Coming up – a closer look at “summer music”

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It seems to be a category all of its own, and I´m sure there are as many views on what “summer music” is, as there is people on the planet.

Is it a song you heard one special summer? Is it songs where the lyrics deal with summer? Is it Don Henley´s “The Boys of Summer”, or even anything by Donna Summer…???

Coming soon, I will share with you some of my thoughts around what “summer music” is to me, and some of the records that symbolize summer, free time, nice weather, ice creams and such for me personally…

 

Dressed in a woolen tweed jacket, and looking rather glum - I guess Don Henley must be really sorry that "The Boys of Summer" have gone...

Dressed in a thick tweed jacket, and looking rather glum – I guess Don Henley must be really sorry that “The Boys of Summer” have gone…

Happy New Year – and my first 365 days on this site!

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I hope 2013 has been off to a good start for all of you!

I suddenly realized that today it’s been exactly one year since I created this blog, and during that year you’ve been treated to my very personal views on a lot of different musical topics, a diverse group of singers – and a couple of other subjects squeezed in between!

So, what to expect next? Well, during 2012 we lost some well-known artists; Whitney Houston and Donna Summer are those everyone remembers…

Therefore I will look into the music and career of a great singer whom I’m sure a lot of people don’t remember these days; the great Toni Arden! She passed away in May last year at the age of 88.

A very fitting title! Toni Arden was an incredibly exciting and very versatile singer!

A very fitting title! Toni Arden was an incredibly exciting and very versatile singer!

Toni Arden was born in 1924, her birth name Antoinette Ardizzone conjures up images of both France and Italy, and she later recorded in both languages. Starting out in the late 1940’s, Miss Arden was yet another traditional pop singer – but she had her very own personal way of making every song she sang totally unique!

Miss Arden; elegant and stylish even in her later years...

Miss Arden; elegant and stylish even in her later years…

April 2013 will mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of another great singer – Frances Langford! She was maybe the most versatile of all the girl singers who appeared on the scene during the 1930’s.

Frances was a recording star, a radio star, a movie actress and one of the biggest attractions of the 30’s and 40’s! During WWII she endlessly entertained soldiers both in the US and abroad, and she is fondly remembered even to this day for her efforts during the war.

An autographed photo from the 1940's of (a dark haired) Frances Langford

An autographed photo from the 1940’s of (a dark haired) Frances Langford

Thanks to labels like Jasmin and Flare – most of Miss Langfords recordings are now once again available – and they show a truly versatile singer doing an incredible amount of great music! She made her last studio recordings in the late 1960’s, but lived to the age of 92 – she died in 2005.

Frances Langford in the early 200's. Approaching her 90th birthday, she was still a sweetheart!

Frances Langford in the early 2000’s. Approaching her 90th birthday, she was still a sweetheart!

A closer look into the music and careers of both these singers will be posted in the near future! So stay with me this year as well!

At the end of the year – heading for the future!

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I would like to take the opportunity on the last day of 2012, to once again say to all my readers and followers that I truly appreciate you following my blog, and that I’m so happy to receive all your nice comments!

Planned projects for 2013: profiles on the careers of legendary “classic pop” singer Eydie Gorme (who turned 85 this year!), a closer look at all the albums of one of my favorite rock singers, Bob Seger (whose recording career enters its 45th year in 2013!).

Janet Jackson could look back at 30 years of recording this year – and she’s come a long way since she sang about “Young Love” at the age of 16! I also plan to write a thorough profile on the albums of Mariah Carey, another singer who’s gone through quite a lot of musical changes since her 1990 debut!

2012 was also the year we lost two of the greatest voices in pop music: Whitney Houston and Donna Summer – both fondly remembered and much missed!

During 1982, Sweden’s maybe best singer ever, Anita Lindblom (b. 1937), made her last album – a collection of gospel songs, sung in Swedish. So this year marked the 30th year of her retirement from the recording business. It’s a great big shame, as vocally no other singer has ever sounded like Anita, and although there are more than 100 records bearing her name, I still wish she would make some more. But, I guess she’s happy to be out of the limelight, as she’s still living in Thoule-sur-Mer (outside of Cannes, France) taking care of homeless cats (bless her!) and obviously having no regrets about giving up her career while at the top of the game…

Sweden's finest - Anita Lindblom with one of her cats. How do we get her back into the game...?

Sweden’s finest – Anita Lindblom with one of her cats. How do we get her back into the game…?

With these few words, I wish you all a very happy New Year – stick around for more musical musings next year!

A very HAPPY NEW YEAR to all my readers!

A very HAPPY NEW YEAR to all my readers!

 

Donna Summer – Goodbye to the Queen

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I was totally shocked and devastated yesterday, when I heard the news of Donna Summer’s passing, at just 63 years of age. The label “The Queen of Disco” is one that sticks, but actually Donna was so much more than a disco singer. In my view, she is a vocal stylist, who for a very short time sang disco material, then she took disco by the scruff of its neck and widened and broadened the entire disco category into mainstream pop and rock.

The jarring guitars heard on the intro to her 1979 nr. 1 single “Hot Stuff” marks this point very well. 1979 was a good year for disco, Donna was most certainly THE queen of disco that year, and she chose to make a song like “Hot Stuff” to prove there was more to her musical persona than just disco rhythms and cooing vocals. She was awarded the Grammy for Rock Vocal Performance (Female) that year, beating off competition by much more established rockers like Bonnie Raitt, Carly Simon and Tanya Tucker (who performed a similar entry into rock, but from a country background).

LaDonna Andrea Gaines Sommer Sudano, 1948-2012

When I look back at her 40 years of recording, it’s with much joy and reverence – for a lot of great music, and for a fabulous voice that could easily embrace any style of music. Donna had a special talent for adapting her voice to whatever material she was presented with. Donna ooh’ed and aah’ed her way through mid-70’s stuff like “Love to love you, baby”, “Spring affair” and “I feel love”. When you compare them to the use of her full voice, scaling the octaves on later songs like “There will always be a you”, “I will go with you” and her soulful take on “Don’t cry for me, Argentina”, it seems like two different singers – there’s no vocal similarites at all!

Her early records, like “Wassermann” (a German version of  “Aquarius) and her first album, 1974’s “Lady of the Night” show off a powerhouse voice, giving strong, soulful performances. Then, starting in 1975 she made the first of her orgasmic moaning and groaning disco hits, and she kept it up for a while, then going back to her original full scale voice again, partly on 1977’s “I Remember Yesterday”, and on all of next years “Once Upon A Time…”

So much is said and written about the music and career of Donna Summer, that there’s not a single detail left  that hasn’t been in print already. I will therefore not go into any details about her reccords or any specific song. All aspects of her music can be found on thousands of web sites around the world.

I will however share with you some personal memories of Donna. Way back in 1978, when I was twelve I got my first Donna Summer record. I’d saved some of my pocket money and was about to get myself a new record. For the pricely sum of NOK 49,50 (In 1978 currency, that equals approxim. € 5 today) I trotted off to the big mall near where I grew up and returned home with the LP “Four Seasons of Love”. Inside the LP, all the lyrics were printed, and it also contained a fold-out calendar with Donna dressed according to the four seasons. I still have that LP, and the calendar is still in there too, it was never hung on my wall as I didn’t want tape marks on it!

The back of the “Four Seasons of Love” album pictures Donna in Marilyn Monroe vogue, for the summer season

When Donna appeared at the Red Cross concert at the Momarkedet in Mysen, Norway in 1993, I finally had the chance to see her on stage, and when she exited I was close enough to shout out to her that I loved her music. She turned around and came over to where I was standing. Then she looked me straight in the eyes and said “Thank you darling. I hope you liked my performance here tonight” and then flashed me a big smile. Then she was gone, and her car drove away…. It lasted all of 20 seconds, but it was a truly magical moment!  Me, being completely dumbfounded and momentarily “star struck” didn’t even get around to ask her for an autograph!

Her musical legacy will live on forever, Donna is one of the biggest stars of the 21st century and she made so many great albums for us to enjoy. I think Donna herself said it best, when she wrote in the liner notes to one of her albums: “Wherever you go, take a little Summer with you…” Now, that’s what I call good advice!

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