Mauri "Moog" Konttinen (see previous entry) was very active figure in pop music in 80's and in the beginning of 90's. He had several bands and one of the them was called Moogetmoogs in 1985-1993. This band was famous for covering several 60's hits with their inimitable style and witty lyrics. Their biggest success was the second single "Kolmen minuutin muna" (Three minute egg) in 1991. The original tune was performed by the Canadian rock group Bachman-Turner Overdrive (BTO) as "You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet". This was the first big international hit for the group in 1974. The main figures in the band were the guitarist Randy Bachman and the singer and bass guitarist C.F. (Fred) Turner. BTO had a string of hit albums and singles in the 70's, until 1977, when Randy left for solo career.
Heikki "Pedro" Hietanen is a Finnish musician, who has played keyboards in groups like Wigwam, Pepe & Paradise, and his own group Pedro's Heavy Gentlemen. This Gentlemen group recorded "Miljoonan markan pakarat" (Buttocks worth of a million Finnish Marks (Finnish Mark or "Markka" preceded the "Euro" as our currency)) in 1991 featuring a lady called Marjo Leinonen as a lead singer. The song tolds a story about a woman who builds her quite successful career on her buttocks. The original was an old calypso song called "Black But Sweet" and it was written and performed by Frederick Wilmoth Hendricks, better known as Wilmoth Houdini. He was born in Trinidad, but in 1928 settled in New York. There he began an extensive recording career as calypso singer and songwriter that would continue through the 1940s. Houdini was the first calypsonian to have a successful career in the United States, and was often called the "Calypso King of New York".
The previous entry contained a song about Melina Mercouri. So it is most appropriate now to present a song sung by her. Vieno Kekkonen started her recording career in 1955 with the Finnish version of "Mr. Sandman". She was very active performing and recording in the 50's, being among the most popular Finnish artists for a long time. She recorded "Ei koskaan sunnuntaisin" (Never on sundays) in 1960. It was naturally a big hit, becouse of the success of the movie the song came from. And the movie was "Pote Tin Kyriaki") a 1960 Greek film which tells the story of Ilya, a prostitute who lives in the port of Piraeus in Greece, and Homer, an American tourist. The film starred Melina Mercouriwho sang also this signature song "Ta pedia tou Pirea" (The children of Piraeus). The song and the bouzouki theme of the movie became hits of 1960s and Manos Hadjidakis, the composer, got an Oscar. The movie got an English title "Never on sundays" and the signature song was recorded by a multitude of artists. The English language version made by Connie Francis (b. Concetta Rosa Maria Franconero ) in 1961 became an international hit. Here's the triple:
Tapani Kansa (see previous entry) recorded "Melina" in 1976. It was a hit and it has since been among the most popular of Tapani's songs. It suits very well for his voice and the deliverance is more gentle and toned down than in most of Kansa's offerings. The original song was sung in 1975 by a Spaniard named Camilo Blanes Cortés, better known as Camilo Sesto. He also composed the song and wrote the lyrics. The song tells about the famous Greek actress Melina Mercouri. Camilo's breakthrough came by plying the main role in the Spanish version of 'Jesus Christ Superstar' in 1975. Until this day, Camilo Sesto has sold more than 120 million albums worldwide.
Lasse Mårtensson (see previous entry) recorded "On ihmeen hyvä tulla kotiin" (It's wonderfully good to come home) in the last days of 1966. He also wrote the Finnish lyrics, telling the story of a prisoner dreaming about his home-coming (similar theme as in the original song). It became a sizeable hit for him in 1967. The original was a country & western tune "Green Green Grass Of Home" composed by an American songwriter Claude "Curly" Putman. It was recorded by many, but became a massive worldwide hit when sung by Tom Jones in 1966. The first recording in 1965 was done by country & western singer Johnny Darrell. He established a trend of recording "lyrically adventurous" songs that would later become big hits for other artists. These were, in addition to "Green Grass", "Ruby (Don't Take Your Love to Town)" and "The Son of Hickory Holler's Tramp". How unlucky a man ...
Juha Eirto was a popular singer in the 50's. He had a classical training in singing (his father was an opera singer) and this clearly had impact on his popular music recordings. His most famous song is "Tiikerihai" (Tiger shark), recorded in 1955. It is one of the ultimate classics of Finnish popular music. And again - like the other 50's classic "Kuningaskobra" (see previous entry) this isn't actually a love song .... The original was an instrumental record called "Tiger Shark" and recorded in the 30's by a group called Hawaiian Islanders. In spite of the name, the group wasn't from Hawaii, but from Birmingham, England! This steel guitar group included brothers Hodgkinson led by Peter, the eldest brother. Peter was also the composer of "Tiger Shark". I'm not aware of any other vocal versions of this tune, but perhaps those exist ...
Now when we have a couple of days off ahead of us, let's listen to Kristian (see previous entry) sing about "Vapaapäivä" (Day off). For some reason Kristian was particularly fond of doing covers of Italian hits. This is one of many, and one of his best. It was released in 1968 as Kristian's second single. The original was called "La Sorpresa" (The surprise) and performed by Jimmy Fontana (b. Enrico Sbriccoli) in the Italian TV song contest "Canzonissima" in 1968. Jimmy is famous Italian actor, composer and singer, especially known for the worldwide hit in 1971 "Che sará" that he performed and co-wrote.
Kisu (see previous entry) recorded "Väliäkös sillä sitten on" (Does it really matter then) in 1970 as his first solo single after quitting job as a drummer in Topmost and Kirka's backing group. It was a hit and helped to launch his short but successful career as a pop singer. The original was composed by Albert Hammond and performed by Joe Dolan (b. Joseph Francis Robert Dolan) and was titled "Make Me Act The Fool For You". It wasn't a big hit like other Hammond (and Hazelwood) -penned songs "You're Such A Good Looking Woman" and "Make Me An Island", but still - catchy quality stuff. Joe Dolan was born in Ireland, and cut his first single already in 1964, which made it to number 4 in Irish charts. The international breakthrough came in 1969 with "Make Me An Island" topping the charts all over the world.
Carola (see previous entry) recorded "Kuinkas käy nyt" (How it's gonna go now) as the b-side of her second single in 1963. The a-side was a cover of Neil Sedaka's Italian hit "Terza luna", but this b-side is much more exciting. Somehow it is still sounding fresh today. As it happens, it was also a cover of an Italian hit. The original song was called "Stessa spiaggia stesso mare" (Same beach, same sea). The performer was Piero Focaccia, who had only two big hits in the 60's, of which this is the first one. The other Piero, the composer of the song Piero Soffice, had more success writing many hits for several Italian artists in the 60's.
The brothers whose first names vere Jouko and Kosti and family name Saari made their breakthrough in 1968 when their first single was a big hit. Their second single in 1969 was "Menee mikä menee" (What goes, goes). The singing style of the brothers was not far from other popular duos of the 60's - Walker Brothers and our Swedish neighbours Tom & Mick. It was quite unique in Finland those days and the Saari Brothers had considerable success in the end of 60's and in the beginning of 70's. Also a third brother Paavo joined them for awhile. However, the popularity diminished and they stopped gigging and recording in 1979. The original tune "A Good Thing Going" was an obscure track from Engelbert Humperdinck (b. Arnold George "Gerry" Dorsey). Gerry was born in India, but migrated to UK in the 40's. He started his recording career already in the 50's but rose to fame in 1967 when manager George Mills adviced him to adopt a more showy name of the famous German opera composer Engelbert Humperdinck as his stage name.
We end this mini-series of Paula Koivuniemi with the record "Sata kesää, tuhat yötä" (Hundred summers, thousend nights), released in 1981. This driving disco tune re-vitalized her declining career at the time and became one of her greatest hits. The original song was called "Boogie woogie dancing shoes" and was performed by Claudja Barry. Claudja was born in Jamaica, raised in Toronto and later based in Germany. Prior to her solo career, Claudja Barry was briefly a member of Boney M (from 1975 to 1976). The "Boogie Woogie Dancin' Shoes" was taken from her album "I Wanna Be Loved By You", released in 1978. As a single, it became a major hit in Canada and Europe. The song was the product of Lollipop, a German disco label, formed by producer Jürgen S. Korduletsch for his own productions and for his wife - Claudja Barry.
"Ilman Minua" (Without me) by Paula Koivuniemi was released as a single in 1986. This dramatic ballad was well suited for Paula's voice and it has since remained one of her most requested songs. The original "Bez Menja" (Without me) was done by none other than Alla Pugacheva of Russia. It was perhaps appropriate for a great diva to sing a love song as "Without me", than more commonly "Without you". The song was composed by famous Latvian composer Pauls Raimonds. Alla's career started in 1965 and is still flourishing today. Recently, a radio station was launched bearing her name - Radio Alla. She enjoys a somewhat iconic status in Russia and is the most successful all-time-Soviet performer in terms of record sales and popularity. In 1991 she became the last person to be named a "People's Artist of the USSR".
Let's now take 3 in a row from Paula Koivuniemi (see previous entry). "Kuuleeko yö" (Does the night hear) was released as a single in 1987, and has since secured a permanent place in her repertoire. It has become one of Paula's classics. The original song "Come vorrei" (As I Would Want) was performed by the famous Italian singing group Ricchi & Poveri(The Rich & The Poor). The group was formed in 1967 by Franco Gatti, Angela Brambati, Angelo Sotgiu and Marina Occhiena. Marina left the group in 1981, after which they continued as a 3-piece. The group has had several mega-hits in Italy and Europe and they have sold over 20 million records.
Laila Kinnunen was the most popular Finnish female singer in the first part of the 60's. She was the first one to represent Finland in the Eurovision Song Contest - in the year 1961. She recorded several hits and starred in many TV shows. Laila also recorded some songs with her sister Ritva. One of them was "Pojat" (The Boys) in 1962. The Finnish lyrics of the song are quite different than in the original song "Yes, My Darling Daughter" that were considered to be quite risque at the time - in the 40's. The song tells about a mother teaching her daughter in dealing with courting males. The song was written and composed by famous American songwright Jack Lawrence and it has been recorded by numerous artists in numerous versions. But the first one in 1940 was cut by Dinah Shore (b. Frances Rose Shore) as her first recording. Dinah was most popular during the Big Band era of the 1940s and 1950s.
Italian songs became especially popular in Finland in the latter part of the 50's. The reason for that was probably the success of Italian movies at the same time. In 1957 altogether FOUR Finnish singers recorded "Maruzella", a song made famous in finalnd by Italian Umberto Marcato. One of those 4 was Seija Karpiomaa. Seija was known for her dark alto voice. She also played harmonica and guitar. Her singing career was a short one, lasting only until 1962. "Maruzella" was the B-side of her first record which was a great success. The original song titled "Maruzzella" was composed and first performed by the Neapolitan singer legend, Renato Carosone. The song was dedicated to his wife Marisa, and is sometimes referred as 'the official song of Naples'. There was also a movie (directed by Luigi Capuano) in 1956 called "'Maruzzella' in which Renato played a part.
Tapani Kansa (see earlier entry) recorded several covers in the early yeras of his career in the 60's and 70's. One of the most popular was "Päättyneet on päivät" (The days are over), or the "Zai-zai-zai" -song as it is also referred, in 1968. The original one is - of course - from Italy. A singer named Riccardo Del Turco performed it as "Uno Tranquillo" (A calm one). Riccardo had a couple of other hits too, but he wasn't actually a superstar in italy. This song became worldwide hit when recorded by the Tremeloes as "Suddenly You Love Me".
Let's listen to one fine Finnish novelty cover. Ismo Kallio was not a singer, but an actor and very popular one, and is still today. He's become known especially for his comic roles, but he's played in wide range of roles in theatre and in 31 movies. In the 60's he also recorded various novelty records, and one of them was "Arabi Ahab" in 1962. Today this kind of record is definitely not politically correct, but in those days it was quite OK to tell a story about an arab and his camel and his mistress Fatima. The original tune "Ahab, The Arab" was composed and performed by Ray Stevens (b. Harold Ray Ragsdale), famous for his many, many novelty records in the 60's, which often employed canned laugh tracks. "Ahab" was one of Stevens' biggest hits and contributed greatly to his popularity. It reached number 5 on the Billboard chart in 1962.
Katri Helena (b. Katri Helena Koistinen) is the Finnish icon for the female singers. She has recorded over 400 songs, published some 30 albums and the sales of her records has exceeded 1 million units many years ago - for those she has earned 14 Gold Records, Katri Helena started her recording career in 1963 and is still making succesful albums. She has represented Finland in ESC twice - in 1979 and 1993. In 1965 she recorded "Lui". It is quite representative of her style at the time. The rhythmic song became favourite among the youth. The original song "Lui" (He) was performed by the Italian songstress Rita Pavone. Rita's tomboy looks and acts were quite a novelty in those days. She had chart success in the 60's all over Europe and even in the USA.
Update: On 27th of March, 2009 I added Finnish rock version done by the group 'Se'.