Monday, January 31, 2011

I'll Meet You At Midnight - Keskiyön aikaan

Now begins the 3rd and final Finnpicks Chinnichap Week. We present Finnish covers of the songs written by British songwriting duo Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman. Markku Aro got a big hit with Chinnichap's "Crazy" (see it finnpicked, here) and he scored another one with "Keskiyön aikaan" (Around midnight) in 1977. In addition to catchy melody, the lyrics by Juha Vainio and the arrangement by Veikko Samuli were first class. The original song "I'll Meet You At Midnight" was one of the biggest hits for Smokie. The group started it's recording career in 1970 as Kindness (you can hear their first single here) After joining the Chinnichap stable their name was changed to Smokey. And after couple of succesful singles they changed it to Smokie as the American soul legend Smokey Robinson threatened to file a law suit, alleging that the band's name would confuse the audience.

Here's the pair:

Sunday, January 30, 2011

There’s A Guy Works Down The Chip Shop Swears He's Elvis - Rautalankamalli

Taiska recorded "Rautalankamalli" (Wire model) in 1982 for her album "Oma tie". The lyrics were provided by Raul Reiman. Pity this wasn't released as a single. The original song had one of the longest titles in a succesful pop song, "There’s A Guy Works Down The Chip Shop Swears He's Elvis". It was performed and co-written by Kirsty MacColl, the daughter of famous English folk singer Ewan MacColl (Ewan finnpicked here, and Kirsty here). It was Kirsty's first hit single, charting in the UK at number 14 in 1981. BTW, the "chip shop" is a take-away, selling fish-and-chips and other hot fast food for hungry Britons. You can see Kirsty perform the "Chip Shop" -song, here.

Here's the pair:

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Marlena - Marleena

The beauty queen and singer Armi Aavikko recorded "Marleena" in 1986. It was relesed on Danny's album "Danny Ninja" on which Armi performed as a guest artist. It wasn't a success story at the time, which is sad, becouse it got that certain kind of appeal. The original "Marlena" was of German origin. The writers of the song, Wolfgang Jass and Wolf-Eckehardt Stein wrote many hits for Geman pop and dicso artists. One of the best known of their compositios is "Sun Of The Jamaica", which was a massive hit for Goombay Dance Band. And this song "Marlena" was one of the groups lesser known singles in 1985. Goombay Dance Band was formed by German singer Oliver Berndt (b. Jörg Knoch),.The band is named after a small bay on the Caribbean island of St. Lucia., where Oliver stayed in the 70's.

Here's the pair:

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Ways Of A Woman In Love - Kun ei niin ei

Tapio Rautavaara had a voice that suited well for country songs. And he also did record several conuntry & western covers. One of them was this "Kun ei niin ei" (When it's no, it's no) that he recorded in collaboration with vocal group Neloset in 1962. The lyrics were done by Tapio himself. Also Rauli Badding Somerjoki did later another Finnish version of the song. You can hear it here. The original was called "The Ways Of A Woman In Love" and it was written by Charlie Rich and made popular by another country legend Johnny Cash in 1958. You can see him perform the song in this rare filmclip from that particular year.

Here's the pair:

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Ballad Of The Green Berets - Balladi punaisista bareteista

The vocal group Kivikasvot was formed when the members met while serving in the army, so it's only natural that they should do this particular cover. They recorded "Balladi punaisista bareteista" (The ballad of the red berets) in 1966. It was releasd as a single but in popularity it came second to it's flipside, the cover of Beach Boys' "Barbara Ann". The lyrics were provided by Sauvo "Saukki" Puhtila. The color of the berets was changed from the original green into red, becouse at the time there were no green berets in military use in Finland. In the 60's, the berets were just introduced, the first ones being red (actually maroon), and they were handed out to Parachute Troopers after their first jump. The original song "Ballad Of The Green Berets" told about the Special Forces of US Army. In addition to being the headdress of the Special Forces, "Green Berets" is also a well known nickname of the organization. The song was co-written and performed in 1966 by Staff Sergeant Barry Sadler. It became a fast-selling single, reaching number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The recording was encouraged by writer Robin Moore, author of the novel "The Green Berets". This book became a 1968 movie, "The Green Berets", starring John Wayne, with "The Ballad of the Green Berets" arranged in a choral version as the title song of the film.

Here's the pair:

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Christine - Christine

Now, here's an interesting finnpick. Tarja-Tuulikki Tarsala recorded "Christine" in 1968 for the compilation album "Riemurasia". It was never released as a single and I think it never got played on the radio. At least I've never heard it played. So, this might be the "world premiere" in media for this Finnish version. The reason for it's neglect was of course the risque content; Tarja-Tuulikki's provocative delivery and the sparse, double entendre lyrics (by Jukka Virtanen). Tarsala was an actor so she did not record more than couple of songs as a solo and a couple more as a member of vocal group Stidit. BTW, the final sentence of the song - "now try the flipside" - refers to this song being the last track on the A-side of the album. The original song was released in 1963, and performed by Miss X. It was a minor in UK hit in 1963 around the time of the Christine Keeler and John Profumo (British Secretary of State for War) sex and spy scandal, hence the title "Christine". Miss X was actually British actress Joyce Blair (sister of actor/musical arranger Lionel Blair). She dubbed herself Miss X because there was a Miss X cited in the Profumo court case. The song was banned by the BBC and Radio Luxembourg. "Christine" was written by Spanish actor Don Jaime de Mora y Aragón (he plays piano on the original record) in collaboration with British writer, composer and lyricist Leslie Bricusse.

Here's the pair:

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

El Lute - El Lute

We have presented recently various Finnish female artists whose recording careers were short and unsuccessful. Well, here's another one. Jaana (real name Jaana Hermunen) recorded a couple of singles and although this "El Lute" was played frequently on the radio in 1980, the chart success avoided her. The excellent lyrics were written by Vexi Salmi. The original "El Lute" originated from Germany. The song that Jaana covered was a worldwide hit for Boney M in 1979, but the original German language version was sung by Michael Holm. You can see him perform the song, here. The "El Lute" of the song was a Spanish criminal Eleuterio Sánchez Rodríguez, who at one time was listed as Spain's "Most Wanted" criminal (much like *Ma Baker' in another Bomey M hit). He became a legendary outlaw who escaped several times from prison after being convicted and sentenced to 30 years for murder. While in prison, he learned to read, earned a law degree, and wrote a best-selling book. He was pardoned and released in 1981, at the age of 39. Although this happened in Spain under Franco regime, he was not a freedom fighter and his crimes were not of political nature. So, the lyrics in all of the song versions are over-romanticized in large scale. During a promotional visit in Spain, Boney M met him and gave him a golden record for the sales of the single. You can see Boney M perform the "El Lute" song, here.

Here's the pair:

Monday, January 24, 2011

Gotta Travel On - Nyt nostan kytkimen

Carola released the single "Nyt nostan kytkimen" (Now I'll release the clutch) in 1964. It was a minor hit but her most successful years were still to come. Thr lyrics were provided by Johan "Mosse" Viksted., who is best known for being a legendary boss of a record company and helping to build the career for such artists as Lasse Mårtenson and Carola. The covered song was called "Gotta Travel On". It was made popular by Billy Grammer, an American country music singer and noted guitar player. The song was million-selling single in 1959 and made it onto both the country and pop music charts.

Here's the pair:

Friday, January 21, 2011

Brown Eyed Girl - Perjantai - Punatukkainen

It's time again for "a song of the day". Kisu recorded "Perjantai" (Friday) for his 1976 album "Tunteet". It is completely forgotten track, which is quite peculiar, becouse the original is such a classic song. It is "Brown Eyed Girl", the signature song of Irishman Van Morrison. It was the first solo single for him after he left the group Them. It was first released in May 1967 on the album "Blowin' Your Mind!". When released as a single, it reached number 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart. It featured the Sweet Inspirations (Cissy "Whitney's mother" Houston and Lee "Dionne's sister" Warwick) singing back-up vocals. In Finland the song was later (1998) covered with different lyrics - with the title "Punatukkainen" (Red-haired) by singer and songwriter Aki Sirkesalo, who sadly passed away six years later in Thailand in the tsunami of 2004.

Here's the triplet:

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Jak to dziewczyna - Varjojen yö

For his 1965 album "Lasse Mårtenson" Lasse Mårtenson recorded the song "Varjojen yö" (Night of the shadows). The excellent moody lyrics were done by Reino Helismaa. The original song was of Polish origin. It was called "Jak to dziewczyna" (Like a girl) and it tells a story about a poor piano player who one day created a girl out of the notes played on his piano, and fell in love with her. The song was made popular by singer and actor Jerzy Polomski (real name Jerzy Pajak), who scored many pop and schlager hits in Poland in the 60's and 70's. You can see a rare promotional film of the song, here. Another popular version was done by Polish songstress Irena Santor. You can see her perform the song, here. This dark eerie song has also been versioned several times in Finnish. Here is one popular one, performed by Topi Sorsakoski and Agents.

Here's the pair:

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Big Ship - Sinutko saan

It's been a long time since we last presented Sammy Babitzin. Today he's making his Finnpicks come-back. Sammy recorded "Sinutko saan" (Will I get you) in 1969 and it was released as a single, but it sunk without a trace. Sammy's success was still a year away. The original song was titled "Big Ship" and it was written by Raymond Froggatt, a singer and songwriter from Birmingham, England. It was a Top Ten hit for Cliff Richard in 1969. The lyrics (also by Froggatt) make no sense at all, but the core message becomes clear: "Love is like a big ship, following me".

Here's the pair:

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

He's An Indian Cowboy In The Rodeo - Oikea Cowboy

A singer named Paula (not to be confused with Paula of vocal duo Tuula ja Paula) recorded a couple of non-successful solo singles in the 70's and contributed several covers in cheap compilation albums. And that's all I know of her, really. This "Oikea cowboy" (A real cowboy) was on one of those singles in 1973. It's lyrics were done by Chrisse Johansson. The original song was written and performed by Buffy Sainte Marie ((b. Beverly Sainte-Marie) - finnpicked before, see here and here. The song was originally called "He's An Indian Cowboy In The Rodeo" It was a big country hit single in USA in 1971. It also appears on her compilation album "Native North American Child: An Odyssey" released in 1974.

Here's the pair:

Monday, January 17, 2011

Push Push Man - Pus-pus mies

Seitsemän Seinähullua Veljestä (see earlier entry) released the album "Sinne sun tänne ja takaisin" in 1978. It wastheit best-selling album and it aslo produced two hit singles. This "Pus-pus mies" (Kiss-kiss man) was one of the popular album tracks. The lyrics about the 'super-kisser' were crafted by Pertsa Reponen. The original song was called "Push Push Man" and it was a big disco hit for a group called Mafia. It ws most probably a German studio combo, becouse I have not found any information on them, and there were no further hits. The composer of the song was Howard Carpendale,, South African -born singer who made a very successful career in Germany as a schlager singer in the 60's and 70's.

Here's the pair:

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Per un amore - Rakkauden tähden

Lea Valonen recorded only one single. "Rakkauden tähden" (For love) was released in 1968 under her first name Lea. The arranger was Aarno Raninen and the lyrics were maid by Sauvo Puhtila. I'm sorry but I know nothing about Lea. This single went nowwhere and she quit recording. The original song came from Italy. It was called "Per un amore" (For love) and it was a big Italian hit for a singer named Vibeke. Well I don't know anything about her, either. But both of these versions of unknown girls are well worth listen to.

Here's the pair:

Friday, January 14, 2011

When Your Heart Is Full Of Love - Sen tietää kun onnen löytää saa

Juhani Markola sometimes covered songs that were quite unknown, but nevertheless interesting and enchanting. This is one of those songs. "Sen tietää kun onnen löytää saa" (You'll know when you find happiness) was released in 1977 both as a single and an album track on his "Rakkaudella" album. The lyrics were provided by Pertsa Reponen. The original song was a minor European hit for American Chris Montez (b. Ezekiel Christopher Montanez) in 1972. Chris is of course best remembered by his smash hit "Let's Dance" in 1962. He did a sort of come-back in Europe 10 years later with some English- and Spanish -language records, and this "When Your Heart Is Full Of Love" is an example of those.

Here's the pair:

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Mark My Words - Usko pois

This song resembles somewhat yesterdays finnpick. Birgitta Leinonen recorded "Usko pois" (You better believe) in 1981, and had a minor hit with it. Birgitta was Miss Finland pageant in 1980 and was part of the "Hot Roller Honeys" dance girl group. This single was her one and only recording. The original song was called "Mark My Words" and it was of Norwegian-German origin. It was co-written by Norwegian producer, songwriter and guitarist Thore Engen who as the man behind the songs performer - Chrissy (b. Tone Senstad). Tone was one of the first punks in Norway. She became pop star after winning the radio competition European Radio Pop Jury. This single "Mark My Words" was released in 1980 in several countries and sold at least 500000 copies in Europe. That made it one off the biggest hits to come from Norway ever in pre- A-HA days. You can see Chrissy perform the song here.

Here's the pair:

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Alternate Title - Voitko lopettaa

Arto Sotavalta recorded "Voitko lopettaa" in 1967 and it was released on the B-side of his big hit single "Löysin rantein" (finnpicked here) The lyrics were written by Arto himself. The original song was written by Monkee Micky Dolenz as "Randy Scouse Git" while visiting England and after partying with Beatles. The nonsense title is a modern day English idiom (deriven from a popular TV show) meaning something like 'sexually aroused Liverpudlian jerk'. So, we can easily spot some odd reference to Beatles. The record company refused to release the song under that title and asked Micky to come up with an alternate title, And he did just what was requested. Hence the title "Alternate Title". The song was a Top 5 hit for The Monkees in UK, but was not released as a single worldwide. However, it was the last track on their "Headquarters" album. You can see them perform the song here in unfortunatle badly off-sync video clip.

Here's the pair:

Monday, January 10, 2011

Mr. Monday - Huomispäivään - Maanantai

This is a song for today. Markku Aro recorded "Maanantai" (Monday) in 1974. It was never released as a single, and it was not on any of Markku's own albums. It was released only on the compilation album "Soitellaan 4". The original Finnish version was, however, done by a singer named Simon Scott (b. Veikko Salonen) (see earlier entry) in 1971, released on his sole album "Simon Scott". It was titled "Huomispäivään" (Till tomorrow) and the lyrics were provided by Chrisse Johansson. The original song "Mr. Monday" was witten by songwriter duo Dennis Lambert and Brian Potter. Their works have been finnpicked before, here and here . The song was a big hit in 1969 in Japan and Canada for the Canadian folk-pop group The Original Caste. The groups style was characterized by rich tight vocals and a clean sound not unlike The Carpenters and the Mamas & The Papas.

Here's the triplet:

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Marinai donne e guai - Merimiehet nainen tuska

Today is the 83rd birthday of Italian singer and composer Domenico Modugno. His songs have been frequently covered in Finnish. Here's one of the lesser known examples. Tuulikki Eloranta (who has earlier made a 'guest appearance' in Finnpicks, see here) recorded "Merimiehet nainen tuska" (The sailors, the woman, the pain) in 1971. The lyrics were written by a famous Finnish poet Jarkko Laine. It was released as a single, but sunk without a trace. It was most unfortunate, becouse it was an excellent beat version of the original one. And it was a song called "Marinai donne e guai" (Sailors, women and troubles) from the Italian 1958 movie of the same name, It was written and performed by Domenico Modugno. In that same year he did his major international breakthrough with "Nel blu dipinto di blu", better known as "Volare".

Here's the pair:

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Pepe - Pepe

Rauni Pekkala (see earlier entry) recorded "Pepe" in 1961. It was also covered by Brita Koivunen in the same year, but Rauni's version was more popular. Both used the same lyrics made by Kari Tuomisaari. The original song was written by German composer Hans Wittstatt in 1956 as "Andalusisches Mädchen" (Andalusian girl). Some years later it was transformed in English to "Pepe" and in 1960 it was interpreted by Shirley Jones in the film of the same name. You can see the performance here. In 1961 Caterina Valente covered the song and obtained a Top Ten hit in Germany. And I think that's where Rauni's song got it's inspiration.

Here's the pair:

Friday, January 7, 2011

Deeper And Deeper - Riemua riittää

Markku Karjalainen makes his Finnpicks debut (although his song can be found as a 'bonus track' here). He was quite popular pop singer in 1973-74 making couple of singles and one album. But after his megahit "Läähätän ja läkähdyn" in 1973, his glory day were soon over - for some reason. This "Riemua riittää" (Fun lasts) was a track on his sole album "M.m.m" (1974). The lyrics were provided by Pertsa Reponen. The original song "Deeper And Deeper" was the from the pens Mike 'Harvey' Price and Dan Walsh, two Los Angeles based songwriters. It was a non-charted 1973 single of an American pop music group Bo Donaldson and The Heywoods. They are known mainly for their 1974 number one hit single "Billy Don't Be A Hero" (originally done in UK by Paper Lace). This "Deeper And Seeper" was the single that preceded their breakthrough "Billy" -single. BTW, Bo Donaldson was the band's keyboard player Robert Walter "Bo" Donaldson.

Here's the pair:

Thursday, January 6, 2011

He Is Your Brother - Mielin määrin

The three Kiviharju sisters known as Seidat (see earlier entry) recorded "Mielin määrin" (Anyway you like) in 1973 for their "Seidat" -album. The lyrics were made by another Finnish pop star Arto Sotavalta. The original was "He Is Your Brother", recorded in 1972 by ABBA, at the time known as 'Björn & Benny, Agnetha & Anni-Frid'. It was only issued as a single in Scandinavia, and was taken from the group's debut album Ring Ring, which was released in 1973. As ABBA had not yet achieved a great following outside of their native Sweden at the time, the song only charted in Scandinavian countries. In Sweden, it did not reach the sales chart, but was a big radio hit. ou can see ABBA perform the song during the group's tour inAustralia in 1977, here.

Here's the pair:

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Hello Mr. Business Man - Raskas työ

After presenting so many smooth female voices recently, it's now time to change into more manly rendition. Kirka recorded "Raskas työ" (Hard work) for his 1981 "Kirka" -album. The lyrics were again provided by Raul Reiman. Although this song had some single potential it remained just as an album track. The original song came from Germany. The writer was producer-songwriter Bernd Möhrle (finnpicked earlier here and here) . The performing artist was a female disco duo called Le Angeli. They had a continental disco hit with this song originally titled as "Hello Mr. Business Man" in 1981. You can see them perform their other hit "Easy Lovin', Easy Livin" here.

Here's the pair:

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

La chanson orientale - Yhdet ainoat autonvalot

This song is strangely enchanting. Ritva Palukka recorded only two singles, and this "Yhdet ainoat autonvalot" (Only one pair of headlights) was on the B-side of the first one. On the B-side was Ritva's version of the 1965 Eurovision song contest winner "Poupee de cire poupee de son". This B-side is unfairly forgotten, becouse it is far better than the A-side (at least in my opinion). The original song "Le chanson oriental" (The oriental song) was a European hit for French singer and crooner Sacha Distel (b. Alexandre Distel). Besides being a singer he also was an exceptional jazz guitarist. Sacha was a romantic icon who in France became a latterday Maurice Chevalier. The song tells a story of a man who meets a strange beautiful dancer while holidaying in the Orient.

Here's the pair:

Monday, January 3, 2011

Mama Lorraine - On hienoa olla ihminen

Let's pick another goodie from Katri Helena's 1981 album "Kotimaa". This "On hienoa olla ihminen" (It's fine to be human) is another masterpiece of Katri and lyricist Raul Reiman. And the arrangement is also first class; done by Veikko Samuli. The original song was also this time coming from Germany. The writer was Bernd Dietrich, who also wrote earlier Finnpicks "Banaania poskeen" (see here) and "Tavataanko taas" (see here) and the performer G. G. Anderson. His real name is Gerd Günther Grabowski and he was quite successful especially as a composer, but also as a producer and performer during the Eurodisco -era of 70's and and 80's. You can see him perform this "Mama Lorraine", here.

Here's the pair:

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Rio Bravo - Altaelva

Katri Helena recorded "Altaelva" in 1981. It was released on her album "Kotimaa" and also as a single, which however did not have chart success. The lyrics (by Raul Reiman) deal with the "Altaelva controversy". The river Altaelva lies in the municipality of Alta in Finnmark county, Norway. During the 1970s and 80s, the river was the site of a controversy regarding the construction of a hydroelectric power plant. The original song got also it's title from a river. "Rio Bravo" was a big hit for a Lithuanian-German schlager singer Lena Valaitis. It was a follow-up single for her 1981 Eurovision success "Johnny Blue" (also covered by Katri Helena), both written by Ralph Siegel.

Here's the pair:

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Soul Dance - Hippojen jälkeen

As the New Year parties should now be over, this song "Hippojen jälkeen" (After the party) is well in place, And at the same time we start the 2011 Finnpicks Year with style. This 1964 song was recorded by a group of the Finnish finest 60's singers. Eino Grön, Vieno Kekkonen, Laila Kinnunen, Brita Koivunen and Kai Lind - all presented in the earlier Finnpicks entries - sing this song with immacukate style. The original tune was called "Soul Dance" and was performed by Tommy Leonetti (b. Nicola Tomaso Lionetti). Tommy was an American pop singer-songwriter and actor of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970, who had no big hits.. This "Soul Dance" bubbled under Billboard Hot 100 in the beginning of 1964.

Here's the pair: