Sep 8, 2015

A Basket Of Berlin, Breakfast With Anita, Plus Fran's Coming, Mary's Live And A Trans Secret Song!

I'm back! Did you miss me? I missed you (of course). We should celebrate, right? Let's kick things off with glamour-glamour-glamour by way of Ann Miller, who wasn't exactly known for sex-appeal back in the day, but above is giving you her best come-hither. Hot-cha! This was unusual for her. In fact, for years after her heyday, she refused to do movies because of their sex and nudity, yet triumphantly, she returned to the screen in 2001's "Mulholland Drive" (which had no sex or nudity at all) (but whatever). 

Ann, in all her vocal glory, is featured in a terrif 1999 compilation, "Irving Berlin In Hollywood," alongside many other stars, such as Betty Hutton, Fred Astaire, Ethel Merman and Judy Garland, with each singing the crown jewels of Berlin's songs, like "Shaking The Blues Away," "Puttin' On The Ritz" and oodles more. None of the singers, I'm quite sure, ever appeared nude in any of their movies. 

Another performer on hand in this collection is Marilyn Monroe, and though she didn't go starkers in the movies, she famously disrobed for photographers before hitting it big. In fact, the pics just keep coming with Marilyn. Only in the last few years have all-new shots been uncovered - and they pre-date her famous Playboy nudes. Early in 1947, she did her very first au natural sitting for photographer Earl Moran. The photos, a couple of which are below, were discovered in 2011. 

In this compilation, Marilyn sings the 1954 Berlin song "After You Get What You Want, You Don't Want It" ("You're unhappy most of the time, and here's the reason why; after you get what you want, you don't want it..."), which, in hindsight, seems eerily prophetic. 

Meanwhile, it wouldn't be a truly cheerful return without a Cheerful Anita Exclusive!, and today, the jazz diva sings for her Pop-Tarts. 

I'm barely coherent in the morning, so don't ask me how Anita ever pulled it together for a breakfast gig. Can you imagine? Oh, and get this, Wheaties breakfast cereal wanted you to believe that Anita looked like this in the morning:

I'm not kidding. Look below. This must have been before 1941, the year she recorded "Let Me Off Uptown" with jazz great Roy Eldridge. "Why?" you ask. Here's my thinking. "Uptown" was the first mass-market duet with a white woman and a black man and no company wanted to upset its customers (plus, the racist South half the country was famously not amused by Anita's and Roy's single). Ergo, the Wheaties ad must have been pre-1940-ish (but I'm willing to be proven wrong if you know better; I haven't been able to find out any information about the ad anywhere).

So how did Anita rouse herself in the early morning hours? She never went to sleep, silly. "Breakfast Shows," as they were called, were 6am shows performed for jazz performers by jazz performers after everyone was done with their gigs for the night (and whatever else they were doing) (toot-toot!). Better still, this recording has been newly remastered, so those of you who may have listened to it years ago and grumbled about the sound quality can now hear it just as Anita's fellow musicians and singers did back in the day.  It's a terrific performance.

I ask you, who is that gal below wearing high heels, stylin' capri pants and what looks like a Reynolds Wrap belt?

It's Fran Warren, here to bring you a Cheerful Broadway Exclusive! What's not to like? Fran did it all: chorus girl, Big Band singer, chart-topping hit maker and TV variety show mainstay. She even appeared in "Toys Are Not For Children," a notorious, but unheralded, camp classic (lets change that, m'k?) which you really must see to believe. In her fabulous 1960 LP "Something's Coming," Fran gives you one blazing showstopper after another. Ka-pow! Bam! Wowza! Again, what's not to like?

Speaking of people 'n' things we like, I can't help but like Mary Stallings. Amirite, as the kids say? Sass and class and sterling pipes. She's everything you want in a jazz singer.

I especially love her 2001 LP because it's live, baby, live. You rise or fall when you're live, I think, and Mary scores especially well in this album recorded at the fabled Village Vanguard (which is still open, thank God, so head on over before it vanishes like the Village Gate, which, though its signage remains, has tragically been replaced by this) (but I digress) (as I'm wont to do).

AnywayIlostmytrainofthought, you'll marvel at Mary's four-octave range - and her song selection, too, which runs the gamut from favorite standards to hard swing to unfamiliar tunes, like Mancini's "Slow Hot Wind." If you're in Chicago, she's performing at the Hyde Park Jazz Festival on September 29th so run-run-run and get your tickets. I'll be there with you in spirit.

The Secret Song File has just about had it with political correctness run amuck (best explained here). Case in point? The term "cisgender" (the "cis" sounds like a drooling herpes sore, amirite?). While the Secret Song File is all for the transgender community deciding exactly what they want to be called (no more "tranny;" fine, fine, note taken), they do not have the right to decide what the Secret Song File will call herself. Especially when it's something as noxious-sounding as "cisgender." Which brings us to what, exactly? Ah, yes. Transmusic. "Scooby, wha?" you ask.

Let me explain. As the Secret Song File told me, Transmusic is when one pop artist, especially a Canadian artist who's been putting out mesmerizing mix-tapes for years, suddenly hits the big time by transitioning a part of their musical palate to that of another, in this case Michael Jackson. Does it work? Why, yes, it does, because the nods to 80's pop enhance, rather than overwhelm, the experience. And finally, after all this time, we get to see his face.

The hair, though; I didn't need to see that. 

Give good face in the comments, if you like!


Galli-Curci said...

Brilliant selection. Intrigued to hear the Fran Warren.

The Cheerful Earfull! said...

Fran's a lot of fun. Enjoy, Galli!

Larry said...

I have a quandary. I can't decide if I love Verve for recording so many great Anita O'Day albums. Or if I hate Verve for recording too few great Anita albums, having cut their association with her prematurely.

Luckily I don't have any ambivalence about The Cheerful Earful. I love it. Many thanks for sharing The Breakfast Show. It was a true treat to hear so many Anita O'Day performances I had not heard before. Sure, it's a little rough around the edges in places, but it's magnificent in many others. I literally laughed out loud with joy when I heard he quote "Swinging On A Star" during her scat solo in "Let's Fall In Love!"


The Cheerful Earfull! said...

She really is a marvel, isn't she? I'm a bit of an Anita completist (obviously), and apparently there's more still being unearthed by her estate; she had suitcases full of live gigs recorded on cassette. Fingers crossed they do it right.

Larry said...

Fingers crossed here too.

Kevin said...

Welcome back and thanks for coming back! And thank you once again for more Anita!

The Cheerful Earfull! said...

You're welcome, Kevin! :D

tony said...

Welcome back! Looking forward to your potpourri of gems here! Hmm..where do I start.....? Thanks!

David Federman said...

I was watching "Dressed to Kill" for the very belated first time and there she was, Karen Allen, your pin-up girl, driving Michael Caine to don a wig and reminding me of you. I never had the nerve to ask who she was but I do have the nerve to tell you her identity now that I know it. I don't think you ever meant to keep it a mystery. You had every right to assume that your loyal followers had seen the Di Palma film. By the way, the new Criterion blu-ray is fabulous! I'm glad you're back from summer break. Can't wait to hear your latest Anita O'Day excavation.

The Cheerful Earfull! said...

Thanks, Tony!

And David, yes, it's true, The Secret Song File is "Liz," the investment-minded prostitute from "Dressed To Kill." My favorite line of hers? "Oh, it's bad. And I'm an expert on bad!" :D

espo said...

Welcome back Cheerful !!..hope you didn't get sunburnt ! or frost bite ! or snow blindness !!!...cheers...Luigi !!

The Cheerful Earfull! said...

Thanks, Luigi! I got a bit burnt, but that's summer, right?

Faze said...

Wait a second. The Too Darn Hot Ann Miller? Not known for sex appeal?,

The Cheerful Earfull! said...

Yes, she intimates sexiness scrupulously. I've just never gotten "heat" from her, though as you point out, it's arguable.