Mar 31, 2016

Nancy's Nite, Chloe's Fiddling, Plus Ana's So Kewl, Lotus Land's Epics And A Boy-Boutique Secret Song!

Spring has sprung! And with it, more cheerful tunes. In case of our first vocalist, we have yet another singer who's a mystery wrapped in a sphinx wrapped in a Rubik's Cube. Intrigued? I knew you would be.
The songbird is Nancy Steele, whose 1958 LP "Nitey-Nite" - a Sassy Steele Cheerful Exclusive! - is a breath of fresh air. Her song list might be familiar, but even on tunes like "Skylark," she manages to infuse them with her own mix of breathy yearning and stylish jazz vocal inflections.

But who the heck is she? There's actually two Nancy Steeles to consider. The one spilling out of her blouse above released several sexually-tinged LPs during the same era; the Nancy below released only one LP. Or are they one and the same? Unlikely, but possible. The only mention I was able to spot regarding any singer named Nancy Steele is that she was once an "acquaintance" of opera composer Carlisle Floyd in the early 1960s, which doesn't seem like a fit (I can't see either of them hobnobbing with the opera crowd). Can any of you out there in Internet Land shed any light? She's a lovely singer and it would be wonderful to know more about her.

Meanwhile, forget Batman vs Superman (no, really, forget it right now). Today's mash-up brings us John Adams vs John Corigliano (or that sly J-Co, as I like to call him, because he always looks like he's guilty of something naughty).

Actually, make that a three-way face off, because in addition to J-Co and Adams, there's Franz Waxman, and they're all performed by the insanely gifted violinist Chloe Hanslip with the Royal Philharmonic. It's a mash-up which shouldn't work, and perhaps her version of J-Co's "Red Violin" is lacking in subtlety, but her violent attack is perfect for Adams' "Violin Concertos." I almost jumped out of my skin several times - in a good way.

Speaking of naughty, I j'adore Ana Gasteyer and loved her "Martha Stewart's Topless Christmas" on "Saturday Night Live" from a few years back.

And, yes, Martha approved:

But did you know? In addition to being a witty comic actor (who trained at The Groundlings) (because of course she did), she also sings. Actually, she's had quite the Broadway career and originated the role of "Elphaba" in the musical "Wicked" (she also livened up that awful terminal very long TV production of "Grease," though too briefly). In 2014, she released her first jazz LP and, yes, it's a delight. Make no mistake, she has a well-trained voice, but what comes through most are her warm tones and complete engagement with the lyrics, especially on the ballads. Oh, and her take on "One Mint Julep" is a gas.

And now, a guessing game. The guy below, whose first name is Luke, just happens to be emerging near-nudie from the briny deep (which totally happens when you dab Nautica on your pulse points) (just go with it). So here's the question: who is Luke's grandfather?

If you guessed this movie legend, you're correct! I send metaphorical bonbons your way. And don't forget to check out the tunes which accompanied his grandfather's best movies in "Epics: The History Of The World According to Hollywood." The word "history" is meant literally, because this terrif 2-CD set arranges all of its music chronologically. In other words, "The Ten Commandments" come before "El Cid," which comes before "The Sea Pirate," egg-cetera. And every track is composed by a who's-who of MGM's legendary best, like Franz Waxman, Max Steiner, Alfred Newman, Bernard Herrmann and many more.

The Secret Song File is evergreen, ageless and always au courant (of course), and so are some pop acts (despite what you might think of them), like Madge, The Rollings Stones (Keeeeeeeef!), Bruce Springsteen and a certain British pop duo which first bounded onto the scene with a quasi-rap disco sing about gals who lived on the west end.

Throughout the years, they've continued to release new music with varying degrees of success. With their latest release hit a sweet-spot for the fans? It might, because like Madge's "Music" from years ago, this CD's song lyrics are completely inconsequential; it's all about the catchy electro beats. To be blunt, it's mindless, perfect for use with pharmceuticals (one assumes!) and a good accompaniment for dusting, too.

And who doesn't like dusting to a beat?

Clear away the cobwebs in the comments, if you like!


Regularjoe said...

I've been a dedicated buyer of the artist in your secret file since '85 but wow is that last one awful.

The Cheerful Earfull! said...

Yeah, it's definitely not their best.

Anonymous said...

any chance you could post the soundtracks on a better server. It says it will take 3 hours to download whereas your others take like 30 second. BIG fan of the soundtracks so if it can be done that would be FABULOUS!

Thank you for your great blogs and all the musical joy!

The Cheerful Earfull! said...

Unfortunately not for these because they're each over 200MB each (it's 4 CDs, not 2, as I mistakenly mention in the post). Still, I've found that depending on the time of day, they do download MUCH faster than the three hours you're encountering (early morn is best).

I'll try to avoid this DL site for soundtracks in the future, though.

Anonymous said...

Thank you. I will try a different time. (Is that early morning east coast or west coast?)

The Cheerful Earfull! said...

West for me. Though on some DL sites, I hit them before I go to bed, wake up in the morning, and it's all done!