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.

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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”.

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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

 

 

 

Three unknown masterpieces from 1979….

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Back in 1979, disco was still popular – and a lot of great albums came out during disco’s heyday. Some by famous artists who were either true “disco stars” or albums by singers from other fields of music who just jumped on the disco wagon for a shorter time span. Then there were some great records released by singers or groups about whom nothing much is known – but that doesn’t take the focus away from the fact that their albums were great and still sound fresh and exciting today! I will give you a closer look into my three favourite albums from the glorious disco year 1979!

 

Barbara Law – “Take All Of Me”

The album "Take All Of Me" by Barbara Law

The album “Take All Of Me” by Barbara Law

I know absolutely nothing about Barbara Law, but this great record was recorded in Canada – so she might be Canadian…. Whether she has made any other records is hard to say, not much information about Miss Law to be found on the internet. But at least she made this great album! As far as I know this collection has never been released on CD, but if you search long enough, you will find a digital version (made from the original LP).

The title track is by far the best thing on offer here, seven and a half-minute of true disco heaven (even if the lyrics don’t do much for women’s liberation!) Barbara Law has a smoky, sensual voice that sounds a little strained at times – but that gives her a special edge. “On My Own Again” is the only ballad here, but it proves that she is a more than competent singer, and that makes me wonder why she didn’t record more… The other 6 songs are of the upbeat disco/pop variety, and they are all good. All in all – this album is one of (disco)musics most obscure treasures, but well worth searching out! If any of my readers can supply me with som additional information on Barbara Law, please write me!!

 

The Raes – “Dancing Up A Storm”

The Raes were indeed "Dancing Up A Storm" in 1979

The Raes were indeed “Dancing Up A Storm” in 1979

This Canada-based duo made another one of the most exciting albums of 1979 – led off by the incredibly infectious hit single “A Little Lovin’ (Keeps The Doctor Away)”. The whole album is very good, even their disco remake of Supertramps “School“. This album is another one way overdue for CD-release, and like the Barbara Law album, you can find digital versions that have been made from the original LP. As far as I have been able to find out, this was the second of three albums made by the Raes. The rest of their history, you can read HERE.

 

Mary Wilson – “Mary Wilson”

Ex-Supreme Mary Wilson, solo album from 1979

Ex-Supreme Mary Wilson, solo album from 1979

Maybe the greatest injustice in the history of music, is the fact that Mary Wilson’s great 1979 album has never been put out on CD! She started out in the Primettes in 1959, then was the only constant member of the Supremes until they disbanded in 1977. Diana Ross was always front and center of the Supremes, but on several of their many great albums, Mary Wilson gets the chance to shine as well – so this was not the first time music lovers got the hear her dark, honeyed tones, but this was the first time SHE was front and center on an album!

Not a typical disco record, this one is a little more funky and soulful than a lot of the other stuff that came out in 1979. But tracks like (her first solo single) “Red Hot“, its B-side “Midnight Dancer” and “I’ve Got What You Need” will no doubt make you dance! Through the seven great songs here, Mary Wilson proves that she is more than talented enough to be a solo star. However, record companies never seemed to be very interested, and her next two singles (“Don’t Get Mad, Get Even” and “Ooh Child“) were both recorded in England for Ian Levine’s Nightmare label… This album laid the foundation for what should have been an illustrious solo career – but during the last 25 years, Mary Wilson has recorded only sporadically, and when she did – it was for smaller labels that offered little promotion…

There! A short survey on three of my all time favourite albums! If you have anything to add to these short musings, please let me know! If you already own these records – I guess it is because you enjoy them as much as I have through the last 37 years….

 

 

 

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”!

 

Another year is behind us…

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So, here we are again – about to enter another new year.

Hopefully you all had a very nice Christmas, and I also hope you filled 2015 with great music every day of this year!

Looking back at 2015, the saddest news this year surely was the deaths of Cilla Black, Lynn Anderson and the very recent passing of Motörheads front man, Lemmy Kilmister. They all first started in the business way back in the 60’s; Cilla was Liverpools finest female and had a long and prosperous career as a singer and television personality.

 

Cilla Black (1943-2015)

Cilla Black (1943-2015)

 

Lynn chose country music as her direction, and doing very well in that area. Her 1970 hit “Rose Garden” will forever be regarded as one of popular music’s biggest hits of all time. I certainly hope the CBS records now rummage through their files, and re-releases ALL of her albums on that label – they are all classic 70’s country at its very best, and have been out of print way too long!

 

Lynn Anderson (1947-2015)

Lynn Anderson (1947-2015)

 

Lemmy was rock ‘n’ rolls bad guy, and the most honest, brutal hard rocker ever to appear on the scene – and tributes to his life and art have been many the last week…

 

Lemmy Kilmister (1945-2015)

Lemmy Kilmister (1945-2015)

 

These three all died rather unexpected, and they were all singers I admired tremendously, as they were all very good at what they were doing in their respective fields. The passing of Lesley Gore is accounted for in a separate post on this site (check the file for February 2015 to read my tribute to her)

I was also deeply touched by the passing of actress Maureen O’ Hara (1920-2015). The veteran actress, who made her first movie in 1939 was always a pleasure to watch, and any and all of her films are worth seeing – just because she is in it!

 

Maureen O' Hara graced countless Movies from 1939... This photo was taken 2014, and proves that even at age 93, miss O' Hara was still gorgeous!

Maureen O’ Hara graced countless movies from 1939… This photo was taken 2014, and proves that even at age 93, miss O’ Hara was still gorgeous!

 

This year has also seen a lot of tributes to Frank Sinatra, on the occasion on what would have been his 100th birthday. Congratulations should also be given to his daughter Nancy Sinatra, who (believe it or not!), turned 75 this year!

Finally, I have to say that I am very happy that this website recently passed 50.000 Readers, something I had never dreamed possible when I created it in January 2012! Thanks for checking in, for reading my posts and for all those nice emails, comments and positive feedbacks!

Stay with me through 2016 also – a lot more posts and musical musings to be published in the new year!

 

 

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!

 

 

Lesley Gore (is) “Someplace Else Now”

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Since her untimely death in February this year, a lot of stuff has been written and said about this truly magnificent 60´s pop icon. Much of it is praise for the fabulous singer she was, but she also gets much kudos for her songwriting and also her later engagement in the LGBT movement.

The title of her 1972 album pictured below has taken on another meaning now that Lesley is no longer on this earth….

 

Her 1972 album, "Someplace Else Now"

Her 1972 album, “Someplace Else Now”

 

When the album came out in 1972, the title had another meaning of course; it was a signal that Lesley had put her sunny girl-group style of pop behind her, and was heading in a new direction….

Artistically, it bears little resemble to her sixties material, but it more than shows that she had artistically grown! If the pop singer she was in the 60s was a girl, this album showed off Lesley – the grown woman.

Coming a year after Carole King´s “Tapestry” – the ALL-encompassing charter on how to create a very good singer-songwriter album, Lesley´s 1972 output is of course touched by the influence of Queen Carole The King….

Throwing away any and all of the themes that her 60´s output dealt with (boys, lollipops, rainbows, kisses, Judy, young love, love gone bad, hoping to be loved by “him” etc) – “Someplace Else Now” contains a Lesley hitherto unknown to the public: the socially aware woman who damn well knows rainbows and kisses are of no use in every day life in 1972 America.

Getting to show off several new aspects of her voice while handling some really demanding lyrics, this album should maybe be heralded as the birth of Lesley Gore – the singer (as opposed to pop singer, 60´s style!)

Songs like “She Said That” (the albums lead-off single) and the heart wrenching “Out Of Love” (study those lyrics will you….) are maybe the two best songs here, but the other ten are great also. Lesley made a fabulous record at the right time, but tough competition from La King herself, and the fact that not many of Lesley´s fans from the previous decade understood what she was about at this point all contributed to the fact that the album soon fell into obscurity….

So, you may wonder, why am I writing about this long forgotten 70´s album now…?

It´s out on CD now! For the first time in 43 years, you can buy this album again! And it is certainly one that is long overdue for re-release too!

Whenever a popular singer dies, record companies usually mine their vaults to get a “new” album out. Thankfully, after Lesley´s passing they chose to haul this one up from the basement instead of making yet another “best of” collection. I certainly hope this will lead to a new release also for her “Love Me By Name” album that came out some years later….

Lesley Gore´s music is too good and too valuable to be kept from the public – and I am all too happy to finally have this one out on CD! That view is shared by millions of Lesley-fans around the world, and I know you will treat yourself to this one – now you better be “Off & Running” (pardon the pun – I couldn´t resist!) to the nearest record store. This re-release is not to be missed!

Lesley, going somewhere - in the late 1960´s

Lesley, going somewhere – in the late 1960´s

 

 

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!

 

 

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