...

Wow, Sherwood is freaky cool. I feel like I'm back at the Pyramid Club in the 80s. Until 2:33… ;)

KH said...

Ha- Vivien Goldman did "Private Armies Dub" on the Sherwood album- the name sounded familiar- turns out I met Vivien in the mid-90s when she was doing an early NYC Internet start-up called "Hi-D." Small world…

The Cheerful Earfull! said...

Yikes! That is bizarre (not the Pyramid Club part) (of course). I played the MP3 tracks on my iTunes on a Mac with no problem, so...

...I'm going to take a stab and guess that it's the download site corrupting things. Since you've had good experiences with 2Shared in the past, try the link below and, if you've a moment or so, test the MP3 tracks and let me know if it makes a difference.

If you still encounter trouble at 2:33, then humor me and try playing one of the tracks on VLC (it plays anything, video or audio: https://www.videolan.org/vlc/index.html).

If it plays fine on VLC, then you might need to re-download iTunes. Beyond that, I'm totally stumped (though I'll try to avoid MP3 in the future).

http://www.2shared.com/file/yK7S8fEE/satC1.html

Equally puzzled in Hollywoodland! :(

KH said...

VLC worked fine, which is actually no surprise at all- XLD also works fine with iTunes problem tracks. This seems to be an iTunes bug. If you look at discussions.apple.com, you’ll see that many people are having this same problem- tracks skipping ahead in the middle. It’s been reported for ages, and Apple does… NOTHING. The iTunes MP3 decoder seems to have a glass jaw- any anomaly- and it croaks.

As it turns out, iTunes has been sucking more and more over time, and I say that as a long-time Apple fan. It’s really a shame. That being said, most of the world plays this stuff via iTunes. Apple really has us over a barrel. I need to use iTunes with Traktor DJ software.

It’s not a matter of reinstalling iTunes- it’s a matter of iTunes being f***ed. My iTunes installation is actually quite new, since I recently installed everything new on an SSD drive, an upgrade to my MacBook Pro. Still, I’d love to have this album in pristine form. Any chance of re-encoding as AAC? That would eliminate the problem for everyone…

Sheepishly-

KH in NYC

KH said...

PS- I did try the 2shared link…

The Cheerful Earfull! said...

Unfortunately, I only have the originals in MP3, and while I'm happy to convert them to AAC, that's probably not what you want. If I find them in FLAC or ALAC (and I might) I'll let you know here and reup. In the meantime, how cool that you met Vivian! :D

KH said...

Got it- thanks! As you pointed out, I can transcode them to AAC myself. Momentary pause- "Are we really sure about transcoding orthodoxy"?

If you find them in FLAC, that would be cool. Then, I could indulge my inner obsessive-compulsive audiophile. Vivian was actually really cool. I have to try to reconnect…

Raymond Kolle said...

Hi, any chance of a re-upload of the Sunny Gale. I can't seem to get through to it on the current link.

Thanks for the great uploads!

The Cheerful Earfull! said...

Sunny re-upped! Enjoy!

Raymond Kolle said...

You're great! Thank you!!!