If the picture above doesn't say "sizzle," then I don't know what does. Behold Sallie Blair, a red-hot nightclub singer in the late-1950s who never attained big-time stardom. Why, you ask?
Once again, the rise of rock 'n' roll obliterated her and many other mainstream jazz artists from radio playlists, leaving her to record a few LPs, score a few TV gigs, and wow her devoted fans at various nightclubs. How wowed were they? Very. At the Vanity Fair Club in Miami, for example, her two week engagement was extended to an astonishing five months by popular demand.
When you listen to her 1958 LP "Hello, Tiger" - a Sing Out, Sallie Cheerful Exclusive! - it's not hard to understand why. Her vocals have a predatory bite, whether she's singing ballads or more up-tempo tunes. Even her rendition of "Fever," a song I'm getting close to maxing-out on (no, really), feels newly voracious in her hands. Sex sells (obvi), but few sell it with such scorching expertise.
Have you sizzled enough? How about some good old-fashioned fun with jazz legend Ivie Anderson? When I did a search to find pictures of her, it seemed like she was laughing, or making others laugh, in almost all of them. Below, she's having a fine old time with the fabulously named jazz trumpeter Hot Lipps Page.
Ivie knew how to put on a show, having honed her act in Harlem's Cotton Club in the late 1920s and early 30s. It wasn't long before she attracted the attention of several major talents, like Duke Ellington and Cab Calloway, all of whom wanted her to front their bands.
Her irresistible style of swingin' jazz vocals makes everything sound so-o-o easy. In this "Ivie Anderson" compilation - a Cheerfully Awesome Anderson Exclusive! for you and yours - nearly every track feels like a party, my favorite being her blissful version of "All God's Chillun Got Rhythm." If you haven't heard her before, you're in for a very happy surprise, I promise.
Oh, Debbie-Debbie-Debbie. Little Debbie Reynolds. We still miss you. And Carrie, too.
In a lot of Debbie's obituaries, one movie credit went unmentioned: her vocal performance and singing as the spider Charlotte in 1973's "Charlotte's Web." Before it came out, no one expected much, since it was being produced by Hanna-Barbara - and not Disney. This was back when Disney had a lock on animated hits.
And yet "Charlotte's Web" scored big (not with the critics, but its reputation has grown). I first saw it on TV as a child and was entranced, and watching it again as an adult, I was surprised by how faithful it was to the book, and how all of the vocal performances - including not just Debbie's, but Paul Lynde, Henry Gibson, Agnes Moorehead - fit like a glove.
During the casting process, Debbie was so enthusiastic about the project that she told producers they didn't even have to pay her (they did). If you have a child, it's a must, not the least because of the wonderful Sherman Brothers songs. If you're an adult, I dare you not to get a li'l lump in your throat at the end.
The Secret Song File has no patience for shady loserballs or drama queens. Okay, so some drama queens are allowed, especially if they come in the form of a certain New Kiwi singer-songstress.
Sophomore slump? What sophomore slump? Her second album - only a four short years from her first - is big-time drama and angst all the way, yet somehow it's not a dirge, or a slop of teen ennui.
Not that there's anything wrong with teens, but if The Secret Song File has to see one more second-rate movie about teenagers losing their virginity, or listen to one more album of overly-calculated, half-baked party anthems by this week's would-be slutty teen singer (she owns her sluttiness, you guys, so it's okay!), she'll scream, I tell you, scream!
'Cause it's how she feels, dammit, and ain't no one's gonna change that.
Scream in the comments, you like. It's good for your heart!