Jul 11, 2015

Sisters, Sisters, Sisters, Plus A Sacrament Secret Song!

Did you hear? Sisters are doin' it for themselves! Hooray! No, not that way, the singing way. Sisters are always a good thing, because as the De Castro Sisters, pictured above, will tell you, no one will ever love you in a jumbo bouffant wig as much as your sisters will.

Siblings used to be an essential part of showbiz, of course, as far back as silent screen stars Lillian and Dorothy Gish. Once sound started, forget it, they were everywhere, an early singing duo being the Brox Sisters, who were the very first to perform "Singin' In the Rain" in the film "Hollywood Revue of 1929" (there's more Brox Sisters here).

But today, I'm going to concentrate on a few lesser-known pairings. So, for example, that means no Andrew Sisters or Pointers or Puppinis, though I love them all (and assume you already have them) (if not, there's a nice Andrew Sisters compilation here).

Let's start with Peggie, Cherie and Babette De Castro, three Havana-born sisters who stormed the U.S. under the wing of their mother - who, before marrying her Cuban husband, was a Ziegfield Follies showgirl. By the the mid 1940s, the De Castros were already making a name for themselves as "The Latin Andrews Sisters." And it wasn't too long after that they won the world over with their now legendary stage shows, in which too much was never enough. More feathers, more spangles, more everything! Their 1960 LP "The De Castros" is whiplash-fast, non-stop fun, so hold tight. The Andrew Sisters were never this extravagante. 

I love the Barry Sisters. Behold the glamour, the radiant smiles, the matching white hair clips. Are you not entertained?

Merna and Claire Barry are the epitome of nice Jewish girls (like this one). They found a wide audience from the 1940s through the 60s singing jazz - but with a twist, since most of their recordings were in Yiddish. My favorite LP of theirs is 1964's "Fiddler On The Roof," which they recorded in English - here in a restored Very Barry Cheerful Exclusive! version (for both you and your bubbe). At first, you may be reminded of the immortal Sweeney Sisters, but the Barrys are the real deal. Trust me, even if you don't like musical theatre, or even this particular musical, this is a must for your collection. Their bouncy good cheer, plus the swingin' old-school jazz arrangements, transcend camp, genre and common sense of any kind. There's really no one else like them.

Look everyone, it's Geri, Marge and Bea, ready and willing for a li'l smoochin'.

The Fontane Sisters - a chipper, harmonizing trio from New Jersey - hit the big-time when they joined "The Perry Como Show" in the 1950s, then scored ten, count 'em, ten, Top 40 hits before retiring to start families 'n' such. They're similar to The Andrew Sisters, but more down-home. Their "Very Best Of" - a Jersey Girls Cheerful Exclusive! - is perfect for a lazy summer day with a drink or two.

More sisters! Can you believe? This time, the sweet Lou, Gene and Virginia.

If any girl group is close in style to The Andrew Sisters, it's The Dinning Sisters, who were signed in the 1940s by Capital Records specifically to compete with the Andrews. Yet I think they can stand on their own, especially on their ballads, like "Once In A While" and "The Way You Love Tonight," which have a smooth vocal delicacy you generally don't find with girl groups of this kind. Born in Kansas and raised in Oklahoma, they had an astonishing nine-year reign on NBC radio and even appeared in a few movies before retiring to the do the family-raising thing. If the Fontane's are perfect for daytime summer fun, The Dinning's are just right for sunset.

And now for something modern (ish), though to be honest, I don't have much information about Lily, GioGio and Alessya.

I wish I did, because their 2011 "Boop Sisters" CD - a Favoloso Cheerful Esclusiva! - is a delightful throwback to the sound of the Andrew and Boswell Sisters, akin to the Puppinis in that sense, but with a decidedly Italian flair. Most of the tracks are in English, yet there's no denying the charm of their Italian accents on songs like "Chattanooga Choo Choo," for example, and when they sing in Italian, like they do in a translated version of "Everybody Wants To Be A Cat (Alleluja Tutti Jazziti)," it's pure bliss. Oh, one other thing. They're not real sisters - but sisters in jazz, as they say. Which is kind of cheating, I guess, but give them a listen and you'll see why I'm letting 'em slide.

The Secret Song File thinks we're all sisters - or sisters-under-the-skin for good music (just go with it) (never contradict her). Which is why she knows you'll enjoy this spanking-new electronica CD from a new Brit trio. And, yes, it does seem like they've been around for, um, eons and ages (*cough*cough*hint*hint*) or a few seasons and spells (*cough*cough*etc*etc*). Not like the Secret Song File, mind you, who's as a new and dewy as a spring freshet (again, do not contradict her).

As the story goes, the first band member met the second band member online (probably here); they met the third band member after hearing him sing in the shower (which so went down like this). But really, let's not judge (correction, you can judge this). Just be glad your sisters' got your back.

And in case you're wondering, sisters are trending!

Leave a comment if you want, but keep it nice like the kinfolk do, m'k?


tony said...

Thanks for your well-written and enlightening current blog, along with a wealth of music from sister groups. My head is still spinning over those ultra-bouffant hair-dos, well-manicured demonic eyebrows, torpedo undergarments...I will be laughing all day long!!

The Cheerful Earfull! said...

"Demonic eyebrows." I like! ;)

KH said...

Hmm- Cyy is encoded at only 32KHz instead of 44.1. Apparently an oversight…

The Cheerful Earfull! said...

Oh, the shame, the shame. Should be ok now.

KH said...

Cool! I really would have missed those 9.1KHz! ;) But seriously, it was probably good to flag that for the future… Thanks!

Larry said...

Hurray for sisters. Especially enjoy the Fontaines.

In the early 1950s when Perry Como had a thrice weekly 15 television program which was broadcast live after the nightly news the Fontaine Sisters were regulars. In most episodes they either had a solo spot or performed a song with Perry. If you ever get the opportunity to view some of the old surviving kinescopes I'd recommend it. They are quite charming.

As always thanks for sharing the music.