Sunday, August 31, 2008

Team GB 1961 - Are You Sure?

Golden Oldie Are You Sure is one of the songs I knew by heart (although in my own invented variation on English) before I found out it actually was a Eurovision tune.
The Allisons (Brian 'John Allison' Alford & Colin 'Bob Allison' Day, not really brothers contrary to popular belief), the U.K.'s answer to the Everly Brothers, scored a European hit with their Eurovision runner up, the third U.K. entry in a row to finish 2nd.

Despite their European hit, world domination didn't really happen for the Allisons. They managed to get two more top 40 hits (but not top 30) and called it a day in 1963.
'Goodbye, Farewell.... Are You Sure?' they asked. I guess they weren't, as the Allisons reunited on several occasions and in the 70's recruited some new brothers like Mike Allison and Tony Allison.
John White, earlier member who left in 1959 is the real composer of their Eurovision Song. (It's credited to The Allisons)

Search engines aren't much use when you're browsing with a general term like "Are You Sure" but over the years I have found details on about 40 versions of the song and here are some of them.

My favorite first: The Chicks are a New Zealand sister duo formed by Judy & Sue Donaldson. (real sisters) The single was sent to me by Barry from New Zealand, long before the internet and all that and it has always been one of the treasured little gems in my collection.
Are You Sure is the b-side to the 1969 single Miss You Baby (Polydor 425220).
I could write/copy/paste the girls life story, but instead I recommend this excellent bio at New Zealand Music with gorgeous pictures and very detailed info.

Another sister duo, The Young Sisters (again, real sisters) from the Netherlands recorded Are You Sure in Dutch.

Johnny, Kom Weer Hier (Johnny come back) was recorded in 1961 and released on single (Philips 318 552 PF).
The Young Sisters are Willy & Nelly De Jong, mom & aunt of Maxine. Maxine represented the Netherlands in Eurovision in 1996 with Franklin Brown (De Eerste Keer, 7th).
Even though the Sisters released several singles covering international hits, they never scored a chart hit. But they prooved to be a popular live act performing for Dutch soldiers abroad, often accompanied by the Jumping Jewels.
There is a short bio with some great pictures here at the West Brabants Rock 'N' Roll Archief (in Dutch).

German versions of the song are called Ahoi-Ohé and it is this version that probably was the inspiration Kalmer Tennosaar & Kalju Terasmaa to record an Estonian version. That version was covered by Estonian girl-folk-humpah band Seelikukütid.
The girls of Seelikukütid have been known to sport the Sebastien Tellier look and tackle popular songs as well as tradional songs on their many albums.
Ahoi Ohee is from the CD Seelikukütid 4 from 1997. Seelikukütid also recorded Puppet On A String (as Hüpiknukk, on CD Seelikukütid 5)

A List of Are You Sures
List of versions of Are You Sure . (e-mail me) This has release details on the Allisons versions and info on 42 coverversions of the song. (Word document uploaded with 4shared) (Updated November 2013)
Any corrections, additions and comments are of course very welcome.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Bits And Pieces

Back in the 90's Ireland won Eurovision 4 times in a 5 year span but somehow these winners haven't inspired many coverversions. The Voice, the last Irish winner to date (1996, by Eimear Quinn) only has two released coverversions I know of. A local one by Andy Cooney and one by Celtic Woman, a multi artists project often dubbed the Riverdance Without The Noisy Stamping Bits.

The Norwegian madmen of Døsty Cåwshit (Dusty Cowshit) probably thought that the song deserved a new coat and they recorded The Voice in their inimitable party style and put it on their website for you to enjoy. Also featured is their take on the 2007 Norwegian entry Ven A Bailar Conmigo and the Swedish 1984 winner Diggi Loo, Diggi Ley.

Their website is here, and the songs are here. In this Eurocovers post there's more Døsty Cåwshit family entertainment.

MiOdio, San Marino's Eurovision debut hopefuls didn't do very well. Unfortunately for the boys their song Complice ended last in the first semi final of this years contest. Which is a shame as it's a decent tune with the interesting voice of Nicola Della Valle as a bonus. Next week sees the band performing at the Cerbul De Aur festival in Braşov, Romania. For the occasion Miodio have recorded a coverversion of the 1994 Romanian entry Dincolo De Nori (by Dan Bittman of Holograf fame, 14th place). It's in Italian, it's titled Oltre Le Nuvole and you can download it for free at Miodio's MySpace. Thank You MiOdio!. You can also listen to two versions of Complice and another song.

Carola, back-up Queen Of Sweden. Främling, back-up National Anthem Of Sweden. Below is an Estonian version of the Swedish 1983 entry that finished third in the Münich contest and even became a hit in several European countries.
The Estonian version, Rändur, was originally recorded by Jüri-Peeters band with vocals by Linda Pannas on a 1983 LP Laulusild 3 which was released in Sweden on the Estonian Voice label. Still looking for that one, me.

Fashionally challenged Sirje & Rein Kurg recorded a cheerful version of the song for their 2002 album Veidi Õnne. The title track being a version of Ein Bisschen Frieden, yep, Germany 1982. Sirje & Rein also recorded Congratulations (as Õnnesoovid, CD Tropicana).

Chacun Pense A Soi wasn't one of the French greats in Eurovision. The song by Ortal finished 23rd with 11 point in the 2005 contest in Kyiv, Ukraine. In 2003 she recorded the album Bar Mitsvah where she interprètes Hallelouyah, a.k.a. as Hallelujah, the Israel 1979 winner by Milk and Honey. You can listen to the song and the other tracks of the album here at Deezer. And even buy them!

And one more. Waterloo. Mamma Mia, Musical, Movie, Meryl, ABBA revival, UK #1 album / US # 1 album, unless you have been under a rock you read the news and know it all.
But a year before the first ABBA revival (so in 1991) there were a few Italian producers who thought it was a clever idea to make a club version of the 1974 Eurovision winner. (and I use the term Club lightly) They recruited some girls, baptised them the Baby Dolls and didn't put them on the record sleeve. (Still Novo Records SNR 001791)

Sunday, August 17, 2008

U.K. 1968: Congratulations, コングラチュレーションズ

Kyu Sakamoto (1941 - 1985) is one of the most popular singers of all times in Japan. Even though his life came to an early end in a plane crash over 20 years ago he is remembered as one of the most popular singers in Japanese pop music, and the first Japanese singer who took one of his songs to international fame.

The song Ue O Muite Arukō (上を向いて歩こう) originally from 1961, became Sukiyaki to the world and it was a world wide hit in 1963. It reached the #1 spot in the US Billboard top 100. There are many coverversions of the song including another US top 3 hit by Taste Of Honey (1981), A European hit for the Blue Diamonds who recorded Dutch and German, a version by Canadienne Lucille Starr and one by ill fated Selena (who also a tragic death, way too young, see comments).

But Sukiyaki isn't a Eurovision song, and even though Eurovision expands to the east faster than Usain Bolt, it's not likely Japan will be giving us their poing anytime soon.

So better get to the point: Kyu Sakamoto recorded a Japanese version of the happy birthday evergreen Congratulations, the #2 of the 1968 contest originally by Cliff Richard. Cliff was robbed of the first place by Massiel and her La La La and allegedly general Franco.
Sir Cliffs career is as old as Volare this year and he will kick off on a celebratory tour later this year. So Sir Cliff, here's to you, コングラチュレーションズ.

I've compiled another list (I love lists) of all the Japanese Eurovision covers I know of. It includes details on:
- all versions in Japanese by original Eurovision singers
- all coverversions in Japanese
- all coverversions by Japanese artists
with picture sleeves for your viewing pleasure
It has been an ongoing puzzle for several years and I don't claim it's in anyway conclusive or correct, so any additions, comments and corrections are very welcome.
You can download the file (word.doc) here: Big In Japan / Big In Japan

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Lita Roza (1926 - 2008) (UPDATED)

How Much Is That Doggie In The Window? In the U.S. it was Patti Page windowshopping for a domestic animal but in the U.K. the song was a # 1 hit for Lita Roza in 1953.
She wasn't too pleased that she was remembered mostly for the cheesy doggie novelty song, as she was an acclaimed jazz and pop singer.

Lita Roza, born in 1926 in Liverpool, was the first female singer to top the U.K. charts (with doggie) and she scored two more hits with Hey There and Jimmy Unknown in the mid-50's.
In 1957 she entered the U.K. Eurovision pre-selection with the song The Way It Goes. (unreleased). She ended third in the final that was won by Patricia Bredin and her operatic song All (still holding the record for shortest ESC entry ever).
In 1959 she tried again with the song This Is My Town (Pye 7N15190) and ended 2nd. Sing Little Birdie by Pearl Carr & Teddy Johnson won the U.K. selection and became the runners up in the 4th Eurovision Song Contest.
Lita Roza tried again in 1960, but her song (see update below) stranded in the first of two semi-finals.
Like any singer with an ear for a tune she recorded a version of Volare in 1958 and released it on single (PYE 7N15155) and 78rpm.

Lita Roza died two days ago aged 82. You can find out more about the singer and her life at the Lita Roza official website. You can watch a tribute here at Youtube.

UPDATE: Lita Roza preselections
Thanks to Thomas here's an update on Lita Roza's preselection songs. Different variations of the listing of early U.K. selections can be found on the web but Thomas has been digging in the BBC written archives and the results concerning Lita Roza's songs are here.
1957 The Way It Goes
Lita Roza won the first of three heats with this song written by Ronnie Booth. In the final she ended third with 18 points behind All by by the Malcolm Lockyer Quartet and by Patricia Bredin (it was performed twice) and Once sung by Pauline Shepherd. All was subsequently performed at Eurovision by Patricia Bredin and finished 7th.
1959 This Is My Town
Written by John S. Rossiter. Won the second preselection heat but was beaten by Sing Little Birdie as mentioned above.
1960 Unexpectedly
Written by Susan Morrel(l) (& possibly David Greer?). With this song Lita Roza won the first heat but the final was won by Looking High, High, High by Bryan Johnson & the George Mitchell Singers. The points or finishing order of the other songs is unknown. Bryan Johnson took his song to a 2nd place in the contest.
In other sources Unexpectedly is credited to Marion Keene but her song was Love, Kisses and Heartaches which stranded in the 2nd heat.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

All Kinds Of Everything From China

2008, Beijing, Olympics, etcetera.
I'm not going to deep into the politics (or the sports for that matter) of it all here, I'm sure you'll find enough websites for that. Opening Ceremony was great, but I caught some zzzz's too.The square drummers at the start were totally amazing.
Unfortunately the TV forgot to include any televoting numbers when all the countries marched on, missed opportunity I say.

But I did notice a complete absence of Chinese visitors to Eurocovers, when normally there is always a steady flow of friends from Beijing and Guangzhou visiting my blog.

I find it hard to imagine that a blog like Eurocovers should all of a sudden be branded dangerous to national interest, so I have to assume our Chinese friends are just to busy right now with watching the Olympics. Or relocating.

潘巧丹 - Michelle - All Kinds Of Everything (in English)
- from 2005 CD Angel Of The Morning (pic. right)
区瑞强 - Albert Au - All Kinds Of Everything (in English)
- from CD Simple Folk (2000), Albert Au is a Hong Kong cantopop singer and DJ at Radio Television Hong Kong.
胭花四乐 - Rouge Hot - Love Is Blue (in Chinese)
- from the CD Oriental Instruments Vs Occidental Music, (pictured top left). Odd version, sounds more Barok than Oriental to me, but lovely still.

and check out these earlier Eurocovers posts with Chinese related Eurocovers:
鍾玲玲 - Betty Chung - Puppet On A String
櫻櫻 - Lara and the Trailers - Puppet On A String
Sakura Teng & Quests - Puppet On A String
難得有情人 - Shirley Kwan - Le dernier qui a parlé (France 1991)
雷安娜- Annabelle Lui - Johnny Blue (Germany 1981)

Denmark 1963: Dansevise - Sinne Eeg

Danish Jazz singer Sinne Eeg has released a new version of the 1963 Eurovision winner Dansevise (Grethe and Jørgen Ingmann, Denmark) on her new album Kun En Drøm. (Released last april on Red Dot Music / EMI)
You can hear the song and others on Sinne Eegs Myspace.

Sinne Eegs version of Dansevise proves again how timeless the song is and although the arrangement is far from the original, Eegs voice remarkably reminds of Grethe Ingmanns original version.

Kun En Drøm is available in Danish (online) record shops now.

More Grethe and Jørgen Ingmann at Eurocovers here.
Dansevise by Laila Kinnunen is hereand by Anne-Lie Rydé here

Eurocovers South Africa - Leandie Lombaard

South Africa is the place to be for Eurocovers these days. Several artists have released albums with one or two coverversions of mostly recent Eurovision songs.

LEANDIE LOMBAARD takes it a bit further.
She is a sixteen year old singer who just released her debut CD Wees Net…. (Don't be….) which includes reworkings of six Eurovision songs.
It's a coherent collection of fresh pop and schlager songs which are well produced. Stand out track is Net Jy (Främling) which surely deserves some airplay on the Afrikaans radio stations and has the potential to be a smash hit in any year.

I need you (English) = I love you mi vida (Spain 2007 - d'Nash)
Duiselig (Afrikaans) = Vertigo (Malta 2007 - Olivia Lewis)
Net jy (Afrikaans) = Främling (Sweden 1983 - Carola)
Mxit (Afrikaans) = Danca Comigo (Portugal 2007 - Sabrina)
Die for you (English) original by Antique, Greece 2001
Dans met my (Afrikaans) = Ven a bailar comigo (Norway 2007 - Guri Schanke)
and as a bonus track there is My Hart Brand which is an Afrikaans version of I Love You Mi Vida

The CD also includes Swedish preselection songs Samba Sambero (as: Karjoedel Kar Jy, in Afrikaans) and Under Your Spell (as: Onthou Jy Nog, Afrikaans/English) and several other songs, 15 tracks in total.

Currently the CD is only available in South Africa only, mainly at Leandie's performances, but I'll see if I can get some more details soon.
UPDATE Now Leandie has her own website where you can listen to excerpts of the songs

Some other recent releases are tenor Jannie Moolmans CD Ek Kom Huistoe which includes Vandag (Le Grand Soir, Belgium 2005), Jaycee Crauses CD Ek Weet with Steeds Verlief (Everything, Greece 2006) and Waar Is Jy (Tornero, Romania 2006) and the earlier mentioned albums by Jennifer Zamudio and Patricia Lewis.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

1966: Tooong Tiki Tong - Fernando, Filippo & Suzie

A classic Eurovision moment: Milly Scott descending the stairs (Youtube) of the Eurovision stage in style, singing her tóóóng ki tong riki tong tong tong intro to the 1966 Dutch entry Fernando & Filippo. A silly tale about one bloke running off to San Antonio to get the girl another bloke was waiting for in Santiago.
But there's true eurovision history in there. Milly Scott was the first black singer ever on the Eurovision stage and it took 11 contests for it to happen. The two measly points Milly collected came from the United Kingdom and Ireland. One each.*
Milly Scott had her own TV shows in the Netherlands in the mid sixties and was asked to compete in the Dutch national final along 4 other artists, who each had 3 songs in the competition. She won the Dutch final by a huge margin, but it seemed Europe wasn't ready for Milly.
Fernando & Filippo was her only chart hit in the Netherlands but she continued as a popular singer on radio & TV. Milly Scott later worked in Sweden, Germany and the U.K..
In the 90's she made a comeback as an actress in the popular TV series Vrouwenvleugel (Womens wing, drama series about a women's prision)
Milly Scott recorded Fernando & Filippo in Dutch, Spanish and English and I know of just a handful of coververions.

Conny van Bergen (Dutch)
- on VA LP Songfestival Successen (Philips 625807)
Mayte Gaos - Fernando Y Felipe (Spanish)
- on 7"
Mayte Gaos was born in Spain but worked as a singer and actress in Mexico from age 15. She scored several hits like El Gran Tomas (Norman), Vete Con Ella (Chapell Of Love) and Susy La Coquetona.
Los Jolly’s - Fernado Y Felipe (Spanish)
- on EP (Columbia SCGE-81146)
Los Jolly's are Los Mismos
Suzie (Swedish) - Fernando och Filippo (see below)
- on EP (Sonet : SXP 4087)
+ instrumental by The Three Jacksons (Accordion)

Suzie (Maria Pereboom, 1946 - 2008) was born in the Netherlands, lived in Sweden and had her biggest career in Germany.

Her biggest hit in Germany was Johnny Komm which was a German translation of her first hit Johnny Loves Me. The single became a millionseller in 1964 after the b-side Du, Du Gehst Vorbei re-charted. Other hits were Max Und Moritz, Ich War Allein and Ich Will Immer Nur Dich (pictured)
In the Netherlands she had two hits only: Johnny Loves Me in 1964 and heartfelt classic De Wereld Is Leeg Zonder Jou in 1966 (which is the Dutch version of Du, Du Gehst Vorbei)

Suzie also recorded Gib Mir Mein Herz Zurück which is a German version of Quel Cœur Vas-Tu Briser?, Switzerlands Eurovision entry from 1967 originally by Géraldine (last with 0 points).
Suzie recorded in Dutch, German, Swedish, Spanish, Italian, Danish and French.
She died in Sweden March 2008 and I'm sad to say her death went by almost unnoticed.

Read more about Suzie at Ready Steady Girls

* In 1966 each jury gave 5,3 and 1 point to their top three