Great beauties - they're just like us! Why, none other than Sophia Loren enjoys rubbing her feet over a wooden rolling pin while watching TV. Oh, and she always does her own nails and hair. What? You don't care? Because you were gaping at the wowza picture of her above? Yes, my little bambino, perfection will do that. Today, however, Il Sophia is not here to give you her body, but her voice.
It might seem like a strange thing to do - celebrating the grande bellezza e voce of an Italian movie queen on the 4th of July weekend - but Sophia belongs to the world, doesn't she? Firecrackers are for everyone!
First up is 1961's delightful "Peter Sellers and Sophia Loren," which, of course, has them singing their irresistible "Goodness Gracious Me," plus Sellers singing "Oh! Lady Be Good" and Loren doing her "Zoo Be Zoo Be Zoo" thing. Whoever thought of matching these two up was genius, I tell you, genius.
Let's pause for a moment to again appreciate Sophia's molto, molto Sophia-ness. Ahh.
Next, you can't go wrong with 1964's "Sophia Loren In London." Why? Because Sophia sings "Secrets Of Rome." Plus, this soundtrack for the original TV special has a dreamy-creamy John Barry score to whisk you away to The Eternal City, as they call it. Ahh, Roma. So corrupt, yet so beautiful (just like other places we know).
Finally, the ultimate Sophia collection, "Sophia Loren At The Movies," a 1972 compilation that brings together a few tunes from "Peter Sellers and Sophia Loren" above, plus a whole lot more, including several tracks where she sings in her native tongue.
Is 3 CDs too much, Sophia? You know what I say to that, don't you? But I say it with a smile, just like Sophia:
I have two Cheerful Exclusives! for you today, both of whom are performing late in their careers. The first is from one of everyone's favorite jazz vocalists whose career spanned sixty years. Yes, it's Miss Peggy Lee.
In 1993, Angel Records released Peggy's CD "Love Held Lightly" several years after her usual record company flat-out rejected it. Mortified, and sadly believing the first company's assessment - her voice was too deteriorated for public consumption, they told her - she refused to shop it to other places.
In a way, her caution was understandable. This was the first LP she'd recorded after becoming wheelchair-bound and her anxiety was sky-high during the recording sessions. Yet sanity prevailed. She finally shopped it and allowed its release. What emerges is terrific late-stage Peggy, who's astonishing technical command is still very much in evidence, but this time tinged with a sharp, newly deadpan bitterness. Miss Peggy would not go quietly. The LP is also noteworthy in that it's largely comprised of seldom-performed Harold Arlen songs (a songwriter she rarely performed). It's one of her best, I think; like pudding spiked with glass shards.
Here's another gal who had a good long run before being called out of retirement for one more go-round. Yes, the inimitable Lee Wiley.
Lee retired from performing and public view in the late-1950s, but the lure of one more big-time smash proved much too irresistible. In 1972, she received an invitation to sing at the first "Newport Jazz Festival's Live At Carnegie Hall Concert." Interest in her career had been revived by a TV movie about her life, "Something About Lee Wiley" (with Piper Laurie playing Lee), which detailed all of her travails, including a near-deadly horse riding accident, a failed marriage and a bout of temporary blindness.
At the concert, the crowd went wild. It had been some time since they'd heard her signature mix of sassy and sweet with unchained swing and cabaret. For many in attendance, it was like she'd never been away - she was still in top form. It's a great live recording. When she sings "You're Lucky To Me," you can practically feel the audience's excitement.
Now it can be told. The Secret Song File has an identical twin! Just like these two. But much prettier than them (of course), and smarter (ofcourseofcourse). At first, they were, like, connected, like these two. But much prettier (of course), and smarter (ofcourseofcourse). After a doctor hacksawed them apart, what fun they had fooling everyone! Just like these two. But unlike those two, no meth problem or selling themselves, 'cause that's just tackiness. Speaking of not being tacky, this weeks spanking-new CD is both classy and super-twinsie!
The two lead singers aren't real twinsies, of course, but refer to each other as alter egos. Close 'nuff, right? Plus, their alterna-jazz sound practically puffs cigarette smoke out of your speakers. It's that's retrograde, yet that modern, too. In other words, the Secret Song File approves. And her twinsie does, too!
Just remember, you're the Evil One!
Have a Happy 4th, and if you're overseas, have a happy 4th (see what I did there?).