Tuesday, January 01, 2008

2008: ANNO DOMENICO - Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, it's 2008 and I wish all Eurocovers readers a fantastic year. May some of your wishes come true and may there always be something to wish for.

Anno Domenico ©
2008 at Eurocovers will be Anno Domenico ©. After last years celebration of the 40 year anniversary of Sandie Shaw's Puppet On A String in The Year Of The Puppet we go back 50 years this time to pay hommage to the best selling Eurovision song Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu (Volare) written and performed by Domenico Modugno. By now you know many details about the history of the song already but there's more in 2008, and of course a host of interesting, cool, rare and odd coverversions of the Italian evergreen.
And there will be info on Volare celebrations held in Italy this year: There will be a Volare stamp, TV shows, concerts and releases spread all over 2008.

2008 will also see a new Eurovision, in Belgrade, Serbia and a record 43 countries will participate in this edition. National selections will see hundreds of artists trying to get a ticket to the Balkan and several of them have recorded coverversions of Eurovision songs. They will all be here.

I have prepared several Anno Domenico © posts already but I had a hard time to start somewhere. Currently the list of Volare coverversions counts 1060 (and rising). The famous and the forgotten, the obvious and the obscure, the polka, the punk & the philharmonic, so much to choose from.

I decided to kick off Anno Domenico © with a favorite version from 1958. Several American artists have recorded the song before Modugno had his breakthrough with his song but none of them stole his thunder. One of them is featured here.

Jesse Belvin (1932 - 1960)
Jesse Lorenzo Belvin was a soul singer from Los Angeles (but born in San Antonio, Texas) and he only spent 28 years on this earth, but not without leaving his marks on 20th music history.
His first chart hit was in 1953 with Dream Girl (Jesse & Marvin). He co-wrote Earth Angel, a 1954 hit for the Penguins, and later for the Crew-Cuts and much much later for New Edition (1986). His second band The Shields, also featuring Johnny Guitar Watson, scored a hit with You Cheated (1958). The most successful Belvin hits were Goodnight My Love (1958) and Guess Who (1959) from his first solo LP Just Jesse.
Tragedy struck when after a concert with stars like Sam Cooke and Jackie Wilson, Jesse Belvin and his wife Anne died in a car accident in Arkansas. It was just before his third album Mr. Easy (his nickname) was released.

Jesse Belvin's wonderful soul-voiced version of Volare, sung in English and Italian, was released on a 7" single in the US in July 1958 (RCA Victor 47-7310). It was his 30th single.

Jesse Belvin recorded for various labels like Specialty, Imperial, Modern, RCA-Victor, King and Knight. His RCA recordings (including Volare) are collected on the recommended 2CD Guess Who - The RCA Victor Recordings (ACE records, UK) which was released in 2004 and is available in any good music store and in most internet CD shops.
♫ Jesse Belvin / Jesse Belvin

You can find a detailed Jesse Belvin discography here.

Also check out these 2007 Eurocovers posts that feature versions of Volare:
Jazz legend Oscar Peterson, Brasilian superstar Leny Eversong, Chorrujumo, 10.000 Eurocovers featuring Milva, Wayne Newton, Dolores Duran, Gery Scott & Earl Grant. Ella Fitzgerald, Luciano Pavarotti & G4 , Lithuanian Mino and La Grande Dame De France: Juliette Greco.

Some facts about Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu (Volare)
The song was written by Domenico Modugno (music) and Franco Migliacci (lyrics). The most used English lyrics are written by Mitchell Parish.
The song was written in 1957 but was first launched at the eighth San Remo contest (Final Februari 1st) where it was performed twice. Once by Domenico Modugno and once by Johnny Dorelli.
Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu won the San Remo song contest and Modugno represented Italy in the third Eurovision Song Contest in 1958 in Hilversum, The Netherlands at the 12th of March.

The contest was won by France's Dors Mon Amour by André Claveau and Modugno ended third with 13 points. 2 times 4 from Belgium and Germany and five times 1 point. And zero poing from Denmark and Luxemburg.

But Modugno laughed all the way to the bank, as his song , soon known as Volare (after the refrain) became one of the top 100 best selling singles of 20st century, a US #1 hit, A grammy winner and one of the most covered songs with several lives in most decades since the original recording.
Volare won the first ever Grammy for a song in 1958. Both for song of the year and record of the year.

More facts to come….

1 comment:

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