Some singers just keep on truckin'. And if they still sound great, why shouldn't they?
Not even the loss of one leg to diabetes in 2011 has slowed down the indomitable Barbara Morrison, who started her career in the late 1960s and presently slays on a regular basis in Los Angeles at Pips On LaBrea (go see her now; the food's pretty good, too, and the staff are very welcoming).
If anything, she sounds better with age. In her 2004 "Live At The Dakota," she takes well-known classics - like "Take The 'A' Train," or "Mean To Me" - and joyously fiddles and flirts with them, making them sound completely new. If that isn't enough, her hard-stomping, propulsive version of "I'll Be Seeing You" will definitely put a silly grin on your face. I guarantee it.
In the meantime, if American politics are getting you down (and if you're not from American we sincerely apologize for all this bullcrap), then you need an Emergency Cheerful Earfull. And do I have just the gal for you.
Yes, it's the perpetually swingin' 'n' upbeat Marian Montgomery, here to raise your spirits with her 1965 LP "What's New?" - a Merry Marian Cheerful Exclusive! Born in the U.S., but finding her greatest acclaim in the U.K., Marian was first discovered by none other than Miss Peggy Lee. Though categorized as a jazz singer - and widely celebrated - Marian insists that she be called a "singer," which kind of makes sense when you hear her, because her free-form, infectiously upbeat vocal stylings are uniquely her own. Oh, and the LP cover makes me giggle, 'cause I could swear she's saying, "Is that a spider on the ceiling" or "Oh my God, did you just fart?" or "Do you honestly think I do dishes?!" Take your pick.
Are you looking forward to the bumper crop of Oscar-bait movies coming in the next few months - or, you know, that season for people who tire of movies based on kiddie comic books? I know I am, and the movie to beat this season, if you go by early reviews, is apparently "Moonlight."
I haven't seen it yet, but I have gotten my grubby paws on Nicholas Britell's brilliantly haunting soundtrack, which surely ranks as one of the best of the year. And, yes, it definitely stands on it's own as a compelling listening experience. Usually, when a composer uses merely a stripped down orchestra and piano, it reeks of important-movie-music from the High Church Of Hollywood. But here, Nicholas' spare approach, at times reminiscent of Philip Glass, is just about perfect. And it makes me want to see the movie even more.
You know how I just love live performances (don't you?). There's no better way to get a feel for how a singer truly performs. And you also get a sense of how they're able to generate excitement and anticipation with an audience. In both these respects, Marlena Shaw is first-rate.
Born in Upstate New York, Marlena's been blazing a jazz trail since the 1960s - from the original "Playboy Club" in Chicago to jazz haunts the world over - and like Barbara Morrison, she has no plans to stop. In her 1987 LP "It Is Love" - a Marvelous Marlena Cheerful Exclusive!" - she knocks 'em dead at the "Vine Street" jazz club. And it's no wonder. For starters, when she combines "Nobody Loves You When You're Down And Out" with "Just Life," it's just about levitating, and it only gets better from there. Trust me; you want.
Thanksgiving is coming soon, and like last year and the year before, the Secret Song File will be putting up with her nutsy Aunt Fiona come Turkey Day. Every family has one - that unhinged family member who can't stop jabbering about her support hose, her "gentlemen callers," and how much she "still adores that funny-bunny Regis fellow."
But the Secret Song File loves Aunt Fiona, warts and all, and say what you will about her, she's very generous. She's given the Secret Song File not one, but two, pre-holiday gifts this year, which, in turn, she's been kind enough to share with us.
The first is a spanking new effort by a certain sweet-voiced, ugly-faced, dirty-toothed British lass. And truth, each of her CDs are wildly coveted by grandmas and Aunt Fionas everywhere. But for reals, this is one of her better efforts. And this time, she sings Madonna. I'm not kidding.
The second CD made The Secret Song File ask, "Really, Auntie? You're listening this?" Indeed she is, partly because she thinks the lead singer is such a "precious li'l string bean of a thing," but mostly because it's just plain fun - or pop-rock without the guilt or the sticky bubble gum. Maybe it's the sound - *cough*hint* - or maybe it's the bourbon she's poured in her tea. With Aunt Fiona, you never know.
Thank goodness she's a "fun drunk."
Spike some tea with whatever you want in the comments!