Thursday, 31 December 2009

The Power of Ten

A random selection of just ten of the many songs that were my favourites this year...

Happy New Year! Jxxx

Bananarama - Love Comes



Pink Martini - Bitty Boppy Betty



Dame Shirley Bassey - The Girl From Tiger Bay



Tiga - Shoes



Freemasons feat Sophie Ellis-Bextor - Heartbreak Make Me A Dancer



Las Seventies - Don Diablo



Royksopp featuring Robyn - The Girl and The Robot



Marc Almond - That Dress



Pet Shop Boys - Viva La Vida/Domino Dancing (medley)



And last, but by no means least...

Diva Avari - Fuckin Bitch

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

"It's behind you!"



We went to see the "adult panto" Sinderfella in the tiny basement of Leicester Square Theatre last night. It was possibly the best panto I have seen in years. No special effects, no pretension - and best of all, no kids allowed!

Starring Bette Rinse, drag queen extraordinaire, the story is basically that of Cinderella but with a twist, in that the leading lady has walked out to work in a shop in Oxford Street and the drag hostess gamely steps in to take the lead...

"Big Brother's Kat Cookie Monster" (no idea - never watched it) with her thick Thai accent was completely incomprehensible at times as the Fairy Godmother, but with a little help and translation from Miss Rinse we got the gist of her magic spell - basically instead of pumpkins she transforms the falsies into real boobs and lo and behold, a drag queen in her fifties really is a virginal scullery maid. [This is panto, remember!]

Subtle, this ain't - the Handsome Prince Donkey Dick spends the entire show with a very impressive dildo stuffed into his tights, and even Cinders' three wishes come true courtesy of rubbing a realistic Jeff Stryker member. The jokes were obvious, the songs were all versions of chart hits, the banter was filthy - and we loved every minute of it!

The players were all anarchic and very entertaining - not least the genuinely horrifying Ugly Sisters (the play's author Simon Gross and Adam Wooley), and Harry Dyer goofing it up as Buttons, whose unrequited love for Cinders/Bette is confusing to say the least. As for the gorgeous dancing boys - they made the evening go with a bit of a frisson!

A great evening out (despite the ridiculously steep bar prices), and it completed the "festering season" traditional entertainments off nicely.

Just New Year's Eve to go, and it'll all be over for another year. "Oh yes it will. Oh no it won't" ad infinitum...

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Oh, those Russians...



Today I thought I'd share one of my new(ish) discoveries for your delectation. Our eternally-missed hero Klaus Nomi was a one-off, but one young Latvian/Russian megastar seems to have taken up at least some of the mantle.

Vitas has a remarkable singing voice, and it was his semi-operatic falsetto that brought him instant fame in Russia back in 2000 with his hit Opera No 2.

His fantastic costumes (he sidelines in fashion design) and twink good looks meant that his concert tours became a massively popular spectacle across the East, from Eastern Europe to China, where he is one of their most popular artists. Just this year, he brought his acting skills to a new Chinese live-action movie of the story of Mulan (which became a Disney cartoon in 1998). Anyway, here is the gentleman himself...







Vitas website

Monday, 28 December 2009

Hee hee! Sophisticated, Singer, Liverpool, Great, Scouse

It's the post-Xmas Tacky Music Monday! Yesterday I sat through the marathon that was "Every Number One of the 80s". As a friend wittily said, "there must be some "number twos" amongst that lot". True, there is only so much Cliff, Tiffany, Nick Berry or Shakin' Stevens that you can take, but there were some good ones amongst them.

This being the last week of the Noughties I thought I'd focus on the charts at the end of 1989 - but as the chart-topper was a choice between Jive Bunny or Band Aid 2, I decided instead to check out some of the choons that didn't make the top of the UK charts twenty years ago. And for today's selection, I came across a really tacky corker... Heeeeeerre's Sonia!!



And lest we forget, here's that classic French & Saunders sketch featuring the diminutive Scouser in all her glory...

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Sparkling Sunday

It's that weird time of year, when the post-party hangover has gone, the leftovers are still leering at you from the fridge but nobody wants to eat them, all channels are showing films we've all seen before and never want to see again (and if it's not films, it's Ant and bloody Dec or Jeremy bloody Clarkson). Oh, and the sales have all started so going into town would be Hell.

Thank heavens for Miss Peggy Lee and Dame Julie Andrews, duetting in La Lee's sparkling boudoir... Happy Sunday!

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Oh, Jessica Christ!



On this, what would have been the 82nd birthday of the brilliant actor and singer Denis Quilley, what better way to celebrate the great man's talents than with one his most hilarious roles - take it away, Acting Captain Terri Dennis...



Mr Quilley often "played it gay" (in reality he was happily married with three children), but his repertoire was far greater than such roles as Terri Dennis or Zaza in La Cage Aux Folles - he acted in Shakespeare alongside Laurence Olivier and John Gielgud, came to stardom as the mysterious Commander Traynor in one of my childhood favourite kids' TV programmes Timeslip, appeared in both Murder On The Orient Express and Evil Under The Sun, and was the star of the first London production of Sondheim's Sweeney Todd.

A brilliant man, taken from us far too soon.

Denis Quilley obituary

Friday, 25 December 2009

Laying the table

An essential and handy guide to making your Xmas dinner table perfect for your guests...

Season's Greetings! - My Kind Of Panto

It's that day! To some, it's Xmas. To others it is Saturnalia. To most people, it's a day off work and an excuse to eat and drink more in 24 hours than you would normally imbibe in a week. However, there are some things that always come to mind at this time of year - such as Pantomime! (Featuring The Tiger Lillies and Justin Bond, in my case...)

According to the blurb:
"The Twisted Tale Of A Christmas Crack-Whore: A reality faerie tale for our times. Poor Sinderella (Justin Bond) is a whore with deep psychological problems caused by resentment towards her wicked stepmother (Martin Jacques), a sadistic whore with introspective complications. So far, Sinderella's problems can only be assuaged by crack. The world awaits the coming of Prince Charming, whomsoever he/she/it may be."
Season's Greetings, dears...

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Star of wonder, star of night. Star with royal beauty bright.

As the countdown comes to its natural end this evening, what better way to acknowledge the fact that it is the eve of Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, Brumalia, Saturnalia or Yule? Not with Balthazar, Melchior, and Caspar, but with Debbie Harry...

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Shopping is easy

As the weather continues to make that last-minute shopping an even bigger nightmare than usual this year, let's hear from two ladies who have already made their shopping lists.

Miss London and Miss Kitt cared very little about the queues in Marks & Spencer when someone else was obviously going to bring them their heart's desires...



Tuesday, 22 December 2009

La période des fêtes



Ah, Dalida! A supremely talented woman taken away from us too soon...

Yet who knew she lived long enough to give this song her own very special treatment? As the countdown continues, enjoy a slice of Gallic class!

Monday, 21 December 2009

Countdown begins

I do hate this festering season - amateur drinkers vomiting everywhere, false jollity, endless repeats on telly, huge queues at the shops, and every music channel turned over to "The Greatest Hits Of Christmas" (which will inevitably feature Mariah-bloody-Carey, Chris Rea or Johnny Mathis at some stage).

However, this is indeed the season for tackiness, and so without further ado here is the first of my choice of songs in the countdown to Saturnalia. Laydeez and gentlemen, give a warm welcome to the Del Rubio Triplets!

Sunday, 20 December 2009

"The glamour of Hollywood has never worn thin for me."



"The glamour of Hollywood has never worn thin for me. I'm just as excited today over autograph fans as I was the day I arrived, and just as disappointed if I'm ignored."

It's Sunday, traditional home of "our kind of music" (© David Jacobs), especially that music of a long-lost era of glamour. And no-one epitomises those stylish years of Hollywood better than the five-times Oscar-nominated actress, singer and style icon Irene Dunne (born 108 years ago today).

In thirty years of films, Miss Dunne starred alongside Randolph Scott, Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers, Cary Grant, Charles Boyer, Barbara Bel Geddes, Rex Harrison, Van Johnson and many more. Jerome Kern wrote songs specifically for her. Later in her career, she discovered a penchant for comedy, and once her movie career was over she became a favourite guest on popular US television programmes such as The Jack Benny Show and What's My Line. Lucille Ball was allegedly a huge fan.

Anyhow, here is the beautiful lady herself in a magnificent Art Deco setting, with one of the numbers Jerome Kern composed for her, with Fred Astaire conducting the orchestra. How life should be...



Interesting facts about Irene Dunne:
  • the fur she wore in that clip from Penny Serenade cost 9,000 dollars in 1935. During filming, she had a special bodyguard following her around - to protect the dress!
  • she apparently began her glittering career when she bumped into showman Florenz Ziegfeld in an elevator the day she returned from her honeymoon. He cast her in his touring theatrical version of Showboat and a talent scout from RKO happened to be in the audience for one of her performances.
  • she was the first woman ever elected to the board of directors at the Technicolor corporation.
Irene Dunne on IMDB

Saturday, 19 December 2009

"How bravely they dance..."

On this sunny (but freezing) Saturday, I thought I'd post a wonderful clip from a little-known comedy film that was released at the end of the "Swinging Sixties".

Despite its magnificent all-star cast, the anarchic The Happy Christian remains obscure and forgotten. Indeed, I had never heard of it until recently - even though it was co-written by (and starred) Peter Sellers, John Cleese and Graham Chapman, with guest star roles going to Ringo Starr, Racquel Welch, Roman Polanski, Wilfrid Hyde-White, Richard Attenborough, Christopher Lee, Spike Milligan and Laurence Harvey!

There were many other stars of the time who appeared in cameo roles, including this one. See if you can guess who this alluring drag queen is...



The Magic Christian on IMDB

Friday, 18 December 2009

I hear birdsong



The legendary Cindy Birdsong celebrated her 70th birthday this week! Having started her career as a member of Patti LaBelle's first singing troupe, it was only when the lovely lady joined the world's most successful girl group The Supremes (following the departure of the tragic Florence Ballard) that her fame and fortune were assured.

Her star only really rose (briefly) however, once the saintly Diana had left the group to pursue her solo career. Here are some of Cindy's shining moments... Happy Friday!

Up The Ladder to the Roof:


Stoned Love:


Supremes live medley:


Cindy Birdsong on Wikipedia

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Muppets on Acid



This week has passed by without the much-anticipated dose of "weirdness" that sparked the interest of readers last week. Well, far be it from me to disappoint, so today let us focus in on a long-time favourite piece of sheer insanity...

Often described as "The Muppets on acid", the Lord Of The Rings director Peter Jackson's early work Meet the Feebles is in every way a blacker-than-black, hilarious and surreal masterpiece, and a cult hit round at Dolores Delargo Towers (ever since I was introduced to it in Plymouth by my equally eccentric friend Richard).

Featuring a bizarre array of puppet characters and their attempts to make it to the big-time in a down-town theatre - from the sleazy walrus club owner and his kitten floozy, to the kinky-underwear-clad cow and cockroach who are involved in filming a porn film, to the drug-addict frog and his deadly knife-throwing act, and other characters including flies, rats, worms, hedgehogs, dogs, frogs, elephants and aardvarks - this is a completely anarchic movie.

Its scenes of drug dealing, mutilation, back-stabbing, date rape, kinky sex and massacre are not for the faint-hearted. It makes Avenue Q look like, well, Sesame Street in comparison!

In this scene, the outrageously gay fox stage director sings his classic Busby Berkeley-inspired number Sodomy while our heroine, the downtrodden and ultimately psychopathic hippopotamus, runs rampage backstage with a machine gun. I think you get the picture!


Meet The Feebles fan site

Buy Meet The Feebles from Amazon

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

"Although she never was a girl to let a man go, she wouldn't sacrifice her principles for sex."



What mere words of mine could pay tribute to the sheer genius that was Noel Coward (who was born 110 years ago today)?

It was for a very good reason that he was known as "The Master". His wit, camp, style and poise genuinely did epitomise a whole era of British life -through his plays, songs, music, acting, performance and sheer panache.

His stage productions including Cavalcade, The Vortex, Hay Fever, Private Lives, Design for Living, Present Laughter, Bitter Sweet and Blithe Spirit, and films such as Brief Encounter are forever embedded in the psyche as examples of what represents "Britishness" in classic 20th Century drama.

UK society (and indeed high society - among his close friends were Prince George, Duke of Kent, and Lord Louis Mountbatten) adored him so much that there was an almost universal decision to ignore his gay lifestyle and his long-term relationship with Graham Payne. ("There are still a few old ladies in Worthing who don't know", he said.)

After all, his film In Which We Serve and songs such as London Pride had been offically sanctioned as a major contribution to the war effort, and in real life he worked on behalf of the the Secret Service for much of WW2... The rest is history, as Sir Noel continued to be an internationally beloved dilettante until his death in 1973.

So without further ado, here is a cavalcade (geddit?) of the Master's finest moments...

Nina:


Our Man in Havana:


London Pride:


Mrs Worthington:


And here is Stephen Fry paying tribute to The Master earlier this week:



And finally, my favourite version of a favourite Noel Coward song by that latter-day genius Neil Hannon and The Divine Comedy:



Noel Coward Society

Noel Coward on Wikipedia

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Oh, Johnny, Oh!



By far the weirdest story of the past week is the saga of French superstar Johnny Hallyday.

In November, he went to hospital for an operation on a slipped disc. The operation went badly and he ended up with a life-threatening infection in his spine. Doctors in the US put him into a "medically-induced coma" (who knew such a thing was a valid medical procedure?) until today, when he has apparently woken after further corrective surgery. And in the strangest twist of all his surgeon was violently attacked - but no-one knows if this was the work of a deranged fan...



Mr Hallyday certainly has a huge army of fanatics out there - not for nothing is he nicknamed "the French Elvis". This year was meant to signal his "farewell tour" after fifty years of performing, 400 tours, 18 platinum albums and more than 100 million records sold! Even President Sarkozy is a fan... Yet this iconic figure has never had a hit outside his native France.

Here are a few examples of the great man's talents. Get well soon, Johnny!







Johnny Hallyday biography

Monday, 14 December 2009

Up, and down

I have often described our musical taste here at Dolores Delargo Towers as being "everything from Wagner to the Vengaboys". This much is true.

So on this Tacky Music Monday let's go to the lowest end of that particular scale... Enjoy!



Sunday, 13 December 2009

“What are fears but voices airy?"



On this, the 80th birthday of the lovely Christopher Plummer, what better way to celebrate than with a piece from his most lauded film The Sound Of Music?

In the actual movie, Mr Plummer's voice was dubbed, but here is a rare clip that features his own voice. As he says in his autobiography, In Spite of Myself:
"Daunting is not a strong enough word to describe it. Julie and I stood side by side in a small glassed-in cubicle facing two microphones. Surrounding our prison cage sat 75 musicians like hungry jackals waiting to pounce, led by their keeper, Irwin Kostal.

"Warbling softly into a mike is far more difficult than singing full out in a theatre as I was later to discover. One is much more likely to catch and collect "frogs" in the throat, whereas projecting usually gets rid of them. I tried so hard not to look like a complete basket case. Julie, sensing my nerves, took hold of my hand and held it throughout the session. It must have taken her days to recover the use of it afterwards, I had squeezed it so hard.

"No matter how diligently I'd slugged away at my lessons, I was still untrained as a singer. To stay on a long-sustained note was, for me, akin to a drunk trying to walk the straight white line, whereas you can bet the very first cry that Julie let forth as she emerged from her mother's womb was in perfect pitch! Listening to the playback, there was no disputing we were on separate planets. In the end, Robert Wise managed to hire someone to take care of my elongated passages, and the balance was somewhat restored."

Edelweiss - Sound of Music - Christopher Plummer's own voice


Despite his fifty-year film career - everything from The Fall of the Roman Empire, through The Return of the Pink Panther, to The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus - he will forever be remembered for being Captain Georg von Trapp, and generations love him for it!

Christopher Plummer on IMDB

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Sweet Melody



I was recently alerted to a new talent on the music scene, and what a talent!

Melody Gardot is a young jazz singer from Pennsylvania, and the circumstances by which she came to prominence are indeed unusual. Following a catastrophic road accident which left her nervous system severely damaged, Miss Gardot created music while semi-paralysed in her hospital bed.

When these recordings came to the attention of the local university radio station, they went into publicity overdrive, and she soon landed a record deal. Her first album Worrisome Heart was hugely successful in the US jazz charts, and earlier this year - with the able assistance of musical arranger Vince Mendoza, who has worked with Robbie Williams, Björk, Elvis Costello, and Joni Mitchell - she released a brilliant second album My One and Only Thrill.

Here are two fabulous tracks from that album. Her voice, and the orchestral arrangements, are sublime! Enjoy...





Melody Gardot on MySpace

Friday, 11 December 2009

Dynamite-eee



Happy 65th birthday today to the original "Little Miss Dynamite"(-ee), Brenda Lee!

Miss Lee, a child prodigy who at the age of five was the main breadwinner for her impoverished family in Georgia, rocketed into the hearts of the US and UK public as a teenager with such archetypal 50s hits as Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree, Jambalaya, Let's Jump The Broomstick and Speak To Me Pretty.

However it was for this heap of string-laden campness that she is best remembered. I'm Sorry was so wildly popular, Miss Lee single-handedly saw off rivals such as Connie Francis and Helen Shapiro and (briefly) conquered the world. Indeed, in the UK her support act on a blockbuster tour was none other than that popular beat combo The Beatles...

Here she is, for some reason singing in a football scarf, on what looks like the set of Coronation Street... Enjoy!



Official Brenda Lee website

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Hornets, dry cleaning and darkrooms

Last night's Polari provided some interesting interpretations on the theme of South London. Paul Burston was suitably "Brixton-blinged up", with his baggies on and his Calvins showing (that man always struggles to keep his clothes on!), and, once the room (largely full of non-Polari-ites who left after the happy hour) was silenced, introduced our first reader William Eaves.



Will read a few pieces from his varied work, starting with an interesting piece from his as yet unpublished new book featuring a dysfunctional family encountering hornets in their holiday chateau in France. As he said, "Very very South London"(!)

He followed this with a very funny pastiche of an insipid magazine profile from his recent acclaimed work Nothing To Be Afraid Of, in which the lead characters are a pair of thespian sisters. The more pretentious of the two, Martha, is asked by a magazine for an insight into the busy life she has led since she took on the part of Miranda in The Tempest:
"It's a gruelling schedule, which means I have to get the eating right: orange juice, cereal, toast and honey in the morning, a sandwich at lunchtime and something else before the show. Miranda can easily come across as a milksop, but I'm trying to be more hardline about her, so it's lots of hearty food and fresh air. The riverside walk from the Design Museum to Hungerford Bridge is one of my favourites, and you can grab a crab salad and some Orvieto along the way."
Apparently Will was inspired by reading one of the "60 second interviews" in The Metro, and it is so true - how many times do you read this kind of drivel in a free paper or "lifestyle magazine"?



After the break, it was the turn of one of our Polari favourites, the lovely Stella Duffy. She opened with a hilarious poem, oddly titled I don't write poetry. All became clear as it turns out it is all about mistaken identity. For many people (and shamefully, The Guardian newspaper) our Stella is interchangeable with fellow lesbian, the Poet Laureate, with whom she shares a surname. (Hence the line "No, I don't write poetry. That's Carol-Ann.")

She informed us that she was tempted to read from her new book Theodora: Actress, Empress, Whore (set in Istanbul), but - like Will's earlier piece - considered that would be "too far South London". Instead she treated us to a couple of extracts from the Orange Prize-nominated Room of Lost Things, set in Loughborough Junction (between Camberwell and Brixton apparently).

A tangled web of relationships, the book centres around (of all things) a dry-cleaners. Why a dry-cleaners, you ask? But the penny soon drops when we discover the insights that Robert, who runs the business, gains about people - the little pieces of people's lives that arrive in the pockets of garments, the secrets they contain. The dry cleaners is the "room of lost things" of the title. The two passages she read were so beautifully observed and fascinating that both John-John and I just had to buy copies of the book, which Stella kindly signed.

Paul, concluding the evening's entertainment, asked the audience whether he should lower the tone, to which Stella responded, "shall I start? I can say "Cunt" at the top of my voice if you like...". We love her. Unfazed, he treated us to particularly sordid and smutty extract from Shameless, set in one of the sleazier clubs in Vauxhall. I, for one, will never leave my pint on the bar beneath a walkway full of cruising leather queens - talk about a creamy head...

Another fab evening, we chatted to friends including Rupert Smith and his pal (whose name I forget), author Alan Hollinghurst, and the lovely Frasier from Foyles bookshop, and were overjoyed to learn that January's Polari will be moving from the gorgeous Concrete Bar to a different venue within the South Bank complex - hooray! I look forward to it...

Polari

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

I warn you about my secret I'm going to expose



Continuing our journey into the weirder side of music this week, I recently rediscovered the work of Sven Väth. [Indeed, I recently blogged about his collaboration with the brilliant Miss Kittin.]

Mr Väth was the brains behind one of my favourite obscure 80s bands OFF (acronym for Organization for Fun) which released the brilliant Electrica Salsa in 1987. A formative influence, and still in my Top 30 all-ime fave tunes today...



From that estimable height, he went on the pioneer the genre known as trance music across Europe, and remains one of Germany's most respected DJs to this day. I love his music, and his strangeness!

Here's just a little slice of the genius that is Sven Väth...



Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Uncategorizable strangeness



WFMU is a listener-supported, non-commercial radio station in New Jersey, USA, and unlike so many stations over there it has a unique stance on music policy.

They describe their programming as:
"ranging from from flat-out uncategorizable strangeness to rock and roll, experimental music, 78 RPM Records, jazz, psychedelia, hip-hop, electronica, hand-cranked wax cylinders, punk rock, gospel, exotica, R&B, radio improvisation, cooking instructions, classic radio airchecks, found sound, dopey call-in shows, interviews with obscure radio personalities and notable science-world luminaries, spoken word collages, Andrew Lloyd Webber soundtracks in languages other than English..."
Whew!

I have not listened to many of their actual broadcasts, but when in 2003 (and again in 2007) they created their legendary "365 Days Project" - a little slice of weird music to download every day of the year - I was hooked. Indeed, a helluva lot of our CD collection owes its roots to this fabulous web innovation.

Now, thanks to a tip-off from the lovely people calling themselves Tingle In The Netherlands, I am reminded of just one of those wonderfully weird tracks... Fred from Jupiter, a single from 1981 by Die Doraus und Die Marinas:



WFMU's Beware of the Blog

Monday, 7 December 2009

Let me be your drag queen

It is Tacky Music Monday again, and today's is a fabulous example of mid-90s gay Euro Dance music - sassy, vulgar, and just right for the occasion...

One of the collaborators on this wonderful piece of kitsch was Gérard Langella, in actual fact a well-respected DJ and remixer in France - in latter years he has worked with producers such as Laurent Wolf, and is one of the geniuses behind the famous Buddha Lounge compilation CD series.

This was a shining moment, I am sure you will agree, in his career...

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Its a sweet trip to a candy shop



Congratulations today to the gorgeous actress Dame Helen Mirren, winner of the Lifetime achievement award at yesterday's Women In Film And Television Awards in London.

Dame Helen is indeed a marvellous actress, with a long history of gripping screen appearances including several Shakespearean adaptations and BBC plays, ITV's Prime Suspect, and marvellous films like The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover, The Madness Of King George, Some Mother's Son, Gosford Park, and of course The Queen. Uncompromising and sexy even in her 60s, she is quite rightly adored on both sides of the pond.

But I wonder if the great Dame counts this appearance (in Peter Sellers' last, disastrous, movie The Fiendish Plot Of Fu Manchu, singing On The Good Ship Lollipop) among her lifetime achievements?



Dame Helen Mirren on IMDB

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Be Italian!



Apparently the new movie Nine - based upon Fellini's - follows the life of film director "Guido Contini" played by Daniel Day-Lewis, who reaches a creative and personal crisis of epic proportion, while balancing the numerous women in his life - including his wife (Marion Cotillard), his mistress (Penelope Cruz), his film star muse (Nicole Kidman), his confidant and costume designer (Dame Judi Dench), an American fashion journalist (Kate Hudson), his glamorous courtesan (Stacy "Fergie" Ferguson of the Black-Eyed Peas) and his mother (Sophia Loren).

Sounds marvellous - and what a cast!!

Can't help singing



It was the 88th birthday yesterday of the lovely Deanna Durbin, known as the "Canadian songbird".

Deanna was launched on Hollywood's big screen as a fifteen-year-old (alongside another young aspiring star, Miss Judy Garland) way back in 1936 - and her beautiful operatic voice became an instant sensation. So popular were her versions of arias by Puccini and Gounod that allegedly the Japanese used to try and break the spirits of their US prisoners-of-war by telling them their idol was dead...

Miss Durbin made numerous movies during the 30s and 40s, including Three Smart Girls and Can't Help Singing, and even some non-musical films such as Lady on a Train. Allegedly, it was her vocal style that influenced Kiri ti Kanawa, and even the composer Rostrapovitch cited her as his inspiration.

Surprisingly, given her potential to become as big a star as La Garland, Deanna Durbin's career ended in 1950. She married, moved to Paris, and walked away from her film and recording contract for ever. And there she still resides - to this day she refuses (despite numerous efforts) to come out of retirement and perform again, or to talk to the media about her success.

Many happy returns to a beautiful lady! Here are couple of Miss Durbin's greatest screen musical moments:





Deanna Durbin on IMDB

Friday, 4 December 2009

Must be the reason

Can it really be a whole decade since this was at Number 1? A super-hip dance choon that really caught the mood in Britain at the time, King Of My Castle is also one of those songs which was so confusing that people would make up their own words to it - was she singing about "trestles", "thresholds", or as some people thought, "arseholes"?

Anyhow, it is a cheery dance classic - even if what looks like Pete Burns' younger sister is singing it. Happy Friday!



Must be the reason why I'm king of my castle
Must be the reason why I'm freeing my trapped soul
Must be the reason why I'm king of my castle
Must be a reason why I'm making examples of you

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Mr Smooth



Happy birthday to that epitome of squeaky-clean wholesomeness Mr Andy Williams, who will (attempt to) blow out 82 candles on his cake today...

A remarkable survivor of the great "crooner" era, Mr Williams's ultra-smooth vocals provided the backdrop to many a swinging 60s party, as well as having hits with the theme tunes to both Breakfast At Tiffany's (Moon River) and Love Story. It was on his show that The Osmonds first came to fame (although some might think that is a bad thing), and his prime time position on American TV meant that artist clambered over themselves to appear on it - Jackson 5, Bobby Darin, Julie Andrews, Pearl Bailey, Sammy Davis Jr and Ella Fitzgerald among them.

In recent times, alongside contemporaries Tony Bennett and Tony Christie, Andy Willams made something of a "comeback" as a cult figure - largely thanks to the power of advertising (as usual). And he is atill performing today, most recently as a guest star on Strictly Come Dancing. If I weren't going to work (bleurggh) I would be running a hot bath and relaxing to the great man's dulcet tones...







Andy Williams official website

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Meet my friend, he knows every little trick



My blog on Monday featured the wonderfully tacky 80s Eurobeat combo The Flirts. That was enough to get me to delve once more into the sleazy underbelly - sorry, brilliant classics - of Hi-NRG, and one name leapt out of the archives: the lovely Eddy Huntington.

Although hailing from rural County Durham, Mr Huntington's biggest commercial success was in Europe, Russia and Japan, with hits such as Up and Down, Bang Bang Baby, Future Brain and U.S.S.R.

But his success on the gay dancefloors was ensured when he released this uber-camp number! Meet My Friend, with its sexual innuendo and sung as it was by a (then) fresh-faced chicken was a huge gay anthem in 1987. I absolutely love it! And here, gentlemen and laydeez, it is...



The biggest surprise I had while researching the whereabouts of this little-remembered gay icon was the fact that not only is he nowadays a primary school teacher back in the North East, but that the Norwegians have sought him out and asked him to perform one of their entries for next year's Eurovision! Here is the (local) news:



I have no idea yet whether he will eventually appear, but we shall see - Norway has yet to finally announce the performers who will sing the competing songs in their national equivalent of our Song for Europe next year. We may yet get a chance to see the return of a real blast from the past...

Meet my friend, he knows every little trick
Meet my friend called Dick

I've got a friend
He's so much fun
And I know he's ready for action
He'd like to fire
And wake up your desire
He knows every way to
Make you really lose your mind

Well hello, how do you do?
I'm really pleased, pleased to meet you

Just take your time
But don't be shy
Let yourself go with the attraction
I'm sure he'd like you and I'm sure you'd like him too
My friend wants to meet you
And you'll find the four of us

Well hello, how do you do?
I'm really pleased, pleased to meet you

Meet my friend, he knows every little trick
Meet my friend called Dick


Interview with Eddy Huntington

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

“I wouldn't say I invented tacky, but I definitely brought it to its present high popularity”



Happy 64th birthday today to that gorgeous bundle of campness Miss Bette Midler! I have always loved this lady's sassiness and hutzpah, and to me, as with many gay people, she embodies a way of being to which I aspire...

Read my previous blog about Bette two years ago.

Bette's The Showgirl Must Go On has been the top selling show in Las Vegas for the last two years, and she has announced that her last show will be Sunday, January 31, 2010. As she says, "These legs have had such a great run in the desert - it may be time to haul them to places with more humidity and fewer slot machines."

One of those places is the UK! Miss Midler is appearing on this weekend's Strictly Come Dancing, and she will undoubtedly make a few more appearances on TV to promote her Best Bette: Deluxe Edition compilation CD, which was released yesterday.

Indeed, Bette will perform in front of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh at the 81st Royal Variety Performance next Monday on a bill that includes Michael Buble, Miley Cyrus and Lady GaGa - and I reckon she'll give them all a lesson in what it really means to be a performer!





[Yes, I know I posted this one before, but how could I resist?]