Friday, December 31, 2010

Bashana haba'ah - Ensi vuonna

This is the last day of the this year . It's time to ponder of what's coming in the next year. And this song fits in well. Marion Rung recorded "Ensi vuonna" (Next year) in 1981. It was on the album "Rakkaimmat lauluni" and released as a single, but didn't fare well chartwise. Marion has versioned several songs of Hebrew origin, and this was one of those. The song was written by famous Israeli conductor and composer Nurit Hirsh. Internationally she's perhaps best rememberd by conducting in the 1978 Eurovision Song Contest the Israeli entry A-Ba-Ni-Bi, which won first prize. This "Bashana haba'ah" (Next year) -song was first made popular by Israeli vocal duo Ilanit (finnpicked before, see here) & Ilan. You can see them perform the song, here. In Usa it was a minor hit for Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme. You can hear their version, here.

So, what we are doing next year in Finnpicks. Well, we are presenting the remaining (third week) of Chinnichap covers, continuing the "Finnpicks for Kids" and "Finnpicks Goes To Movies" -series, and of course presenting again some Eurovision Song Contest covers in the spring, and last by not least, we're taking a "Finnpicks Tour Across USA" at some point. Of course we'll be delivering the usual bunch of more or less obscure Finnish covers of hit songs from all over the world.

Happy and Prosperous New Year 2011!

Here's the pair:

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Ti Guardero Del Cuore - More - Taas

It seems that this mini-series of "Finnpicks Goes To Movies" is also a series of lesser known Finnish 60's female singers. Lilja Luukkanen is one of them. She recorded only one single (in 1965) and this "Taas" (Again) was on it. For some reason this song has in Finland been versioned instrumentally far more times than vocally. Perhaps the reason for this is, that the original version was an instrumental tune. It was on the soundtrack of 1962 Italian 'documentary' film "Mondo Cane" (Dog's World). The film was directed by Paolo Cavara, Franco Prosperi, and Gualtiero Jacopetti, and it consisted glimpses of various odd cultural practices around the world with the intention to shock film audiences. Despite it is claimed to be genuine documentation, certain scenes in the film are either staged or creatively manipulated in order to enhance this effect. The movie's theme song "Ti Guardero Del Cuore" (translated in English version to "More") was written by famous scorewriters Riz Ortolani and Nino Oliviero. The song was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Song, but it didn't win the Oscar. "More" was made an instrumental hit for Kai Winding's Orchestra in 1963,but it has since become an evergreen with many vocal interpretations. We present here the original soundtrack version.

Here's the pair:

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Tunnel Of Love - Karuselli vie

Raija Mannerla is another songstress I unfortunately don't know anything about. She recorded 9 songs in two years, most actively in 1959. This "Karuselli vie" (Riding on a carousel) was one of those 1959 recordings. Even if those times were the golden years of Finnish female artists, Raija's records did not sell, and perhaps that's why she quit recording at early stage. The original song "The Tunnel Of Love" was on the film soundtrack of a 1958 romantic comedy of the same name. The starlet of the flick was Doris Day (co-starring Richard Widmark), who also sang this title tune. It's played in the background of the opening credits of the film. You can see it here.

Here's the pair:

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Min ton rotas ton ourano - All Alone Am I - Yksin oon mä vain

Here's the B-side to yesterday's finnpick, and it continues the theme 'Finnpicks Goes To Movies'. Markita Mattson's "Yksin oon mä vain" was not a hit, which is a bit odd, becouse the song was very popular worldwide in it's English language version and Markita's Finnish rendering is of quite good standard. The original song, however, was of Greek origin. "Min ton rotas ton ourano" (Don’t ask the sky) was included in the movie "To nisi ton gennaion" (Island of the Brave) and was performed by actor and singer Tzeni (Jenny) Karezi. It was composed by Manos Hadjidakis and for Greeks it is one of the most beloved songs ever played in a movie. You can see the performance, here. This song became an international smash hit under the title "All Alone Am I" in 1962 when interpreted by Brenda Lee (b. Brenda Mae Tarpley).

Here's the triplet:

Monday, December 27, 2010

L'eclisse Twist - Kuunpimennys

We conclude this year with the theme 'Finnpicks Goes To Movies'. We present some songs that were included in the various film soundtracks. These movies were quite obscure, but this first one is an exception. A songstress named Markita Mattson made two singles in the 60's. This "Kuunpimennys" (Eclipse of the moon) was the A-side of her first single released in 1963. Unfortunately I don't know much about Markita. She appeared in 1963 in several TV-shows and even in one film ("Lauantaileikit" directed by Maunu Kurkwaara). But after that - no trace of her, except one further single in 1964. This "Kuunpimennys" was arranged by Jaakko Salo and the lyrics were provided by Sauvo Puhtila under pseudonym Solja Tuuli. The original song "L'eclisse Twist" appeared in the soundtrack of the 1962 Italian movie "L'eclisse" (The Eclipse). It was directed by the legendary Michelangelo Antonioni, who also wrote the original lyrics for this song! The score was done by Giovanni Fusco, who scored many of the Neorealist films of Antonioni. The song was made popular by Italian pop singer Mina (b. Anna Maria Mazzini). The song was on the flipside of her Top 10 Italian chart hit "Renato". Mina was known for her three-octave vocal range, and her image as an emancipated woman. Mina's TV appearances in 1959 were the first for a female rock and roll singer in Italy. Her loud singing earned her the nickname "Queen of Screamers". The public also labeled her the "Tiger of Cremona" for her wild gestures and body shakes.

Here's the pair:

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Finnpicks Christmas Special II

Well, we are five days away from Christmas and it's time for our second Finnpicks Christmas Special (and finnpick entry number 700!). As always, we're trying to present the first (or one of the first) Finnish versions along with the originals. But now we start with an exception to the rule and pay homage to Kari Tapio, who sadly passed away two weeks ago. Here's the run of Finnpicks Christmas Songs Special:
Kari Tapio - Kellot soi (2001) / Bing Crosby and Carol Richards - Silver Bells (1950)
Laila Kinnunen - Talven ihmemaa (1960) / Richard Himber & Ritz Carlton Hotel Orchestra - Winter Wonderland (1934)
Vieno Kekkonen - Jollei jouluna ole lunta (1961) / Gene Autry & Pinafores - If It Doesn't Snow On Christmas (1949), flip side of Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer
Brita Koivunen & Scandias - Kun joulupukki suukon sai (1959) / Jimmy Boyd - I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus (1952)
Timo T A Mikkonen & Mervi Hiltunen - Joulusydän (1989) / Wham! - Last Christmas (1984)
Finnpicks wishes you all Very Merry CHRISTMAS!

Here's the bunch:

Saturday, December 18, 2010

This Guy's in Love With You - Vain mies

It's again time for "Both Sides Now". The B-side to yesterday's finnpick of Lasse Mårtenson was this "Vain mies" (Only a man). The Finnish lyrics were by Lasse himself, made under pseudonym "L. Vaajakorpi". The arrangement was done Esko Linnavalli. The original song was a Burt Bacharach & Hal David -written hit for Herb Alpert. Alpert originally sang "This Guy's in Love with You" on a 1968 television show. In response to numerous viewer telephone calls, the song was released as a single and reached the number one spot on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 in June of that year,

Here's the pair:

Friday, December 17, 2010

Little Green Apples - Vihreät omenat

Lasse Mårtenson recorded "Vihreät omenat" (The green apples) for his 1968 album "Lasse Mårtenson". It was also released as a single and gave him a minor hit. The lyrics were written by Lasse himself. The original song "Little Green Apples" was written by US songsmith Bobby Russell and first recorded in 1968 by singer and songwriter Roger Miller , best known for his honky tonk-influenced novelty songs. Later that same year it was released most successfully in a modified R&B version by O. C. Smith (b. Ocie Lee Smith). His rendition reached number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. "Little Green Apples" won Russell both the 1969 Grammy Award for Song of the Year and the Grammy Award for Best Country Song.

Here's the pair:

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Love Will Keep Us Together - Stop, ei tuhlata aikaa

Pepe Willberg recorded "Stop, ei tuhlata aikaa" (Stop, let's waste no time) for his debut solo album "Sinulle" in 1976. By coincidence, we seem to have Pertsa Reponen week, becouse the lyrics for this song were again done by him. The arrangements for the album were done by Markku Johansson. The original song "Love Will Keep Us Together" was the product of the pens of power songwriting-duo Neil Sedaka and Howard Greenfield. It was first released in the UK on Sedaka's 1973 LP "The Tra-La Days Are Over". However, it is best remembered for the 1975 cover version by The Captain & Tennille (finnpicked before, see here). It was their debut single, reaching number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1975 and it was the top US single for the entire year. You can see the joint performance of the duo and Neil Sedaka, here.

Here's the triplet:

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Little Boxes - Laatikkoon, laatikkoon

Brita Koivunen and Eino Virtanen were both popular as solo singers in the 50's and at the start of 60's, but they also recorded several successful songs together as a duo called Brita & Eikka. This "Laatikkoon. laatikkoon" (Into the box, into the box) was on their sole album "Brita & Eikka" released in 1966. They were absolutely not part of the protest song movement of the time, but this song has pretty sharp lyrics provided by Pertsa Reponen (yes, him again). For some reason this song has been credited to Eino Virtanen, but he did only the arrangement and the original was written and performed by American folk legend Malvina Reynolds in 1962 It became a small chart hit for her friend Pete Seeger in 1963. The song is a political satire about the development of suburbia and associated conformist middle-class attitudes. It refers to suburban housing as "little boxes", all made out of "ticky-tacky", and which all look just the same. The "ticky-tacky" is a reference to the material of inferior quality (but designed to simulate better quality material) used in the construction of houses. Brita & Eikka probably got their inspiration from the version of their Danish counterparts Nina & Frederik, who were quite popular in Europe and in Finland at the time.

Here's the triplet:

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

This World Today Is A Mess - Tiedä mitä tahdot

Ami Aspelund (see earlier entry) released "Tiedä mitä tahdot" (Know what you want) on the B-side of her "Tänään huipulla" (Carpenters' Top Of The World cover) in 1974. The arrangement was done by Veikko Samuli and the lyrics were again crafted by Pertsa Reponen. The original song was called "This World Today Is A Mess", and it was co-written and performed by US jazz- and R&B -singer Donna Hightower. She started her career in the 50's touring with Louis Jordan and B.B. King. She never had any hits at the time, but this powerful "Mess" song was very popular in 1972 in continental Europe.

Here's the pair:

Monday, December 13, 2010

Nina, Pretty Ballerina - Nina, pikku balleriina

This is the B-side to yesterday's 1977 finnpick. Yes, it's "Both Sides Now" back again. Danny's "Nina, pikku balleriina" (Nina, tiny ballerina) is one of the lesser known Finnish Abba covers. The lyrics were by Pertsa Reponen. You can see a video of the song, here. Abba's "Nina, Pretty Ballerina" was recorded in 1973 for their "Ring, Ring" debut album. The album was full of potential hit singles and this song was released on single in Austria and France to promote the album. It reached number 8 on the singles chart in Austria.

Here's the pair:

Sunday, December 12, 2010

You Belong To Me Baby - Hyvä mun on niin

This song was on Danny's 1977 hit album "Tahdon olla sulle hellä", whose title track was a smah come-back hit for Danny (and guest artist Armi Aavikko). "Hyvä mun on niin" (I feel so good) was also later culled as a single, and it also fared well, reaching Top 10. Also Jarmo "Jamppa" Tuominen released his version in that same year, but it didn't chart. The original song was 1976 hit for often-finnpicked Irishman Joe Dolan. The authors of "You Belong To Me Baby" were the same as on most of Joe's hit records. Roberto Danova (music) and Peter Yellowstone (Lyrics).

Updated on 15.01.2011: addded Jamppa Tuominen's version (1977).

Here's the triplet:

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Tzeinerlin - Käyköön niin tai näin

Our old friend Robin recorded "Käyköön niin tai näin" (Will it be it as it may) in 1970. It was released on the B-side of his minor hit "Jäähyväiset" (finnpicked here). The Finnish lyrics were made this time by Robin himself. The original song was of French origin and called "Tzeinerlin". It wa written by André Popp, the famous French composer and arranger, and it was a continental hit in 1970 for Les Compagnons de la Chanson. They were a French vocal group from Lyon, founded during World War II. Their most known song is the "'Les trois cloches' (The Three Bells) (yet to be finnpicked) that they recorded in 50's together with Edith Piaf. The version that Robin covered was the one by Herman's Hermits. They had a international hit with it under title "Years May Come, Years May Go".

Here's the triplet:

Friday, December 10, 2010

Der Ententanz - Tchip tchip - The Birdie Song - Tiina Titityy

Well, today's finnpick is a truly international song - or dance, if you like. Jaana Wilenius was Finnish one-hit-wonder with her 1981 hit song "Tiina Titityy". The catchy lyrics were written by Raul Reiman. And the winter 81-82 was the high season for 'chicken dance' danced to the tune of "Tiina Titityy", in all Finnish restaurants. The tune was originally composed for accordion in the 1950s in Switzerland, by Swiss accordion player Werner Thomas. Thomas tended a flock of ducks and geese, so the tune was first named "Der Ententanz" (The Duck Dance). Thomas played the tune in restaurants and people started to dance to it. However, the national and international breakthrough came in the 70's. Bobby Setter Band was a Belgian dance band and formed in 1963 in Gent. When they in 1973 released this Thomas's song with the title "Tchip tchip", the group was for some reason renamed to "Cash and Carry". The single was a smash hit in Switzerland and spent 5 weeks at the very top of Swiss charts. In 1981 the tune became European and worlwide hit when it was released in Britain as an instrumental novelty tune "The Birdie Song" performed by studio combo called The Tweets. It sold over 1.6 million in the UK alone, making it the most popular version of this song. BTW, this version has been voted as "the most annoying song of all time". There are approximately 140 versions of the original "Ententanz" recorded, selling about 40 million pieces.

Here's the triplet:

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Un po'artista un po'no - Yksin oon

It's been a while since we last heard of Lea Laven, the Cover Queen of the 70' and 80's. She recorded this "Yksin oon" (Alone am I) in 1988 for her album "Kortit kertoo kohtalomme". It was released only as an album track, even if it had some single hit potential. The original song was of Italian origin made by a couple of well-known artists. It was written by Toto Cutugno and performed by Adriano Celentano. The song "Un po'artista un po'no"(A little bit artist, a little bit not) was on Celentano's eponymous 1980 album, created during his golden years of collaboration with Cutugno between 1977 and 1980. The song was also a single hit. You can see music video made of the song, here.

Here's the pair:

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Mi tierra cristiana - Sierra Nevada

Anneli Pasanen (see earlier entry) had a short span of singing career in the 70's/80's. Even if she had steady following, she never made real big breakthrough. Anneli recorded "Sierra Nevada" in 1977 for her album "Rakastan jokaista päivää". It was released as a single, but it went nowhere chartwise. The lyrics were provided by Pertsa Reponen. The original song was called "Mi tierra cristiana" (My christian land) and it was a hit in 1974 for Spanish pop group Los Puntos. The group originated from Almeria, and was formed in 1967 consisting of five young students. At first they performed covers of popular pop songs but later they began writing their own material, mostly written (like this finnpick) by band member Alfonso Grano De Oro. The theme of the song, Sierra Nevada, is a mountain range in the region of group's home province Almería. It contains the highest point of continental Spain, Mulhacén at 3478 metres. Due to its landscape, numerous spaghetti westerns were filmed there.

Here's the pair:

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Old Nickelodeon Sound - Vanhat laulut nuo

Matti Esko (see earlier entry) recorded "Vanhat laulut nuo" (Those old songs) in 1990 for his hit album "Reissumies". The lyrics depicted an old sailor reminiscing good old days. The original song was called "The Old Nickelodeon Sound" was an album track on Sailor's second - and most successful - album "Trouble" in 1975. You can see Sailor perform the song, here. Originally "nickelodeon" was the name for an early 20th century form of small neighbourhood movie theatre. But Sailor gave the name to a music instrument they developed. It was a huge two-sided synthesizer with multiple stacks of keyboards. It was used to re-create the multiple instrument sounds used in Sailor's recordings. In addition, the band had no base player, and all base parts were played by nickelodeon, thus contributing in creation of the original sound of Sailor.

Here's the pair:

Monday, December 6, 2010

Glass of Champagne - Lasi samppanjaa

Today is the Independence Day of Finland, and I think we could celebrate it by raising a glass of champagne. Neumann (see earlier entry) recorded "Lasi samppanjaa" (A glass of champagne) in 1992 for his album "Tähti ja meripoika". It was also released as a single, but didn't hit the charts. The original song was called "Glass of Champagne" and it was a smash hit for Sailor. This band was my my favourite band of the 70's and was led by musical genius Georg Kajanus. His biography tells us that he was born in Norway and was the son of a Russian prince and the granddaughter of Finnish composer and conductor Robert Kajanus. Well. I'm nor sure if this is all true, but nevertheless, Kajanus's music is superb. The three first Sailor albums in the 70's are all my favourites and one can only wonder why there are only couple of finnpicked Sailor songs. Tomorrow I will present an other one ... You can see Sailor perform the "Champagne" song, here.

Here's the pair:

Sunday, December 5, 2010

You're In My Heart - Oot suonissain

Seppo Närhi recorded "Oot suonissain" (You're in my veins) for his 1978 album "Vieraat huoneet". It was also released as a single (B-side to "Vieraat huoneet", cover of "It's A Heartache"), The A-side was a minor hit, but this flipside did not get much attention. Even if the original song was quite a big hit all over the world. It was "You're In My Heart " and performed in 1977 by Rod Stewart. It was also written by Rod himself and the lyrics mention Stewart's favorite football team in the phrase "Celtic United". You can see Rod perform the song in 2004 in Royal Albert Hall , here, with a lots of audience participation.

Here's the pair:

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Hey Mama - Vain ilmaa

We now return to our randomly recurring series "Both Sides Now". We present today the B-side to yesterday's Paula Koivuniemi 1973 Finnpick. It was called "Vain ilmaa" (Just air). The lyrics were - as on the flipside - by Vexi Salmi. The original song was performed by British singer Joe Brown (finnpicked before, here). Joe has been described as a "chirpy cockney". He had his most successful period in the beginning of the 60's with his backing band the Bruvvers. This "Hey Mama" he recorded during his on-and-off solo career in 1973.

Here's the pair:

Friday, December 3, 2010

When I'm A Kid - Jotakin jäi

Paula Koivuniemi recorded "Jotakin jäi" (Something remained) in 1973. It was released only as single, and was a modest hit, but nowadays sadly forgotten. The lyrics were provided by Vexi Salmi. The original song "When I'm A Kid" was performed by Demis Roussos (b. Artemios Ventouris Roussos) in 1972. Although it is not one of Demis's most known songs, it was a reasonable hit for him at the time in the continental Europe.

Here's the pair:

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Whodunit - Hei kuka

Yesterday we had three Finnish brothers singing, today we have brother ans sister duo Anna & Kirka Babitzin. They recorded an album called "Anna & Kirka" in 1978. "Hei kuka" (Hey, who?) was one of the album tracks. As with yesterday's finnpick, the lyrics were written by Pertsa Reponen. The original song was co-written by Frederick "Freddie" Perren, who was a famous American songwriter, record producer, arranger, and orchestra conductor. In the mid and late 70s, Perren found big success writing and producing such mega-hits as "I Will Survive" by Gloria Gaynor and this "Whodunit" by the Tavares (number 1 R&B hit in 1977). Tavares was an American soul band founded already in 1963. It consisted of 5 Tavares bothers Feliciano, Arthur, Perry, Antone and Ralph. You can see the band perform this song, here. The word "whodunit" (for "Who['s] done it?") is derived from the world of detective stories. "Whodunit" is a complex, plot-driven variety of the detective story in which the puzzle is the main feature of interest. Ellery Queen (USA) and Olavi Susikoski (Finland), famous detectives in their respective countries, are referred in the songs lyrics.

Here's the pair:

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

We Do It - Minuun uit

We have met Brothers Saari many times. This time we present their 1977 song "Minuun uit" (You swim into me) released of course under moniker Jouko, Kosti ja Paavo, on the eponymous album. The lyrics were crafted by Pertsa Reponen. The original song was written by Englishman Russell Stone, who also first recorded it (in 1975) with his wife Joanna. They were performing under the name R & J Stone. The song became a big hit, but Russell Stone decided that he did not want to remain as a singer, and preferred to concentrate on producing and writing for his wife. Sadly, Joanna died only four years later. You can see the duo performing the song, here.

Here's the pair: