As we now say farewell to January, let's listen to a song dedicated to this very month. Arto Sotavalta (see earlier entry) recorded "Kalenteri" (Calendar) in 1976. It is very rare recording, becouse for some reason it wasn't released as a single or on any of Arto's albums. It appears only on one of the "Maailmalla soi" (What's played in the world) series albums that presented cover versions of selected world hits. The original song "January" was recorded by the Scottish rock band Pilot. It was written by band member David Paton and produced by Alan Parsons. Pilot was formed during 1973 in Edinburgh, Scotland by the former Bay City Rollers members, David Paton and Billy Lyall. "January" was UK number one single, spending all of its 3 week chart run at the top - ironically - in February 1975. It also charted in the United States, and went to number one in Australia where it stayed up top for eight weeks. The Pilot, together with their pruducer , later formed the nucleus of the Alan Parsons Project. You can see the band perform "January", here.
Anneli Sari (see earlier entry) released "Menin raiteiltain" (I lost my tracks) in 1978 on the B-side of a single. The A-side was modest hit for her, but this B-side is long forgotten. Even if the original is remembered by most of us. It was called "Lost In France" and it was a big European and Australian hit for Bonnie Tyler 1976. It was written by Ronnie Scott and Steve Wolfe, a British songwriting and producing team, who spotted Bonnie in "The Townsman Club" in Swansea, Wales, and became her managers, songwriters, and producers.
Eini (see earlier entry) recorded several disco (or 'synth pop', if you like) tunes in the 80's . One of those was this "Moscow Night" that appeared on her "Eini" album in 1985. Despite the title, the lyrics (by Juha Vainio) were in Finnish. The title of the original song was just a little bit different "Moscow Nights" and was performed by a singer called Anya. She was born Anya Major, and was a British gymnast and model. Her first claim to fame was appearing as "Nikita" in the video to Elton John's song of the same name. Anya's first (and only) single, this "Moscow Nights", had moderate success in Western Europe, but she didn't continue in the music business afterwards.
Markus (see earlier entry) released "Merkitty mies" (Marked man) as a single in 1980, but it failed to get any attention. His career was already fading, but this song was catchy and despite the odd lyrics (By Veli-Pekka "VeePee" Lehto) it should have been even a little hit. The original "Most Wanted Man in the USA " was a minor hit for often finnpicked Irishman Joe Dolan in 1974 reaching number 14 in Irish charts, but was not bigger international success. The song was written by Peter Yellowstone, a known producer and songwriter, who often collaborated with Joe Dolan, together with Roberto Danova.
Tinni (real name Timo Kuusisto) was genuine Finnish 'one-hit-wonder'. In 1979 he recorded "Lentoon" (Airborne). It was released as a single, and it became a charted hit. But the eponymous album and the self-penned follow-up single, (continuing the traffic theme) 'Bussilla Turkuun' (Bus to Turku Town) failed in the sales department. And Tinni's last recorded song was to be a cover of The Deer Hunter theme "Cavatina" in 1980. The original "Lentoon" was called "Airport" and it was a hit in 1978 for British pub rock combo The Motors. It was written by the band member Andy McMaster. It was their biggest hit hitting number 4 in UK chart. You can se the band perform the song, here.
Updated on 14.09.2010: added Pepe Willberg's version (1979).
In our recurring series 'Both Sides Now' we know present the flip side of Bamboo's 1978 single finnpicked yesterday. It was called "Paratiisi" and, like the other side, didn't gain any greater popularity. Lyrics for this - as for the flip side song - were crafted by Pertsa Reponen. The original song was of Italian origin. A group called La Ragazza 77 recorded it as "Il paradiso della vita" (Paradise of Life) in 1968, but had no hit with it, neither in Italy nor elsewhere. But in 1968 famous Welsh pop group Amen Corner did an English version ("If Paradise Is Half As Nice") of the song, and it became number 1 in UK, and an international success. The peculiar name of the band came from 'The Amen Corner', a weekly venue at the Victoria Ballroom in Cardiff, Wales, where every Sunday night DJ would play the best soul music from the US. BTW, the Italian singer Patty Pravo heard the tune in Britain and as she didn't know of it's Italian origin, made her own Italian version ("Il paradiso) of it. And this time it was a hit - of course. We present here both the original version and Amen Corner's version. You can see A.C. perform the song, here.
Bamboo, often called as 'the first Finnish boy band', recorded "Lumottu oon" in 1978. There was an aggressive campaign in the mid 70's for this new band consisting of four teenage boys. Even TV commercials were used, which was quite uncommon in those days. Well, Bamboo was not such a big success that it was meant to be. But it recorded some interesting songs. Most of them were in English, but this "Lumottu oon" in Finnish. The original song as written and performed by American musician Bob Welch. Welch had played in various marginal bands in the 60's, but in 1971 he was invited to join Fleetwood Mac, that had recently lost two of its members, Peter Green and Jeremy Spencer. Along with another new recruit Christine McVie, Bob helped to steer the band in a more melodic direction. In 1977, Welch released his first solo album, "French Kiss". This release brought Welch his greatest success, selling two million copies and yielding three hit singles, one of which was this "Ebony Eyes". You can see rare promotion video of the song, here. And here you can se him perform it with another 'Mac', Stevie Nicks.
This song is one of the absolute classics in Finnish popular music. Everybody knows it and everybody can sing it (at least some parts of it). Brita Koivunen recorded "Suklaasydän" (Chocolate Heart) in 1955 accompanied by the jazz vocal group Ditty Dealers (one of the Dealers was Brita's furure singing partner Eino Virtanen). The song was instant hit and the sales awarded Brita a Gold Record., only the second one in Finland. The catchy phrase "bumtsi-bum" (Boom-chi-boom) that Ditty Dealers sang, became over 40 years later a title of very popular TV music programme. The lyrics. written by Saukki (Sauvo Puhtila), undoubtedly played major part in the songs success. In view of the songs immense popularity it's peculiar that not many Finns (including me) have heard the original version. Now it has been made availbale (thanks to FiftySixtyGhost in Youtube). It was an obscure 1954 song by American singer Margaret Whiting and called "Mama's Pearls". Margaret was one of the top recording artists of the so-called Interlude Era, betwwen World War WII and the arrival of rock'n roll in the mid-fifties. The song was composed by Geoff Clarkson, the pianist in the Bob Hope's touring band; Whiting was 7 years touring with them.
Now, this was, and still is, one of my favourite 60's songs. Laila Halme recorded "Tuuli Viedä Saa" (The wind can take it)) in 1963. Laila represented Finland in Eurovision Song Contest with the song "Muistojeni laulu". (it came last) in that same year. Despite being a good singer and having a couple of hits in the start of 60's she never really broke through. This song, however, is one of the best, The original "Crying In The Wind" is a lesser-known Paul Anka song. He wrote it and sang it. But it never was a hit and it's quite rarely played anywhere anymore, Which is a pity, becouse I think it is one of Anka's better tunes.
On the B-side of Danny's 1971 single "Hän on lady" (cover of "She's A Lady") was this "Ei mitään uutta" (Nothing new). The Finnish lyrics were - as with yesterdays's Finnpick - written by Pertsa Reponen. The original song "Nothing Rhymed" was the breakthrough single for the Irish-born singer-songwriter Gilbert O'Sullivan (b. Raymond Edward O'Sullivan) in 1970. Gilbert at first performed under his born name, but in 1967 changed it to 'Gilbert O'Sullivan', a play of words on Gilbert and Sullivan (refers to the British Victorian era librettist W. S. Gilbert and composer Arthur Sullivan, who collaborated on 14 comic operas 1871-1896, of which H.M.S. Pinafore, The Pirates of Penzance and The Mikado are among the best known). Much of Gilbert's early success was predicated on his unusual image, unusual haircut, short pants and flat cap. You can see Gilbert boy perform the song, here.
This is the last number in our lengthy 'number' -series. Kisu recorded "1000000 kyyneltä" (One million tears) in 1977 for his album "Maaliskuun kuudes". The Finnish lyrics were written by Pertsa Reponen. The original 'number song' had nearly ten times bigger figure and was called "9.999.999 Tears" and was a hit for American pop/country singer Dickey Lee (b. Royden Dickey Lipscomb) in 1976. The song was originally written and recorded by country artist Rasie Michael "Razzy" Bailey in 1966, but failed to chart. Dickey Lee picked up the tune in 1976 and made it a number 3 hit. Lee had a Top 20 pop hit in 1963 with the rocker, "I Saw Linda Yesterday. After many leaner years he struck big again with "9.999.999 Tears". You can see Dickey perform the song, here.
Our cover lady Lea Laven recorded "Joko taas" (No, not again) on her 8th album album "Rotunainen" in 1979. Form this album we have already picked 3 earlier Finnpicks. This song was originally made in Italy. The original title was "5353456" and performed by Italian superstar Raffella Carra (b. Raffaella Roberta Pelloni), often simply known as "La Carrà". The song was released on the B-side of her hit "Tornerai" in 1975. The numbers in the title depict of course a phone number. And the singer in the song wonders why her loved one doesn't ring even if knows the number (lyrics). You can see Raffaella perform this song in Spanish TV, here.
One of the bifggest hits in 1984 in Finland was "Miljoona ruusua" (Million roses). The song was released in several versions, but the most successful was the one by Vera Telenius. She had also written Finnish lyrics. At the time Vera was already 72 years old and was the oldest artist ever to be chosen as the 'Soloist of the Year' in 1984. The sales of the album "Miljoona ruusua" earned her a Diamond Record. The original song was composed by Latvian master of melody, Pauls Raimonds. And the performer was the Russian Diva herself, Alla Pugacheva. we have finnpicked one Pauls-Pugatsova collaboration before, see here.
Freeman (see earlier entry) recorded "Mopetilla maailmalle" (Into the world with moped) in 1978. It was released only as a single and was a modest hit, but not nearly as big one as Freeman's earlier single releases. The lyrics, as in yesterday's Finnpick, were from the pen of Heikki Harma/Hector. The original song "2-4-6-8 Motorway" was the first hit (and a big one) in 1977 for UK group Tom Robinson Band. It was written by band leader Tom Robinson. The lyrics tell about a gay truck driver driving down the motorway. Robinson was gay, and at the time active in the gay liberation movement. However, he himself became the subject of controversy in the 90's when he chose to live with a woman and become a father.
Updated on 18.09.2010: added the version "Kissojen taivas" by the group "Kissojen Taivas".
Seppo Närhi (see earlier entry) recorded "Prinsessa 65" (Princess of 65) in 1975. It was released as a single., but despite of getting a lot of radio plays. it didn't reach the top positions in the charts. The smart lyrics were done by Heikki Harma (i.e. Hector). The original somg was a lesser known tune "Queen of 1964" by Neil Sedaka, written of course by Sedaka himself and his songwriting partner Hovard Greenfield. Both the Finnish and original versions told about an old groupie, 'Stage-Door-Jenny', as she's called in the original lyrics. In the Finnish lyrics Hector has updated Elvis Presley to David Bowie.
Well, the numbers keep getting bigger and bigger. This time we keep an old promise. On the flip side of the 1964 single "Sitruunapuu" (see earlier entry) by vocal trio Anki, Bosse and Robert, was the song "Viimeinen vihellys" (The last whistle). It was a cover of the well-known country classic "500 Miles". The first version was recorded by an US vocal group called The Journeymen. The group consisted of John Phillips, Scott McKenzie and Dick Weissman. Their version of "500 Miles" went nowhere, even if the group got some potential; John Phillips was the future Mamas & Papas leader, and Scott McKenzie was of course the 'San Francisco' -man six years later. The song has been successfully covered many times, most notably by Peter, Paul & Mary and Bobby Bare. The song was written by Hedy West, a folksinger and songwriter. This was her most famous song, and was put together from fragments of a melody she had heard her uncle sing to her back in Georgia . She copyrighted the resulting patched song, and the rest is history ...
Anja Niskanen (see earlier entry) recorded "Nykyaikaa" (Modern times) for her first album "" in 1985. In the lyrics Anja states " ... I'm young this whole decade". And in the 80's she really was young, but today her voice sounds almost like it was 20 years back, when she tries to make come-back as a group called "Anja" (see here). The original song "80's Romance" was the last single release in 1984 from the all-girl UK rock and disco group The Belle Stars in 1984 before they split up and became a 3-piece. You can see the group perform the song in this rare promotional video, here.
Katri Helena sang about "Avaruuslaiva 109" (Spaceship 109) on her album "Katson sineen taivaan" in 1979. Also Eini recorded the song in the same year and it was relased on her album "Laululintunen". They both used Chrisse Johansson's lyrics. We present here Katri Helena's version. The original "Starship 109" was a hit 1978 especially in Germany and Holland. The song was written by Dutchman Robbie Van Leeuwen. Robbie is of course famous for his legendary group Shocking Blue, which was very popular around the world in the first part of the 70's. When the group split, Robbie experimented with something like 'space disco' and formed a studio band called Mistral. They had a few hits in Holland, but all the songs have different vocalists. The vocals in this "Starship 109" are done by Marjan Schattelijn. You can see her and the band perform the song, here.
In 1976 two Finnish versions were made of this song. The other one was by Arto Sotavalta and the other, which we present here, was by Ami Jaara (real name Aimo Jaara). In the 60's Ami was the lead singer in the group Express, but tried solo career in the 70's. Although her was a good singer he never got big breakthrough hit. This 1976 single "Tuhat tapaa päästä eroon" (A thousand ways to get rid of) gained some attention but was not a hit. The lyrics were written by Pertsa Reponen. The song was recorded with different lyrics and with the title "50 tapaa jättää rakas" (50 ways to leave the loved one) in 1990 by Anna Hanski (see earlier entry) . This time the song became a modest success. The original was composed and performed by Paul Simon. It was written after Simon's divorce from his first wife, and the song is a mistress's humorous advice to a husband on ways to end a relationship. According to some sources, Paul made this song up while teaching his son how to rhyme. It became number one on the US Hot 100 on February 1976.
Muska(see earlier entry) is the kid sister of Kirka Babitzin. She had several hits in the 70's and she was the first successful Finnish female rock singer. One of her first hits was this "Kun oot 52" (When you're 52) in 1973. It was written by ace UK songwriter duo Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman (a.k.a. Chinnichap) and the original gutsy interpretation was done by Suzi Quatro (b. Susan Kay Quatrocchio). Suzi was born is USA, but moved to London in 1971 and made a stunning career under the wings of producer Mickie Most and Chinnichap songwriters. This "48 Crash" was her second hit. I often wondered what the song was all about. Well, now I know ;-). It is about male menopause, which is a condition that can occur in men around age 48 where they experience many symptoms of female menopause (hot flashes, fatigue), as well as sexual dysfunction. You can see Suzi perform this song, here, or alternatively, here.
Neumann (see earlier entry) was bold enough to cover Queen. On his first solo Album "Albion" (1986) was this "'39". It was of course a cover of the song of the same from Queen's classic "A Night At The Opera" album released in 1975. It was Brian May's composition and the song's lyrics tell about an astronaut who travels to a distant place at near the speed of light. Because of the time dilation that takes place, he returns home 100 years later, but he has aged only a year but his wife has long passed on and he is about the same age as his grandchildren.
Topmost (see earlier entry) recorded only 6 singles. One of those and one of their biggest hits was the cover of Procol Harum's "A Whiter Side Of Pale" released in 1967. On the B-side of that single was an often forgotten Topmost song "8. kesäkuuta" (8th of June), which was their version of Gene Pitney's hit "24 Sycamore". In the late 60's and in the 70's Gene was more popular in Europe (especially in UK) than in USA, and perhaps that's why this song was written for him by British songwriter duo Less Reed and Barry Mason. The lyrics are a bit ambiguous, and you might wonder if the "girl, the one that I just left behind at 24 Sycamore" was dead or alive ...
The story told in today's song "Enkeleitä seitsemän" (Seven angels) dates back to the days of Finnish Winter War exactly 50 years ago. It' is Kari Tapio's tribute in 1993 to the heroes of legendary Battle Of Raatteentie. The battle took place between 1st and 7th of January in 1940 and the under-powered Finnish troops won over mighty Soviet army. Kari has written the lyrics himself. But the song is originally from USA and it tells a story of the last moments of two Texan runaway lovers in Mexico. The performers Ray Charles and Willie Nelson are both legands on their own, but when they joined forces in this song, a new legend was born ... You can see them performing the song live, here.
Some of you must have noticed that Finnpicks is counting up numbers. This time we have reached number seven. Not much is known about Anita Kuusi. Her real name was Alice Taimitarha and this "Seitsemän päivää" (seven days) is her only recording and it was released in 1953. Some say this is the first Finnish rock'n roll record. Well, actually it is western swing, but that's not far away from early rock'n roll. Anita is accompanied here by "Karjapojat" (Cowboys) and the Orchestra of Onni Gideon. Onni himself plays steel guitar. The original song was called "Seven Lonely Days" and it was a US Top 10 country hit for Bonnie Lou (b. Mary Jo Kath) in 1953. A little later Bonnie Lou became one of the first female Rock & Roll stars who proved to the public that female singers could indeed sing rock and roll.
After many years of building up a solo career, Hector decided to experiment performing and recording with a rock group. He founded a group called H.E.C. which, however, was short-lived and recorded only one eponymous album in 1977. From that album was culled a single with the A-side being "Monofilharmoonikko" (Monophilharmonist). It was a cover of one of the most famous songs by American singer-songwriter Harry Chapin. The original "Six String Orchestra" (lyrics here) was on Chapin's album "Verities & Balderdash". You can see Harry perform the song, here.
Danny recorded "Vain kaksi nauhaa" (Only two ribbons) in 1981. There were 3 other Finnish versions of the same song recorded in that year. bur Danny's version turned out to be the most successful. The popularity of the song was based on the TV-series "Vastatuuleen" (Against the wind), that was hugely popular in Finland at the time. The main theme in this series was the original "Six Ribbons". It was written and performed by Jon English, who also played leading role. Jon came to fame in Australia in the stage musical "Jesus Christ Superstar" in the mid 1970s. "Against the Wind" was a 1978 Australian television mini-series. It was a historical drama portraying both the British occupation of Ireland, and the development of New South Wales and Australia.
Tapio Rautavaara (see earlier entry) recorded several country & western songs. On of those was his 1961 single "Viisi veljestä" (Five brothers). The original song was written by Tompall Glaser (of Glaser Brothers) and made popular by Marty Robbins. It was on his legendary "Gunfighter Ballads & Trail Songs" album and released also as a single. Although it was only on the B-side. "Five Brothers" is a true old Western song with a great storyline (lyrics here) that surprisingly never made the top of the Country music chart in USA, even though it reached 74 in the Pop chart.
After a successful decade, the Raittinen brothers both launched equally successful solo careers in the end of the 60's. Jussi Raittinen released many country- and rock'n roll flavoured albums in the 70's. On one of them "Mennään melomaan" (Let's go paddling), released in 1976, was this "Et voi sä estää" (You can't stop it). It was Jussi's tribute to Eddie Cochran , who recorded the original "Three Steps To Heaven" in 1960. Usually Jussi wrote the Finnish lyrics himself, but this time they came from the pen of Juha Vainio. "Three Steps To Heaven" became a posthumous UK number-one hit for Cochran following his death in a car crash in April 1960. In 1975 Showaddywaddy's cover version of this song was also a hit, reaching number 2 in the UK.
Tapani Perttu (see earlier entry) had his great breakthrough with the cover of Gilbert Becaud's "Nathalie" in 1969. On the B-side of that single was "Leikkimajan aikaan" (In the days of the playhouse). Like so many B-sides. it is now completely forgotten, but still a fine piece of music. The original "One Two Three O`Leary" was a Top 10 UK hit in 1969 for Des O`Connor. Des is an English television personality and talkshow host. Although his singing ability has been criticized frequently, he has done a successful career as a singer, recording 36 albums, four of which reached the Top 30 charts. "One Two Three O`Leary" is an old game rhyme used in childrens' ball-bouncing games.
Mona Carita recorded "Toisen oma " (Owned by another) in 1981 and it was released on the B-side of her mega-hit "Anna kulta anna" (see earlier entry). Like the A-side this was also arranged by master himself, Veikko Samuli. The song was of course shadowed by the success of the flipside, but it's still worth to listen and a fine example of the rare breed of Finnish girlie pop. The original "One Man Woman" was a small hit in 1980 for Sheena Easton (b. Sheena Shirley Orr). Sheena is a Scottish singer who became famous for being the focus of an episode in the British television program The Big Time, which recorded her attempts to gain a record contract, This song was the follow-up single for her break-through smash hit "9 to 5". You can see Sheena perform the song, here.
Today is the day one of the fresh new year 2010. Let's hope that this and the days that follow will be the best days of our lives. Anja Niskanen (see earlier entry) recorded "Paras päivä" (The best day) in 1991 on her album "Ikkuna". Surprisingly this was the first Finnish version of the original classic song. The original "One Fine Day" was written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King and was a top ten hit in the summer of 1963 for girl group the Chiffons Goffin and King were inspired by the title of the aria "Un bel di" from the Puccini opera Madama Butterfly. The song originally featured a vocal by Little Eva, but was reassigned to the Chiffons who'd had a recent number 1 with the similarly entitled "He's So Fine". The Chiffons' vocals were recorded onto the original master with the Little Eva vocal erased.