Apr 23, 2016

Irene's Band, Teddi's Tunes, Audrey's Guitar, Plus Apollonia, Sheila And A Dream-Time Secret Song!

Is this picture of Irene Kral giving you acid flashbacks? Does anyone do acid anymore? I did it twice.
The first time I just giggled, the second time music flowed from the speakers, I giggled some more, I stood up...and the floor dropped four-hundred feet beneath me. So not fun. I couldn't move for what seemed like hours, though it was actually mere moments - or so I was told by a high school friend who gave me a drink to calm me down. Everclear with Cherry Kool-Aid. Some friend. Some drug. The perfect drug would allow you to enjoy it, then turn it off like a light switch when you've had enough. Any scientists out there? Get on that, ok? You'll make a mint.

What does this have to do with Irene Kral, the Chicago-born jazz chanteuse? Nothing (of course). And besides, Irene is the opposite of a bad trip. She's often compared to Carmen McRae, yet her charms are different, more discreet. This is an artist who makes high art out of holding back; her phrasing is superb, her emotions impassioned - and it's all flawlessly compacted, like the tiniest, most precious jewel. Her 1959 LP "The Band And I" - a Refined Irene Cheerful Exclusive! - is lauded by critics as her very best. You'll get no arguments here.

Meanwhile, I just can't with the Purple One's demise. His music is playing everywhere right now, and by all means, listen, but I think we should also take a moment to enjoy the music he created for two of his greatest stars. The first is Apollonia. Beau-u-u-u-u-u-utiful Apollonia. Still.

In 1984, Prince cast Apollonia in his movie "Purple Rain," then produced her first LP, "Apollonia 6," which boasts two top-20 hits, "Sex Shooter" (which is exactly what you think it's about) and "Blue Limousine." Did you know? She's also a designer and created her own costumes for her ten-week stint on "Falcon Crest." Because of course she did.

Next up, Sheila E. Beau-u-u-u-u-u-utiful, mega-talented Sheila E. Still.

All I can say about her is this: in 2011, a friend and I went to see Prince in concert at The Forum. Lucky us. He was inexhaustibly thrilling (of course) (with four encores ranging in length from twenty to sixty minutes apiece!), and one of his surprise guest stars was Sheila E. She brought down the house during her jaw-dropping drum solo (performed standing up, in the highest of high heels, as is her wont). I'm convinced she's an alien. Her LP, "The Glamorous Life," is a classic.

Phew. Let's cool it down now, shall we? Or just a touch, 'cause Miss Teddi King can swing, yo.

Her 1959 LP "All the Kings' Songs" - a Kick-Up With King Cheerful Exclusive! - is noted for including a number of songs originally recorded by men, like "Unforgettable" and "Let's Face The Music And Dance," but this is no novelty record. With her deeply mellow voice and sometimes rousing, sometimes intoxicating, delivery, she makes each song her own. Is it any wonder that she thrilled the boys while touring their bases during WWII? Of course not. She was also much in demand at "The Playboy Club" throughout the 1960s. Trust me, her version of "Let's Face The Music And Dance" alone is worth the ride.

Before we go, let's contemplate the face of Audrey Hepburn. Because why not?

No, really, why not?

And while we do, let's listen to the score for "Breakfast at Tiffany's" as performed in 1961 by jazz phenom Barney Kessel, who earned renown as the jazz guitarist of his day. In fact, Gibson made a special Kessel guitar which proved a best-seller for over a decade. He was everywhere during his prime, on tracks produced by Phil Spector, The Monkees, The Oscar Peterson Trio, The Beach Boys and scads more. His take on "Breakfast at Tiffany's" is absolutely scrumptious. Audrey would have it no other way.

Newsflash: The Secret Song File is convinced that Prince is not dead. As she tells it, Bowie circled back on his space ship and picked him up, then off they went to spread music and glitter to the universe and beyond (outfitted in lace, yellow fun-fur and the highest of high heels). I'm inclined to believe her.

Though she's busy listening to her massive Prince collection, she's has also made time for this wild (*cough*cough*), dreamy (cough*cough*cough*) sophomore effort by two Chicago-based siblings. She promises, you'll j'adore it's never-never land of lush vocals, eclectic beats and velvety tunes. Plump up a pillow and it'll take you there.

Because we all want to go there, don't we?

If you're already there, let us know in the comments, if you like!


Larry said...

Thanks for another wonderful post. I agree with you. Irene is great and The Band And I is her greatest album.

David Federman said...

Not so fast, Larry. Irene made some wonderful albums with Alan Broadbent as well as one with Junior Mance. Picking her best is futile and, for me, foolish. Or so this fan thinks. Same goes for Teddi. On he other hand, Sheila (or is that a transgender Bowie?) is someone whom I judge by covers alone. What you see is what you get. What you hear is another matter.