Ragni Malmsten was the daughter of great Finnish singer, composer and entertainer Georg Malmsten. Ragni recorded her first songs in the 50's duetting with her father in several popular children songs. In the 60's she had several schlager hits and in the 70's she turned more into jazz and chansons. This "Mies laatikossa" (Man in the box) is somewhat surprising (and good!)pop song from Ragni. She recorded it in 1970, and it was released on the B-side of a single. And very rarely heard since. The lyrics - again surprisingly - were provided by Jaakko Borg, who is better known as composer and arranger. The original song was called "If You Can Put That In A Bottle" and it was a minor hit in 1967 for American singer, actor and game show host John Davidson. I bet Ragni never heard of John's version but instead she covered Lill Lindfors' Swedish version of the song called "En man i byrån" (A man in the cupboard). Both the Finnish and Swedish version tell about how convenient it would be to have a man stored in a box, always ready to be used when a woman needs him ...
On her debut album "Satu" (1980), Satu Pentikäinen (see earlier entry) sang about "Mustalainen" (The Gypsy). Raul Reiman provided the lyrics for this song, that was released only as an album track. The original song "Gypsy Woman" was co-written by rockabilly/rock'n roll legend Dorsey Burnette who wrote several other tunes for teen legend Ricky Nelson ((b. Eric Hilliard Nelson). This song was released by Nelson on the B-side of his 1963 single "String Along". The other co-writer of the song was Joe Osborn, who at the time was the bass player in Ricky's backing group. Joe was also a member of the famous "Wrecking Crew", nickname for an unofficial collection of first-call studio musicians in Los Angeles. You can see Ricky Nelson perform "Gypsy Woman", here.
It's Frederik Friday again! Frederik recorded "Tuulen teitä kuljen" (I travel the ways of the wind) in 1974 for his album "En periks anna milloinkaan". It was also released as a single, on the B-side of this earlier finnpick. The original song was a minor hit for Daniel Boone, who is of course best known for his "Beautiful Sunday" hit (finnpicked here). Both the Finnish and English version of the song tell about the odd combination of love and parachuting/skydiving. In a way it's a logical follow-up to last weeks Frederik finnpick "Tule kiivetään" (Come on let's climb up) ... ;-)
Pauliina (real name Paula Erko) released her first single in 1966 as Paula Suhonen. In the 70's she began to use stage name Pauliina. She recorded several singles with no success, and appeared as a background singer on many other recordings. In 1978 she joined in the vocal group Silhuetit. So she's possibly singing on this 1978 finnpick. In 1975 Pauliina recorded this "Tahdon olla sun" (I want to be yours) to the lyrics of Chrisse Johansson. The original song was collaboration of songwriters Tony Macaulay and Keith Potger (of the Seekers). It was performed in 1975 by old axe man from the 50/60's, Duane Eddy. The song that featured Eddy's regular backing singers Rebelettes, was a surprise come-back hit for the guitarist. You can see the song performed in British Top Of The Pops TV Show, here.
Muska recorded "Koko viime yön" (Whole last night long) in 1973 for her debut album "Muska". It showcases the raw rock voice of Muska's, quite unique at the time in Finland, when it came to female singers. The original rock was called "Can You Do It" and it was third hit single (number 13 in UK) for British band Geordie. Geordie was fronted by vocalist Brian Johnson and lead guitarist Vic Malcolm. Johnson left the band in 1976 and when AC/DC needed new lead singer after the death of Bon Scott, Brian Johnson was hired in. And, of course, the rest is history ...
More gems from the year 1961. Timo Jämsen (see earlier entry) recorded "Miksi tämän teit" (Why did you do that) in 1961. It was quite popular at the time but not a chart-topper. The lyrics were written by old stalwart Sauvo "Saukki" Puhtila. "What You've Done To Me" was the name of the original song and it was one of the lesser known hits of Paul Anka. He recorded the song in 1957 duetting with a female artist called Micki Marlo. Micki worked the US variety show circuit in the 1950s and appeared on the original late-night TV talk show "Tonight Show". Micki was also a member of the cast in Ziegfeld Follies Broadway show of 1957.
Irmeli Mäkelä (see earlier entry) recorded "Salaa häntä rakastan" (I secretly love him) in 1961. It was released on the B-side of her big hit "Iwan Iwanowitch", and that's why this pretty little ditty has been largely neglected. But it is a really fine version of the original. Which was a song called "You Don't Know" performed by British teen star Helen Shapiro. It topped the UK charts for three weeks in August 1961. Irmeli recorded the song in September, so the Finns seemed to be very aware what was happening in the British pop music already in the pre-Beatles era. BTW, since Helen Shapiro had a deep timbre to her voice - unusual for a girl of her age - school friends gave her the nickname 'Foghorn'. She was only 14 when she recorded "You Don't Know".
After a long break Matti & Teppo (see earlier entry) return to Finnpicks. The duo recorded "Paljon sain, paljon näin" ( A lot I got, a lot I saw) in 1972 for their album "Kissankultaa". It was released as a single, but was not a big hit. The lyrics were provided by Vexi Salmi. The original song was guaranteed to become a hit, becouse it was written in collaboration by two successful sogwriting duos; Cook & Greenaway and Hammond & Hazlewood. The group that had the fortune to record "Freedom Come Freedom Go" was - of course - The Fortunes and they had a Top 10 hit in UK with it in 1971. You can see the group perform the song, here.
Another weekend reindez-vous with Daniel Vangarde. Arja Koriseva recorded "Villi ilta" (Wild night) in 1990 for her first album. Arja is not known for her disco songs, so this is a rare exception. The lyrics (by Turkka Mali) tell about escapades in bachelorette night. The original song "Disco Bouzouki" was written by French producers and songwriters Daniel Vangarde and Jean Kluger. It was a continental hit for a group called Bouzouki Disco Band (a.k.a Great Disco Bouzouki Band) in 1977. It was most probably a studio band put together by Vangarde and Kluger, because after one more single it vanished from the music world.
The Frederik Friday returns!. Frederik recorded "Tule kiivetään" (Come on, let's climb up) in 1977 for his album "Olen Dracula". It's not one of Frederik's best efforts, but well worth listening to, at least for the sake of curiosity. The original is namely one of Electric Light Orchestra's biggest hits, and ELO is quite rarely been covered in Finnish. "Livin' Thing" appeared first on ELO's classic 1976 album, "A New World Record". The song was released as a single and went into Top 10 in several countries. A little bit of trivia: Patti Quatro, the sister of Suzi Quatro sang uncredited vocals, particularly the 'higher and higher' parts of "Livin' Thing".
Here's a rare single form Kristian. He recorded "Vaaraa" (Danger) in 1975. It was three years since his previous single ("Se syntikö on", finnpicked here) and the public had obviously forgotten about him, becouse the single was a flop. The lyrics were provided by Heikki "Hector" Harma. The trigger for this single release was of course the David Bowie's version of the original "Sorrow", being a Top 10 hit for him in 1973. The song was, however, recorded originally in the 60's. It was written by US songwriter trio Bob Feldman, Jerry Goldstein and Richard Gottehrer for the group The McCoys. But it was made a hit by British beat band The Merseys. The Merseys was a duo formed by two former members of the Liverpudlian group The Merseybeats; Tony Crane and Billy Kinsley. This song, their first single, reached number 4 in the UK charts in 1966. I present here also the excellent Finnish cover by Muska from the year 1993, with different lyrics and titled "Anteeks" (Sorry).
Markku Aro and Nisa Soraya recorded "Tra la la" in 1984. This 'kind-of-sexy' song provided a small summer hit for them at the time. Nisa was born in Birmingham England, but moved in Singapore at early age and eventually ended up in Finland in 1980. She started her recording career in 1981 by duetting just with Markku Aro. The original "Tralala" was written by Dutch songwriter and producer Eddy Ouwens and it was the only international hit for Dutch male & female duo Phil & Company (the female singer was called "Phil"). You can see the couple perform the song, here. In 2004 a Swedish pop singer Günther made a re-vamped disco version of this song called "Ding Dong Song".
In our randomly appearing series "Both Sides Now" we now present the flipside of yesterday's Paula Koivuniemi's single. It was called "Niin se mietittiin" (That's the way it was figured out) and like the "A.i.e" this song has also fallen in oblivion. Which is sad, becouse it's one fine catchy pop tune. The original song was written and performed by entertainer legend Bobby Darin (b. Walden Robert Perciville Cassotto) in his country days in 1962. This "Things" was also big country chart hit for him. The song became even more popular in 1967, when performed by Dean Martin and Nancy Sinatra.
Updated on 14.09.2010; added the first Finnish version "Kurkkija oot" (Snooper you) by Katri Helena and Matti Paalosmaa.
Well, here's another treat from Daniel Vangarde. Paula Koivuniemi recorded "A.i.e" in 1979. It was released as a single but it was not a hit. The nonsense lyrics were from the lyrics factory of Chrisse Johansson. The original song "A-I-E-A-O-A" was part of a project called "Yamasuki". It was the brainchild of French pop composers Jean Kluger and Daniel Vangarde. In 1971 they released a concept album "Le Monde Fabuleux Des Yamasuki". It included a renowned black-belt Judo master to introduce the tracks, which were all sung in Japanese by a school choir. This "A-I-E-A-O-A " -track was also released as a single. However, the song did not break through, until it was re-worked by Belgian disco group Black Blood in 1975, with Swahili lyrics and a more African vibe. In 1981, "Aie a Mwana" became the first single released by English girl group Bananarama.
Now being weekend we present a song called "Viikonloppu" (Weekend). It was first recorded in Finnish by girl group Seidat in 1972, but that recording I unfortunately don't have. Instead here's the most known Finnish version by Kisu, recorded in 1973 for his "Kun paljon antaa" album. The lyrics were written by veteran lyricist Kari Tuomisaari. The original song called "Sitamalobadudo" was written by our old French friend, songwriter and producer Daniel Vangarde. I don't exactly know who recorded the original version, but the Spanish beat group Los Diablos (finnpicked before, see here) had a big hit with it in 1971 with the title "Fin de semana" (Weekend) and I guess it was just their version that inspired Finnish artists.
Fredi concludes our "time" -related mini series. He recorded "Sun kanssas kohtaan huomisen" (I'll face tomorrow with you) in 1970. It was released as a single on the B-side of "Sympatiaa" (see ealier entry). This beautiful ballad was put into words by Matti Siitonen, i.e. Fredi himself. The Master of Melody, Neil Sedaka (together with his songwriting partner Howard Greenfield), was responsible for the original song "My World Keeps Getting Smaller Every Day". It was written especially for Eydie Gorme, who took it to number 24 in the US Adult Contemporary Chart in 1070. But we present here Neil's own heartrending version.
Now it's time to switch from past to the future. The next couple of Finnpicks deal with the songs that look into future. Anita Hirvonen recorded "Olen valmis aikoihin parempiin" (I'm ready for better times) in 1977 for her album "Sydän rakastaa". It remained only an album track, but is well worth of reviewing, like many of Anita' songs. The lyrics were provided by Chrise Johansson. The original song was called "Ready For The Times To Get Better", and it was a sizeable hit (not in Finland, though) for American country singer Crystal Gayle. It was Gayle's fourth number one on the US country singles chart. The song hit the number one in 1978, so Anita was obviously well ahead of time to record it already in the previous year. Or, Crystal's version is not the original. Well, nevertheless, both versions are excellent, and the song has one of those haunted melody lines that you want to listen to over and over again.
It's hard to understand why this man wasn't a big star. Heikki Pietiläinen recorded some pop ballads in the 70's and as you can hear from this 1975 "Niin aika rientää" (So the time flies) -song, he got the vocal potential to become a great Finnish crooner. But for some reason he faded away. As far as I know he released only one single (in 1975) and contributed to several 'Various Artists' compilation albums. In 1991 he released a cassette(!) with songs primarily in the classical music vein. It would be nice to know where is he now? The original of today's Finnpick was "My Eyes Adored You", a big hit for Frankie Valli (b. Francis Stephen Castelluccio). It was originally recorded by The Four Seasons in early 1974. But after their record label did not release it, the recording was sold to lead singer Frankie Valli for 4000 dollars. After rejections by several record labels, Valli succeeded in getting the recording released on Private Stock Records, but it's owner wanted only Valli's name on the record. The single was released under Frankie Valli's name and topped the Billboard Hot 100 in March 1975.
Yesterday's Finnpick was a song for "years gone by". And, literally, so is today's. Carola recorded "Se oli silloin" (That was then) in 1970. The lyrics (by Lasse Mårtenson, using the pseudonym "Savinainen") told about the colourful events that took place in Finland during the decade of 60's. The original song had the same theme. It was of Swedish origin and was called "Ljuva sextital" (Wonderful 60's). It was the first big hit composition for future Abba trio Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus and Stikkan Anderson and it was performed by Brita Borg. Brita was the 50's schlager queen in Sweden, and represented her country in the 1959 Eurovision Song Contest with "Augustin". Later she was popular as revue artist. This "Ljuva sextital" was her last pop hit.
By coincidence, the following 5 finnpicks share the same theme - the concept of TIME (in the Finnish versions, that is). We start with a very rare recording (sorry for the inferior quality) titled "Laulu menneille vuosille" (A song for years gone by), made by a singer named Camilla (b. Camilla Ståhle) in 1980. Camilla started her career in the 70's as a schlager singer, later turning into jazz singing (collaborating with e.g. Finnish jazz legend Heikki Sarmanto), and presently she's performing troubadour songs. The original tune, an intrumental called "Ballade pour Adeline" ("Ballad for Adeline) was composed by the Frenchmen Paul de Senneville and Olivier Toussaint as a tribute to Paul's newborn daughter, Adeline. The first recording was done by famous French pianist Richard Clayderman (b. Philippe Pagès) For the recording, the then 23 year old Clayderman was auditioned along with 20 other pianists and got the job, becouse "he was an interesting musician with a soft touch and good technique, and he looked good, too (Olivier Toussaint)". You can see Richard perform the tune, here.
This is the last entry in our Finnpicks ChinniChap Week volume 1. Kirka recorded "Siskosein" (Sister of mine) in 1973 for his album "Rautaa ja kettinkiä". The lyrics were provided by Pertsa Reponen. This nice song is sadly forgotten. The original song "Sister Jane" was a minor hit for the Australian pop group New World in 1972. They are best known for their Top 10 hit "Tom-Tom Turnaround", which was released in 1971 and was the first hit for writers Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman. They also recorded a ChinniChap song called "Living Next Door to Alice" (hear it here) 1972, but it was a was a flop. This song of course would become a worldwide hit for Smokie in 1976. You can see New World perform the "Sister Jane" song in a rare promotional film, here.
Here's another Karma song and the second one of their ChinniChap & Sweet covers. They recorded "Katujen uhka" (Threat on the streets) in 1973. It was released as a single, but did not repeat the success of "Wig wam bam". The original song "Blockbuster" proved to be The Sweet's only British number 1; it stayed at the top for 5 weeks. This song featured an air-raid siren and in fact, "Blockbuster" was originally a World War 2 newspaper name for a large bomb, which had enough explosive power to destroy an entire city block. You can see The sweet perform the song in Top of the Pops, here.
Karma (see earlier entry) was a pop-rock/country-rock group formed in 1972. And their first single (1973) was "Wig wam bam". It wasn't their biggest hit, but very popular anyway. Vexi Salmi wrote the lyrics. The original "Wig Wam Bam" was the sixth consecutive ChinniChap hit for The Sweet. The first verse is about lovers Hiawatha and Minnehaha, who were fictional characters from the 1855 poem "The Song of Hiawatha" by famous American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The second verse is about Running Bear and Little White Dove from the popular 60's hit song "Running Bear". You can see Sweet perform "Wig Wam Bam", here.
Kirka got a big hit with his recording of "Pikku veli" (Little brother) in 1972. The lyrics were provided by Pertsa Reponen. You can see Kirka in action, performing this song, here. The original "Little Willy" continued the ChinniChap line of hits for The Sweet. This was the first ChinniChap single the band actually played on. This was also their first big US hit. The lead vocals were - as always at the time - done by Brian Connolly. You can see Sweet perform the song, here.
Eddy (see earlier entry) recorded "Pappa Joe" in 1972 and scored a Top 20 hit with it. The original "Poppa Joe" was ChinniChap's 4th UK Top 40 hit in a row for The Sweet. The song bears some Caribbean influences. It topped the cahrts in at least 8 countries, including Finland. You can see Sweet perform the song, here.