Feb 25, 2016

Anita's Back, Plus "Annita" With Two "N's," Caroline's Broadway, Mundell's Stripper And A Legendary Secret Song!

Can you ever get enough Anita O'Day? I know I can't. And, c'mon, admit it, don't you want that genuine Anita O'Day paper doll featured below?

The only thing missing is a cocktail in one hand (and a syringe in the other) (I kid, of course) (hahaha) (not really) (we all know what she got up to). Still, I'm pretty certain she'd never have been caught dead in that outfit on the right with - what are they? - Cayenne peppers? Carrot sticks? Red hot pokers? (and let's not even talk about those vomit green shoes).

"Anita O'Day Sings The Winners" was one of her most popular LPs ever. Plus, what we've got here is the "expanded version," as they say, so there's oodles of extra tracks from around the same mid-1950s era. This is the LP that made her nearly mainstream, where she took tunes popularized by other jazz artists, ripped up the music and vocals, reconfigured them and came up with startlingly fresh renditions.

On some songs, she dispenses with the lyrics halfway through; on others, they're gone entirely, since she wasn't concerned with words, per se, but with the exact sound and texture of her voice, which, she insisted, was "just another instrument" intended to blend or diverge with the sounds being made by the other jazz players. Some of the songs, like the opening track "Take the A Train'" have since eclipsed the originals, while others, like "Stompin' At The Savoy," are (for me, at least) definitive.

From one Anita to another, though the one pictured below has an extra "n." As in Annita. No, really. I'm not sure why. It's like meeting someone named "Johnn" or Suue" or "Macc" (and how do you pronounce Annita? (do you stutter?).

Annita had a unique career. In the 1960s, she and Diane Hall were known as "bookends" for bandleader Ray Anthony - or singing window-dressing for the more "important" Ray and his musicians. By that time, Annita was likely used to being undervalued.

Years earlier, in the 1956 film "Shake Rattle & Roll," with the likes of Fats Domino, she had a featured appearance as the "Slum Teen" singing "Rockin' On A Saturday Night," but she wasn't heralded (as she should have been), and thereafter, she recorded a series of one-off singles for a variety of labels. Yet in 1963, she scored her one deal for a full LP, "Slow Glow" - a Cheerfully Luminous Annita Exclusive! It's a wonderful surprise. Her song selection, a mix of upbeat rousers and come-hither scorchers, are a perfect match for her surprisingly rangy alto swoon. If you've had a bad day, she's the perfect tonic.

Are there any Broadway Babies out there? I'm certain there are. Well, step right up, because Caroline is ready to cut loose:

Caroline O'Connor, that is. If you're American, you might think I mean this Carol O'Connor. Being an American myself, I hadn't even heard of this British-born, Australian-bred theatrical dynamo - but then I listened to Theatre Du Chalet's fantastic production of "Sweeney Todd," with Caroline playing Mrs. Lovett to hilarious perfection, and I've j'adored her ever since. In England and Australia, she's justly celebrated. Here? We have "What I Did For Love," her 1999 LP in which she takes on songs from "Side Show," "Chicago," "Grease," and many more - and yes, she truly does make them her own. If you're in doubt, listen to her take on "What I Did For Love," a song I never thought I'd want to endure hear again. She not only resuscitates it, she brings it to vivid new life.

Sometimes you just want to kick-start your night with a li'l sleaze, amirite? And though I haven't seen the 1962 film "Satan In High Heels," the title and its poster below look promising:

Let's see, sex-crazed carny characters? Check. Heroin? Check. A producer who published "Exotique," a popular fetish magazine in the 1960s? Check and double-check. The movie may be forgotten by cinephiles, but the soundtrack - originally released under the title of the movie, as well as the title "Blues For A Stripper" on the Charlie Parker label - has long been a favorite of jazz enthusiasts given guitarist Mundell Lowe's ultra-razzamatazz hard-bop score. I love playing it with my afternoon espresso. Trust me, if the caffeine doesn't get me going, Mundell does.

The Secret Song File is legendary for many things; a little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down your pants. Ha! But really, isn't it nice when a legend comes back and shows the kids how things are really done? In this case, it's a gospel and R&B singer, as well as an actress, who's been thrilling audiences from the late 1940s and bee-yond.

Need a few hints? Let me look at the, um, stapled document (*cough*cough*) and I'll take you there (*cough*cough*). Actually, you may already know that Bob Dylan once proposed to her. More shocking? She had to wait till 2011 for the Grammy's to give her her first award. That's a crime. But does she worry? Nah. Why bother? That's only for the lovely (*cough*cough*). 

And the cranky, too. Though no one likes a crank. 

But hot-tempered? Let 'er rip in the comments, if you like!


maximomoor39 said...

Once again, you outdid yourself with your selection of grooves! Thank you for being "THE" best on the net! Your taste in music is refreshing. As always, thanks for taking the time to share and putting so much of your time into it, the quality shows!

Larry said...

ANITA SINGS THE WINNERS is one of my all time favorite jazz albums. Anyone who hasn't heard it yet has a real treat ahead.

The Cheerful Earfull! said...

Thank for you kind words maximomoor39, much appreciated.
And Larry, yes, for the uninitiated, they have no idea, though I have a feeling they'll react just as we did when we first heard Anita.

Anonymous said...

I don't remember when I first heard Anita, but I sure remember when I first saw Anita - Jazz on a Summer's Day.

In love, immediately. After that, her recordings "popped" for me.

Another great selection on offer. You're the tops.


The Cheerful Earfull! said...

Thanks, Abby. Jazz on a Summer's Day did it for me, too. I saw her and was like, "Who. Is. She?!"

Anonymous said...

Is Annita the same singer who (with Diane) introduced "Groovy Kind of Love"? - ANun

The Cheerful Earfull! said...

I believe it is, ANun, though for some odd reason, it was only released in France on their LP "Diane & Annita," which I'd love to get my grubby paws on one day.

You can listen to "Groovy" here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EUZhytfGQpw

ANun said...

I think that was only an EP. They also did the original version of "Dark Shadows and Empty Hallways", though Tammy St. John's version is the keeper if Girl Group era doom n gloom is your bag.

Nattering Nabob said...

Thanks for all the great music CE!

Unfortunately Anita's link is down. (Invalid Link Request - file does not exist.)

The Cheerful Earfull! said...

Oh, no! We can't have that.

Should be okay now...

Corto Maltese said...

Blues For A Stripper is dead ...