“Hvil i fred, Alex” – minner om Alexandra Naumik Sandøy

3 Comments

Enten begynner jeg å bli for gammel, eller så dør ungdomsidolene mine altfor unge…. Kanskje begge deler er korrekt. Jeg var nær ved å falle ut av sofaen forrige lørdag, da jeg fikk høre at Alex var død. Musikken hennes har fulgt meg helt siden jeg var 10-11 år og en av de første platene jeg kjøpte for egne penger, var et av hennes album.

Alex, 1949 - 2013

Alex, 1949 – 2013

Denne uken sto dødsannonsen på trykk i Aftenposten – så er det altså sant, hun er borte fra denne verden og skal begraves fra en kirke i Oslo. Så der har vi beviset på at selv de mest spennende, eksotiske, særpregede og flotte kunstnerene også er vanlige dødelige mennesker. Det var en gang da jeg trodde at artister som Alex ikke døde på vanlig måte – de bare gikk over til en slags vakker og spesiell Nirvana, men den gang ei.

Annonsen som bekreftet at det virkelig var sant...

Annonsen som bekreftet at det virkelig var sant…

Flashback til 1978: Bydelen Haugerud på slutten av 1970-tallet var verken verre eller bedre enn alle andre drabantbyer på den tiden. Haugerud hadde sitt eget senter, med det oppfinnsomme navnet “Haugerud-senteret”. Matbutikken på senteret het “Bonus” og “Bonus” solgte LP-plater! Der inne sto jeg, med kr. 49,50 av ukepengene i lomma og en LP under armen. Etter å ha betalt, bar det rett hjem og etter å ha skrelt av meg yttertøyet ble LP’en lagt på stereoanlegget og ut strømmet lyden av noe helt nytt; en heftig, stakkato trommerytme tett fulgt av den feiteste bassen jeg til da hadde hørt, og på toppen av dette en stemme som var milevis over alle andre norske artister på den tida. Det var lyden av Alex som sang “Listen to the music”…. Jeg lyttet, jeg lyttet til hele LP’en, mange ganger om igjen og oppdaget stadig noe nytt. Alex sin musikk kom som det helt riktige alternativet, på det helt riktige tidspunktet. Hun ble en viktig del av lydsporet som tilhører min ungdomstid – og musikken hennes har beholdt sitt grep på meg i alle de 35 årene siden.

I dag er hun, i hvert fall for noen, et fjernt minne fra norsk rocks historie, andre husker henne med glede, mange lurer på “hvor ble hun av?”….  Sitt siste studioalbum, “Always” ga hun ut i 1983 – etter den tid har hun vært ute av rampelyset i Norge, og vi har ikke veldig mye kjennskap til hva hun har drevet med siden da, bortsett fra at hun har jobbet bl.a. i USA – og sporadisk utgitt noen singler…

"Always" var den 5. og siste i rekken av Alex' klassiske album fra 70/80-tallet

“Always” var den 5. og siste i rekken av Alex’ klassiske album fra 70/80-tallet

En kort oppsummering av Alex: Hun ga ut 5 flotte album mellom 1977 og 1983. Hun skapte mote med det som fremdeles i dag kalles “Alex-hår”. Hun vant Spellemannsprisen. Hun deltok i 4 norske Melodi Grand Prix finaler. Hun var født av polske foreldre i Litauen. Hun giftet seg med den norske filmregissøren Haakon Sandøy og flyttet til Norge i 1970, og fikk etter hvert datteren Naomi. Etter at hun ble skilt fra Sandøy hadde hun i mange år et forhold til musiker Atle Bakken.

Alex hadde en fantastisk stor og flexibel stemme, som strakk seg over fire oktaver – og hun var derfor i stand til å takle vokale utfordringer som lå langt over hva mange andre kunne klare. Fra den mest innsmigrende hvisking, via beinharde rockebrøl til høye, eteriske toner – Alex fikk alt sammen til å lyde like uanstrengt og like naturlig. To av de beste eksemplene på det siste finnes på “Daddy’s Child” fra 1980 – her gjør hun cover-versjoner av to artister som ikke mange tør å nærme seg vokalmessig; Minnie Riperton og Deniece Williams. Begge disse souldamene er kjent for å nå toner som anses som umulig for de fleste andre, men Alex klarte det med glans. Hun er fullt på høyde med originalene, Minnie’s “Inside my love” og Deniece’s “Touch me again” – bravo!

Alex fikk allerede fra starten etiketten “funkrockdronning” klistret på seg. I mine øyne er den delvis riktig; Alex var funky til tusen, og den eneste på 70/80-tallet som var musikalsk i nærheten av det Gudny Aspaas i Ruphus hadde gjort noen år tidligere. Men Alex var også en glimrende ballade-tolker, hun sang rock så det freste og hun kunne gi hvem som helst lyst til å innta dansegulvet med sine mest disco-pregede up-tempo låter (“I’m not alone“, “Let me be the beat” m.fl.). Alt i alt tilførte hun norsk musikkliv en skikkelig vitamininnsprøytning, på et tidspunkt da det var helt nødvendig. Alex hadde også en velutviklet evne til å leve seg inn i tekstene hun sang, og alt hun gjorde på plate og konserter fremsto dermed som ekte og levende.

"Alex" ble utgitt 1977. Håret hennes ble en egen mote-greie...

“Alex” ble utgitt 1977. Håret hennes ble en egen mote-greie…

Alex sine album: I kronologisk rekkefølge kom “Alex” (1977), “Handle With Care” (1978), “Hello, I Love You” (1979), “Daddy’s Child” (1980) og til slutt “Always” (1983). Samleplata “Alex’ Beste” kom i 1981, og inneholdt låter fra de første albumene pluss MGP-bidraget “Rock ‘n’ Roller”. I senere år har Alex sluppet noen singler med ujevne mellomrom, bl.a. “Home is where the hatred is“, “Almost” og “Living in color”.

Melodi Grand Prix: Fire ganger har hun deltatt i de norske Melodi Grand Prix-finalene, og alle gangene har hennes bidrag vært bedre enn det som vant. Hun sang “Univers” i 1980, “Rock ‘ n’ Roller” i 1981, “Perfekte Engel” i 1982 og “Fri” i 1986. Personlig tror jeg det hadde blitt flere poeng og mindre latterbrøl fra Europa dersom vi hadde sendt Alex til 1980-finalen fremfor “Samid Ædnan”. Finn Kalvik høstet “zero points” i 1981 – kan hende det ikke hadde skjedd dersom vår polsk/norske rock’n’roller hadde inntatt podiet isteden..?

Det er med glede jeg konstanterer at iTunes har samtlige av Alex’ originalutgivelser tilgjengelig – både fordi lyden er mye bedre enn mine gamle, slitte LP’er – og fordi hennes tidløse musikk dermed – endelig – er lett tilgjengelig for alle.

Alex er en viktig artist i norsk musikks historie, hun er en av de beste vokalistene vi har hatt – og hun ga ut noen fantastisk bra album. Jeg håper alle de som vokste opp med musikken hennes kan kjenne seg i gjen i noe av det jeg har skrevet her… Er du for ung til å ha opplevd henne mens hun var på høyden, sørg for å unne deg en “snik-lytt” snarest mulig!

Alex begraves i Oslo 7. oktober 2013. Hvil i fred. “perfekte engel” – jeg er takknemlig for at du satte farge på mitt musikalske univers!

Varme tanker og hilsener til Naomi & Colin, Alex’ søster Lilianna, Atle Bakken, Haakon Sandøy og alle venner og fans i inn- og utland

PATTI – a PAGE in everyone’s life

Leave a comment

2013 got off to a rather sad start, musically that is. On January 1st the golden voice of Patti Page was silenced forever, and one of the true American cultural icons left this world. She left behind an incredible amount of records – the sales of which have been certified at over 100 millions, her 1950 single “Tennessee Waltz” alone sold over 15 millions. Patti made her first record in 1947, and stayed actively in show business up to late 2012 – when she announced on her website that she was retiring due to health reasons. That concluded 65 years of singing, recording and performing – and a career which stands as unparalleled in musical history.

To sum up everything Patti has done is nearly impossible, and all aspects of her career and musical legacy have been discussed already. I will do the personal angle on this, and talk a little about my personal views on Patti Page. She most certainly was a page in the book of my life as well. What never ceases to amaze me is that every person I meet has their own view on Patti Page, and I’ve yet to meet anyone who’s never heard of her. Whether she is a pop singer, a country singer or a jazz singer depends on your taste in music – but Patti has done all kinds of music, and her versatility is just amazing…..

Patti Page (1927 - 2013)

Patti Page (1927 – 2013)

Born with the name Clara Ann Fowler on November 8 1927, the renamed Patti Page died on January 1 2013 at the Seacrest Village Retirement Community, of heart and lung ailments at the age of 85.

Patti is usually classified as one of the classic pop vocalists, which she is. She is also labelled a country singer, which is also correct. Even on some of her pop records, she added a certain country flavor. She did jazzy stuff with big bands, she did her share of silly novelty songs and she recorded an album of American hymns, and Christmas songs. Add to it a whole lot of different stuff; Patti did rock ‘n’ roll and twist, she recorded the English Version of the 1972 Eurovision Song Contest Winning entry, Vicky Leandros’ “Apres Toi”, she recorded Philly Soul (Gamble & Huffs “A Brand New Me”) in the late 60’s and Elton Johns theme from “The Lion King” movie, “Can You Feel The Love Tonight” in the late 90’s. So checking out Pattis recorded legacy will have you finding a lot of well known songs, and quite a lot of musical surprises!

A very early LP, this 10" album collects her hits of the late 1940s

A very early LP, this 10″ album collects her hits of the late 1940s

Patti was known to be technically perfect, and usually the first take on any recording was used as the final product. So researchers have been known to be surprised that they never find any alternate takes, That of course also could be one reason there is such an incredible amount of records to be found – she used all her studio time very well, and she was known to learn new material very quickly.

Even from the late 1940s, Patti had albums released, and while a lot of them just collected her most recent hits and popular songs of the day, some of the others had more of a theme, ie. “The Waltz Queen”, her recording of Gordon Jenkins “Manhattan Tower” and her 1962 album “Sings Golden HIts of The Boys” which is a great collection of Patti doing songs that had been hits for male artists like Rick Nelson, Elvis Presley, The Everly Brothers and Chubby Checker… Playing these three albums back to back will give a you marvellous lesson in versatility!

Everybody knows Patti’s biggest hits; “Tennessee Waltz”, “”(How Much Is That) Doggie In The Window”, “Cross Over The Bridge”, “Old Cape Cod”, “Allegheny Moon” and others… And if those are the songs you want when you go buying Patti Page records, you can get several hundreds of best of/greatest hits collections that will satisfy your needs… If you want to dig a little deeper beyond those well known 50’s hits – you also have several options – some great collections that will no doubt be of great musical value.

50 years after her first record came out, this great box set was released in 1997

50 years after her first record came out, this great box set was released in 1997

The 4 disc box set “Golden Celebration” was released in 1997, celebrating her first 50 years as a singer. You get all her hits of the 50s and 60s on the first two discs. The Third disc contains her best country songs, and the fourth is dedicated to her more jazzy, big band material. The set also contains some songs that had been previously very hard to find. Highly recommended for all music lovers!

Patti herself chose to celebrate her 50th Anniversary as a singer with a concert in Carnegie Hall, that was recorded and later released on disc as “Live at Carnegie Hall – The 50th Anniversary Concert”, a disc that later won Patti her first Grammy Award in the category “Best Traditional Pop Record” – very well deserved!

Patti, an obviously happy 1997 Grammy Award winner. And for a new album none the less!

Patti, an obviously happy 1997 Grammy Award winner. And for a new album none the less!

In recent years, the UK based label Jasmine Records has given the world a musical gift that is truly great; they have put together no less than 3 very thorough collections, which are widely available in the webshops and also as downloads. With brilliant liner notes that contains the dates of recording and all other facts collectors might want to know. Put together, you get 267 different songs – and with it Patti Page at her very best, in a lot of different musical settings. They are pictured below, so you’ll know what to look for!

The first of the Jasmine box sets, "Near To You"

The first of the Jasmine box sets, “Near To You”

“Near To You – Celebrating a Career Defining Class” does what it says on the tin! You get 111 songs, mostly from the late 1940 and the 1950. Here’s the place to start your Patti Page musical Journey!

The second box set from Jasmine Records

The second box set from Jasmine Records

You will be transported back to “Another Time, Another Place” with the second of Jasmine Records box sets. This one contains more of her 50’s output, some of the 60’s country records, a couple of Christmas songs, some religious tracks, and it also includes some rarities not commercially released previously – even radio spots and jingles!

"Keep Me In Mind" is the last of the Jasmine Records collections of Patti Page

“Keep Me In Mind” is the last of the Jasmine Records collections of Patti Page

Added to the two previously mentioned box set, is the singe disc “Keep Me In Mind”. You get even more rarities here, some novelty tunes and some very hard to find tracks that were originally put out as 7″ B-sides, and after listening to all three collections, there is no way your mind will not be on Patti Page!

Many of the albums Patti recorded from the mid-1960’s onwards seem to be rather neglected, and most of them are deleted from the catalogues and are quite hard to find these days. Collectables have put out three “2 on 1” discs, at least giving 6 of those albums a limited re-release. If, however, you can find any of these original albums anywhere – my suggestion is that you just buy, buy, buy!! Keep an eye out for: “Say Wonderful Things” (1963), “Blue Dream Street” (1964), “Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte” (1965), “Today My Way” (1967), “Gentle On my Mind” (1969), “Stand By Your Man” and “Honey Come Back” (both 1970), “I’d Rather Be Sorry” (1971), “A Touch Of Country” (1979), “No Aces” (1981) and “Special Thoughts” (1982) – they are all worth having, and they all give you yet another perspective on the wonderful musical legacy of Patti Page!

After winning her 1997 Grammy, Patti ventured into the studios once more, and recorded what turned out to be her last regular album (it was followed by another Christmas disc) in 2000. Titled “Brand New Tennessee Waltz” it links Patti of the past with Patti of today in a great musical setting. Sounding mature and confident – it is a great contemporary country record, showing once and for all that even at age 73 Patti was right at home with the current trends, she still sang very well and sounded exactly right doing country music in the new millennium also…

Patti's last album, "Brand New Tennessee Waltz" came out in 2000

Patti’s last album, “Brand New Tennessee Waltz” came out in 2000

In addition to the title track, this album also includes that other, by now quite old “Tennessee Waltz” – redone 50 years after the original was made, and so you can favourably compare Patti’s versions and see which one you like the best. She does a bluesy cover of Tammy Wynette’s old hit “Til I Get It Right”, turning the song inside out, and making it sound like it was tailor made for Patti Page. By this time, after 53 years of making records, Patti had done everything at least once, she had sung her way into billions of hearts, had numerous hits, singles and albums on the charts – and she had done all of it exactly right!

%d bloggers like this: