Friday, July 27, 2007

1973: Lars Forsell (1928-2007) - Breasts like swallows

I just read at ESCtoday that the Swedish author Lars Forsell has passed away at age 79.
Lars Forsell earned his accolade in Eurovision History with the lyrics for the Swedish entry of 1973 You Are Summer (You Never Tell Me No) by Nova.

Both the English Eurovision version and the original Swedish version Sommar'n Som Aldrig Säger Nej (with the band going under the name Malta) got their place in the history books on the shelf for being the first Eurovision song ever to mention breasts. (Your breasts are like swallows in nestling).
In todays Eurovision it's not uncommon to hear about popping cherries, something to suck on or all kinds of candy being handed out, but for its time the mention of any parts of the female anatomy was not done and at least something for the press to rant about.

The best illustration for this is the set of coverversions of the song made by the Bendik Singers from Norway. They covered the song in Swedish, with the original lyrics, breasts included, but in their Norwegian version Du Er Sommer the mention of breasts is replaced for something less provocative like happiness or so.
The Bendik singers themselves represented Norway in the 1973 contest with It's just a game.
Their versions of the Swedish entry appeared on 70's hits LP's like Svensktoppar. (exact details welcome)

Lars Forsell at Svenska Akademien (in Swedish).

Monday, July 23, 2007

10.000: # 2 - L'Amour Est Bleu - Vicky (1967)

# 2 in the top 10 most covered Eurovision songs is another non-winner (i.e. loser) that became one of the most recognisable melodies of all time. Vicky (Leandros) sang L'Amour Est Bleu, written by Pierre Cour & André Popp to a 4th place for Luxembourg in 1967 Eurovision in Vienna. Vicky recorded the song in French, German, Italian, English (2 versions), Dutch and the jury is still out on her Japanese version which is supposed to be released on a megarare flexi.

# 2
- L'Amour Est Bleu
- Vicky
- 530 versions listed

The song was covered in many languages back in 1967 and some did even do well but it wasn't a vocal version that made the song immortal. In 1968 Paul Mauriat and his orchestra scored a worldwide hit with an instrumental version of the song titled Love Is Blue.
5 million singles were sold and the record stayed 7 weeks at #1 in the US. It must have broken Lyricist Pierre Cours heart (& bank?) that the wordless version became the big hit and the blueprint for so many versions.

You can find Paul Mauriats 1976 disco re-invention of Love Is Blue in the very first Eurocovers post.

The famous people doing L'Amour Est Bleu / Love Is Blue: Bing Crosby, Sacha Distel, Eydie Gormé, Byron Lee, Al Martino, Johnny Mathis, Andy Williams, Jeff Beck (U.K. #23 hit) and piano virtuoso extraordinaire Liberace.

Eurovision Stars: Rachel, Michele Torr, Bob Benny, Jimmy Makulis, Severine, Karina, Raphael, Åse Kleveland, Siw Malkvist, Raquel Rastenni and Charlotte Nilsson.

So far I have found details on versions in 18 languages. Next to the Eurovision languages there are versions listed in Japanese (15), Mandarin, Vietnamese and Korean.

Over 60% of the coverversions listed are instrumental versions, Some odd, quirky and fab, many just plain copies of the Mauriat version. Here are a few of my favorites.

It's thank to my hunt for Love Is Blue's that I discovered the totally fantastic music of Dorothy Ashby. She's a jazz harpist playing groovy (never has the word groovy been more suitable) versions of many international standards (and also originals). It's the best feel good music you'll ever hear and I recommend anyone to get a CD or LP by this genius musician. Love Is Blue is on the LP Dorothy's Harp from 1969 but I think Afro Harping (1968) is her best work. Dorothy Ashby's CDs are available through most web-shops or visit your local record dealer.

Extravaganza is Liberace's middle name but his version of Love Is Blue is quite a straightforward romantic piano version of the song. Just a few frills here and there. It's from a 10 inch LP titled Liberace but can also be found on the compilation CD The artistry of Liberace. (Picture: A rare meeting of the two greatest pianists in the history of music)
LOS GUITARSAnother style Love Is Blue is perfect for is the twangy soft rock'n'roll Shadows-like guitar pop.
Versions by the Dixie Aces, The Quests, Santo & Johnny, The Ventures, The Jordans, The Diamonds, Nano Figueroa, Los Barrocks and the Downbeats all have that characteric twangy guitar sound that spawned so many great instrumental hits in the 60's.
I chose the version by Los Belkings from Peru because any band with Los in front of the name is cool by definition. And they have a wailing lady which is always good. Renamed El Amor Es Triste it was their 4th single and it also appeared on the 1968 LP Lo mejor de Los Belkings.

Mortier Teugels' version is one for the organ fans. Street & dance organs were already featured in this Eurocovers post (Puppet On A String) and now there's a version of the other 1967 winner for your entertainment.
And for the Ukelele lovers there's a version by Ohta San (Herb Ohta).
Love Is Blue composer André Popp was a big fan of the Ukelele virtuoso and wrote A Song For Anna especially for him. It became a million selling international hit. Love is blue was a b-side to One Day Of Love and can also be found on the LP Ohta San meets André Popp (Japan BRS)

Last instrumental is a personal space-favorite. Chris Waxman handles the Hammond on his LP Organized from 1969 (Decca).

SING A RAINBOWPaul Mauriats version had hardly left the charts when a third incarnation of the song hit the airwaves worldwide: The Dells 1969 'power-soul version in which they mixed the song with Sing A Rainbow, a childrens song that was written/claimed by Arthur Hamilton.
The Dells story goes that they were so pissed off when their 1968 single There Is was knocked out the US top 20 by Paul Mauriats Love Is Blue that they cut their own version of the song to avenge themselves. (… according to Dells member Charles Barksdale)
The Sing A Rainbow / Love Is Blue combination was covered many times too, including some great soul versions and a few sung in Italian like the somewhat tormented one by Maurizio from the 1970 LP Maurizio (Polydor). (featured below and see a video here)

No, not really, but Hugo Montenegro and his singers sure try very hard to sound like them.
From the LP Good Vibrations (RCA Victor 1969), which is a sort of Beach Boys sound tribute LP. CD is available from Amazon and other online music stores.

Word.doc featuring release details on all versions of the song by Vicky and the list of 567 coverversions of the ever blue evergreen. Also includes some picture sleeves.

Shop for Vicky Leandros CDs, DVDs and vinyl at BeaRecords

For an ultimate version of Love Is Blue in Mandarin by Patrina and The Melodians you must check this post at the highly recommended Mod-ified Music blog if you haven't done so already.
7 Black notes, the blog about the strange side of movie music has a soundtrack LP featured of the movie Come Together. The LP features 4 versions of Love Is Blue including the one by the Dells.
Loronix features an LP of Os Velhinhos Transviadios with Love Is Blue.
Jeff Becks LP Truth gets an indepth review at ChrisGoesRock

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

10.000: # 3 - Piove (Ciao Ciao Bambina) - Domenico Modugno (1959)

Third in the top 10 of most covered Eurovision songs is, no surprise, another Italian classic and another Domenico Modugno song. Piove (Ciao Ciao Bambina), writen by Modugno & Dino Verde, ended 6th at the contest and was another international hit for Modugno and many others. But the song failed to score in the US, where the biggest hit was for Jacky Noguez whose instrumental version (accordion) was a # 24 hit. In the UK the biggest hit was for Marino Marini only reaching # 24, and Modugno reaching # 29.
Domenico Modugno released at least 9 versions of the song. including versions in Spanish and German, re-recordings and live versions. All information on this, taken from the Eurovision Collectors Guide, is featured in the Piove document.
# 3
- Piove (Ciao Ciao Bambina)
- Domenico Modugno
- 351 versions listed
Some of the big names that recorded Piove: Caterina Valente, Bing Crosby & Rosemary Clooney, Connie Francis, Dalida and Ennio Morricone.
Eurovision stars: Peppino di Capri, Al Bano, Nunzio Gallo, Pino Gasparini, Claudio Villa, Vice Vukov, Emilio Pericoli, Jean-Paul Mauric, José Guardiola, Jaime Morey, Brita Borg, Gustav Winckler, Marku Aro, Grethe Ingmann and Katy Bødtger. The language count is now at 20.
DALIDAWith so many versions it's hard to pick some favorites, but one singer that belongs in this list is Dalida. The legendary French singer needs no introduction. (Or check for biography in 10 languages)
It's the typical superstar tragedy: All the world loves Dalida but her life comes to a tragic end (in 1987).
Dalida recorded in 10 languages and Ciao Ciao Bambina can be found in three: Italian, French* and German. She also recorded the Italian Eurovision songs from 1959 (Nel blu dipinto di blu) & 1960 (Romantica).
In the Eurocovers post about Gloria Lasso I already mentioned the alledged rivalry between Dalida & Gloria.
Another version I love is the Polish version by Sława Przybylska. I don't have much on the singer (my Polish is a bit rusty) but hers is just a great version of the song. Many versions open with a short cinematic orchestral impression of rain (Piove = it's raining) and in this one it's the best. And the parlando bits at 2:24 are lovely too, even if I don't know what it's all about.
This one is from a Polish Readers Digest CD box 'Królowe polskiej piosenki' but was originally released on a LP Sława Przybylska 'spiewa ulubione przeboje (Muza SX2641).
Of the next version I only know that the singer is an Hungarian actress, Zita Szeleczky, or Szeleczky Zita as they like to say in Hungary. I don't have any details on the recording supposed to be from an LP 'Zita Szeleczky Sings', but I included it for the lovely introduction before the song starts.

Instrumental versions, who needs 'em.
I think many of the instrumental covers of Eurovision songs can bore a person to death, and I can't tell one anonymous orchestra / keyboardwizzard or accordion jerker from the other. But it needs to be said that in the world of instrumental cheese / exotica a lot of fun is to be had too, and some of the big name Orchestra's or Hammond players made remarkable versions of your beloved Eurovision tunes.

Featured here is a version of Piove by the man whose name alone triggers a host of images (movies, album sleeves) to pop up in your brain straight away. Ennio Morricone, him of the Italian western soundtracks.
His orchestra, with the help of a lovely wailing lady, recorded Piove in 1964. The song can be found on the 2001 CD set Anthology 1959 - 1999 (BMG), celebrating 40 years of Ennio Morricone with loads of rare tracks and unreleased material.
More stunning intrumentals in the next Eurocovers 10.000 post. (10:000: # 2)

LOOKING FOR: André Hazes at 8 and チャオ チャオ バンビーナ
One version I'm looking for in particular is the one from a 1959 single by the late André Hazes. The man later became the peoples singer #1 in the Netherlands. Hazes also recorded Piove in the 80's but this was his very first single from 1959, released when he was 8 years old. If you can help me hear it, please let me know.
Other versions I'd love to hear are the Japanese ones by ペギー葉山, Peggy Hayama and by 鮫島有美子,Yumiko Samejima.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

10.000: # 4 - Waterloo - ABBA (1974)

In the Eurocovers countdown of most covered Eurovision songs of all time Waterloo is at # 4, but mostly thanks to a massive load of absolutely crappy try-a-likes from albums and projects imaginatively titled 'So and so sing the hits of ABBA, ABBA The Tribute'. Cheap cash-ins loaded with lame vomit-like versions of ABBA's hits. None of that here of course, but they're all in the list.

# 4
- Waterloo
- 328 versions listed

ABBA & Waterloo are Eurovision. The song won the ultimate (but flawed*) all time Eurovision thingy as the best song of 50 years Eurovision.
ABBA recorded Waterloo in Swedish, English, German and French.
* - The selection of 15 songs didn't have Ding A Dong.
The biggest 'stars' to cover the song are probably Bananarama, but not many famous singers dare to try touching an ABBA song unless it's Thank You For The Music.

Eurovision singers covering Waterloo are: Carola, Charlotte Nilsson, Mrs Einstein (again), Ami Aspelund, Seija Simola and Tanel Padar with Lenna (of Vanilla Ninja).
Most versions are in English but still the language count is 22.
And again Eurocovers presents a list with all versions of Waterloo. (Word.doc) (UPDATED 2-3-10). Get it, read it and let me know if there's anything to add.
EsperantoFirst up there's simpatico slaphead Ralph Glomp, German Esperantist renaming the song Gotenburg'. There's two hands full of Eurocovers sung in Esperanto, and Ralph Glomp takes care of six of them. Gotenburg' is on his CD Ĵus per kares´ from 2003.

To make a very long story short: Esperanto is a constructed language (like Sanomian, but then people actually are really serious about it) created as an ideal world language for all people of the world to understand.
In the early 20's it was even considered to be the official language used for the (pre) UN but we have to thank the French for stopping that, as they still thought French would be the one and only international language. (Wikipedia on Esperanto)
Hear some more of Ralph Glomps music here. Iom da paco (on the same page) is his version of Ein Bisschen Frienden (Germany 1982).
Down under
ABBA were hugely popular worldwide, only in the US sales were disappointing. (Only one # 1 hit there) but nowhere were the people so ABBA crazy as in Australia. So it's fitting to include an ABBA tribute from down under here. The track below is from a single by Norman Gunston (Actor Garry MacDonald). It's an ABBA medley with a bit of Waterloo at the end. Oh yeah, it's comedy, see it at Youtube.
For my favorite ABBA tribute album we remain in the area. In 1995 the Flying Nun label released a CD with ABBA covers by noisy New Zealand bands and almost every track is fantastic. Cloth (where are they now?) did Waterloo but if you like your ABBA tunes even louder, get the full CD which is still available in various internet shops.

GAbba GAbba - Hey
The ideal combination of ABBA songs + noise would have been the Ramones. Both quartets specialised in the perfect pop tunes, only the Ramones played a bit faster.
British Gabba noticed just that and they covered Waterloo on their CD with ABBA covers Leave Stockholm. In good Ramones tradition Waterloo is brought back to a neat 1 minute 36.
Hear more at their MySpace

If these versions didn't get rid of your unwanted guests you could play the version of Waterloo by The Yuri Honing Trio. Uncomfortable Jazz at its best and even though the track is like one big intro it's actually pretty cool. It's from the 1996 CD Star Tracks which also includes versions of Björks Isobel and Cyndi Laupers Time After Time.

BeaRecords ABBA pages

A really sick version is made by some knob twiddlers who call themselves the Sweet Little Band. Not worth listening to but it's a great picture sleeve. They even made a Hebrew version for the Israeli market. It's an instrumental CD titled Babies Go ABBA. The music is so tedious they guarantee that you baby will sleep in minutes. (Although I think it's bordering on child abuse).
It's not just your favorite Swedish popsters that have received the honour of seducing your cry-baby into a coma, you can also try out Babies Go Elvis, Babies Go Pink Floyd (original version will do wonders too), Babies Go Carpenters, Babies Go Coldplay, Babies Go Guns 'n'Roses (yeah that'll help) and probably the most effective of all Babies Go Bob Marley. No Babies Go Lordi yet…. The evil CDs are mady by RGS music in Argentina.
Parts of this article were already featured in the Eurovision Collectors Guide group (Yahoo)
Previous Eurocovers posts featuring Waterloo in Feathers & Spandex.
And a 'future' post is here

P.S. Couldn't squeeze it in, but don't let anyone tell you otherwise, Björn Again is the best ABBA tribute band in the world.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

10.000: # 5 - Al di là - Betty Curtis (1961)

Al di là is another Italian evergreen in the top 10 of most covered Eurovision songs that started life as a San Remo winner to be ignored at the Eurovision Song Contest. 12 points and a measly 5th place for Betty Curtis in Cannes.

# 5
- Al di là
- Betty Curtis
- 268 versions listed

At the San Remo festival the song by Mogol (Giulio Rapetti) and Carlo Donida was also performed by Luciano Tajoli.
After 4 failures with a male singer from 1957 to 1960 Betty Curtis was chosen to try and wow the European juries.

Rome Adventure
But it was Emilio Pericoli who had the worldwide hit with the song when he recorded a new version in 1962 for the Rome Adventure, a hit movie with Troy Donahue and the ever gorgeous Angie Dickinson. Pericoli's single was a # 6 hit in the US charts. In 1964 a version by the Ray Charles Singers reached the US Cashbox top 100 again, peaking at # 32.

You can't say Al Di Là without thinking of Connie Francis. The American superstar's version is the finest of all the covers and even though it originally was only a b-side and a meagre # 87 hit in the US, it remains a Connie Francis live favorite until today.
She recorded many Eurovision songs in several languages including Volare, Ciao Ciao Bambina and even A Ba Ni Bi. More Connie Francis in a future Eurocovers post.

Other famous artists that recorded the song are Mario Lanza, Dean Martin, Al Martino, Xavier Cugat, Skeeter Davis, Bobby Rydell and every other Italian legend like Mina, Milva, Lucio Dalla, Nilla Pizzi and Flo Sandon's.

Many Eurovision stars have Al Di Là in their collection: first Eurovision winner Lys Assia, Dario Campeotto, Vice Vukov, Sandra Reemer, Laila Kinnunen and Claudio Villa. There are versions in 14 languages listed.

Sandra Reemer, the singer who represented the Netherlands at Eurovision on three occasions (74, 76 & 79) recorded Al Di Là when she was 11 years old. She recorded it in both Dutch (Al di la - Net als wij) and in Indonesian: Adillah tjiptjaän duniaku.

All details on versions and releases can be found in yet another Eurocovers word.doc list which you can find here.

A new Dutch version is another one of my favorites: Zeg waarom (Tell me why) by René Riva.
René Riva is a singer in the Amsterdam / Jordaan style and for those in the know: I think he's the only true successor to Willy Alberti and I don't understand why he isn't world famous in the lowlands yet. Zeg waarom is from his CD René Riva from 2005.

Last up is the English/Italian version by Toni Arden, a singer loved by Frank Sinatra, and rightfully so (but she has a lovely voice too).

Saturday, July 07, 2007

10.000: # 6 - Puppet On A String - Sandie Shaw (1967)

# 6 in the top 10 most covered Eurovision songs is Puppet On A String. Some of you may have noticed I have been running VII: The Year Of The Puppet series here at Eurocovers, featuring worldwide coverversions of the Bill Martin / Phil Coulter song made famous by Sandie Shaw. Introduction to the series in this Eurocovers post.

# 6
- Puppet On A String
- Sandie Shaw
- 252 versions listed

Check these Eurocovers posts for all the Puppets. France, Singapore (Mandarin-Chinese), Jamaica. Yugoslavia, Estonia, U.K. (Comedy), Iceland, Lithuania, USA (Musical), Spain, Brasil, UK punk, Norway (gloom) Norway, Turkey, Portugal, Basque country Organland, Tirol, Denmark, CzechoSlovakia (Czech), Hungary, Russia, Yugoslavia (Slovenia), Chile/Argentina/Mexico, Sweden, Netherlands, Hong Kong, Finland, Scotland, Poland, Czechoslowakia (Slovak), Trinidad*, More Jamaica & more Singapore
* = includes external link to track.

Monday, July 02, 2007

10.000: # 7 - Non Ho L'eta (Per Amarti) - Gigliola Cinquetti (1964)

Here's the # 7 most covered Eurovision song of all time. A close call between # 8 and # 7 in the top 10 of most covered Eurovision songs.

# 7
- Non Ho L'eta (Per Amarti)
- Gigliola Cinquetti

- 187 versions listed

Eurovision fans know 1964 is the 'Lost Contest'. Until today all footage of the contest seems lost except for a few fragments. Danish TV (the contest was in Copenhagen) destroyed all light entertainment archives in the late 60's because they were branded uncultural and not worth saving. And somehow all the other TV companies have displaced their copies too.

Before the Eurovision victory Gigliola Cinquetti won the San Remo contest with Non Ho L'eta (Per Amarti) (written by Mario Panzeri & Nicola Salerno) together with Patricia Carli. (from 1957 to 1967 all San Remo songs were performed by two artists).

It was the start of a formidable career for Gigliola Cinquetti in Europe but also in South America and Japan. Non Ho L'eta was her breakthrough hit and she returned to Eurovision in 1974 where she finished second (behind ABBA's Waterloo) with Si. In 1991 she had the daunting task to restrain Toto Cutugno, her co-host in the chaotic Eurovision song contest at Cinecitta.
You can find a superb worldwide Gigliola Cinquetti discography at Big Cobra's site.

Too Young To Love?Several local legends recorded the song but the only worldwide superstar I could find is Vera Lynn, Sweetheart of the forces (47 at the time). Her English version was released on a 1964 single. (This Is My Prayer HMV POP 1287, 1964) which has just been issued on CD for the first time on a 2CD 'Vera Lynn - Singles Collection'.
Eurovision stars that have recorded Non Ho L'eta are Sandra Reemer (when she was 14 years old), Karina (at 20), Alice & Ellen Kessler (both 28), Grethe & Jørgen Ingmann (29 & 42), Mrs Einstein (Combined age 300), José Guardiola , Micky and Raquel Rastenni.

伊東ゆかり- 夢見る想い
A word.doc with all versions (Cinquetti's and covers) listed is here. Versions in 20 languages are there including Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese and Korean.
One of the nine Japanese versions listed is sung by Yukari Ito - 伊東ゆかり who performed in the San Remo contest herself in 1965 with the wonderful L'amore ha i tuoi occhi.
HMV Japan stocks a nice compilation of Yukari Ito's hits including Non Ho L'eta and Dio come ti amo.

Тамара Миансарова - Дай помечтать мне
The Russian version Day pomechtat' mne featured here by Tamara Miansarova started out life as a Flexi-disc with the Krugozor magazine. (San-Remo-64 Krugozor 1964 N2 (12) - Flexi also has Cinquetti's own version. (CD pictured does not include this track)

조애희 -나이도 어린데
A Korean version was recorded by Jo Aehee - 조애희 in the 60's and there's a later re-recording too.
I don't have many details but I do know the first version was on a various artists LP with a title somewhat like this: 이금희,박재란 외 - 오아시스 하이라이트 (or....)

Elly Vilhjálms - Heyr mína bæn

The last version featured is by Ellý Vilhjálms (1935-1995) from Iceland.
Elly Vilhjálms was one of the most popular singers in Iceland in the 60's and 70's and she's still regarded as a national treasure. She earned her pedestal in the Icelandic music history gallery singing Jazz standards, Pop hits and national originals in Icelandic. A recommended CD compilation is Lítill fugl which includes Heyr mina bæn and Það er svo otal margt (A cover of All kinds of everything, Irelands 1970 winner)
The CD is available from various Icelandic CD shops and as a download from (English version is under construction though)

Vilhjálms Icelandic version has been covered at least three times, by Ína Valgerður, Paul Oscars sister Diddú (Sigrún Hjálmtýsdóttir) and by Ragnar Bjarnasson.

Actually I miss quite a few interesting versions of this song, most notably the one Tsin Ting (Jìng Tíng) 静婷- Aini Aini (Non ho l'eta) - Chinese on EP (Tae 142) from Hong Kong, probably sung in Mandarin.