Aug 2, 2016
Summer's Swell With Tina & Ernestine & Anita & More, Plus A Funky Prog Secret Song!
Does it get any more swellegant for summer than Tina Louise?
You know her from "Gilligan's Island" (of course), and you know that she's a trained actress and not some model who wandered in from the runway (like many people thought at the time). It's a shame she didn't nab a break-the-mold role after "Gilligan," like Elizabeth Montgomery did with "The Legend Of Lizzie Borden." But, hey, she did get to cut an LP.
In 1957's "It's Time For Tina," the "World's Most Beautiful Redhead," as she was dubbed early-on, performs and sings quite wonderfully through a collection of standards like "Embraceable You" and "I Wanna Be Loved." This is not a camp fest. She has a lovely voice, and if she's sometimes overly kitten-ish, she doesn't lay it on thick like many of her contemporaries did. Which indicates that she may have been balancing commercial pressures from her handlers with her own, better instincts. In this arena, at least, she wins.
Meanwhile, Ernestine Anderson. That's all I really need to say, isn't it?
Actually, there's much more that can be said, because in 1988, she teamed up with jazz pianist extraordinaire George Shearing for "A Perfect Match," and it lives up to its title. Did you know? They teamed up for the first time only one year before at the Concord Jazz Festival - and were such a celebrated bright spot that they dove right into collaborating on this LP. They bring out the best in each other, especially on the spare, extraordinarily effective "Body and Soul" (my favorite cut), and when they swing, as they do on numerous tracks, it's irresistible.
We'll move on to another artist, but first, we're ain't done with Ernestine. In 2003, she released what many regard as one of her top five LPs, "Love Makes the Changes." If you're new to Ernestine, this is a great place to start. Her set includes a bevy of familiar tunes (like "On the Sunny Side of the Street," which she also recorded with Shearing), yet she gives them her own soulful, bluesy spin.
We're deeeeeeeeep into summer now, so it's time for some highly polished and enjoyable nonsense.
What do I mean by that? I mean a disco beat, I mean a blaring horn section, I mean a lead singer posing in a picture and giving you...how shall I say? You've heard of side-boob, right? Behold the manful side-hip!
The look didn't catch on (thank God), but the music of K.C. and The Sunshine Band lives on. Is anything more perfect for summertime driving with the top down than "Boogie Shoes" or "That's the Way I Like It" or "Get Down Tonight?" Impress your Millennial friends. Sing along. I know you know the words.
Finally, I have to leave you with a Cheerfully Awesome Anita Exclusive!
It's "Portrait Of A Jazz Singer" released in 1988, and it has oodles of "Never Before Issued Live Performances," as the label notes - and they make good on it, too. Here's Anita performing "Opus One" in Sweden in 1979, and a bit later, she's at her mellow best with "Street Of Dreams" in Japan in 1988. Anita is always best, I think, when she's live. Her songbook may have been limited - she wasn't able to memorize too many songs, she once said, - but it's rare to hear her perform a song the same way twice, especially when she's live. My favorite track here is "'S Wonderful/They Can't Take That Away From Me," where she starts slow, reduces nearly all the lyrics to their minimum, then races forward and abandons the lyrics altogether until, like her drummer, she's shortened everything down to musical pointillism. It's thrilling.
By the way, if you love Anita and you have a Facebook account, by all means become a member of this Anita Facebook Fan Page. Though be forewarned, they're a li'l miffed with the Cheerful. Why, you ask? Because the Cheerful uses their page as one of many resources for photos. They want credit, darnit. And so here they have it. Beyond the pictures, though, the page's greatest value comes from the many exclusive videos the author posts on YouTube, along with vital commentary regarding Anita's CDs, since there's far too many opportunistic, poorly thrown-together Anita compilations flooding the market these days. The page's author rightly, and helpfully, calls them out. So visit the page, "like" it, as the kids say, and chat it up with the friendly (and very informed) author. It's a pleasure to salute him at this crossing.
The Secret Song File and the Cheerful Earfull are taking off on vacation for the rest of August (excepting for any urgent Bucket of Sads or Revenge Of The Secret Songs posts). And because of this, The Secret Song File wanted to make sure to leave you with some truly nifty music. Because she's just that way.
It's from a spanking new band - and this is their spanking new CD, which the Secret Song File calls a li'l funky, a li'l prog, a li'l rock 'n' jazz. Actually, The Secret Song File isn't quite sure what they are - only that they just might be onto something different (gasp). If you've given up on modern rock (and no one blames you if you have), this is the LP to get you through a particularly ugly summer. There is hope, for music, at least.
Have a glorious rest of the summer!
Tell all the naughty things you'll get up to in the comments, if you like!