Juice Leskinen (b. Pauli Matti Juhani Leskinen) was a contemporary and friend of yesterdays Finnpick Mikko Alatalo. They both were in the University of Tampere in the 70's and eventually co-worked in a couple of bands. Later Juice and Mikko went separate ways and both made a highly succesful career as pioneers of Finnish rock. Especially Juice is considered to be THE initiator of original Finnish rock and rock sung in Finnish language. Juice was fore and foremost a poet. His lyrics were groundbreaking, often gross, often bold but often tender, too. He was also a potent composer and arranger. He very rarely did covers, but this "Paperitähdet" (Paper stars) is an excellent exception. The lyrics tell about Finnish celebrities (naming the names) and their treatment in the media. It was recorded for "Tauko 1" -album released by Juice and his band Slam in 1978. The original song "Celluloid Heroes" was written by Ray Davies of the Kinks. It was included in their 1972 album "Everybody's in Show-Biz". The central theme of the songs lyrics is the inhumane manner in which the Hollywood movie industry exploits its stars.
Mikko Alatalo was a young university student when his novelty song "Mä maalaispoika oon" (I'm a Country Boy) became a huge hit in 1974. It was his own composition, as were almost all songs he has recorded. One of the exceptions to the rule was this "Anna mulle lovee" (Gimme love) in 1977. Mikko was extremely popular in the 70's and 80's writing catchy tunes to the witty lyrics of his own or of his friend Harri Rinne. His speciality was a folklore-style, jolly song that we Finns know as 'ralli'. But he recorded also many songs of more serious nature. In the 90's Mikko released highly acclaimed and successful childrens records. Since 2003 he has been a Member of Parliament. The original version of this Finnpick was called "Gimme Some Lovin'" and it was the first self-penned hit for Spencer Davis Group. in 1967. Well - almost self-penned - the basic riff of the song was borrowed from the US singer Homer Banks' song "(Ain't That) A Lot of Love" (as you can yourself hear from this Taj Majal's version). This song is ranked number 244 on the Rolling Stone magazine's list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
The Finnish legendary lyricist Juha 'Junnu' Vainio was also a singer recording a vast amount of songs. He did very few covers. One notable example is this "Mä uskon huomispäivään" (I believe in tomorrow) in 1976. Juha started his career in the 60's presenting at first primarily novelty songs. But in the later years he chose to record more 'serious' material. This song is one of the serious ones, but not a sad one. Junnu always had more or less optimistic message in his lyrics. And this one must be the most optimistic of them all - as the title suggests: 'I believe in tomorrow'. No wonder it has always been one of his most lovable performances. Now, the original song was hard to find. I know that song was written by writer combo Chris Arnold , David Martin and Geoff Morrow. They were the producers of 70's UK vocal group Guys 'n Dolls. And the group first recorded the song in 1975 having a minor hit in some European countries. For some reason this original version is hard to come by. But - fortunately I have another 'almost original' version (in fact, it might be the one Junnu versioned). In the 70's I bought a bunch of obscure singles and one of those happened to be "Always Laughing" by Joe Brown (also recorded in 1975). When I first heard it, I immediately fell in love with it, and thought that this warm-hearted song is custom-made for Finnish taste. And I'm happy Junnu discovered this song, too. I don't know how Joe Brown came about to record the song. There's a print on the label of the single saying "adapted from 'The Story of Noss'" . I guess the song has been included in some theatrical play or TV series. Joe Brown was 60's rock'n roll star cutting some top ten hits with his group The Bruvvers. Enjoy and sing along!
On the next few days I'm going to present somet artists that rarely recoerded any cover versions, and mainly wrote their own songs. Maybe that's one of the reasons these artists became extremely popular in Finland. Let's start with Jukka Kuoppamäki , who is one of the living legends of Finnish pop music. His career began already in the end of 1950's. He was at first singing tenor in the vocal groups Neloset and Kukonpojat (see previous entries here and here) before launching a very successful solo career. After 1969 he has exclusively relied on his own material, and has done a remarkable task in writing over 1o00 songs for other artists. Many of them becoming Finnish pop classics. However, in the 60's Jukka did some covers, and one of those was on his first solo single in 1962, a song called "Kilpakosijat" (Rivals in love). The song sank without a trace and has been rarely played since. The original was performed by Pat Boone (b. Charles Eugene Boone) as "Johnny Will" in 1961. It was one of Pat's minor hits and written by Paul Evans, who was a singer himself, but gained reputation with hit songs he wrote for others. You can hear his demo version of "Johnny Will" here.
The group Kivikasvot from yesterday's Finnpicks were not primarily a recording oufit. They concentrated in TV work. But the members of the group all cut solo tracks. Most notably Matti 'Fredi' Siitonen, but also the other three original members. One of those was Georg Dolivo who recorded two singles. This "Pieni palanen kultaa" (A small nugget of gold) was on the second one in 1964. Georg was in the vocal group Kukonpojat (see previous entry) before joining Kivikasvot. The original is a rare song by Nat 'King' Cole (b. Nathaniel Adam Coles). It was the B-side of his 1964 single. Sadly - for being a such good catchy tune - it usually is omitted from Cole's compilation albums. This must be one of his last recordings, as he died in February 1965.
And now something out of the funny side of Finnpicks. Kivikasvot (see previous entry) often recorded novelty songs, as this one from 1966 "Juanita Banana". The prominent female vocals are done by Vuokko Piironen. The original was a great hit for a group called The Peels. The Peels, was a US studio group put together by the producer and the co-writer of the song, Tash Howard. The song that the heroine in the song, Juanita, is practising, is the aria Caro Nome from Verdi’s opera Rigoletto.
We have now picked 300 Finncovers! To end our Country Jamboree I have a great pleasure to introduce a song that has been one of my all-time faovourites. Freeman (see previous entry) - recorded "Käyntikortti" (Visiting card) in 1976 on his first album. It was also released as a single, but wasn't such a big hit. But the song has stayed in his repertoire. The touching lyrics were written by our (and Freeman's) old friend , Hector.. There was also another Finnish cover made, that I didn't know of until recently, H Band (our Finnpicks 'Artist of the Week") recorded a quite different version with a title "Yhden palstan uutinen" (One column news) on their sole album "Taival". The original song was written by Bill Chadwick He was a friend of Monkee Michael Nesmith and Monkees recorded some of his tunes. This song "Talking To The Wall" ended up on Michaels solo album "Tantamount To Treason" in 1971. When I heard the song for the first time in 1975 or 1976, I thought that this would be great song to cover in Finnish. And obviously I was not the only one ...
Yesterday's country cover was almost, but not quite, Tex-Mex. Today's song is definetely Tex-Mex even if it has been made in (and the lyrics tell about) Scandinavia. This song has always been my personal favourite, and I was pleasently surprised to find out that there were two Finnish covers (with different lyrics) made of it. And neither of these I had heard at the time of their releases! The first one "Me kaksi matkalla Tuktholmaan" (We two on our way to Stockholm) was done in 1983 by Eini (see previous entry), who was known as a disco queen, but succeeds very well in her interpretation of this country ballad. The second cover "Luoksesi Tukholmaan" (To meet you in Stockholm) was performed by the 'usual suspect' Kari Tapio (see previous entry) in 1991. This also is a very good version of the original song that was written and performed by Tex-Mex legend Doug Sahm (b. Douglas Wayne Sahm) He signed in 1983 with the Swedish label Sonet and recorded some singles and albums for it, and toured extensively in Europe. In my opinion this is one of the best songs Doug ever did. BTW, 'the slow boat to Helsinki town' mentioned in the lyrics, refers to the car ferries traveling on the route Stockholm-Helsinki and standing for the luxury liners that Finnish everyman can afford.
Rexi (see previous entry) recorded a lot of songs, but somehow he newer gained any greater popularity. Perhaps he didn't stood out the crowd ... One of his many country flavoured recordings was "Eva Maria" in 1983 on his album "Parasta maailmassa". Contributing were two Finnish pop stalwarts: Raul Reiman (lyrics) and Veikko Samuli (arrangement). The original song was called "Evangelina" and it was written and performed by Hoyt Axton (finnpicked earlier, here and here ). He released the song on his 1976 albun "Fearless". Lyrics of the song tell about the girl 'Evangelina' in 'old Mexico', whereas 'Eva Maria' in the Finnish version is a waitress in a corner pub ...
Updated on 15.01.2011: added the first Finnish version "Paltamon kaunein" (1979) by Seppo Närhi, and the version by Kari Tapio ("Takamaan tyttö, 1990) both with different lyrics.
Let's listen another track from H Band's rare and excellent 1978 album "Taival". In the song "Purjeveneet, makeet autot" (Sail boats, fancy cars) lead vocalist Ulla Tapaninen claims that money and expensive gifts can't buy her love. I was surprised to learn that this is probably the only Finnish cover version of the original country classic "Silver Threads and Golden Needles". The original version was recorded in 1956 by Wanda Jackson, who is better known for her rockabilly and rock'n roll interpretations. She even has been called 'The Queen of Rockabilly' and 'The First Lady of Rockabilly'. But Wanda started as a country singer in the first part of the 1950's and recorded a lot of singles mixing country with rock and roll in the latter part of the decade. From this era comes "Silver Threads", which of course has been versioned thousands of times, most famous being Linda Ronstadt's version. Compared to other versions there's one extra verse in the lyrics of Wanda's original.
We resume out series of Country Covers. There are very few pure country artists in Finland. And even fewer country bands (singing in Finnish). However one example of this rare breed existed in the 70's. It released only one album (produced by Jussi Raittinen) called "Taival" in 1978 and faded into oblivion. The band was called H Band. I guess the 'H' was derived from the last name of Hyvönen brothers, who formed the nucleus of the group. The lead vocalist was Ulla Tapaninen, who later made career as an actor and stand-up comedienne. The A-side of their only single "5B kuus kuus" (The class 5B of '66) was a minor hit and fondly remembered, but sadly, rarely played today. The timeless lyrics tell about the different walks of life that students of a certain school class have taken in 10 years. The same theme is present in the lyrics of the original song "The Class of '57", which was a country hit for US band The Statler Brothers (finnpicked before, see here). The song was written by the band members Dan & Harold Reid.
We interrupt the Finnpicks Country Jamboree for a special announcement. Now is the 40th anniversary of the Man In The Moon! We celebrate it with Pirkko Mannola (see previous entry) who recorded several records with the vocal group Four Cats (see previous entry). And one of those was "Kuu-ukko" (Mister Moon) in 1962. The original song "Der Mann Im Mond" (The Man In The Moon) was composed by an Austrian composer and musician Carl "Charly" Niessen, who wrote over 1000 songs. Best known of his schlager -songs is perhaps the "Banjo Boy" fron the 1959. "Der Mann Im Mond" was performed by our old Finnpicked friend Gus Backus (see previous entry), who once was one of the members of the famed vocal group Del-Vikings. This 'moon song' was his third huge hit in Germany for in 1960. He did also a version in English "Queen of the Stars", but it sunk without trace. Perhaps he should have stuck with the moon instead of stars ...
Kari Tapio (see previous entry) - if any - is THE Finnish artist that can be described as country singer. Of course his repertoire is much more versatile and in the latest years focused on mainstream schlagers and pop ballads. He recorded "Ei toiset toipua voi" (Some can not recover) on his "Jää vierellein" -album in 1981. The original song "Some Broken Hearts Never Mend" is a cross-over country hit by Don Williams. Don Williams is a US country singer and songwriter. who started his career in the 60's with the folk-pop group Pozo-Seco Singers. The group had a series of Top 50 hits, but disbanded in 1971, at which point Williams embarked on a very succcesful solo career. His deep vocals, soft tones, and an imposing build earned him the nickname "The Gentle Giant" of country music.
Lea Laven (see previous entry) recorded "Sä oot niin kultainen" (You're so sweet) in 1978 on her album "Aamulla rakkaani näin" Lea is not exactly a country singer but this interpretation is a good one. The original song "Sweet, Sweet Smile" is a country song written by Otha Young and Juice Newton. It was covered by the Carpenters in 1977 for their album, "Passage". Richard Carpenter tells the story: "Karen heard this good-time song on a pre-release copy of a Juice Newton album, and correctly thought it would be good for us. Released as a follow-up to “Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft,” “Sweet, Sweet Smile” wasn’t much of a pop hit, but became a Top Ten hit on the country charts."
After the group Eero, Jussi & the Boys (see previous entry) temporarily split, Jussi Raittinen was building a very successful career as a solo artist in the 70's. He has always been a keen friend of country music and at the time he also recorded some country- or country flavoured albums. One of those was "Kantri & rock" in 1975. It included the track "Luokkajuhlat" (Class reunion), which tells a semi-autobiographical story of what it's like to meet your old friends when you're a celebrity. Similarly, the original song "Garden Party", written and performed by Rick Nelson (b. Eric Hilliard Nelson) tells about real-life experiences. "Garden Party" was a 1972 hit song for Rick and the Stone Canyon Band from the album of the same name. It tells of his being booed off the stage at Madison Square Garden (hence the name 'Garden Party') because he was playing his newer music instead of the 1950s-era rock that he had been successful with, and his realization that "you can't please everyone, so you've got to please yourself". There are some references in the lyrics to those who were there in the audience, for example: "Yoko brought her Walrus", referring of course to Yoko Ono and John Lennon ...
Johnny recorded "Kauniit kuolleet tunteet" (Beautiful dead feelings) in 1973 on his "Kotidisco" (Home dsico) -album. Johnny's career was already going downhill at this point, so neither the album nor this track caused much commotion. The original song called "Funny Familiar, Forgotten Feelings" was written by Nashville songwriter Mickey Newbury and originally recorded by another Nashville artist Don Gibson in 1966. However the international hit-, and much better version was made by Tom Jones (b. Thomas Jones Woodward) in 1967. It was not the first time that Tom made a succesfull country cover, his "Green Green Grass of Home" was even bigger hit in 1966. Tom is a Welsh born singer and should now be addressed as Sir Thomas Jones Woodward, OBE. He has sold over 100 million records worldwide.
Let's have another offering from Topi Sorsakoski and Reijo Taipale - the title track of the album "Kulkukoirat". It was also released as a single in 1992. And still today Topi Sorsakoski is doing gigs with his band called - Kulkukoirat. The original tune was called "Desperados Waiting For a Train". It was performed by Jerry Jeff Walker (b. Ronald Clyde Crosby), who spent his early folk music days in Greenwich Village in the mid-60s. He then recorded the famous album "Mr. Bojangles" in 1968 and settled in Austin, Texas, in the 1970s associating mainly with the country-rock outlaw scene. "Desperados" is a track on his 1973 album "Viva Terlingua", and it is written by Guy Clark, a prolific country artist himself. The version here, however, might be the single version.
The Icons of Finnish popular music Topi Sorsakoski(b. Pekka Tammilehto) and Reijo Taipale joined forces in 1992 and recorded the album "Kulkukoirat" (Stray dogs). Topi has been playing in various backing bands until he in the 80's started his own career in close collaboration with the legendary retro-band The Agents. Reijo's recording career started already in 1962 when he cut the classic Finnish tango 'Satumaa' and has since been among the most popular Finnish crooners. One of the singles taken from their 1992 album was "Elokuun viimeinen päivä" (The last day of August). The lyrics were made by still another Finnish legend Juice Leskinen. The original was called "When My Blue Moon Turns To Gold Again". The song was written in USA during the Great Depression by Wiley Walker and Gene Sullivan, and has been recorded by many country- and other artists. Most notably, by Elvis Presley, whose version we present here.
Next few days Finnpicks Goes Country! Although country music has not been so popular in Finland as in other Scandinavian countries (especially Norway), there are quite a few of Finnish country covers to choose from. Here's one of them - "Mä meidän maalle tahdon takaisin" (I want to go back to our countryside). It was recorded by Eija Merilä (see previous entry) in 1971. It was the last big hit for Eija, who in the mid-70's found religion and stopped recording pop songs. In addition to Eija's singing, the lyrics (by Pertti Reponen) and the arrangement (by Jaakkko Salo) have contributed in making this song into one of the rare Finnish country classics. The original song "I'm Gonna Be a Country Girl Again" was written and sung by an artist who is known primarily for her folk songs - Buffy Sainte-Marie. The album of the same name was the 5th album (released in 1968) by this native American singer/songwriter. As the title suggested, it saw her, following Joan Baez, adopting Nashville country music with the help of session veterans such as the Jordanaires and Floyd Cramer. The album was not as well received critically or even commercially as her previous albums. The title track, however, became a minor UK hit.
Now it's time for requested posting - request that has been long overdue. Robin (see previous entry) recorded "Okay" in 1971. It was a sizeable hit for him.. Undoubtedly the slavic influences in the song helped. The original song by the same name was done by Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich. They were one the United Kingdom's top pop bands of the mid-'60s. Performing songs by their managers Ken Howard and Alan Blaikley, the group scored several Top Ten U.K. hits. Formed as Dave Dee & the Bostons, DDBM&T were led by vocalist Dave Dee (b. David Harman), an ex-policeman. He had been at the scene of the automobile accident that took the life of American rocker Eddie Cochran and injured Gene Vincent in April 1960 - rescuing Cochrans guitar.
Hi, after 6 weeks vacation, Finnpicks is back again! We start off with our old cover friend Danny. He released "Jäin hypnoosiin" (I stood hypnotized) as a single in 1972. It was a modest hit and lyrics were done by Pertti Reponen. The original song "I'm On My Way" was written by Dutchman Johannes 'Hans' Bouwens and was performed by his group George Baker Selection. Bouwens was fequently covered at the time - about dozen or so of Hans' compositons were versioned by Finnish artists. George Baker is the stage name for Bouwens. The group began in 1967 under the name Soul Invention, changing in 1969 to The George Baker Selection, The group gained worldwide success with 'Paloma Blanca' in 1974.