Oct 3, 2015

Cy's Penthouse, Norma's Patience, Plus Kay Gets Movin' And A Nasty Girl Secret Song!

Don't you wish you could time-travel to the early 60s? When things were still swingin'? I do, if only to visit the Playboy Club, listen to live music, and hobnob with various singers (notice where his eyes are going?) and movie stars (such a gentleman; he keeps his eyes on her face).

One of the early Playboy stalwarts was Cy Coleman, the pop, Broadway and jazz composer whose "Playboy's Theme" became synonymous with their clubs, TV specials and the whole "Mad Men" Playboy lifestyle.

If we can't go there, at least we can visit by way of Cy's music with this Swingin' Cy Cheerful Exclusive! Get ready, 'cause it's chock full of jazz, baby, jazz. Of course, some of Cy's tunes will sound familiar to you (I think they've been implanted into our brains at this point). And it's wonderful to have them all gathered in one place, don't you think? Perfect for a small cocktail party with nibbles and such.

Do you know Norma Jenkins? I had no idea who she was until my Cuban Luvuh found her one-and-only LP on another sharing site. I loved her singing, but I wasn't happy with the tracks, what with their scritchy-scratchy sound, mislabeled titles and all, and I thought, "Norma deserves better. We all deserve better."

You'll know why when you listen to this smoother-than-smooth soul LP released in 1976. Born in New Jersey, Norma was a session and demo singer for the likes of Sharon Soul at Maltese Music and Carnival Music in the 1960s and 70s (two of several companies, like Correc-Tone Records, which tried to emulate the Motown sound). After finding minor success with a handful of girl group singles under the moniker of "Norma Jenkins and The Dolls," and a few duets with Troy Keyes, she was allowed to strike out on her own. But like Keyes, she never quite caught the public's attention.

It's a shame, because this is seasoned, grown-up soul. Norma isn't out to knock you senseless with vocal pyrotechnics (though she's capable of them), but instead, wants you to feel the emotion. From the warmth of "Love Jones," which has a long, lush musical intro, to the intense despair of "I Did It For Real" and "It's All Over Now," Norma delivers a sound that's raw, husky and, I think, enduring. And luckily, I found her LP - deliciously restored and expanded - in this Remember Norma Cheerful Exclusive! just for you. The first disc is the original album, while the second includes various single versions, songs with the Dolls and her duets with Keyes. It's a must.

Meanwhile, this is what our friend Kay Starr looked like after that damn, new-style rock 'n' roll music briefly derailed her career:

Yeah, not too pleased, even though she next scored on the charts with a few rock(ish)-sounding songs. But her heart wasn't in it - and she wasn't too shy about saying so publicly, either. Happily, Capital records came to her rescue in 1959 and essentially told her, "Record whatever you like." Thank goodness - for her and for us. The result was her critically acclaimed "Movin'," a rousing, big-band jazz LP that features Kay at the very top of her game. Plus, it was recently remastered and sounds better than ever. Swing hard, Kay, swing hard! It's one of her finest LPs, I think, and a perfect way to ring in the fall season.

What becomes a semi-legend most? If you're the leader of the rhythm nation, it's a new CD in which you don't try to out-hootchie the current crop of hootchie pop tartlets, but instead, deliver smooth, buttery R&B (especially during the CD's second half). The Secret Song File approves, and she'll snap you with a velvet rope if you disagree.

Okay, you already know who it is, so let's talk about how today - this very day - I was minding my own beeswax at the grocery store when I saw a real legend (nothing "semi" about this one) casually buying balloons:

I know, not the best picture, but it was her for reals. So inconspicuous in that wig! Let it be known: divas don't blend in. When she walked past, you could tell, she had not a lick of make-up on. And, yes, she looked flawless.

#tracirossmom, #mahogany, #missross, #blackdontcrack

Hash-tag away in the comments, if you like!


tony said...

Thanks for Cy and the legendary Rita Moreno!
One of my favorite compositions by Cy is "You Fascinate Me So."
Also, check out Cy's bio aptly name You Fascinate Me So by Andy Propst...good reading.

The Cheerful Earfull! said...

Thanks for the tip about the bio. I didn’t even know there was one.

Anonymous said...

Curious to hear the Cy Coleman LP but OBOOM won't provide captcha to allow download. Any idea?

The Cheerful Earfull! said...

Hi Anon,I’ve tried the link and it is working. Try this. Just press, “No, continue with free download.” After a thirty-second countdown, you’ll be provided with the captcha. If it’s too difficult to see, just press the little arrow button to the right of it and another captcha will appear!

Anonymous said...

Thanks. All's good.