Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Pigalle - Pigalle

And now something completely different. Novelty records are always been near to the heart of Finnish people. Our first example of those is a real classic. Tippavaaran vanha isäntä (Old Man from Moonshine Mountain), or just Tippavaaran isäntä, recorded "Pigalle" in 1961. He was the most popular character in the popular radio comedy 'Kankkulan kaivolla' (At the well of Kankkula). He was 105 years old and famous for his moonshining activities. (Finnish moonshine is home-made vodka. The most common name is 'pontikka'.) Talking favourably about booze in radio programs was of course a risky thing those days and Finnish Radio received complaints over Old Man Tippavaara's prominent role in the program. The Program Council cleverly responded that one should not be worried, becouse '96 percent of the program contents does not come from Tippavaara'. The character was played by a famous finnish actor Oke Tuuri.
The original "Pigalle" was of German origin, although it's singer Bill Ramsey was born in USA. Bill was a jazz man and worked in the US military radio station AFN as a producer. He became friends with a German jazz pianist and arranger Heinz Gietz, who also was working with such top stars as Caterina Valente. Gietz proposed that also Bill should try his wings in popular music. Bill thought his proposition was interesting. And when asked whether he would rather do rock and roll or something amusing, the jazz singer opted for the latter. Ramsey would later be a popular singer and entertainer and film star in Germany. "Pigalle" was inserted in at least two of his movies. The song (written by Gietz) tells of course a story about Paris' red-light district Pigalle - "the worlds greatest mouse trap".

Here's the pair:

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