Sunday, November 30, 2008

Warsaw nights - Samppanjaa

We now celebrate the end of our Finnpicks Disco Week by drinking campagne with Lea Laven. She recorded one fine example of Finnish disco called "Samppanjaa" (Champagne) in 1983. The original song didn't actually tell about drinking champagne, but was called "Warsaw nights" And it really was from Poland (although heavily produced by Germans). The song was performed by a Warsaw group called Dwa Plus Jeden (2+1 in Polish, and yes, it was three of them). It was sometimes considered as Polish Abba, but it's hard to see why. The band was fronted by sexy Elzbieta Dmoch who also took care of the lead singing. He was accompanied by two bearded guys who seemed not to have any active role on stage. They sang partly in English, as you can hear also in this song.

Here's the pair:

Musique Magique - Mennäänks meille

Lea Laven (see previous entry) cut several disco records. One of them was "Mennäänks meille" (Let's go to my place) was released in 1982. The original is again coming fron the Frenchmen Jean Kluger and Daniel Vangarde (real name Bangalter) that produced and wrote this for Ottawan in 1982 as "Musique Magique". The song is of course worldwide known with the English title "Crazy Music".

Here's the pair:

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Raising My Family - Ihanaa Elämää

Anita Hirvonen (see previous entry) did her share of Finndisco. One fine example is "Ihanaa Elämää" (Wonderful life) recorded in 1982. It was somewhat different performance than the original one, done in Anita's own style. The original "Raising My Family" was made to worldwide hit in 1980 by singer songwriter Steve Kekana. Steve, born in 1958 in South Africa, lost his sight at age five, but with over twenty albums to his credit, has been a consistent force in the South African music scene since the early 1980’s.

Here's the pair:

Friday, November 28, 2008

Haut les mains - Anna kulta anna

Well, this is pure classic Disco. Mona Carita (real name Mona Hautanen) recorded "Anna kulta anna" (Let me, darling, let me) in 1981. It was destined to be big hit and it was. Mona Carita was picked up and recruited in pop business while attending Paula Koivuniemi's recording session. She and her girlfriend formed a duo named Cissy and made a single that didn't go nowhere. But Mona Carita continued as solo artist and broke through with the cover of Boney M's Rasputin in 1979. However it was probably hard to finad suitable material for her vocal abilities, and her career faded shortly after the disco boom. The original song "Haut les mains" (Hands up) was done by disco duo Ottawan. They were fronted by Martinique-born lead singer Jean Patrick and a girl named Annette, with Frenchmen Jean Kluger and Daniel Vangarde producing and songwriting. We have heard of Kluger-Vangarde before (see previous entry "Kun kohdattiin"). In addition to "Hands Up", Ottawan did also another absolute Disco Classic, "D.I.S.C.O". BTW, the band is said to be created to appeal especially to the gay section of the disco community. We present here both the French and the English versions of the song.

Updated on 01.01.2010: added another popular Finnish version from 1989 by Kikka.

Here's the bunch:

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Amada mia, amore mio - Jos mulle sydämesi annat

Finnpicks Disco Week proudly presents Silhuetit, a vocal group that performed "Jos mulle sydämesi annat" (If you give me your heart) in 1977. It was the only hit of the short-lived group. It consisted of 4 male singers Arto Alaspää and Martti Metsäketo and two female singers Irina Milan and Marianne Nyman. All of them have had some success in the music business on their own. Especially Irana Milan has a long career starting already in the 60's. The original was a song of Italian origin but sung in Spanish (in addition to the title/refrain there was actually only one other sentence: "la noche me habla de ti") by a band that also had Spanish name "El Pasador". Like Silhuetit, El Pasador remained a One Hit Wonder. They were basically a studio project by Celso Valli, an Italian producer, songwriter and an all-around Italian disco dude, who also co-wrote this catchy "Amada mia, amore mio" song.

Here's the pair:

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Maria no mas - Tää onnea on

Finnpicks Disco Week continues now with Meiju Suvas singing "Tää onnea on" (This is happiness), released as a single and on an album in 1982. The album sold 60000 items and earned a Diamond Disc for Meiju. Meiju was very popular artist in the 80's performing mainly disco-orientated cover songs. In the 90's she turned into covering Spanish and Greek songs, many picked by herself. She is still performing and recently celebrated her 25th year as a performer. Despite the Spanish title, the original was a Dutch song and sung by a duo with a French name - Fantastique. And this style of disco music was labeled as Italo Disco. So very international mix! The duo comprised the talents of Dick Das and Astrid Leuweringen. They had a couple of hits in the beginning of 80's. But rarely heard since.

Here's the pair:

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Let Me Sing - Luotan sydämen ääneen

Next in Finnpicks Disco is Lady Paula. Paula Koivuniemi (see previous entry). She performed "Luotan sydämen ääneen" (I'll trust in the voice of the heart) in 1982. It was released as a single and became one her biggest hits. The original song was called "Let Me Sing" and came from Belgium. It was performed by Emly Starr, sometimes called "Disco Queen Of The Benelux". Emly started her career with artist name "Heidi", but changed it in 1975 when she met singer-composer-producer Tony Winter alias Kick Dandy. Later - in order to make Emly's stage-act visually more interesting - dancers were added, and Emly Starr Explosion or ESE was the new extended name. This song was released in 1981, in the year that Emly represented Belgium in ESC. And it's written - as most of her songs - by her producer Kick Dandy.

Here's the pair:

Monday, November 24, 2008

Mellow Lovin' - Suoraan suoneen

Finnpicks Disco Week starts by going straight into your veins! Päivi (not Paunu but Päivi Kautto-Niemi) recorded "Suoraan suoneen" (Straight into the vein) in 1978. It was her biggest hit. And still considered as some kind of camp classic. Päivi Kautto-Niemi is still known as one of the epitomes of Finnish 70's disco music. Even if her active recording career lasted only from 1977 to 1979, she is still performing and also making records every once in awhile. The original song was entitled "Mellow Lovin'", and was performed by Judy Cheeks. Judy was born in Miami, Florida and is the daughter of gospel singer and preacher Rev. Julius Cheeks. With "Mellow Lovin' she hit the American Dance charts in 1978. This remained her only success until the 1990s, when she re-emerged with a string of other dance chart hits. "Mellow Lovin'" and the eponymous album was produced by Anthony Monn in Giorgio Moroder's Musicland Studios in Munich. Monn also composed this song, while Judy co-wrote the lyrics.

Here's the pair:

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Pardonne-moi ce caprice d'enfant - Anteeksi suo

Katri Helena (see previous entry) released "Anteeksi suo" (Forgive me) in 1973. It was one her biggest hits, and the song has become a definite karaoke favourite. The original song was called "Pardonne-moi ce caprice d'enfant" (Forgive me this childish whim), and it was an early hit for French superstar Mireille Mathieu in 1970. This song is composed by Patricia Carli, a successful singer herself.

Here's the pair:

Fairytale - Ihmemaa

Our old friend Taiska (see previous entry) released her hit single "Ihmemaa" (Wonderland) in 1977. It has some kind of wonderful naiviety that still charms people. The original song was called "Fairytale" and it was sung by Irish singer Dana in 1976. Dana is famous for representing Ireland in the Eurovision Song Contest in 1970 and winning with "All Kinds of Everything". She has been popular singer throughout these years, but mainly in her home country. BTW, the song is composed by Paul Greedus, who also wrote Dracula's Tango (see previous entry).

Here's the pair:

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Milisse mou - Villitsee mun

Anita Hirvonen (see previous entry) recorded "Villitsee mun" (Makes me wild) in 1977. It suited well for Anita and became a minor classic. The original "Milisse mou" was a Greek song written by Manos Hadjidakis and performed by Nana Mouskouri. It was released on her live album in 1975.
As I have had troubles with my file hosting service lately, I try something new here ...

Here's the pair:

Alla fine della strada - Unta en saa

Next week Finnpicks goes disco! But before that, let's get some quick-one's for the weekend with the company of old friends.
Eero Raittinen (see previous entry) recorded "Unta en saa" (I get no sleep) in 1969, and it was a modest hit for him. The original "Alla fine della strada" (At the end of the road) originated again from San Remo Music Festival. In 1969 this song was performed by Italian singer Junior Magli and a British group The Casuals. Let's hear the Casuals' (best known for their "Jesamine" -hit) version. You all of course recognize the song being the same as "Love Me Tonight" that Tom Jones made into an international success.

Here's the pair:

Friday, November 21, 2008

Dorogoi dlinnoyu - Oi niitä aikoja

This is the one song that has - perhaps more than any other pop song - raised the question of who can rightfully claim to be the original author. Päivi Paunu recorded "Oi niitä aikoja" (Oh those times) in 1968. After 2 years modest success as a folk singer, this was her big break-through and the one song she's later been labeled with. She represented Finland in 1972 Eurovision Song Contest together with Kim Floor performing the song "Muistathan". Päivi ended her professional singing career in the 80's. The original song is an old Russian romance "Dorogoi dlinnoyu" (By a long road) composed by Boris Fomin. The oldest recorded version I could find was done in the 1920's by Alexander Vertinsky, a legendary Russian singer, cabaret artist and actor who had a great influence on the Russian tradition of artistic singing. The song has since been recorded by several Russian artists. It even travelled across Europe and to the United States; Maria Schell sang it in the Richard Brooks film "The Brothers Karamazov" in 1958. An American folk singer Gene Raskin wrote English lyrics to it and performed it, with his wife Francesca, in the Greenwich Village folk circuits in New York. This first English version of the song as "Those Were The Days" was recorded and popularized in 1962 by folk group Limeliters. The Limeliters had never a true chart-topping hit record, but they were well known for their large repertoire of songs, which are performed on their more than 25 albums. Paul McCartney heard Gene & Francesca play "Those Were the Days" in a London club and recalled the song when picking material for his protégée Mary Hopkin. And the rest is of course history. It became one of the most popular songs worldwide - ever.

Updated on 15.08.2010: added Annikki Tähti's original Finnish language version (1958).

Here's the bunch:

Thursday, November 20, 2008

L'amour en heritage - Rakkaus

We end this "Love" -mini series with the song entitled simply "Rakkaus" (Love). It was recorded by Lea Laven (real name Lea Luukinen) in 1986. Lea's specialty is her dark and low voice. She started her career in the end of 60's doing mainly rock gigs. Her big breakthrough came in 1974 when her cover of Cher's "Dark Lady" that was a huge hit in Finland. During her 40 years in business she has been awarded 1 Platinum and 7 Gold Records for album sales. The original song "Only Love", or "L'amour en heritage" (Love in heritage), was composed by famous French composer Vladimir Cosma and made to an international hit by Nana Mouskouri. Nana was born as Ioanna Mouskhouri in Crete, Greece and has sold over 230 million records worldwide in a career spanning over 5 decades, making her one of the world's best-selling female recording artists. In 1985 Mouskouri recorded "Only Love", the theme song to the BBC TV series "Mistral's Daughter". The song topped the UK charts and was also a hit for Nana in its foreign language versions. As the composer is French, we present here the French version.

Here's the pair:

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Lonely Lovers Symphony - Sinfonia rakkauden

Let's continue the"Love theme". Fredi (see previous entry) recorded "Sinfonia rakkauden" (Symphony of Love) in 1973, and it was released as a single paired with his cover of David Bowie's "Starman". Perhaps deservedly, "Symphony" has outlived "Starman". Fredi's interpretation fits perfectly in this song and the melody is one of the most memorable ever. The tune is composed by none other than Ludwig van Beethoven and is better known as "Für Elise". But the version Fredi covered was done by one Giorgio Moroder in 1973. Moroder cut several singles as a solo singer under the name Giorgio during 1966-1975, and this was one of them. Giorgio Moroder is an Italian-born record producer, songwriter and performer, whose work with synthesizers during the 1970s and 1980s was a significant influence on new wave, techno and electronic music in general. Particularly well known are Donna Summer's disco hits produced by him. As a singer ... well let's say that it was a wise move of Giorgio to leave the singing to others and concentrate in the production. Judge yourself by listening to this "Lonely Lovers Symphony".

Here's the pair:

Friday, November 14, 2008

Was ich dir sagen will - Rakkauden jälkeen

This song is one of the absolute classics. "Rakkauden jälkeen" (After the love) was recorded by Carola (see previous entry) and released as a single in the end of the year 1968. Her interpretation is perfect and the arrangement of the song is lighter and thus more sensitive as in the original. It's not so heavy on the piano, although the piano parts are essential to the song. The original song was composed and performed by the Austrian superstar Udo Jürgens (real name Udo Jürgen Bockelmann) in 1967. There's a piece of information at Udo's website that the English version of the song entitled "The Music Played" became an worldwide success in 1969, but I can't recall ever hearing the English version. It seems to have been especially popular in Japan. Udo is of course best known for winning the 1966 Eurovision Song Contest with "Merci, chérie".

Updated on 18.2.2009: added Matt Monro's English language version.

Here's the triplet:

Thursday, November 13, 2008

One More Ride on the Merry-Go-Round - Milloin Saavut

There's something magical about this song. Anita Hirvonen (real name Anita Lindgren) recorded "Milloin Saavut" (When will you arrive) in 1977, when Anita did massive come-back after some leaner years. For some reason, you want to hear this tune over and over again. Anita was and still is definitely one of the most popular singers in Finland. Her career started already in the 60's and she's still going strong. Her style is somewhat matured along the years. The tomboy-Anita has evolved into romantic Ms. Hirvonen. The original song was written by melody and lyric masters Neal Sedaka and Howard Greenfield, and it was first recorded by Peggy Lee in 1970. This fine version here, however, is by a legendary cabaret singer Jane Olivor, who recorded it in 1976 on her first albun "First Night". Jane is often favourably compered to Barbra Streisand and for a reason. Both Jane and Anita have soul in their voices, even if they aren't exactly soul singers. I try to find also the Peggy Lee's original version and present it here later ...

Updated on 18.07.2010: added Kössi Härmä's original Finnish version (1971).

Here's the pair:

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Harvey and Sheila - Hanna ja Niilo

One of the definite Finnish novelty record classics is "Hanna ja Niilo" (Hanna and Niilo). Before I heard the original (novelty) version, I thought that Jukka Virtanen had made it up all by himself. But this wasn't his original idea after all. Jukka is famous Finnish all-round entertainer and his lyrics have been presented in Finnpicks before; see entry here. He recorded "Hanna ja Niilo" in 1969, encouraged by the good reception the song got in a night club floor show. The original song "Hava nagila" is a Hebrew folk song, the title meaning "Let us rejoice". It is a song of celebration, but the story that's been told in these novelty versions, is far from celebration. It's the familiar story of different stages of relationship, with a heavy dose of abbreviations involved ;-). The original novelty version entitled "Harvey and Sheila" was done by US parodist, satirist and television producer Allan Sherman on his album "My Son, the Celebrity" in 1963.

Updated on 25.03.2010: added Jope Ruonansuu's version.
Here's the pair:

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Ma Jalousie - Kun kohdattiin

Katri Helena covered several French songs. Perhaps more than other Finnish singers. So it's quite appropriate that we end our round-trip in France. Katri recorded "Kun kohdattiin" (When we met) in 1973. And the song was released as a single in the same year. It is still one of the the favourites among her audience. The tune was written by French songwriters and producers Jean Kluger and Daniel Vangarde. In 70's they wrote many disco hits for Ottawan, Gibson Brothers, Amii Stewart a.o. This song was originally called "Ma Jalousie" (My jealousy) and was performed by a French singer with a famous non-French name - Ringo (aka Ringo Willy Cat). His real name was Guy Bayle and he had some national hits in the 70's, but didn't really make it internationally. This "Ma Jalousie" seems to be rare recording to catch, so the example here is not of best quality.

Here's the pair:

Monday, November 10, 2008

Alle Porte Del Sole - Vasten auringon siltaa

The third stop in our around-the-world trip is Italy. We seem to end up there ever so often. Katri Helena recorded "Vasten auringon siltaa" (Against the bridge of the sun) in 1975, and it was releasd as a single. It has become one of her most popular songs ever. And that's no wonder, since the melody, the lyrics (by Chrisse Johansson) and the prensentation are perfect. The original was performed in 1973 by famous Italian songstress Gigliola Cinquetti, and was entitled "Alle Porte Del Sole" (To the door of the sun). Gigliola is best remembered as the young teenage girl winning the Eurovision Song Contest in 1964 with "Non ho l'eta", and 10 years later finishing second - after Abba. "Alle Porte del Sole" was recorded in English by Al Martino in 1975 and made US charts. Gigliola Cinquetti has nowadays become a professional journalist and a respected TV presenter.

Here's the pair:

Friday, November 7, 2008

Dancing all night - Olet ystäväin

The second stop in our round trip around the world with Katri Helena is Japan. Katri recorded "Olet ystäväin" (You're my friend) in 1980 and it was released as a B-side to her single "Johnny Blue" in 1981. There's something unexplicably fascinating about this simple song. The original one was written by a Japanese singer/songwriter Monta Yoshinori, and entitled "Dancing All Night". Only the refrain was in English, the rest was sung in Japanese. This record was the debut single for Monta, and it was released in 1980 under the name "Monta & Brothers". The single went quickly to Number 1 in Japanese charts and stayed there for 10 consecutive weeks. It was the most popular song in Japan that year. And has become a great karaoke favourite. It's very rare that a Japanese pop song gets covered in Finland, but this was a well-deserved exception. Monta Yoshinori has since made a succesful career also in movies.

Here's the pair:

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Sadie (The Cleaning Lady) - Äiti kuin äidinäiti

Let's now take a round trip around the world with Katri Helena. Well at least a half way around ... And we start from Australia. In 1968 Katri recorded "Äiti kuin äidinäiti" (Mother like mother's mother). It might well have been the first Finnish feminist song proclaiming emancipation of women. Although in humorous manner. The original song "Sadie (The Cleaning Lady)" was performed by Australian pop star John Farnham. He was born in Essex, UK, but emigrated to Australia in 1959. His first commercially-successful recording was this novelty song entitled "Sadie (The Cleaning Lady)". When released in 1967, it hit No. 1 on the Australian charts. Selling 180 000 copies in Australia, it was the largest-selling single by an Australian artist of the decade. John Farnham has remained one of Australia's best-known performers over a career spanning 40 years. He is the only Australian artist to have a number one record in five consecutive decades. During the 80's he for a while fronted Little River Band. And had a worldwide hit as solo artist with "You're The Voice" in 1986.

Here's the pair:

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Humba Tätärä - Humppa humppa humppa tättärää

Now, I thought "humppa" was a Finnish invention. No way it was. But I guess the Finns invented the way to dance to "humppa". "Humba", as it is called in Central Europe, or "Oom-pah music" is traditional German, Austrian, Swiss and Eastern European music. It's specially performed at celebrations of Octoberfest, a traditional Bavarian festival. The term "Humppa"/Humba"/'Oom-Pah' is in imitation of the downbeats played by the bass or tuba and the off-beats played by other instruments to provide rhythmic accompaniment for the melody. In the end of 50's some Finnish orchestra's began to make arrangements for old foxtrot dance tunes in the "humppa" style. And the Finns were eager to adapt it in dancing. The "humppa" craze has happily lived through the years. In 1964 Eemeli (real name Esko Toivonen) released "humppa" single "Humppa humppa humppa tättärää". It was actually not a dance tune, but a tribute to "Oom-pah music". Eemeli was a Finnish comedian. He's style was very straight-faced, and you never saw him laugh. In a sense he was a larger and a more talkative version of Buster Keaton. He starred several movies and TV -shows and made also some novelty recordings. This particular "Humba" -song was of course of German origin. It was called "Humba Tätärä" and composed by songsmith Toni Hammerle, and performed by his friend Ernst Neger. The song was big hit in Switzerland at the time. Today the refrain is frequently sung by the suppporters of many German Football clubs. The MC of the supporters shouts via his megafone "Gebt mir H, Gebt mir U, Gebt mir M, Gebt mir B, Gebt mir A". And then the crowd goes "Humba, humba, humba tätärää" ...

Here's the pair:

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Africa - Kuusamo

Danny (see previous entry) turned from 60's pop & rock artist into more mainstream pop in the 70's. One - very succesful - example of this is "Kuusamo" released as a single in 1976. Kuusamo is a city in north-eastern Finland. It is very popular as a summer resort and in wintertime the Finns visit in hordes Ruka skiing centrum for downhill- and cross-country skiing. Danny was recently awarded Kuusamo Medal for his merits in making the city famous with this song. The song's original name was something as exotic as "Kuusamo", namely "Africa". It was co-written by Italian legend Toto Cutugno. The first recording was made by Toto's own group, Albatros. They recorded both Italian and English versions. The Italian version was called "L'estate di san Martino" which means "Indian Summer", The same title in French was used in the Joe Dassin's version "L'ete d'Indien'. It was recorded in 1975 and one of the first international hit versions of the song. The song has been covered numerous times all around the world, which only proves taht you can't keep a good melody down.

Here's the triple:

Kuusamo - Danny
Africa - Albatros
L'Ete Indien - Joe Dassin

Monday, November 3, 2008

Da sprach der alte Häuptling der Indianer - Viimeinen Mohikaani

Lasse Liemola lost his pole position as pop idol in the wake of guitar bands in the first years of the sixties. But in 1961 he was still going strong. In the B-side of his big hit "No niin Mary Lou" (see this entry), was "Viimeinen Mohikaani" (The last of the Mohicans). The singing group Four Cats was helping Lasse on this one. I don't know if it was meant to be a childrens song, but it has since been a little folks favourite and that re-released in many childrens song compilations. The original song came from Germany. It was called simply "Da sprach der alte Häuptling der Indianer" (There spoke the old Indian Chief). The song was composed by a genuine German, Werner Scharfenberger, but it is performed by an US-born Gus Backus. Gus was drafted into the United States Air Force in 1956, and soon transferred to Germany, where he married and settled down. He was always interested in rock'n roll and even cut a couple of records in US, but they were not successful. Anyway, he found success in Germany, and in 1960 had a string of 3 huge hits sung in German language. This song is the second one of those. It is the simple story of "how the west was won", and what happened to Indians.

Here's the pair: