Pirkka-Pekka Petelius released "Lellelle" (For Lelle) in 1985 on a single together with "Tra la la" (see previous entry). It tells about a boy's flight to Kuopio, the capitol of Finnish Savonia to meet his girl Lelle. Flight captain Hujanen plays a prominent (Savonian) role ... The original song tells a story about a bus driver who escapes Brixton, London for the tropical island of "Barbados". It was performed by a group called Typically Tropical. It was not a real performing band but recording studio engineers Jeffrey Calvert and Max West joined with some studio musicians, including guitarist Chris Spedding. Calvert had been on vacation in Jamaica, and wanted to write a Reggae song. This came up with in 2 hours on a guitar and piano, in collaboration with West. Calvert and West provided also the vocals and the latter's Tobias Wilcock was also the hero of "Barbados," as the captain of the Coconut Airways. The song went all the way to number 1 in UK in 1975 but remained their only hit.
It's Frederik Friday again!. Frederik recorded "Sheikki Ali Hassan" in 1980. It fit like a glove for him and became a moderate-size hit. The lyrics - made by Juha Vainio - tell about mischievous Sheik Ali Hassan in an unnamed country. Not politically correct these days, I guess. The original song was from the pen of the German songsmith Ralph Siegel. His compositions have been frequently covered in Finland - at least about 30 of those. The original song was titled "Hadschi Halef Omar" and performed by disco stomper group Dschingis Khan. "Hadschi Halef Omar" is not a Sheik but a character in the adventure books written by Karl May, and his whole name is Hadschi Halef Omar Ben Hadschi Abul Abbas Ibn Hadschi Dawud al Gossarah (whoah!). He's the side-kick of the German adventurer Kara Ben Nemsi ('Karl, the Son of the Germans' in Arabic) . Dschingis Khan was a group that was created for 1979 Eurovision Song Contest. Their entry was also called "Dschinghis Khan". It placed in 4th and the group gained some cult status among ESC fans. The group had some succesful singles, but they disbanded in 1985.
Kirka (see previous entry) was a singer of many talents. His repetoire covered pop and rock songs as well as heart-breaking ballads. A fine example of that is his single in 1969 that combined his covers of "Put Your Head My Shoulder" and this "Olen syytön" (I'm not guilty). It's a pure pop song that was later in 1995 successfully covered also the legendary retro-band Agents with Jorma Kääriäinen as vocalist (see previous entry). We present both of those versions here. The original song was recorded 1965 by an obscure British Brumbeat group called The Ugly's. It was written by the members of the band. Ugly's released 5 singles in 1965-1967, but perhaps their choice of moniker was the reason why they didn't ever really make it. This "It's Alright" -song (2nd single) was an 'almost hit' for them. The vocalist Steve Gibbons, however, achieved success later in the 70's with his own group Steve Gibbons Band. Those familiar with SGB will undoubtedly recognize Steve's voice in this song. Pay also attention to the prominent use of a harpsichord.
The First (see previous entry) was a short-lived Finnish beat group in its first encarnation. They recorded "Olet mielessäin" (You are on my mind) in 1967 and it was released as the B -side of their debut single "Perjantai" ("Friday On My Mind" -cover). The First was singing in Hollies-like harmony, but was doing also Bluesbreakers and Hendrix stuff. What made the group somewhat extarordinary was that it was singing in Finnish which was rare at those times. After 3 singles the band broke up, but has resurrected at least three times with different line-ups and it's still active. The original song "You Were On My Mind" was done in 1964 by Canadian folk duo Ian & Sylvia (Tyson). It was written by Sylvia (née Fricker) and released on their third album, "Northern Journey". It was covered in a modified up-tempo version, with somewhat altered lyrics, the following year by the California pop quintet We Five. The song was also a major hit in the UK for Crispian St. Peters.
Katri Helena - our old friend - recorded "Äänesi mä kuulen" (I hear your voice) in 1971 and it was released as a single. It was in a bit different format that was to be expected from Katri. But anyhow, it became very popular song, and it still belongs to her most requested songs. The earnest anti-war lyrics were done by Hector. The original was an Italian song called "La riva bianca, la riva nera" (White river, black river) and performed by famous Italian songstress, actor and TV personality Iva Zanicchi in 1971. This song was one of her big hits. and tells a story about 2 soldiers tired of fighting and basically deciding not to go on any longer. Iva Zanicchi, was also known as "L'aqila di Ligonchio", "The Eagle of Ligonchio" (her birth place). Later years she has been active in many fields, posing for Playboy and becaming politically active. She's presently attending in The European Parliament as Italian representative.
Jouko & Kosti (see previous entry) recorded "Tahdon takaisin sen mikä meni pois" (I want back what went away) in 1968. It was the B-side of their first single "Muisto vain jää". The original was called Bussa Il Vento (The Wind knocks) and it was performed by Armando Savini, an Italian singer. He started his recording career in 1967 and in 1968 he had couple of hits of which this is one fine example. Armando never made it really big, but he's still performing in the Italian dance clubs with his own group.
Even if it's grey and foggy day here in Finland. I have chosen "Kaunis sunnuntai" (Beautiful sunday) to be the song of the day. Arto Sotavalta (see previous entry) released it in 1972. It was his single number 12, and quite popular at the time. The lyrics were done by Arto himself. The original "Beautiful Sunday" was composed - like yesterday's Finnpick - by Daniel Boone (born Peter Green). And this time he performed it himself. The song was a big hit around the world. In 1958 Peter took a stage name Peter Lee Stirling, and released altogether 10 singles between 1963 and 1970. In 1971 he changed his name to Daniel Boone (after the American pioneer). He had several hit records with the new moniker but none of them as big as "Beautiful Sunday". He seems to have been jolly good fellow, becouse in 1972, Boone was the recipient of the "Most Likeable Singer" award from Rolling Stone magazine.
Kai Hyttinen (see previous entry) released "Vieläkin vieläkin vain" (Still over and over again) in 1973 as a B-side of his 18th single "Honolulu". It was not a big hit. but this is a decent version of the original one. A teenage popduo called James Boys had a smash hit in UK with "Over and over" in 1973. The duo consisted of two brothers Bradley and Stewart. But their last name was not James, but Palmer. The boys were only 11-12 years old at the time, and you might hear it in their singing. They remained one-hit-wonders, but returned to pop and recording business in the 90's uder various pseudonyms. This "Over And Over" was composed by Daniel Boone, who had hits in his own right.
It's Frederik Friday! For some weeks now I will be presenting a Frederik (see previous entry) cover every Friday. Frederik has a wide legacy of cover songs , so it's not hard path to follow. We begin with "Juo, juo, juo" (Drink, drink, drink) released in 1976 in the B-side of his "Ramaya" -single. This song is a good representative of Frederiks masculine style. The lyrics are done by Juha Vainio, and do not encourage to excessive drinking, even if the title hints something like that. The original song was likewise called "Drink, Drink, Drink" and performed by the Dutch group George Baker Selection. The group was founded by Johannes 'Hans' Bouwens (a.k.a George Baker) in 1969. He has released several albums both under his own name and 'Selection'. The most famous song of the group was of course "Una Paloma Blanca" in 1975. It was written by George himself as were most of their hits, like this 'drinking song'. When the first version of the band broke up in 1978, it had sold over 20 million records worldwide.
Four Cats is a harmony vocal group that saw the light of the day in 1958 as "Esa Laukka's Quartet", named after its founding member. In 1960 the group changed its name to Four Cats in line with famous international groups Four Freshmen and Four Aces. The group was very popular in the years 1961-65 scoring many hit records, for example "Saku Sammakko" (see previous entry) together with Brita Koivunen. One of their greatest 'solo' hits was "Suuret setelit" (Big money) in 1963. The covered song was "Greenback Dollar" originally written and performed by Hoyt Axton. (His mother was Mae Boren Axton, who co-wrote the classic rock 'n' roll song "Heartbreak Hotel", the first major hit for Elvis Presley). Hoyt establised himself as a well-known country music singer-songwriter with a unique earthy style and powerful voice. Many of his songs became well known throughout the world. Among them was this "Greenback Dollar", that was included in his first folk album titled "The Balladeer" (recorded live at the legendary Californian Troubadour nightclub). The song was made into massive hit by Kingston Trio in 1963. The trio was formed in 1957 by Dave Guard, Bob Shane, and Nick Reynolds, who were just out of college. They were greatly influenced by the calypso sounds of Harry Belafonte and other folk artists. It has been told that the group first considered itself primarily a calypso group, and therefore named itself after the capital of Jamaica. The group's first hit was a catchy rendition of a traditional folk song, "Tom Dooley" in 1958. By the time they struck gold with "Greenback Dollar", Guard had already left the group and replaced by John Stewart. The arrival of The Beatles and other rock bands pushed them out from the charts, and they disbanded in 1967.
Seppo Närhi released "Ekan luokan randevuu" (First class reindezvous) as a single in 1976. It was a medium size hit for him. The witty lyrics were again done by Hector (see previous entry) like with our previous Närhi -entry. The original song was called "Third Rate Romance" and performed by country rock band Amazing Rhythm Aces, and written by band member Russell Smith. Aces were an American band that has characterized their music as "American Music" — rock, country, blues, folk, reggae and Latino. This song might be categorized as 'latino-country-rock'. It came from their debut album "Stacked Deck", released in 1975, and as a single it was crossover (rock and country) hit.
Brita Koivunen (see previous entry) and Eino Virtanen were both singers in their own right, but recorded also many duets together. Most of those were novelty songs, like this "Voi hyvä tavaton" (Oh goodness gracious), released as a single in 1961. It is a story of a male doctor, a female patient and a heart that goes 'boom-boudy, boom-boudy, boom, boom, boom'. The song was at the same time covered also by Finnish actors Maikki Länsiö and Esa Saario, and I remember their version beíng the more popular one. The original song was recorded in 1960 in order to promote the movie "The Millionairess", a 1960 romantic comedy film set in London, directed by Anthony Asquith and starring Peter Sellers (The Doctor) and Sophia Loren (The Millionairess) . The song "Goodness Gracious Me" was performed by the leading actors. It became a considerable hit (at least in UK), which is no wonder, becouse the song is marvellous, and the actors deliver it with impeccable charm. Peter Sellers (real name Richard Henry Sellers) is not much of a singer but Sophia Loren (real name Sofia Villani Scicolone) has a very nice voice and has she has recorded well over two dozen songs.
This is the 3rd song in a row with the word "hän" (he/she) in the Finnish title. Fredi (see previous entry) had his first big hit with "Oy sanoi hän" (Ltd said he) released in 1967. The somewhat peculiar lyrics are made by Juha Vainio, telling of some hazards that go with the consumption of alcoholic beverages. The original song was called ""Ha! Ha! Said The Clown"" and was written by UK songwriter Tony Hazzard and performed by Manfred Mann . The other mega success for Mann written by Hazzard was "Fox On The Run". Manfred Mann was one of the most successful British Beat, R&B and pop bands of the 1960s, named after their South African keyboard player and founder, who later led the successful 1970s follow-on group Manfred Mann's Earth Band. This ""Ha-Ha" -song was made after original vocalist Paul Jones had already left for solo career. With the new lead singer Mike d'Abo, the group pursued a soft acoustic pop sound, with a tinge of social comment and surrealism in the lyrics - as in this song.
Carola (see previous entry) released "Se onko hän" (Is it him) in 1970. It was not the first Finnish version of this song, it was done By Marjatta Leppänen a year before (we hope to find also that version to be presented here). Carola's version is impressive and the song fits well to her melancholy voice. The original was written by the legendary Frenchman Gilbert Bécaud (b. François Silly, no wonder he chose another stage name) and it was published in 1967. The best-selling version was recorded as "It Must Be Him" that same year by Texan singer Vikki Carr (real name Florencia Bisenta de Casillas Martinez Cardona, no wonder she chose another stage name. too). It reached No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100. Carr went on to record it in Spanish and Italian, as well. Later years Vikki has had enormous success in the Latin music world.
Markku Suominen was a singer, songwriter and lyricist that started his recording career in 1968. For a short time he was quite popular, making a couple of big hit records. First of them - maybe the biggest one of all - was "Hän" (She) released in 1968. It tells a sad story of young wife dying at early age, told by the reminiscing husband. The same story appears in the original song "Honey" that was written by US songsmith Bobby Russell. His most famous song along with "Honey" is "Little Green Apples," which won him a Song of the Year Grammy Award in 1968. The original recording of "Honey" was made by Bob Shane, a former member of Kingston Trio. His version was well-received but under-marketed and didn't sell. The big bang came when the song was a littel later recorded by Bobby Goldsboro . Bobby started his career by playing guitar for Roy Orbison from 1962 to 1964, but alter he set out on a solo career. He had several hits in the Pop and Country music charts, but his biggest was of course 1968's "Honey". The song, as rumour has it, was recorded in one take. The song has has sold millions of copies worldwide. We present both Bob's and Bobby's versions. Bob's version is of inferior quality, but for the sake of its rarity, it's here.
WARNING! This song sticks into your head. You might be humming this song for the rest of the day. Listen at your own risk! Frederik (see previous entry) recorded 'Oi Leila' (Oh Leila) as a B-side to his "Brasilero" -single in 1977. For some reason this song has been totally left in oblivion, although it should have been a hit. I myself hadn't heard this since two weeks ago. Amazing! The original song "Go Leila" was a hit in Neteherlands in 1976 and was performed by a group called Garnets. It was written by J. Vincent Edwards, who was a one of the original cast members of the London production of "Hair" playing the part of "Vince" almost 2.000 times. As a songwriter and producer over half of his 200 compositions were covered by other artists. The most famous being was the international hit "Right Back Where We Started From" recorded by Maxine Nightingale. There's unfortunately not much to tell about the Garnets. It was a Dutch rock group that recorded for the same record label as Shocking Blue - Pink Elephant, well known in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
As I have lately been quickly running out of bandwidth with my online storage (it seems that many of you are listening!), I have changed to Divshare, at least temporarily.
Let's now go from 'Princess' to 'Primadonna'. "Kattojen primadonna" (Primadonna of the rooftops) was recorded by Arja Koriseva in 1995. Arja was a teacher, but after winning the Finnish Tango Queen title in 1989, she has concentrated in her singing career. She has been among the most popular Finnish female artists ever since, and has been awarded 4 platinum records for album sales. Arja is mostly known for her schalagers and ballads, but this 'Kattojen primadonna' is pure dance pop. The driving lyrics are written by our old friend Hector (see previous entry). The song that Arja covered was included in the Colin Nutleys movie ”BlackJack” in 1990, set in the 'dansband' milieu. One of the main 'characters' of the movie was the fictional group Black Jack, that was transformed into a real band after the movie. The film song was called "Inget stoppar oss nu". The original song was entitled "Inget kan stoppa oss nu" and was written by the famous Swedish Eurovision songsmith Lasse Holm (e.g. "Främling" by Carola Häggkvist was his song). It was meant to be in the Swedish preliminaries for Eurovision Song Contest 1987. But it was withdrawn for some reason. However, the Black Jack's version, released in connection of the movie, became massive hit and has become some kind of emblem for the whole Swedish 'dansband' music.
Robin (see previous entry) won the Finnish Battle of the Bands in 1965 as the vocalist of Cary and The Teasers. As a result he got a recording contract, and his first record was the cover of the Beatles' "Girl". However it was never released. But later in the 60's Robin recorded many hits, and one of the biggest ones was "Prinsessa" (Princess) in 1969. The original song was the German entry in that ýears Eurovision Song Contest and called "Prima Ballerina" (placed 9th). It was performed by a famous Swedish singer Siw Malmkvist. Siw's breakhrough in Sweden took place in 1959, when she won the singing contest 'Melodifestivalen'. She soon became hugely popular singer in Scandinavia and especially in West Germany. She also played in various movies and TV Shows. Siw Malmkvist has recorded about 600 songs in 10 different languages. She is still an active entertainer in Sweden.
Here's another classic B-side. Anita Hirvonen (see previous entry) released "Rantaregee" (The Beach reggae) as a B-side of a single in 1981. This song suited well for Anita, and it was aptly arraged by Veikko Samuli. The original was a kind of monster summer hit for Bill Lovelady in 1980 as "One more Reggae for the Road". The song was also written by him. Bill, as well as being a singer and composer, is also a virtuoso guitarist. His guitar and choral music has been performed worldwide. In 1979 he had another 'reggae' hit with the song "Reggae For It now".
Let's take another "Paras" -song. Paula Koivuniemi (see previous entry) released this tune called simply "Paras" (The Best) as a B-side of a single in 1978. The single sold well and perhaps this song had something to do with it. The original was a sizeable hit for Brotherhood Of Man, a British pop group who won the Eurovision Song Contest in 1976 with "Save Your Kisses for Me. "Beautiful Lover" was released In May 1978 and reached the UK top 20. The group was formed by record producer & composer Tony Hiller and, he wrote this song, too.
Pirkko Mannola (see previous entry), singer, actress and former Miss Finland, recorded lots of songs in the beginning of sixties. Most of them were very popular, and most of them were cover versions. One of those was "Maailman paras levy" (World's best record), released as a single in 1962. The lyrics of the song reflect interesting change of roles, as compared to the original song. The girl in Pirkko's song thinks the record is great mainly becouse she got it from the boy she loves, and the boy in the original thanks those who put the 'bomp' in the record that made the girl fall in love with him. The original song was performed and co-written by Barry Mann (born Barry Imberman). Barry Mann was a staff songwrtiter, and did most of his work with his wife Cynthia Weil. Perhaps the most famous song written by them is "You've Lost That Loving Feeling" for Righteous Brothers. In 1961 Mann sang this novelty "Bomp" -song that made the Top 10, which parodied the nonsense words of the then recently popular doo-wop songs.
Updated on 01.01.2010: added Pirkko's German language version "Bam-schi-bam" as Pirko Manola.
This is the third (and final, for now) entry in our Finnpicks series of songs with titles of doubled female names. Juhamatti (real name Jussi Mäkelä) was at the peak of his popularity in the 80's. earning 4 gold records during that decade. In the 1977 he recorded his first great hit "Fanny Fanny". The original song was written and performed by Frederic Francois (real name Francesco Barracatto). He was born in Sicily, but soon emigrated in Belgium with his family. He started his first band at the age of 12, but he made his real debut in 1969 when recording whith his new nickname (taken from Fredric-Francois Chopin, I guess). Frederic had a charismatical success in France, but also in Canada, Belgium and the Switzerland. The name of Frederic Francois might be mostly related to the 70’s decade, he still has a great fame and success especially among the French music listeners.
Frederik (real name Ilkka Sysimetsä) is still one of the most popular Finnish male singers, although his recording career started already 40 years ago in 1968. He adopted his stage name after the Danish Crown Prince Frederick, but the 'c' was dropped out as the name would be too difficult to write in Finnish. Frederik developed a macho image - not unlike Tom Jones - in the 70's, and it has stayed with him since. And it's often reflected in his songs. This "Linda Linda" is however not a very macho song. Frederik recorded it in 1979. He has recorded hundreds of songs, and I bet we hear some of them in future Finnpicks. The original song, also titled as "Linda Linda", comes from Netherlands. The Dutch pop group Tee Set, who had a worldwide hit with "Ma Belle Amie" in 1969, had a big European hit with this one in 1979. The song was written by the band's guitarist and vocalist Peter Tetteroo.
Seppo Hanski was for a short time one of the most popular Finnish singers in the 60's. He was actually a saxophonist and was more into jazz music, but started his recording career in 1965 cutting a tango tune. Later in the same yea´r his breakthrough came with the "Dona Dona", a song that became the biggest selling record for the latter part of 1965. Seppo had a couple of other big hits but unfortunately he lost his voice in tonsils operation and had to withdraw from the pop scene. The first popular English language version of the song titled as "Donna Donna" was done by Joan Baez on her debut album "Joan Baez" 1960. The original song was written as "Dana Dana" in Yiddish, for the musical play "Esterke" (1940-1941). It was composed by Sholom Secunda, a Jew living in the USA, and the song was written in days of Nazism. The original lyrics tell a story of how "calves are born and soon are slaughtered with no hope of being saved, only those with wing like swallow will not ever be enslaved". Undoubtedly describing the moood of the Jews under Nazis' rule. So quite a long shot from the Finnish version's beautiful poetic verses. I guess a few Finns knew about this background of the song at the time it was a hit.
This time we meet again Tapani Kansa. He had a smash hit with "Käymme yhdessä ain" (We will always be together) in 1968. It was one of the most popular songs of that year and it has been re-released on numerous oldies compilations ever since. And the song has been a standard play at weddings. Tapani may have covered the Swedish version of the song sung by the baritone Gunnar Wiklund, but the original tune was a German one. The song called "Dunja Du" was written and performed by a popular German schlager singer Ronny (real name Wolfgang Roloff) in 1966. He was a skilled recording engineer in the 50's but had sucess also a singer since 1954. At the end of 1963 he adopted the name Ronny and had his first number one hit in Germany "Oh My Darling Caroline" in 1964. Lots of other hits followed and among them "Dunja Du" in 1966.
This was a tough song to get by - I mean the original version of course. Our old friends Jouko & Kosti recorded "Sillä lailla pallo pomppii" (That's the way the ball bounces) in 1971. It was the flip side of "Sisäinen kauneus" (see entry here), and was a modest hit for the boys. The original was recorded by another duo - Steve & Albert and was titled "Follow The Bouncing Ball". The song wasn't a hit and in fact I hadn't heard it until a couple of days ago. which is a shame, becouse the song is an irresistibly catchy pop piece. No wonder it caught the ear of some Finnish recording business people. The "Steve" was Steve Rowland and the "Albert" was Albert Hammond. Steve was an US actor and musician that found his way via Spain into UK in the 60's and ended up producing thirteen Top Ten hits for Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich. He also discovered Peter Frampton and The Herd, and with "Way Of Life" had UK Singles Chart hit with his own group, The Family Dogg, in which Albert was also a member. Steve and Albert had already been singing together in Spain and before Family Dogg they even tried as a duo. And that's when "Follow The Bouncing Ball" was recorded. In later years Albert Hammond made a very succesful career as a solo singer and songwriter. I guess we will meet him in the future Finnpicks ...
The final entry of our Armi Aavikko -series is "Tahdon tänään saada" (I will get some today). It was also recorded in 1981 and released as a single together with a version of "My Boy Lollipop". Armi's version is quite different from the original. But much more different is another Finnish cover of this same song - made in 1987 by a group called Honey B and the T-Bones. They are both good versions so both deserve to be presented here. The original song was made in the 60's bya a Danish teen boy band The Lollipops. They had tremendous success in Scandinavia in those days, and they were the first teen pop group to break through. The group consisted of brothers Torben and Jörgen Lundgreen, and Poul Petersen. They started in 1960 when they were in their very early teens and when they gained the big success in 1965 they were just around 15. What is remarkable that the brothers Lundgreen wrote most of the bands music, like they did with this "Do You Know How Much I Love You".
Our Armi Aavikko -saga continues. Another of her 1981 recordings was "Iltaloma" (An evening off). It was released as a single with "Kaksi kulkijaa" on the B -side. It was a reasonable hit and lately earned itself a camp status. It's often played in retro-disco shows. The original song was made by a Scottish girl named Aneka(real name Mary Sandeman). She hit number one in the UK singles chart in August 1981 with this "Japanese Boy". She had adapted the name 'Aneka' in a telephone directory, and fashioned a suitable Oriental image for the song. The follow-up song "Little Lady" song failed to chart highly in the UK, securing her the label of 'One Hit Wonder'. The only hit however made her place in pop history. "Japanese Boy" sold 5 million copies around the world.
We continue in the company of Armi Aavikko. She recorded "Tanssi kanssani hiljaa" (Dance with me slowly) in 1981 as most of her solo output. It was only an album track, but deserves to be remembered. The arranger - as with almost all Armi's recordings - was Veikko Samuli, who is an excellent Finnish arranger and songwriter. The original was again done by Ottawan on their 1980 album and the song was written - again - by Vangarde and Kluger.
As the new year begins, I think it fits well in the mood to present an artist who will always be in the beginning of the alphabetic list of Finnish pop stars. Armi Aavikko was a beauty queen and singer. She was chosen as Miss Finland in 1977. Armi was best known for her duets with our old friend Danny (see previous entry), but she did have a short career as a solo singer. The popular opinion was that Armi can't sing, and she was herself admitting that. But what she might have lacked in technical ability was not so important when she introduced such a great amount of honesty and sincerity in her songs. As in this forgotten gem "Kaksi kulkijaa" recorded in 1981, and released as a B-side of a single. The original song "Shubidube Love" was performed by the Canadian disco duo Ottawan. And it was written by the French production team Vangarde & Kluger, as were surprisingly many of the "finnpicked" songs on those days.