Coming up – a closer look at Maxine Brown

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Not too well known, but forever cherished by anyone who’s ever heard her sing – Maxine Brown is a true hidden gem within the music business.

Whether she was actually born in 1932 or 1939 is not important – the magic sound of her voice is where the focus should be.

 

Maxine Brown, ca. 1963

Maxine Brown, ca. 1963

 

From her breakthrough hit single, “All In My Mind” (1960) and up to today, Maxine is a stunning singer whose vocal technique makes her stand apart from any other singer in the business.

 

This site will soon give you a closer look at the career of this great singer – who has left behind way too few records for a girl who’s been around for 55 years. Stay tuned for an update in a few days!

 

Maxine on stage, 2013

Maxine on stage, 2013

 

France Joli – A quick look at Canada´s premiere Disco Diva

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My last post on this site dealt with some fabulous disco records – all made in 1979. They were all more or less obscure one-off releases by some now forgotten acts and one by a never-to-be-forgotten-ex-Supremes diva, Mary Wilson.

Another great record appeared that same year, a single called “Come To Me”. I bought the single, performed by a beautiful young girl called France Joli. The song starts out with a ballad intro, then picks up steam and turns into a disco extravaganza. When I bought her debut album, “France Joli” I was happy to find a much more complete (i.e. longer) version of the song on it, lasting close to 10 minutes. Followed by the next song, “Let Go” which is almost the same length, I was dancing around the room and I was definetely an instant fan of this Canadian singer – who was all of 15 when this album was made! The album consists of only four songs, all made for dancing – and totally perfect for 1979!

F01

The first album, “France Joli” (1979)

 

Producer Tony Green (born as Antonio Di Verdis-Mazzone) had to strike while the iron was hot, and 1980 saw the release of another album, “Tonight“. Putting the ballad “This Time (I´m Giving All I Got)” out as the first single proved a wrong move, so more danceable stuff were put on the next singles; “Feel Like Dancing” and “The Heart To Break The Heart”.

Tony Green + F + Gene Leone 1979

Tony Green, France Joli and Gene Leone in 1979

 

Luckily, these last two songs confirmed that France was indeed a force to be reckoned with if you wanted to dance in the late 70´s.

F02

Her second album, “Tonight” (1980)

 

Her third album for Prelude Records, 1981´s “Now!” saw a slight shift in musical directions for France. Turning down the tempo a couple of notches, this record is a much more urban contemporary affair, and a style that suits Miss Joli´s smooth, silky, but still strong voice. My personal favourites from this album are “Gonna Get Over You” and “Can We Fall In Love Again”.

F03

Third album, “Now!” (1981)

 

When France Joli switched labels in 1983, from Prelude to Epic, I was certainly not prepared for the musical change that also took place. The album “Attitude” shows a completely new France, and even as great as she had been up to this point – she gets even better here! Ditching the disco sound completely, France works with Pete Bellotte and Giorgio Moroder and they created an absolutely stunning concoction of radio ready rock with a slice of synth pop and just a tiny bit disco. France herself sings in a new way too, showing off that she is one terrific singer – as she slides effortlessly over the fast paced rhythms, heavy drum machines and guitar solos. She also wraps her silky pipes around some really juicy lyrics, done in tongue twisting tempos.

F04

Fourth album “Attitude” (1983) – you didn´t see this one coming!

If comparable to anything else released in 1983, it has to be the albums Teri Tims and Tane Cain put out around the same time. These three albums by these three different singers form a category all their own, it might be labeled AOR – but it´s not quite that either. “Attitude” will forever stand as France Joli´s crowning achievement, and I consider it one of the best albums of the 1980s! Standout tracks are: “Nasty Love”, “Dumb Blonde”, “Girl In The 80s”, “Walking Into A Heartache” and “Standing In The Shadows Of Love”. If you want to own just one France Joli album – get this one!

1984 saw France participating at the Yamaha Music Festival in Japan, and she won the Grand Prix for her song “Party Lights”. That is no surprise as the George Duke-produced track is a stunner. He also produced her fifth and final album, “Witch Of Love” (1985). In addition to her Japanese winning entry, the albums opening track “Does He Dance” was put out on a single and gained some attention in the clubs. On this album France does one of her very few ballad performances, a beautiful version of Snow/Weils “Love Always Finds A Way”.

F05

The fifth of France, “Witch Of Love” (1985)

 

During the last 30 years, France Joli has done very little recording but a lot of live performing. She is an ever popular singer, appearing at festivals and disco shows to an always appreciative audience.

Her career may be based on her 1979 hit “Come To Me” – but the few years she spent making albums has left us with a portrait of an artist who deserves to be considered as much more than a “70s Disco Diva”. Personally, I am sorry she didn´t make more albums, as she had potential to be something much greater, judging from her 80s albums. One can always hope that some producer will re-discover her, and get her back into the studios! Talent always wills out in the end….

My personal thanks to the “tres jolie” Miss Joli, vive la France!

 

F 2015

France in the 2010s, on stage doing a fabulous show for the audience

 

 

 

Dinah Shore – A centennial celebration

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On this day, one hundred years ago – Dinah Shore came into this world. Up until her Death, on February 24th 1994, she was perhaps the finest example of “Southern Elegance” – both on record and in person. She was also one of the first American stars of TV, and there was seemingly no limit to her talents in any media. She sang, she acted in movies, she had her own TV show for many years, she was an avid golfer, her talent for cooking was legendary, she wrote books and above all, she was an incredible singer.

 

Dinah: photos from the 40s, 50s and 60s

Dinah: photos from the 40s, 50s and 60s

 

Her TV shows were never screened in Norway, so in this country she is more famous as a singer. As such, she was a very versatile one – the magic touch of the Shore voice was equally well put to use on jazzy ballads, 50s novelty tunes, country songs and contemporary 70s pop songs. Her mid-1970s sessions turned out to be the last time she recorded new music, but her takes on Eagles’ “Best of my love”, Diana Ross’ “Do you know where you’re going to”, Paul Simon’s “50 ways to leave your lover” and Neil Sedaka’s “The hungry years” are so good it makes me wish she had continued in that vein…

Before that, she made an endlessly long list of incredibly good recordings – most of which are available, and way overdue for rediscovery. Her albums recorded for Capitol from 1957-1962 are strongly recommended!

 

Dinah: photos from the 70s, 80s and 90s

Dinah: photos from the 70s, 80s and 90s

 

On this day, the centennial of Dinah Shore’s birth, I strongly suggest you check out some of her music and I just know you will enjoy the sound of that liquid honey voice – “Southern Elegance” indeed!

 

Sister Sledge – Happy anniversary

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Incredibly enough, 2016 marks the 45th anniversary of Sister Sledge as recording artists! Yep, their very first single “Time will tell” came out in 1971…. Eight years on, they had their major break-through;  their album “We Are Family” and its hit singles “He´s the greatest dancer”, “Lost in music”, “Thinking of you” and the classic title track made them household names all over the globe.

From their first album, “Circle Of Love” (1976) and up to their great 1985-release, “When The Boys Meet The Girls” they enjoyed a very golden decade indeed, churning out hits and very good albums.

This post is just a small reminder – to draw your attention to the greatest sister act since the Andrews Sisters, and to ask you to re-accquaint yourself with some of their great album. Sister Sledge were SO much more than just their all time greatest hit, “We are family”.

The classic albums 1976-85

The classic albums 1976-85

The sisters smooth, sliky, soulful harmonies are just what you need during the grey, cold and dark January evenings. Music and love “given in a family dose”!

 

Kommer snart – et innblikk i Gro Anita Schønn’s liv og karriere

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Det var en gang da Norge hadde pop-divaer av internasjonalt format. Den største av dem alle på Norges stjernehimmel i 1970-årene, var Gro Anita Schønn.

Hun var også pop-dronningen som abdiserte og trakk seg helt ut av musikkbransjen. Etter en singel i 1983 og et par sporadiske TV-opptredener på tidlig 90-tall ble det helt stille….

 

Gro Anita Schønn på begynnelsen av 1970-tallet

Gro Anita Schønn på begynnelsen av 1970-tallet

 

Så hva skjedde med henne egentlig…? Ikke mye er skrevet om Gro Anita og de siste årene av hennes liv, men på dette nettstedet kommer det om en kort stund en profil om artisten og mennesket Gro Anita Schønn.

Hun døde altfor tidlig, i april 2001 – kun tre måneder etter sin 51-års dag. Følg med for oppdateringer her.

 

 

Tvi, tvi – Trine Rein!

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I morgen går finalen i Stjernekamp 2015 av stabelen – og de to finalekandidatene er Trine Rein og Maria Haukaas Mittet. To av Norges flotteste stemmer skal altså konkurrere mot hverandre, men kun en går av med seieren. For meg blir det ett fett hvem som vinner – de er utrolig dyktige begge to!

Trine Rein er alikevel den som ligger mitt hjerte nærmest; etter at Trine bosatte seg i Skiptvet er hun plutselig blitt Indre Østfolding, og dermed kommer det jo litt lokalpatriotisme inn i bildet også – hun synger jo liksom på vegne av hele Indre Østfold i finalen! Det er dessuten en liten, personlig episode rundt Trine Rein og meg, men det kommer jeg til litt lenger ned på siden…

Trine er en artist som har interessert meg stort helt siden debuten. Første gang jeg hørte Trine synge, hørte jeg noe helt spesielt. Her snakker vi om en norsk artist som fra første tone hun sang hørtes ut som en internasjonal stjerne av stort format – og det har også vist seg å være riktig. Etter 12 runder i Stjernekamp har Trine bekreftet nok en gang at hun har en helt enorm stemmeprakt. Samtidig har hun også klart samtlige utfordringer de ulike sjangerne har gitt henne; hun tok opera-utfordringen rett på hæl’en og var den eneste virkelige sopranen den kvelden. Heavy metal skled hun gjennom som om hun ikke hadde gjort noe annet i hele sitt liv, og forrige uke var det Electronic Dance Music hun imponerte i – med en vanvittig krevende låt med en utall av oktavendringer underveis….

 

Trine Rein - stor stjerne i finalen i Stjernekamp 2015

Trine Rein – stor stjerne i finalen i Stjernekamp 2015

 

Trine Rein så dagens lys i San Francisco, California 7. november 1970, og flyttet til Nesodden i Norge da hun var drøyt ett år gammel. I følge diverse kilder på nettet så har Trine vært opptatt av sang hele sitt liv, og allerede 6 år gammel bestemte hun seg for at hun skulle bli artist. Midt i tenårene dannet hun duoen Sounds of Silence sammen med Asgeir Knutsen, og de stakk av med annenplassen i Ungdommens Kulturmønstring det året de deltok. Etter å ha gjort seg ferdig med high school i USA, kom Trine tilbake til Norge og fikk seg jobb som studio-sanger – noe som førte til at hun medvirket i en lang rekke reklame-jingles og andre typer reklameinnslag. Ved siden av jobbet hun som sanger i cover-bandet Saturn – noe som Trine anser som en veldig viktig del av sin karriere som sanger (og som vel også langt på vei forklarer hvorfor hun kan synge absolutt alle typer musikk like bra).

Platedebut ble det i 1991 da hip-hop bandet W.I.P. (World In Peace) hyret Trine til å kore på en av sine låter, men likte stemmen hennes så godt at hun endte opp som hovedvokalisten på albumet “The Songs We Write“. I en alder av 20 år hadde Trine allerede masse erfaring, og hun fremstår på dette albumet som den norske motparten til f.eks. CC Music Factory (som hyret Martha Wash til å gjøre lignende vokalistjobb) og Marky Mark & The Funky Bunch (som kunne smykke seg med Loleatta Holloway som samarbeidspartner). Selve albumet er så tidstypisk 1991 at du ikke kan ta feil av når dette er spilt inn – her har du funky rap med soulfulle “diva-innslag” på løpende bånd. Trine imponerer stort på tittellåta og også på “Dream” – som er en hip-hopete oppdatering av Everly Brothers gamle slager, “All I Have To Do Is Dream”. Stilmessig er den ikke fjernt fra hva svenskenes Carola gjorde med Billy Joel’s klassiker “Just The Way You Are” samme året….

Norsk hip-hop anno 1991. Den snasne dama med hatt i midten, er Trine Rein som platedebuterer her...

Norsk hip-hop anno 1991. Den snasne dama med hatt i midten, er Trine Rein som platedebuterer her…

 

I november 1993 kom det første solo albumet, “Finders Keepers” ut… 600.000 mennesker i Norge og Japan found it and kept it og hele landet nynnet, sang, svermet og saktedanset til “Just Missed The Train”. Som oppfølger valgte Trine en soul klassiker fra 1960-tallet, Lorraine Ellison’ s “Stay With Me, Baby”. Etter at en lang rekke artister har slitt seg ut på den (bl.a. Rex Smith, Kiki Dee og Bette Midler), så skulle altså versjonen som ligger tettest opp til originalens intensitet og innlevelse komme fra norske og (den gang) nesten ukjente Trine Rein. Det skapte såpass oppstyr rundt sangen at det var jo ikke til å unngå at Trine fikk synge akkurat den under OL-sending fra Lillehammer i 1994 – da hele verden så Norge på TV døgnet rundt…

Å si noe særlig mer inngående om de øvrige albumene Trine har utgitt, er vel unødvendig: de finnes allerede i så mange hundretusen norske hjem at “alle” har dem, og alle har sine favorittlåter…. “Beneath My Skin” kom ut 1996 (og inneholder “Torn”), “To Find The Truth” ble gitt ut 1998 (og inneholder “World Without You”). Vi måtte vente helt til 2004, da kom “The Very Best of Trine Rein” (med to nye låter: “Cry Baby” og “With Or Without You”).

Trine deltok i Melodi Grand Prix i 2006 (og sang “Here For The Show”) og i 2007 (da hun sang “Maybe”). Noe nytt studioalbum kom ikke før i 2010, og het “Seeds Of Joy” etterfulgt av “Julegaven” året etter. I 2013 kom albumet “20 år midt i musikken – Hitter og favoritter Live” – og den holder hva den lover. På dette albumet finner du også Trines forrykende versjon av “Ten Thousand Lovers (In One)” og en tolkning av “I Will Always Love You” som ville gjort Whitney Houston grønn av misunnelse og Dolly Parton rød av glede – godt jobba!

Hvorvidt hun vinner i morgen eller må innta andreplassen – det er usikkert inntil siste stemme er talt opp. Det som derimot er sikkert, er at Trine har fått vist frem absolutt alle sider og nyanser av sin fantastiske stemme – og at hun til tross for sparsomt antall utgivelser og noen lengre inaktive perioder, fremdeles er Norges mest helstøpte artist, med en stemmeprakt og allsidighet som få andre innehar.

Helt til slutt – min “personlige episode” med Trine Rein: Like før jul 1993 var jeg verdens lykkeligste mann, med helt ny kjæreste og hele livet var vidunderlig. Vi satt på et stille, rolig utested rett før jul – og fordi vi ikke skulle feire jul sammen, ble det litt gavebytting denne kvelden… Det viste seg at vi begge hadde kjøpt gavene hos gullsmeden, og når man bytter gull – da kan det vel kalles forlovelse da vel… I bakgrunnen sang Trine i samme sekund “I found you, and finders are keepers…” – og hun fikk rett! I found him, I kept him and I still have him – 22 år etter! Takk Trine, for at din musikalske spådom slo til her i huset!

 

 

Silver Convention – From 1975 and up until today

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Silver Convention was Germany’s leading disco group and also the leading female trio during the 1970’s. The impression they made on the charts during their relatively short time span as a group is remarkable. The ladies who formed Silver Convention also had solo careers – and in November this year, it will be 40 years since their chart topping classic “Fly Robin, Fly” topped the hit lists all over the world. They released 5 great albums, did some one-off singles and the three ladies all continued working after the group disbanded.

I will take a look at their recorded output (both as a group and as solo artists) and give you an update on what these ladies are doing today.

The classic lineup from left to right: Penny Mc Lean, Linda G. Thompson and Ramona Wulf

The classic lineup from left to right: Penny Mc Lean, Linda G. Thompson and Ramona Wulf

Originally being just another studio group, Silver Convention was actually formed after their first single “Save Me” had seen some success. Penny, Linda and Jackie Carter then sang the six words to “Fly Robin, Fly” – and this robin certainly could fly! No one was even prepared for what happened next, as the song took off and turned into a major disco hit. The song topped all the major US Charts (The Hot 100, the R’n’B Charts and the Dance Charts) – making Silver Convention the first German act to achieve that feat! They also won the 1975 Grammy Award for best instrumental recording. Jackie Carter had left the group at this point, and had some solo success with her own hit, “Treat Me Like A Woman” – and former child star Ramona Wulf stepped in to fill the empty spot.

Their first album, but with its second cover

Their first album, but with its second cover

An album called simply “Silver Convention” was released – with a rather risqué cover, depicting a topless woman. It was quickly withdrawn, and after “Save Me” also saw some chart action – the album was renamed “Save Me” (1975) and in the place of the nude woman, a couple of handcuffs was printed. In addition to the afore-mentioned two hits, this album also contained another hit single, “Always Another Girl” and the beautiful ballad “Please Don’t Change The Chords Of This Song”.

Silver Convention was very close to duplicating their no. 1 achievement with the title track from their next album, “Get Up And Boogie” (1976) – but it stalled at no. 2. Still in their first 12 months as a group, they had reached the top 3 of the US Charts twice – a feat unequalled by any other German act before or since! Continuing with their brand of semi-instrumental disco, this album also contains songs like “San Francisco Hustle”, “No No Joe” and “Thank You, Mr. DJ”

Second album

Second album “Get Up And Boogie”

The second album of 1976, “Madhouse” came out maybe too soon after the success of “Get Up And Boogie” and seems to have been a little overlooked at the time of its release. Still it’s a great album, a little more funky than the two preceding ones. Some of the more memorable songs are “Dancing In The Aisle”, “Fancy Party” and “Everybody’s Talking About Love”. After the release of this album, Linda G. Thompson left the Silver Convention and was replaced by the American, New York born Rhonda Heath.

“Madhouse” was their second 1976 album

Silver Convention was chosen to represent Germany in the 1977 Eurovision Song Contest, and dressed in pink and purple pant suits, their performance of “Telegram” is still today a highlight of ESC history! They finished in eighth place, but their entry was one of the best that year (and I still think they should have won – no offense to Marie Myriam who did!). That song was included in the fourth album “Summernights” (1977), and this album also contain great songs like “”Blame It On The Music” and “Disco Ball”.

Summernight

During 1978, Penny Mc Lean also left the group – due to a very successful solo career (see below). She was replaced by Zenda Jacks, about whom not much is known except that she sang with Ramona and Rhonda on their fifth and final album “Love In A Sleeper” (1978). The albums title track was quite a hit, and this album also is the home to great songs like “Acuestate Conmigo” and “Spend The Night With Me”. After another, no-album single called “Cafe Au Lait” b/w “Roller Mania” – Silver Convention as a group was disbanded, and another one of the great disco acts of the 70’s ceased to exist….

Final SC album,

Final SC album, “Love In A Sleeper” had Ramona, Rhonda with new member Zenda Jacks doing the singing

The ladies who at one time of another were members of Silver Convention, also more or less successfully did solo work – before, during and after their time in the group. We’ll take a closer look at what they were up to!

Jackie Carter (born Jaqueline Nemorin): Jackie made a solo album in 1976 called “Treat Me Like A Woman“, from which the title track was a small hit in Germany. She also made some one-off singles, among them “Paint It Black”, “Merry-Go-Round” and “Unsere Welt Will Immer Nur Gewinner Sehen”. She faded from public view in the early 80’s.

Founding member Jackie Carter's solo album from 1976

Founding member Jackie Carter’s solo album from 1976

Ramona Wulf (born 1954 as Ramona Kraft) started her career as early as 1970, and she released a long line of singles as a young girl. Her complete list of solo singles is as follows:

  • 1970 Du – ich brauche was und das bist du / Liebe ist ein schönes Spiel
  • 1971 Alles was wir woll’n auf Erden / Ich muss telefonieren
  • 1971 Merry Christmas / Das Weihnachtsmärchen vom Gänseblümchen
  • 1971 Jeder ist nur eine Hälfte / Kein Prinz, kein Held, kein Millionär
  • 1972 Lieber dich und kein Geld / Weinen ist Silber, Lachen ist Gold
  • 1972 Liebe ist für alle da / Nur Probleme
  • 1972 Wenn du gehst / Party Party
  • 1973 Das weiß der Himmel allein / Zuerst kommst Du
  • 1974 Mama, du tanzt nie Rock’n Roll / Ich glaube, ich habe mich verliebt
  • 1974 Oh, wie so wundersam / Kleine Squaw
  • 1975 Käm doch einmal ein Seemann / Young Love
  • 1975 Sugar Candy Kisses / Liebe heißt das Lied
  • 1976 Save the Last Dance for Me / Baby, it’s the Rain
  • 1977 Natural Man / Teacher
  • 1978 Parlez-moi d’amour / I’ll Never Marry in the Summertime
  • 1979 Boomerang / Come On Over To My Place
  • 1980 Thank You Baby / Cats’ Eyes
  • 1980 4 on the Floor
  • 1983 Flashdance – Tanz im Feuer / Atemlos
  • 1986 Body Beat / Pride and Passion
  • 1988 Heartbeat / Mood to Mood

Outside of Germany, her best known hit is her updated, discofied version of “Save The Last Dance For Me”. It was included on her 1977 album “A Natural Woman“. This is one album that is way overdue for re-release, it is chock full of great songs, like “Teacher”, “Baby, It’s The Rain” and the title song! The album came out in a renewed Version two years later, then called “Parlez-moi D’Amour” – after Ramona had turned Lucienne Boyer’s old chestnut into yet another disco classic. Always noted for her great beauty, the stunning Miss Wulf is the daughter of an American soldier and a German mother.

Ramona Wulf released her best known solo album,

Ramona Wulf released her best known solo album, “A Natural Woman” 1977

Linda G. Thompson (born 1948 as Linda Übelherr): Linda also had worked as a solo before Silver Convention. Way back in the late 60’s, she used the name Gigi and as such put out a German language version of “The Waiting Game” titled “Dann Ging Das Telefon”.

During her time in Silver Convention, she had her biggest solo hit – “Ooh, What A Night” in 1976. Later on more singles followed, such as “Come Softly”, “Never Get Over You” and “Flight To Fantasy”. In 1979 she was one of the participants in the German ESC outtakes, singing the duet “Wochenende” with Jerry Rix.

“Ooh, What A Night” was Linda G. Thompson’s biggest solo hit

Rhonda Heath (born 1955) has had a sporadic and also erratic solo career since her SC days. She has done back-up singing for a lot other artists, she was recording vocals for La Bionda, and was a short time member of La Mama in addition to putting out the odd single and a couple of albums at irregular intervals.

Rhonda Heath - a 2008 photograph

Rhonda Heath – a 2008 photograph

Penny Mc Lean (born 1946 in Austria as Gertrude Wirschinger). I saved the best and biggest for last. The awesome Penny by far had the greatest solo career of all the SC ladies, and she could warrant a blog post all her own. Equipped with an awesome voice, great vivacity and stage charm in abundance, Penny was always the centre of attention in SC.

Penny started out as a recording artist in the mid-60’s in a duo with her husband, they labeled themselves “Holger & Tjorven” and basically sang folk tunes. Penny also at various times used “Barbra”, “Barbie Münzer” as stage names and served time as vocalist in yet another duo, “Barbra & Helmut” as well as in groups “Penny Box” and “Penny Explosion”.

Penny 66

Penny as one part of “Holger & Tjorven”, 1966

European disco Music was forever changed in 1975, when Penny put out her landmark solo hit, “Lady Bump“. It was the title track of her first album. More hits followed; “1-2-3-4 Fire!”, “Devil Eyes” and “Big Bad Boy”. The song started the bump dance craze, it’s incredibly catchy, very well sung – a true classic!

Her classic solo debut album,

Her classic solo debut album, “Lady Bump” came out 1975

Penny released two more albums during 1977 and 1978, titled “Penny” and “Midnight Explosion” respectively. There also were some single hits that never appeared on any of her albums; “Nobody’s Child (1976), “Zwischen Zwei Gefühlen” (1977), “Wild One” (1978), “Tut-Ench Amun” (1979), “Love Is Love” (1980).

Penny didn't sing just disco: This German single from 1977 Places her in a gentle ballad mood

Penny didn’t sing just disco: This German single from 1977 Places her in a gentle ballad mood

In the early 80’s, Penny left the music business behind – and started a new career in numerology and esoteric healing.  This is still today her chosen path. She has written 18 books on different spiritual maters, and is in constant demand for lectures and courses around Germany, Austria and southern Europe. She very rarely performs these days, but has occasionally returned to the stage to sing her old hits at various tribute functions.

The Silver Convention ladies today: Penny’s work is accounted for above, and she has made quite a career for herself in that Field. Healthwise, Penny is not so good; she suffers from an autoimmune deficiency that requires a strict, fat free diet and she is plagued by skeletal pains and an infected liver. She eats only rice, chicken and drinks green tea to avoid pains and discomfort. She jokes that it is “good for the figure, but not always for my mood!”

Ramona Wulf left the music business, married and had children. She also started working within the alternative treatment Field, and since 2001 she has her own psychotherapy clinic in Berlin.

Linda G. Thompson is the only full time musician; she performs at galas and events all over Germany on a regular basis. She is also a teacher at the musical theater IMAL in Munich. She hopes that SIlver Convention one day will get back together and start touring again – but says she’ s sorry she can’t get Penny and Ramona in on that idea….

They have, however, done a few selected performances quite recently. In 2013 the Three of them performed at a function in the Alliierten Museum in Berlin…..

Penny, Ramona and Linda in 2013

Penny, Ramona and Linda in 2013

…. and this year Penny, Rhonda and Ramona did a specially re-written Version of “Thank You, Mr. DJ” at the reception held in honor of Sylvester Levay’s 70th birthday.

Rhonda, Penny and Ramona with Sylvester Levay. Photo taken 2015

Rhonda, Penny and Ramona with Sylvester Levay. Photo taken 2015

Personally, I applaud Linda’s idea of a reunion tour. If that never happens, the facts are clear none the less: Silver Convention will always be remembered – for their music, for the achievements, for their great voices and for all the joy they have brought to millions of fans around the globe for the last 40 years!

Jaki Graham – All Boxed Up

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It was just a matter of time (cause we all knew it HAD to happen, right..!?) before some smart record company executive did it: All of Jaki Graham’s 7 albums recorded 1985 – 1998 in one nice box. Finally it’ s here!

 

Step right up - the Jaki box is here!

Step right up – the Jaki box is here!

 

Jaki Graham (born September 15, 1956) burst on the scene in the mid-1980’s, and immediately placed herself in the front line of British singers. Her music was the much need vitamin shot for the 80’s: Soulful, danceable, well produced and extremely well performed!

The Box includes these original albums: “Heaven Knows” (1985), “Breaking Away” (1986), “From Now On” (1989), “Real Life” (1994), “Hold On” (1995), “Rhythm Of Life” (1996) and “My Life” (1998). All of her great hits and best known songs are here, as well as a few pleasant surprises and at a total of 86 songs – this is a treasure chest!

Anyone who ever set foot on a dance floor during the 80’s and 90’s have surely done some dancing to songs like “Could it be I’m falling in love”, “Round and round”, “Mated”, “Step right up”, “The closest one”, “Set me free” and “Ain’t Nobody” (her cover of the Chaka Khan song that hit no. 1 in the US Dance Charts). Also you get a whole bunch of very nice and soulfilled ballads – of which my absolute favourite is the stunning “The better part of me” (off the 1989 album).

If you think that now I’m going to give you an overview of the different songs and albums, you’re wrong – I am hereby chasing you off to the record store (whether online or physical) to buy the box, because this one is not to be missed! And while you’re at the store, you should also get the one album that is not included in the box: Jaki’s great album of jazz and blues standards “For Sentimental Reasons” (2012). It is her last album so far, and while it stylistically is very different from the other seven albums, it does fill out the picture of what Jaki can do as a singer, and who knows – maybe a career in jazz is on the horizon. A great album, get yourself this one as well!

Her 2012 collection of jazz and blues standards must not be overlooked

Her 2012 collection of jazz and blues standards must not be overlooked

Jaki Graham is one awesome singer, and whether you wanna dance or just relax you are sure to find songs in her recorded legacy that will fit your mood at any time.

It it usually considered an honour to get your collected works all boxed up. This time around the honour is bestowed upon the great Jaki Graham – very well deserved!

 

 

Up next – A closer look at Betty Wright

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She has been labeled the “Queen of Miami Soul”, she just as well may have been labeled the Queen of awesome singing, because anything that Ms. Wright has comitted to tape or done on stage so far, is destined to thrill you to bits!

 

Betty Wright, photo from 1975

Betty Wright, photo from 1975

 

Betty Wright was born in December 1953, and was thus only 14 when her first album “My First Time Around” came out 1968. Since then, Betty Wright has released a long line of albums, and her music is almost a category all of its own. Miami soul it is, but she pours soul into everything she does, whether it is Miami flavoured, reggae infused, disco inspired or neo soul-y….

During the last six decades (yay!!) Betty has recorded many truly stunning albums, and I will soon give you all a closer look at those…. Album titles like “Explosive!”, “Danger – High Voltage” and “Wright Back At You” should give some clues about what this lady is all about. That she vocally can do anything from a deep, slurred whisper and then extend her voice up into the whistle register, is also proof that Betty Wright is one of the most amazing singers to appear on the scene during the last 50 years. (For more info about that, check this link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whistle_register )

 

Betty Wright - photographed in 2010

Betty Wright – photographed in 2010

 

Stay tuned, a profile on the great work of Betty Wright coming up on this site in a short while….

 

 

 

Teresa Brewer – A musical chameleon!

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Teresa Brewer has taught me a lesson; to never judge anything by its initial appearance! The first time I heard her sing, I didn’t like what I heard. I thought her voice sounded funny, with all kinds of squeeky yelps, a tinny sound and sobbing histrionics. I don’t remember what song it was, but it kind of turned me off, and I decided that I wasn’t going to be a big fan of hers….. This happened many years ago, and time and musical knowledge has changed my view on Teresa completely – so much so, that I now consider myself a big fan!

What I did discover was that Teresa has a very special kind of voice, and like all other really good singers, even she needs to be put in a musical setting that fits her voice and talent. At the beginning of her career, there was often a shortage of just that, and so she was many times recorded quite unfavourably. And some of the material she was handed, wasn’t really all that much either….

Luckily, Teresa managed to rise above the stuff she was forced to record at the start, and developed into one of the most versatile singers ever! She has recorded more than 600 songs, released albums of a lot of different musical styles and has proven that she indeed is one of the best and most versatile female vocalists in popular music.

Theresa Veronica Breuer was born on May 7, 1931 in Toledo, Ohio and died at the age of 76 in October 2007. As a child, Teresa had sung and danced on various shows and performed on both radio and TV. At the age of 18, in 1949 – she made her first record; backed by The Dixieland All-Stars, she released a single called “Copenhagen”. On the flip side of that record was the tune that forever will be linked to Teresa’s name: the incredibly catchy (and quite silly) “Music, music. music”. That song raced up the charts, and Teresa was immediately on her way to stardom. For the next 45 years, she would go on to have a very varied and extensive recording career, gracing a lot of different styles with her great voice. I will spotlight some of the fabulous albums she made, and hopefully also change the opinion that Teresa Brewer was a 50’s novelty singer who just sang cute and funny songs – she is so much more than just that!

 

A collection of all her recordings on the London label 1949-50

A collection of all her recordings on the London label 1949-50

During 1949 and 1950, Teresa recorded for a label called London. They put her in the novelty bag straight away, and she got to record a lot of those “cute & funny” songs for that label. In addition to “Music, music, music” her hits while on London also included “Choo’n’gum”, “Molasses, molasses”, “I beeped when I shoulda bopped” and “The thing”. Teresa comes off as a young, “not yet fully developed” singer, and some of the backing isn’t right for her voice; at times she appears to be loud rather than powerful. But in 1951, she changed labels and signed with Coral records. From there on, she would start making a long line of really great music that came out on several of her most cherished albums.

Coral records provided a much more sympathetic backing for Teresa, and while she didn’t quite get away from novelty songs, she did get to record a lot of different material – and hits kept coming! During her first 5 years on the label, she notched up no less than 13 Top 20 hit singles, they include: “Longing for you”, “Gonna get along without you now”, “Til’ I waltz again with you”, “Richochet”, “Jilted”, “Let me go, lover”, “A tear fell” and “A sweet, old-fashioned girl”. In 1956 she got the New York Yankees center field player, Mickey Mantle to appear as a guest on her recorded homage to him, “I love Mickey”!
Coral released six great albums during 1956-1961, showing off to great effect the many sides of Teresa: “Teresa” (1957), “Time For Teresa” (1958), “Miss Music” (also 1958), and “Heavenly Lover” (1960). She was at her swingin’ best on 1960’s “Teresa Brewer & The Dixieland Band“, and showed off her tender, sensual side on 1959’s beautiful collection of ballads, called “When Your Lover Has Gone“….

After her two last hits on Coral, “Have you ever been lonely” (1960) and “Milord” (1961), Teresa at first signed with Phillips in 1962 and spent 5 years on that label, later moving on to record for Flying Dutchman Records and Red Baron Records. From the early 60’s and up to the 90’s, Teresa made many truly great albums, and this is the period that I consider the most exciting (and important) of her career. She had earlier been labeled “Miss Versatility”, but from this point on, she would more than prove just how fitting that tag was!

On her 1960 album “Ridin’ High“, Teresa gets to do big band swing – and does she ever swing! This album shows her natural talent for jazz, one which she continued to develop. For about 5 minutes in the early 60s, Hawaii Music was quite popular, and several singers hopped on the wagon to record exotic and tropical stuff that was supposed to be Hawaiian style. Despite all their talent in other fields, you can easily just skip the Hawaiian outings by such terrific singers as Joni James and Connie Francis. Teresa made her album “Aloha From Teresa” in 1961, and it is no worse than any other releases in this awful genre, but we can easily say that songs like “Lovely Hula Hands” and “Princess Poo-Poo Ly” (no, it’s not about what you might think!) certainly are no highlights to be looking back on…

 

A big band swing album from 1961

A big band swing album from 1961

 

1963/64 gave us the albums “Terrific Teresa“, which is basically a pop record with a certain country flavour. She also made a covers album called “Golden Hits Of 1964” – which is just that. The first of these includes great stuff like “Like I Do” and “Am I That Easy To Forget”. The second sees Miss Tess putting her own special stamp on recent hits like “Where Did Our Love Go”, “Suspicion”, “My Boy Lollipop” and “The Girl From Ipanema”. Both albums are highly recommended, as they show off different aspects of Teresa to very good advantage.

Her 1965 album “Don’t Mess With Tess” is another album of swinging standards, like “You Came A Long Way From St. Louis” and “Down With Love”. Another album consisting of covers came out 1966 – called “Gold Country“. Teresa’s voice certainly is very well suited to country, and this album is stuffed with great versions of more or less well-known songs like “Evil On Your Mind”, “Make The World Go Away”, “Once A Day” and “The Tip Of My Fingers”.

 

Despite the glittering coctail dress and the tiara, this is just 100% pure country!

Despite the glittering coctail dress and the tiara, this is just 100% pure country!

Another country-flavoured album appeared in 1967, but this time with a Tijuana touch as well…. Called “Texas Leather And Mexican Lace“, it shows Tess sinking her chops into stuff like “Mexican Joe”, “Spanish Flea” and “The Wayward Wind”. This musical hybrid was a late 1960s fad, and as such it is one of the best examples you can find.

Upon entering the 1970s, we get to a really exciting period in Teresa’s career. On single releases, she re-recorded her old 1950 hit “Music, Music Music” twice: First as a rock song, and in 1976 she did it as an extended disco song, and proved that she could easily have been a disco diva as well if she’d chosen to!

The 1971 album “Teresa In London With Oily Rags” is a true highlight! The opening track, “Come Running” is nothing but hard rock, and at the end it turns into an almost gospel feverish ending, with Teresa really wailing in a way you’d not thought possible! Other standouts on this album are “Heading Out East” and a stunning interpretation of Kris Kristofferson´s “The Pilgrim Chapter”. The album closes with the quite long “Tomorrow Is Today”, on which she starts out backed only by a tinkering piano, but during the five minutes the track lasts it turned into a Heavy rock ballad. Truly one of her absolutely best albums, not only for the stunning vocals but also because it truly reveals what a diverse and magnificent artist Teresa is.

 

London obviously turned Teresa into a rocker of the first rank. A GREAT album!

London obviously turned Teresa into a rocker of the first rank. A GREAT album!

 

She followed this masterpiece with another stunning album, 1973’s “Singin’ A Doo-Dah Song“. By this time you wouldn’t know quite what to expect from Teresa, and she certainly gives a few surprises on this one too;  “Cotton Fields” is done very fast, and she also yodels a bit. “Guantanamera” is done with mandolins and Spanish guitars, and sung in Spanish. She does a great version of Kenny Loggins’ “Vahevala” and “Danny’s Song” (made famous by Anne Murray). Add to this two tracks mostly connected with Bessie Smith: “Cake Walking Babies From Home” and “You’ve Been A Good Ol’ Wagon” – and you get quite a varied musical package!

 

This 1973 album is stuffed with musical surprises! Obviously there is no end to what she can do!

This 1973 album is stuffed with musical surprises! Obviously there is no end to what she can do!

 

Next up was the 1975 album “Unliberated Woman” – which is in the country rock style. Stand out tracks from this one is “Some Songs” – very strange that this great little nugget didn´t get more airplay – and “Hang It Up & Let It Go” plus the slinky, funky “For The Heart”.  The final track is the nice rocker “Deep Is My Love”. The whole album once again proves that Tess, musically, by this point in her career could do absolutely everything!

 

This honky tonkin´1975 collection of country rock is also highly recommended!

This honky tonkin´1975 collection of country rock is also highly recommended!

 

1977 saw the release of yet another album, titled “Teresa Brewer´s New Album“. This time around she goes for an adult contemporary approach, and the album is a great collection of MOR songs. The song “Tonight I Sleep Alone” has been much praised, and rightly so. Musically, this was the first instance in popular music where the lyrics deal with the woman turning the guy down, telling him “put your clothes back on and get out of my house“… Teresa shows a flair for acting out the lyrics like a story, and this song is thus one of her true masterpieces, and one of the best recordings she ever did. The opening track “Moonglow/Theme From Picnic” is a song dating back to the 50s, but Teresa does it in a pop-disco mode, and it works very well as such! After Judy Collins turned “Send In The Clowns” into hit of the year in 1975, it has been much recorded. Teresa offers her version here, and it is done in a gentle and intimate way – bringing out a lot of beautiful nuances in the song. There is also a funny, gospel styled song called “Gonna Telephone Jesus”, as well as a disco versions of “Hello Dolly” and “I´ve Got You Under My Skin”.

 

This 1977 albums contains disco, gospel and an all time adult contemporary ballad masterpiece

This 1977 albums contains disco, gospel and an all time adult contemporary ballad masterpiece

 

Teresa ended the 1970s by releasing an album made with Earl Hines, called “We Love You, Fats” (1979). And this collection is dedicated to the songs of Fats Waller. The two of them conjure up everything that is great about Fats Waller, and they seem to be enjoying each others company in the studio. Teresa jumps head on into classics like “The Joint Is Jumping”, “Keepin´Out Of Mischief Now” and “Honeysuckle Rose” and does marvellous versions of all of them!

You´re gonna love Fats too when you hear what Teresa and Earl do with his songs!

You´re gonna love Fats too when you hear what Teresa and Earl do with his songs!

 

This album also in a way marked the starting point for the rest of Teresa´s career, as she continued releasing excellent jazz records all through the 80s & 90s. As a jazz singer, she is right up there with the best of them – and I bet Anita O´Day must have felt her as a strong competitor for the title of greatest white jazz singer ever!

During the approximately 50 years she made records, Teresa certainly did a little bit of everything – and obviously there was nothing that she couldn´t do vocally or musically.

Truly versatile, truly one of the greatest singers to ever live – truly and totally Teresa Brewer!

Singer & mum: Teresa in 1973 with her four daughters Mega, Susan, Kathleen and Michelle. Obviously, beauty runs in the family...

Singer & mum: Teresa in 1973 with her four daughters Megan, Susan, Kathleen and Michelle. Obviously, beauty runs in the family…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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