Remember when smoking was crazy-sexy-cool? Forever, it seems, if you were a "bad girl" or a "tough guy," you had to light up. But that's all over now (though, yes, there's still a few dumb tricks who think it's a hot look) (I'm one to talk, I used to smoke for years) (and I started so young).
It's fascinating to see how the culture has changed, and how cigarettes, even when they weren't featured, were still referenced back in the day. During wartime, for example, if you didn't have a cigarette, at the very least you had to be gripping something long and firm and hot. Why? Because sometimes a cigarette is a penis is a cigarette is a shoulder-fired missile, that's why:
What does this have to do with today's music selections? Nothing, except that I haven't been able to find a single useable photograph of April Ames, a 1950s-era Vegas songstress (apart from her album cover). I wish I could, because "Strike A Match," her 1957 LP - and a Puff On It, April Cheerful Exclusive! - is a real lulu (in a good way).
The cover art is not a tease. The entire LP takes the smoking theme to the nnth degree, with ditties like "Where There's Smoke There's Fire," "Two Cigarettes In The Dark," "Smoke Rings" and more. And April? She has a genuinely sweet, captivating voice. As far as I know, this was her only record. Will it make you want to smoke again? It just might, so get ready to bite your fingernails or eat a few slices of cheesecake or huff some glue or something. And remember, coffee is a gateway drug.
Photos of some gal singers are hard to find, others are not. And surprisingly, some of them are nudies. Behold Tina Louise:
Back when there were no selfies, and way before those
Tame, I know, especially in this age of hard-core content everywhere, but in the 1950s, this knocked 'em dead, baby. Plus, quite a few of these ladies could actually sing. Lucky for us, they're all included in the compilation below - a Cheerfully Wowza-Gals Exclusive! - which has not only Tina and Diana, but Jayne Mansfield, Ruth Olay, Linda Lawson, Edie Adams, Fran Jeffries and many more. As compilations go, this one's hard to beat.
Joyce Carr - who's also featured in the compilation above - never went starkers for the cameras. She was a low-key kinda gal, and a fastastic jazz singer, too.
In the 1950s, she took a detour from pursuing a career on Broadway career travelled to Washington D.C. She never left. D.C.'s jazz haunts and posh hotel supper clubs welcomed her with open arms, which is no surprise given her enthralling, sometimes heartbreaking, voice. She became the singer to see for the Georgetown smart-set, which included foreign dignitaries, members of Congress and local tastemakers. She even sang for President Eisenhower at the White House, and on occasion, appeared on NYC-based TV variety shows.
Then in the late 1960s - poof! - it all ended. Some claim that she'd been a government bigwig's hush-hush mistress and was badly burned. Others point to her second marriage and a husband who demanded she stay at home. Not one of these story's has been confirmed. Let's just say that Joyce lived and loved hard, and for whatever reason, just couldn't sing in public anymore. Incredibly, she reappeared on the Georgetown jazz scene a decade later, captivating a whole new generation. She's well worth listening to - cherishing, even - because so-called "forgotten singers" are seldom this good. Her 1995 release is a combo of the two LPs she released in her lifetime, "Make The Man Love Me" from 1960 and her self-titled LP from 1981. They're both wonderful.
Yikes, the Secret Song File's bestie, Miss Rhonda Rio-Ramsey, was in a really diffy sitch the other day. Luckily, Rhonda wished upon a star - and the Secret Song File swooped forth, rescuing her from an unhinged handy man (who'd thought Rhonda said she could use a good drilling) (for the record, she did say that, but c'mon, she didn't mean it literally).
What's she supposed to do now? Yes, that, of course, and maybe a large helping of this, too, but also, some chill jazz. The Secret Song File has just the ticket, as they say (no, they don't), a nutty new CD from one the world's leading jazz guitarists in which he freely reinterprets iconic movie soundtrack songs, like the theme from a slashing classic (I'm not kidding) and one by a certain li'l cricket - and that's just for starters. As the li'l cricket says, give a little whistle and you might get more.
Not just a squeak - pucker up and blow.
But keep it clean in the comments!