Coming next: A profile on Teresa Brewer

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Teresa Brewer (1931 – 2007) seems to have faded a little into obscurity, at least in Europe. Mostly regarded as a perky fifties singer who sang cute, funny songs in a doll like voice – I find it’s time to dig a little deeper into the career of this wonderful, versatile singer.

 

A great view AND Teresa Brewer!

A great view AND Teresa Brewer!

 

Ms. Brewer was a recording artist from 1949 and into the early 1990’s, and she did incredibly much more than just sing cute novelty songs! The young girl who recorded “Music, music, music” and “Molasses, molasses” in the early 1950’s later turned into a allround singer, who recorded more than 600 songs.

Teresa did pop, r & b, country, rock, jazz and even some disco in the 1970’s. And that funny, squeeky voice was actually an instrument of great versatility, something I personally discovered when I sat down and really listened for the first time!

Coming soon; a closer look into the treasure trove of albums the great Teresa Brewer left behind, stay tuned….

 

Coming up – A profile on Vicki Sue Robinson

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Vicki Sue… Vicki who?? For some music fans, the name of Vicki Sue Robinson conjures up some very happy memories of the exuberant late 1970s. To a lot of other people, she is virtually unknown. Despite a fairly long career in show business, her time at the top and in the spotlight was all too brief. She released 4 wonderful albums, and a handful of singles before her career was abruptly cut short….

On May 31 this year, Vicki Sue should have celebrated her 60th birthday (if there was any justice in the world!), but we lost her due to cancer in 2000, when she died a few weeks before  her 46th birthday.

Her breakt-hrough hit will forever be associated with Vicki Sue Robinson

Her break-through hit will forever be associated with Vicki Sue Robinson

 

Vicki Sue was a singer who was hard to classify – and maybe she was too versatile for her own good? She is remembered as one of the “Disco Queens” of the late 1970’s – yet her one Grammy Award nomination in 1976 was in the “Best Female Pop Singer” category. She was also labeled as a soul singer at times. Fair skinned, born by a black father and a caucasian mother, she was also sometimes referred to as black, but just as often she was considered white… What is most important is that she made some truly wonderful music, and her four albums (made 1976-79) are proof positive of her talent. It also proves that her music is almost in a category all its own; a great mix of disco, pop, soul and rock all melded into something truly new and creative.

3 Disco Queens in one place: Gloria Gaynor, Vicki Sue & France Joli

3 Disco Queens in one place: Gloria Gaynor, Vicki Sue & France Joli

 

When her four original albums were re-issued on CD (with bonus tracks!) in 2011, I immediately bough them all, they really are treasures to be saved! All the albums have a style that is uniquely Vicki Sue’s own – and they display some of the very best dance music ever made! In a short while, I will discuss those albums in depth – and hopefully that will make all of you want to go out and buy them – these records are so good, you cannot live without!

1976 Fan Card

1976 Fan Card

 

Stay tuned – for more about Vicki Sue Robinson in a little while. It’s about time we got this great artist back into the spotlight, and into our lives!

 

Pictured in the late 1990's: Evelyn King, Thelma Houston & Vicki Sue

Pictured in the late 1990’s: Evelyn King, Thelma Houston & Vicki Sue

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leonid Larionov – en stemme av de sjeldne

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Larionov under en konsert i januar 2014

Larionov under en konsert i januar 2014

Av og til oppdager man en stemme som har dette udefinerbare, en stemme som gjør “et eller annet” med deg når du hører vedkommende synge….. Leonid Larionov har en slik stemme – jeg har kalt den flytende fløyel i et forsøk på å beskrive hvilken virkning denne stemmen har på meg. Det blir ofte sagt om operasangere at han eller hun har en stemme som treffer deg midt i hjertet, bl.a. ble Birgit Nilssons stemme en gang sammenlignet med en laserstråle…

Leonid fremstår for meg på en annen måte – stemmen hans er som et teppe som draperer seg rundt meg, jeg føler meg innpakket i bare vellyd når denne mannen synger!

Samme følelsen hadde sopranen Maud Hurum da hun hørte ham første gangen. Med sine over 30 aktive år som utøvende kunstner og ca. 20 roller på reportoaret, så har Maud både sett, hørt og sunget med mange dyktige kunstnere, og hun lar seg kanskje ikke alltid imponere av hva hun hører. I  Leonids tilfelle ble Maud Hurum fullstendig satt ut, og for å sitere henne: “- Hadde ikke håret mitt vært satt opp, hadde det stått rett opp! Det var rett og slett hårreisende vakkert, som en åpenbaring fra et annet sted….” God attest, spør du meg!

Leonid Larionov & Maud Hurum i 2011

Leonid Larionov & Maud Hurum i 2011

Jeg har hatt gleden av å se og høre Leonid ved flere anledninger, og det han har gjort har alltid vært solid gjennomført, nydelig sunget og med en formidlingsevne som gjør at uansett språk eller setting, så når han frem til samtlige i publikum.

Gårsdagens recital-konsert var intet unntak: med Per Arne Frantzen ved flygelet ga han oss en time med et vakkert og variert program. Han åpnet med kardinal Brogni’s arie “Si la rigueur et la vengeance” fra Halevy’s opera “La Juive”, et perfekt eksempel på hvor vakkert en bass-arie kan fremføres!

Per Arne Frantzen og Leonid under konserten 15. januar 2014

Per Arne Frantzen og Leonid under konserten 15. januar 2014

Deretter kom Brahms’ “Vier geernste Gesänge” – også nydelig fremført, og for meg var særlig “Ich wandte mich, und sahe an” et høydepunkt. Disse sangene blir fremført så altfor sjelden, men når de får liv gjennom Larionovs fyldige bass er det klart at disse har en helt naturlig plass i hans konserter fremover!

Han avsluttet konserten på sitt morsmål, med Modest Mussorgsky’s “Songs and Dances of Death”, dramatisk fremført og med stor innlevelse, det er tydelig at Leonid trives med å synge russisk!

Neste uke er jeg innvilget audiens hjemme hos Leonid Larionov for et intervju, som vil bli publisert her. Det skal bli spennende å lære mer om mannen bak stemmen, få et innblikk i hvordan han jobber med rollene, hva som har fått han til å bosette seg i lille Norge og ikke minst noen andre spennende sider ved ham…..

Så bare kikk innom igjen i løpet av de neste ukene – og bli bedre kjent med Norges nye “up & coming” stjerne-bass!

Leonid Larionov og Maria Bordas etter en konsert i 2011

Leonid Larionov og Maria Bordas etter en konsert i 2011

Coming soon – a profile on Jackie DeShannon

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Jackie DeShannon – my one true musical heroine! Incredibly enough, after almost 60 years in show business, she is still “unknown territory” to a lot of people…. Still not 70 years old (she will reach that age in August 2014), she is one of very few singers still working, who actually had a 78rpm record released. Of course, she started out very young; her first record, “Baby Honey” was recorded in 1956 (and credited to Sherry Lee!), and she also used the names Jackie Dee and Jacquie Shannon before settling on the name she still goes by today.

Sherry Lee or Jackie Dee - this late 1950s publicity photo makes her look like Barbie

Sherry Lee or Jackie Dee – this late 1950s publicity photo makes her look like Barbie

Looks can indeed be deceptive; Jackie’s earliest publicity photos shows a doll like beauty and indicates a sweet, young and kinda sugary girl singer. Not so! Jackies earliest records produced some really tough sounding rockabilly, and the voice that blares out of the speakers give you absolutely no hint about her tender young age…. This teenaged girl more than holds her own when compared to Brenda Lee, and she’s maybe the only real competitor to the stuff Wanda Jackson recorded around the same time.

Later on, in the 1960’s, Jackie looked more the folk singers of the day, with her straight blonde hair, her shy smile and all around sunny appearance. While no longer singing rockabilly at that point, her record covers still give no indication to what’s actually on the records. You’d expect some ethereal, folksy stuff – and what you get is one of the most soulful white singers, doing a wide range of material. A lot of she wrote herself, and she also had a very good idea about what songs to record, outside of her own material.

Jackie in the mid-60's

Jackie in the mid-60’s

Jackie DeShannon, the songwriter is maybe more famous than Jackie the singer. A lot of songs she wrote have been recorded by dozens of artists from the early 1960’s and they are still being recorded today. The most sucessful cover of a Jackie song is of course Kim Carnes’ version of “Bette Davis Eyes” – a song Jackie herself put out on her 1975 album “New Arrangement” in 1975. Six years later, Kim topped the charts for nine consecutive weeks with her “new arrangement” and the song is now regarded as a classic pop hit.

Jackie in 2011

Jackie in 2011

Jackie has made more than 20 solo albums, and they represent some of the finest music made in the 21st Century, covering a wide array of styles – and all of it impeccably performed by one of the greatest voices in the business. Jackie had a rather long gap in her album output too; between “Quick Touches” (1978) and “You Know Me” (2000), all she released was a few singles….

In a short while, I will take a closer look into the wondrous musical legacy of Jackie DeShannon, discussing in detail a lot of her albums. She is the kind of singer who is impossible not to like, she has something that will please everybody, she has an absolutely fabulous voice and you better be warned: Jackie DeShannon is addictive! One listen and you will be craving for a lot more!

Jackie invites you to listen to her - you will not regret it

Jackie invites you to listen to her – you will not regret it

Diamanda Galas – Not comparable….

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One of my readers wrote me and asked me about my opinion about Diamanda Galas, and I thought “OK, I will write a piece about her”… When I titled this post “Not comparable” it is of course due to the fact that as a singer Diamanda Galas cannot – ever – be compared to anyone else! What she does as a singer is so totally unique, it transcends all categories, makes her hard to classify, sometimes even hard to enjoy her records. Easy listening it is not – but a fascinating use of the human voice as an instrument used for conveying emotions – and a lot of times the emotions expressed by Galas are anger, frustration, rage and despair. I’ve looked a little deeper into the musical world of this truly fascinating artist – and even if these views are my personal ones, it might be of help to anyone who is curious about what this singer actually can do….

A photo of the "private" Diamanda Galas, looking relaxed and just plain gorgeous!

A photo of the “private” Diamanda Galas, looking relaxed and just plain gorgeous!

Galas was born on August 29 1955 in California, to Greek parents – and as a young adult moved to Europe where she first made an impression when starring in Vinko Globokar’s opera “Un jour comme un autre” – where the leading character is a tortured Turkish woman.

Galas has a truly magnificent voice, it spans several octaves, and she probably could have been one hell of an opera singer if she’d chosen that direction. Instead she decided to make use of her voice in a totally different way, and in the process creating a musical legacy which effectively separates her from any other singer on the planet. You might not enjoy listening to it, but it still grabs you by the neck, and thereby draws attention to whatever subject she is dealing with and whatever form of music she chooses to sing. And that – in my opinion – makes it impossible to be indifferent to what Galas does; Love her or hate her – in the end, she still is the vocal 8th Wonder of the world!

Musician, composer, singer, author - Diamanda Galas is a woman of many talents...

Musician, composer, singer, author – Diamanda Galas is a woman of many talents…

She has (according to Wikipedias entry on her) been described as being “capable of the most unnerving vocal terror”, and yes occasionally that is a befitting label. However, this is not a description for her entire recorded output – she certainly can vocally terrorize you at times, but she is also capable of adjusting her voice to any and all kinds of musical styles – and there are several items to be found on her records that are just beautiful. In my opinion, Diamanda’s recordings can be roughly divided into two categories; the really far-out, avant garde stuff on one hand, and on the other her more main-stream material – but you still won’t mistake her for anyone else!

Making her debut album in 1982, she spent her first decade as a recording artist making some truly unique albums – and then in 1992 releasing the first of (what I call) her mainstream albums, “The Singer”.

Just the titles of her first albums should give you just a hint about what to expect: “The Litanies of Satan” (containing the track “Wild Women With Steak Knives” … – get it…?) (1982), “Panoptikon” (1983) followed by her “Masque of The Red Death” trilogy: it consists of the separately released albums; “The Divine Punishment” (1986), “Saint of The Pit” (1987) and  “You Must Be Certain of The Devil” (1988). These were followed by “The Plague Mass” in 1991 – and later albums like “Vena Cava” (1993) and “Schrei-X” (1996) all have Galas front & center doing some of that “vocal terror” mentioned earlier. Heavy stuff indeed, but magnificently performed! Certain soul singers have been praised for being able to vocally cover all human emotions. Diamanda Galas actually does the same – but when the emotions include AIDS, mental illness, anger, frustration, degradation, injustice and such – it does sound a little less cozy than any of the soul girls praising the love of their life….

The debut album. From the cover photo alone, you know the songs here are NOT cute love ballads!

The debut album. From the cover photo alone, you know the songs here are NOT cute love ballads!

Three of her albums are what I would consider easily accessible to a much wider audience, and are all suggested listening for anyone who is curious about Galas. They are; “The Singer” (1992), her collaboration with John Paul Jones “The Sporting Life” (1994) and “Malediction and Prayer” (1998).

“The Singer” is a sparse record, with just vocals, piano and organ – all of performed by Galas. She actually sings here, and very well too! Among the songs on this album you’ll find the blues classics “Gloomy Sunday” and “Insane Asylum”, Roy Acuff’s old chestnut “Were You There When They Crucified My Lord” and a stunning take on Screamin’ Jay Hawkins “I Put A Spell On You”

Working with Led Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones in 1994, produced the rock album “The Sporting Life” and if your taste in music include guitar solos, bass and drums all supporting a fabulous voice – this is your album! Diamanda proves that she once again can handle any kind of song, and she sings with style & gusto here, on material ranging from “Dark End Of The Street” to the Greek/Arabian inspired “Skotoseme”. Some CD editions include a bonus track: the last song,  “Hex” is reprised in a “La Diabla Mix”, and so you can even hear Galas in a techno-inspired setting on a track you can actually dance to!

John Paul Jones & Diamanda Galas, taking a break from "The Sporting Life"

John Paul Jones & Diamanda Galas, taking a break from “The Sporting Life”

“Malediction And Prayer” is a live record that came out in 1998, and stylistically it is in the same vein as “The Singer”. It does contain what I consider to be the greatest moment in her entire discography: She sings the old Supremes-hit “My World Is Empty Without You”! Taken as a slow ballad, it is sensitively and softly performed, bringing out nuances in the lyrics you never thought were there. Vocal terror?? Not one bit of it here, and so it proves that the “Queen of scream” also has the ability to do something vocally very beautiful and warm… It still is a million light years away from way back when Diana Ross sang it – but then again; Diana never delved this deep into the lyrics in the first place, and sang it just like any other Supremes-hit of the 60’s.

I hope I have shed some new light on this very amazing artist, and I hope that anyone with an interest in music will lend an ear and find out for yourself if this floats your boat or not. Like Yma Sumac, Edith Piaf, Oum Kalthoum and Linda Ronstadt among others, Diamanda Galas has a voice and style that is instantly recognizable, all her own, she will never be mistaken for anyone else. Which, when it comes to great singing – really is what it’s all about.

Not comparable, truly unique, impossible to ignore, dealing with topics no other singer has ever touched, Diamanda Galas is in a league all of her own, and thus she occupies a very special place in music history. And there certainly will never be anyone like her…

Probably up next: Vikki Carr – Anatomy of love, music and total artistry

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Believe it or not, but 2013 marks the 50th anniversary of Vikki Carr’s recording career! Whether or not Vikki herself has had the best of both worlds is open to debate – but what she has given the public in the form of records during these years definitely IS the best of both worlds!

The extremely talented singer, born in July 1941 as Florencia Bisenta de Casillas Martinez Cardona has had two parallel careers; From 1963 and up to 1977, she was one of the classiest pop singers in the US, and also branching out into country and some more jazzy material. Then, from the mid-70’s she recorded almost exclusively for the Latin American market, and as such achieving superstar status in that area, no doubt putting her own partially Mexican heritage to good use.

A fairly recent photo of the wonderful Vikki Carr

A fairly recent photo of the wonderful Vikki Carr

Vikki Carr is the kind of artist who never ceases to amaze me. Her voice is one of the very best in the business, and she can sing any kind of Music equally well. She’s done pop songs, stuff from the great American song book and Musicals, country & western and a wide array of different Latin styles of music. No matter what she sings, her voice is always an instrument of great flexibility and range. To pick 3 songs at random to prove my point; if you listen to “The surrey with the fringe on top” from “Oklahoma”, then an early 1970’s pop tune like “Tunesmith” and go on to something Spanish like “Perdoname mi vida” or “Quando calienta el sol” – you willl hear the same great voice melting into the musical setting. Always instantly identifiable, Vikki still manages to take on a different shade of “local color” to make the songs sound unique.

Her first album, "Color Her Great" came out 1963

Her first album, “Color Her Great” came out 1963

A closer look at the many records and different styles of Miss Vikki Carr to be published on this site in a short while….

If you are unfamiliar with Vikki – I suggest you check out some of her records to see what she’s all about. No doubt, your ears will be CARRessed!

Coming (planned) – A profile on Teddi King

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One of the more obscure jazz singers who has a small but very devoted following, Miss Teddi King certainly deserves to be rediscovered by Music lovers all over the world!

Last November marked the 35th anniversary of her death – but luckily almost everything she recorded during a time span of almost 30 years is available to the record buying Public.

A publicity photo of Teddi King from around 1960

A publicity photo of Teddi King from around 1960

Theodora “Teddi King” (September 18, 1929 – November 18, 1977) was a very unique kind of singer, and I will very shortly guide you through her recorded works (and if you’ve never heard of her, I hope you get curious enough to want to listen!)

Starting out in the late 1940’s, Miss King recorded her last album in 1977 – just a short while before her death at age 48 from Lupus. Her collected recordings is a treat for both fans of vocal jazz, and great singing in general. Though mainly considered a jazz singer, Teddi King also made quite a lot of more pop oriented material, and even some early rock ‘n’ roll.

An in-Depth survey on her various albums will follow here soon – so do check back in a few days!

Toni Arden – A hidden treasure re-discovered

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Incredibly enough – Toni Arden was one singer who had somehow slipped under my musical radar for a long time. It wasn’t until Jasmine Records put together a Box Set of her music that I discovered her. After all, Jasmine had collected 54 songs by this singer, which immediately alerted me to find out more; here was a singer who obviously had done quite a lot of recording! And as I found out later on, those 54 tracks were just the tip of the iceberg!

A publicity photo of the young Toni Arden at the start of her career

A publicity photo of the young Toni Arden at the start of her career

Diving into her music, I discovered a very versatile singer, who started out in the late 1940’s – and who had kept on recording into the 1980’s. A wonderful singer with a very good voice, doing a wide range of different material – I very soon found I had a new musical favorite! Even though she mostly worked in the so-called rock ‘n’ roll area – Toni is very much a classic pop singer, but never afraid to take on a musical challenge outside of the great American songbook.

Toni Arden was born February 15, 1924 as Antoinette Ardizzone and died at her home in lake Worth, Florida on May 29, 2012, at the age of 88.

Arden started out as a big band singer in the 1940s, singing with Al Trace, Joe Reichman, Ray Bloch and Shep Fields. She started recording as a soloist in 1946 for the minor label National Records. 

Toni was featured with Al Trace's band in the mid 40's, so here's your chance to hear her beginnings!

Toni was featured with Al Trace’s band in the mid 40’s, so here’s your chance to hear her beginnings!

She then signed her first solo recording contract with a major record label, Columbia Records, in 1949. On this label she had several hits including “I Can Dream, Can’t I?” (which reached #7 on the Billboard charts), “Too Young” (which reached #15), “Kiss of Fire” (which reached #14) and “I’m Yours” (which reached #24).

A great album from the mid 1950's, available on CD and as download

A great album from the mid 1950’s, available on CD and as download

In the mid-1950s she moved to Decca Records, where her only million-seller was “Padre” in 1958. LPs on Decca included “Miss Toni Arden,” “Besame!”, “Sing a Song of Italy” and “Italian Gold.”

One of her earliest records was an English language version of Josephine Baker’s hit song of the 1930’s, “J’ai deux d’amours” – called “Two loves have I” in Toni’s version. She has an amazing ability to adapt her voice to the different material she sings, from smooth and silky on ballads, to an almost operatic vocal on her fabulous version of “Come back to Sorrento”. Her cover of Skeeter Davis’ 1953 no. 1 hit “I forgot more than you’ll ever know” gets the Toni make-over in such a way, you’d think the song was written for her! She glides through pop songs and foxtrots as if  dancing on a cloud, yet she injects so much latin “fuego” into her Spanish records – she comes off as a very tough competitor to Lola Flores, Concha Piquer, Marife De Triana and Juanita Reina!

She might not look like a typical Spanish senorita, but she sure does sound like one!

She might not look like a typical Spanish senorita, but she sure does sound like one!

Toni Arden may also be the only caucasian singer who have really understood the difference between latin music and Italian music. The former is all about temperament and fire, the latter is all about emotions and keeping the embers just glowing. The proof of this is obvious when you compare Toni’s “Besame!” album with her albums of Italian songs!

Another great album; On this Toni simply glows - the Italian way!

Another great album; On this Toni simply glows – the Italian way!

In addition to making records, Toni was also a busy night-club act across the USA appearing in such venues as New York’s “La Vie En Rose” and “Copacabana”. She was also a regular guest on many popular television programmes like “The Ed Sullivan Show”, “The Dinah Shore Show”, and “The Bing Crosby Show”. She even appeared in a couple of movies – usually in singing guest spots. No matter what she did, she was the utmost professional – and earned rave compliments from both Frank Sinatra and Vic Damone for her singing and versatility.

Another Italian album, this one dating from 1963

Another Italian album, this one dating from 1963

She slowly eased into more contemporary pop music and some early rock ‘n’ roll in the late 50’s/early 60’s, including a duet with her brother Jan Arden titled “Blow out the candle”. But like most other classic pop singer she was left in the shade during the 1960’s…. But as a night club attraction and supper club headliner she was still much in demand – and always displaying versatility, vivacity and that great voice!

1973 LP

As late as 1973, Toni poured some of her “Tender Loving Care” on her listeners…

After her stint with Decca, she recorded for both RCA Victor and Mercury Records. Her last album “My World is You” came out 1981 and  features songs solely written by Gladys Shelley.

Her last album! Recorded 1981, Toni does the songs of Gladys Shelley....

Her last album! Recorded 1981, Toni does the songs of Gladys Shelley….

Thanks to re-issue labels like Jasmine and Sepia Records, most of Toni Arden’s music is once again available – and she definitely should be re-discovered by music lovers everywhere! She is a truly wonderful singer, whose passing away last year barely got a mention in the papers…. That’s a pity – because her talent succeeds her reputation by far!

Nancy Sinatra – Second generation Superstar

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When one of your parents is the worlds greatest singer, and a Superstar spelled with a capital S – how wise is it to follow in his footsteps? If you do that only to cash in on your father’s name and fame, it is not very wise. If, however, you have plenty of talent and you choose another direction – it can prove to be very wise indeed. Nancy Sinatra is a good point in case; though no one is ever likely to forget she is Frank’s daughter, her musical achievements are all her own. She was talented enough to make a name for herself even if they were not related, and she clearly had talent enough to reach the top even without her illustrious bloodline….

Nancy with her dad on stage in the mid 60's

Nancy with her dad on stage in the mid 60’s

Nancy was born in 1940, and at age 20 she made her first single, “Cuff links and a tie clip”. She quickly followed with a string of other singles, among them cover versions of “Tammy”, “I’m walking” and “I see the moon”. She also released a very good version of “To know him is to love him” and she recorded the anti-war, socially conscious “Cruel War”. Her early records didn’t really stand out in any way, she made cute girl pop, and although she sang very well, these records weren’t all that special – she had yet to come up with that extraordinary “Nancy touch”!

AN EP from around 1964. A brunette Nancy with fame just a step away...

An EP from around 1964. A brunette Nancy with fame just a step away…

Nancy hooked up with Lee Hazlewood in 1965, resulting in their first musical collaboration, “So long, babe”. While not a big hit, it was the first in line of songs featuring the “new” Nancy; she lowered her voice a bit, creating a more intimate and sexy sound, all dressed up in Lee’s inventive arrangements. The way she looked also changed, gone was the brown, short hairdo and in its place long, blond tresses. For her next single she also added the mini skirt and the go-go boots – and the eternal image of Nancy Sinatra was thus born!

With the boots ON, she walked on to  the top of the charts...

With the boots ON, she walked on to the top of the charts…

Her next single, “These boots are made for walking” then followed – and Nancy once and for all showed the world that she had indeed made it on her own! The music, style and arrangements were miles away from anything even remotely related to Frank’s music, and the song was an enormous hit, and is even today an example of a true classic from the 60’s! The original version is still popular, and I guess that’s why it hasn’t been recorded by a lot of other artists as well (unlike i.e. “Will you love me tomorrow” which has been remade in at least 100 other versions…). The most recent cover is Jessica Simpson’s who sang it in the movie “The Dukes of Hazzard”…

With Lee Hazlewood producing, Nancy’s career really took off – and for the next few years, she released one fabulous album after the other, usually consisting of new material (mostly written by Hazlewood) and some covers of recent hits. In quick succession, the albums were: “Boots“, “How Does That Grab You?” and “Nancy In London” (all 1966), “Country, My Way” and “Sugar” (both 1967), the soundtrack from her TV Special “Movin’ With Nancy” (1968), then “Nancy” (1969) followed by “Woman” (1972). Each and every one of these classic albums have been released on CD (with bonus tracks) and they are all highly recommended. Together they show the very best of Nancy, and they also give you an important insight into the formative years of this legendary singer!

In addition to her albums, she also made a lot of singles. Her entire output 1960-65 have been made available on 2 CD’s, called “Bubble Gum Girl” Volume 1 & 2 – and here you get all her earliest recordings. During the 1970’s, Nancy married, had children and worked only sporadically. The few singles she produced during the 70’s and early 80’s have all been collected onto one CD, “Cherry Smiles – The Rare Singles” – and it fills the gap between the classic albums of the 1960’s and what was to come later on.

A great collection of her non-album singles recorded 1971-80

A great collection of her non-album singles recorded 1971-80

Not only did Lee Hazlewood produce a lot of Nancy’s music – he was also the perfect duet partner! Acting the deep voiced outlaw to her bright & sunny California girl on a string of classic singles like “Summer wine”, “Jackson”, “Some velvet morning” and their awsome version of Dolly Parton’s “Down from Dover”, their collective sound stands as one of music history’s most fabulous duos! Together they made 3 albums; “Nancy & Lee” (1968), “Nancy & Lee Again” (1972) and finally (30 years later!) “Nancy & Lee 3” (2002). Nancy always sang duets with men only, in addition to her father, Dean Martin and Lee – she hooked up with Mel Tillis in 1981 to make her second country album, “Mel & Nancy“.  Never released on CD, this represents the rarest record for both singers, and that’s a shame – it is a very good album! They got 2 singles onto the country charts as well; “Play me or trade me” and “Texas cowboy night”

The 1981 country album she made with Mel Tillis

The 1981 country album she made with Mel Tillis

After another long hiatus in her career, Nancy slowly eased back onto the scene in the mid 90’s. Still looking fabulous at age 54, she posed for Playboy Magazine! She then started working on her first new album, “One More Time” (1995)…

Yes, she really did that! But at age 54, she had no reason to be ashamed of her body....

Yes, she really did that! But at age 54, she had no reason to be ashamed of her body….

Her new album “One More Time” was a good one, and the critics all went thumbs up for the comeback record of the glamorous Nancy. She followed this album with two more during the late 1990’s; “Sheet Music” (1997) and then “How Does It Feel” (1999). In the early 2000’s, there was a wave of records by legendary singers being produced by recent rock stars; both Loretta Lynn and Wanda Jackson had new albums out, where they were surrounded by new sounds and arrangements. These records sounded great, and the singers had lost none of the original sparkle!

In 2004, Nancy was another singer who tried this approach. Working with Morrissey, Sonic Youth, U2, Calexico and Jarvis Cocker among others, she made her final album so far, “Nancy Sinatra” (2004). The song “Burnin’ down the spark” got a lot of air play, and it perfectly melts together a modern musical sound with the voice of a legendary 60’s go-go girl, with an added touch of having lived a long life… The album is a major achievement – and one that proves that aging is not neccessarily a bad thing musically, as Nancy at age 64 had an added depth and sounded both soulful and a little jaded and world-weary – but I mean that as a compliment!

Her wonderful 2004 album - get it!!

Her wonderful 2004 album – get it!!

Being a true legend, Nancy Sinatra is now 72 years old, but she still makes the occasional appearance on stage, and neither her voice nor her looks show any signs of ageing. Being such a legendary figure, she causes a stir wherever she performs and that has as much to do with her music and songs, as with her image. Like her father before her, she is the other Sinatra whose musical legacy has shaped our formative years, and plays like the soundtrack to our lives….

Coming soon: A profile on the music of Nancy Sinatra

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A photo of the young Nancy, dipping her toes ca. 1955

She’s Frank’s daughter, she’s the perennial symbol of the 60’s go-go boots pop girl, she’s one half of the greatest Pop Duo ever (Lee Hazlewood and Nancy – oooh!) and she’s given us a musical legacy that seems eternally fresh and exciting.

Born in 1940, Nancy made her first solo record in 1961 and her last solo album so far came out in 2004. In that time span she has released a string of albums and singles that not only contains an enormous amount of great music, it’s also a document on how a 60’s pop girl can develop her talent, change with the times and put her personal stamp on great songs that fit her voice like hand in glove!

The 60’s Nancy: Short dress, big hair, lots of eye lashes and those go-go boots that were made for walkin’

Always being compared to her famous father, Nancy proved that even without that blood line she clearly would have made it to the top anyway. But the genes may have provided the talent in the first place. She has been criticized of not having a “great voice” – which I think is quite absurd; She does sing mostly in a limited register, sure. But what comes out is one of the softest, purest voices in show biz, and she is pure pleasure to listen to!

Nancy, ca. 2005. Still looking good, her career had a real up-swing in the new millennium!

Check back in a few days – for a closer peek into the musical world of Nancy Sinatra….

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