Sunday, 22 February 2015

Nel blu dipinto di blu - Domenico Modugno

The Eurovision Song Contest has a rich history of famous winners, but there are a few songs that have become classics without even winning. The best example of this comes from the first few years of the contest: Italian singer Domenico Modugno performed the song 'Nel blu dipinto di blu' in 1958 during the third edition of Eurovision after winning the San Remo festival with the same song. At the close of voting, it got 13 point and became 3rd out of 10 competitors.

Following commercial success in Italy, where it sold almost a million copies, the song was also released in the United States and in the rest of Europe. In the United Kingdom, Modugno's single was released on 23 August 1958, together with eight other versions recorded by international artists. The single obtained global acclaim, becoming an international hit. However, somewhere along the line the song became better knows as... 'Volare'.

This single is an Italian pressing, presumably from 1958, on blue vinyl. I don't know, but it might be a real collector's item.

My collection: 7" single no. 561
Found: Marktplaats.nl, received February 14, 2015
Cost: 2 euro
Tracks: 'Nel blu dipinto di blu' / 'Lazzarella'

Man gewöhnt sich so schnell an das schöne - Nora Nova (Ariola Music Box EP)

This EP is a strange beast. I bought it, obviously, for the German entry to the 1964 Eurovision Song Contest, but there are three other tracks on this disc, and possibly the weirdest of all is the first one: it's Chubby Checker singing 'Good old Schwäb'sche Eisenbahn'. That's right, partly in German.

Nora Nova was the first Bulgarian to participate in the Eurovision Song Contest. Her father was an official of Tsar Boris III of Bulgaria and she reports that she was raised a monarchist. After scoring a number of hits in the German and Swiss charts, in 1964 she was chosen to represent West Germany at the Eurovision Song Contest in Copenhagen. Her song, 'Man gewöhnt sich so schnell an das Schöne', reportedly has the longest name in Eurovision Song Contest history. With it she had another record — nul points for West Germany, and hence 13th, last place.

My collection: 7" single no. 5620
Found: Marktplaats.nl, received February 14, 2015
Cost: 2 euro
Tracks: 'Good old Schwäb'sche Eisenbahn' (Chubby Checker) / 'Keine Schule mehr' (Peggy Peters) / 'Man gewöhnt sich so schnell an das Schöne' (Nora Nova) / 'Bella Luna' (Renate und Werner Leismann'

Mama - Jean-Jacques

Jean-Jacques appeared on this blog once before with the single of his 1969 Eurovison Song Contest entry Maman. As mentioned there, he recorded his song in French, Spanish and Italian. So this single presents the Spanish version, and even the B-side 'Les beaux dimanches' appears here in that language.

It's not inconceivable that I would never have bought either single if Jean-Jacques hadn't participated in the Eurovision Song Contest, because it's such a sentimental song. But there you go.

My collection: 7" single no. 5619
Found: Marktplaats.nl, received February 14, 2015
Cost: 2 euro
Tracks: 'Mama' / 'Los domingos felices'

Croire - Lara Fabian

Lara Crokaert was born on January 9, 1970 in Etterbeek, Belgium. She began singing, dancing and taking piano lessons at a young age, and began formal music lessons at age eight. She began writing and performing her own songs during her ten years of formal music study.

In 1988, the RTL TV channel in Luxembourg invited Fabian to represent the country at the 33rd Eurovision Song Contest, held that year in Dublin, Ireland. The song was a composition of Jacques Cardona and Alain Garciac entitled 'Croire' ('Trust'). At the close of voting, it had received 90 points, placing 4th in a field of 21 competitors. The single became a hit in Europe, selling nearly 500,000 copies.

My collection: 7" single no. 5618
Found: Marktplaats.nl, received February 14, 2015
Cost: 2 euro
Tracks: 'Croire' / 'Trust'

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Oulou tou kosmou i elpida - Cleopatra

I had to set aside my principle of not spending too much money on vinyl singles for this 1992 Eurovision Song Contest entry by Cleopatra, because it's so hard to find and the fact that I was buying this together with six other singles meant that I could save on shipping costs anyway. That's how I have to justify things sometimes.

'Oulou tou kosmou i elpida' ('Everyone's hope') is one of the best Eurovision entries ever, despite - or perhaps, because of - the fact that the lyrics are incomprehensive if one does not speak or understand Greek. The powerful song received 94 points, placing 5th in a field of 23 competitors, making it Greece's best showing in the Contest since 1977.

My collection: 7" single no. 5617
Found: eBay.com, received February 12, 2015
Cost: 5 euro
Tracks: 'Oulou tou kosmou i elpida' / 'Song for love'

Sata salamaa - Vicky Rosti

'Sata salamaa' ('One hundred lightnings') was performed by Finnish singer Vicky Rosti on the 1987 Eurovision Song Contest. On this single the original Finnish version is backed with an English version entitled 'Firenight'. The song is sung from the perspective of a woman telling her lover that, regardless of the adversity (the "hundred lightnings" of the title) they face in their love, 'There's a thousand worlds out there, and one of them is ours' - in other words, they will triumph in the end. At the close of voting, the song had acquired 28 points, finishing 15th out of 22 competitors.

Vicky is still active in the Finnish music scene, as a member of the band Menneisyyden Vangit.

My collection: 7" single no. 5616
Found: eBay.com, received February 12, 2015
Cost: 2 euro
Tracks: 'Sata salamaa' / 'Firenight'

Frère Jacques - Anne Marie B.

'Frère Jacques' was the Luxembourgish entry in the 1977 Eurovision Song Contest, performed by French singer Anne-Marie Besse. As the title suggests, the disco-influenced song contains several references to the nursery rhyme of the same name; 'Frère Jacques, dormez-vous?' ('Brother John, are you sleeping?') 'J'entends les cloches qui sonnent' ('I can hear the bells ringing') and 'Tu aurais bien mieux à faire que de jouer au grand frère...' ('There are so much better things for you to do than pretending to be my big brother....'). The singer compares the childish rhyme to her current adulthood, singing about how she longs to have a relationship with some of Jacques/John's friends; 'I'm not a child anymore, you know'. The song ends with the line 'Frère Jacques, réveille-toi et viens dormir avec moi...' ('Brother John, wake up and come sleep with me...'). At the close of voting, the song had received 17 points, placing 16th in a field of 18 competitors.

My collection: 7" single no. 5616
Found: eBay.com, received February 12, 2015
Cost: 2 euro
Tracks: 'Frère Jacques' / 'Bébé chat'

Lapponia - Monica Aspelund

Finnish singer Monica Aspelund was born in Vaasa on July 16, 1946. She debuted at the age of fourteen and since released many singles, including Finnish covers of international hits. In 1977 she participated in the Eurovision Song Contest with 'Lapponia', which received 50 points and finished 10th in a field of 18 competitors.

Despite its moderate placing at the Eurovision final, 'Lapponia' was given release in twenty European countries and also in Australia, Brazil, Israel and Turkey. Aspelund recorded "Lapponia" in six languages; Finnish, her mother tongue Swedish, English, German, French and Dutch. "Lapponia" afforded Aspelund a number 5 hit in Finland and also reached number 5 in Sweden.

My collection: 7" single no. 5614
Found: eBay.com, received February 12, 2015
Cost: 3 euro
Tracks: 'Lapponia' / 'La-la laula laulu'

Pozdrav svijetu (Dobar dan) - 4M

Two weeks ago, as I was on Ebay bidding on a series of Eurovision singles (and won seven out of ten, as you can read here), I noticed that most of the action happened in the last two minutes. Suddenly there were bidders (or it was only one, I couldn't tell) coming up and offering more than my maximum - which, admittedly, wasn't exactly high. By quickly throwing in one more bid - which, again, wasn't very high - I was  able to steal back the singles in the last few seconds. There was just one exception: this 1969 Yugoslavian entry by 4M. And that's remarkable, since it's such an old record from a country that doesn't even exist anymore.

'Pozdrav svijetu' is a ballad, in which the 4M's salute all people of the world, wishing them a "good day" in several languages: Spanish, German, French, English, Dutch, Italian, Russian and Finnish. At the close of voting, it had received just 5 points, placing 13th in a field of 16 competitors.

My collection: 7" single no. 5613
Found: eBay.com, received February 12, 2015
Cost: 0,7 euro
Tracks: 'Pozdrav svijetu (Dobar dan)' / 'David i Ruth'

Romeo - Ketil Stokkan

Ketil Stokkan was born on April 29, 1956 in Harstad, Norway. As well as being a singer in the Norwegian band Zoo, Ketil performed as a solo singer, most notably in the Eurovision Song Contest - twice.

His first appearance was in 1986 with his self-penned song 'Romeo'. The Contest was held in Bergen, Norway that year, after the previous year saw the Bobbysocks win with the rather retro La det swinge. The song became more significant for the appearance onstage of a drag queen, a member of the Norwegian drag troupe "Great Garlic Girls", dressed in stylised clothing reminiscent of the 18th century, thus representing the first occasion on which a sexual minority was visible onstage. At the close of voting, 'Romeo' had received 44 points, placing 12th in a field of 20. Stokkan returned on the Eurovision stage in 1990 with the unsuccessful 'Brandenburger Tor'. But I am still looking for a (cheap) copy of that single...

My collection: 7" single no. 5612
Found: eBay.com, received February 12, 2015
Cost: 2 euro
Tracks: 'Romeo' / 'Vi overlever regnet'

Donne moi une chance - Modern Times

In 1993, Luxembourg participated in the Eurovision Song Contest for the very last time. Despite regular rumours of their return to the Contest, the country has not made an appearance in the last 22 years so it seems likely that this song by Modern Times, a duo consisting of Simone Weis and Jimmy Martin, will remain their last.

'Donne moi une chance' is sung partly in Luxembourgish. It starts off with a strong intro but becomes a bit dull after that. Apparently the juries thought the same: at the end of the voting, the song had acquired 11 points, finishing as 20th in a field of 25 competitors.

My collection: 7" single no. 5611
Found: eBay.com, received February 12, 2015
Cost: 2 euro
Tracks: 'Donne moi une chance' / 'Heaven only knows'

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Suspicious minds - Elvis Presley

Mark James wrote and recorded 'Suspicious minds' in 1968. After his single was a commercial failure, the song was handed to Elvis Presley, who turned it into one of the most notable hits of his career. It was his seventeenth and last number one hit in the USA.

Session producer Felton Jarvis made the unusual decision to add a premature fade-out to the song starting at 3:36, mirroring the way Presley used to perform it in his live Las Vegas stage act. This fade-out lasts for about 15 seconds before fading back in, conveying a message of relationship in the song.

My collection: 7" single no. 5610
Found: Kringloop Hebbes, Rijswijk, February 7, 2015
Cost: 1 euro
Tracks: 'Suspicious minds' / 'You'll think of me'

Dishwasher - General Public

The white sleeve of this single informs the reader only that the disc contains 'Dishwasher', which was used in the Dutch radio show 'Avondspits'. Having listened to this show all through the Eighties, there's no small chance that I heard this tune every day for years. And indeed, the tune sounds very familiar.

General Public formed when Dave Wakeling and Ranking Roger decided to continue working together in a new ventur after the breakup of their previous band The Beat. They recruited Mickey Billingham, Mick Jones, Horace Panter and drummer Stoker and signed to Virgin Records. 'Dishwasher' is an instrumental mix of General Public's track 'Burning bright', from their debut album 'All the rage' (1984). The single actually reached number 38 in the Dutch singles chart.

My collection: 7" single no. 5609
Found: Kringloop Hebbes, Rijswijk, February 7, 2015
Cost: 1 euro
Tracks: 'Dishwasher' / 'General public'

Roses are red - Mac Band

Released in 1988, 'Roses are red' is a typical Eighties production, sounding a lot like the Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis productions for Janet Jackson. The song was actually produced by L.A. & Babyface. It was the band's only single to reach the UK singles chart, peaking at number 6.

The song was taken from the band's debut album 'The Mac Band featuring the McCampbell Brothers', also released in 1988. They released two further albums, 'Love U 2 the limit' (1990) and 'The real deal' (1991), after which they called it quits.

My collection: 7" single no. 5608
Found: Kringloop Hebbes, Rijswijk, February 7, 2015
Cost: 1 euro
Tracks: 'Roses are red' / 'Roses are red (instrumental)'

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Je vais me marier Marie - Patrick Juvet

Patrick Juvet was born on August 21, 1950 in Montreux, Switzerland. While his early career was focused on making pop records, in the second half of the Seventies he found international success as a disco performer.

Before that, however, he represented his country in the 1973 Eurovision Song Contest with 'Je vais me marier Marie' ('I'm getting married, Mary'). At the close of voting, it had received 79 points, placing 12th in a field of 17 competitors.

My collection: 7" single no. 5607
Found: Discogs.com, received January 20, 2015
Cost: 2 euro
Tracks: 'Je vais me marier Marie' / 'Moi j'ai le coeur sauvage'

't Spinnewiel - Saskia en Serge

Saskia & Serge competed in the Eurovision Song Contest once, with the forgettable song Tijd in 1971. However, the year before, they participated in the Dutch national final with this song, ''t Spinnewiel'. They were almost selected, but in the end the Hearts of Soul were chosen with their song 'Waterman'.

While I still have to find a copy of that song, I did manage to get hold of Saskia & Serge's song on this single. Listening to it now, it's hard to imagine that they would stand a chance against 1970's winner, Dana with All kinds of everything.

My collection: 7" single no. 5606
Found: Discogs.com, received January 20, 2015
Cost: 2 euro
Tracks: ''t Spinnewiel' / 'Dans met me mee'

Vas vas vas - Ofra Haza

Back in 1983, the late Ofra Haza participated in the Eurovision Song Contest with Hi. Readers of this blog will know that I managed to buy the original version and the German version Frei in 2000 and 2011 respectively. I recently managed to add one more version to the collection: 'Vas vas vas', which is the French version.

I have to be honest: I almost didn't buy this single. Through the years I've seen this sleeve so often, that I almost believed I'd already bought it. But usually the price was too high, causing me to leave the single with the various suppliers. This time around, though, I got lucky. And it's a pristine copy too!

My collection: 7" single no. 5605
Found: Velvet Vinyl Outlet, Leiden, January 16, 2015
Cost: 1 euro
Tracks: 'Vas vas vas' / 'Hi'

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Je t'aime moi non plus - Jane Birkin avec Serge Gainsbourg

It's getting late in the evening, so it's time for the ultimate moan and groan track of all times. 'Je t'aime... moi non plus' is one of those songs almost everyone with a minor interest in pop music knows. It achieved some notoriety because of its extensive inclusion of heavy breathing.

The lyrics are written as a dialogue between two lovers during sex. Phrases include: 'I go and I come between your loins', 'You are the wave, I the naked/deserted island', 'Physical love is a dead end'. Gainsbourg claimed the song was actually an "anti-fuck" song about the desperation and impossibility of physical love. That message somehow got lost a bit, as the single reached number 1 in many countries mostly on the strength of its face value: it sounded very sexual. Well, I hope you will have a good night after listening to this single.

My collection: 7" single no. 5601
Found: Velvet Vinyl Outlet, Leiden, January 16, 2015
Cost: 1 euro
Tracks: 'Je t'aime moi non plus' / 'Jane B.'

Imagine - Joan Collins

Okay... So we've had many Dallas actors and actresses singing tracks, such as Audrey Landers, Charlene Tilton, Victoria Principal, Patrick Duffy and even good old Larry Hagman, so I guess a single by a Dynasty actor or actress was to be expected. But I never imagined it would be the preposterous proposition of Joan Collins reciting the lyric of John Lennon's 'Imagine'!

This single was released in 1982 to promote the album 'The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra plays The Beatles'. You have to marvel at the sheer strangeness of records sometimes. The B-side is slightly less bizarre, with Roy 'I wish it could be Christmas every day' Wood singing 'Happy Christmas (War is over)'.

My collection: 7" single no. 5602
Found: Velvet Vinyl Outlet, Leiden, January 16, 2015
Cost: 1 euro
Tracks: 'Imagine' (Joan Collins) / 'Happy Christmas (War is over)' (Roy Wood & Honor Hefferman)

L'amour est bleu - Paul Mauriat and his Orchestra

'L'amour est bleu' was the 1967 Eurovision entry by Vicky Leandros, representing Luxembourg that year. She actually won the contest with the song, prompting chart success all over Europe - and a flurry of cover versions.

The most famous cover version is the one by Paul Mauriat and his Orchestra, although his version was entirely instrumental. It didn't bother the audiences in Europe, where it became a hit in 1968. Amazingly, his version became the best known version in the United States, where it ranked as the second best sold song of the year.

My collection: 7" single no. 5603
Found: Velvet Vinyl Outlet, Leiden
Cost: 1 euro
Tracks: 'L'amour est bleu' / 'A banda'

Can we still be friends - Robert Palmer

'Can we still be friends' was written and originally recorded by Todd Rundgren. It appears on his 1978 album 'Hermit of Mink Hollow'. It was the only hit single from that album, reaching number 29 in the US Billboard Hot 100 singles chart.

Robert Palmer was quick to cover the song, releasing it just a year later. He included it on his album 'Secrets'. Despite the fact that this is a very decent version, the single didn't chart.

My collection: 7" single no. 5601
Found: Velvet Vinyl Outlet, Leiden, January 16, 2015
Cost: 1 euro
Tracks: 'Can we still be friends' / 'Too good to be true'

Being boiled - Human League

It's hard to believe that this single was released in the summer of 1978, because the Human League's 'Being boiled' sounds a lot like early Eighties synthpop. But actually, it was one of the first pieces of electronic pop music produced in the UK. It was recorded on a domestic tape recorder, in mono, in an abandoned factory at a cost of £2,50.

The song was written by Martyn Ware and Ian Craig-Marsh before Philip Oakey joined the band. They gave him the music to listen to, and he returned two days later with lyrics for the track. Ware and Marsh liked the lyrics, and the song was born. The song was re-recorded in 1980, but this single contains the original version.

My collection: 7" single no. 5600
Found: Velvet Vinyl Outlet, Leiden, January 16, 2015
Cost: 1 euro
Tracks: 'Being boiled' / 'Circus of death'

Alors je chante (and then I sing) - Dimitri Dourakine and his orchestra

The title 'Alors je chante' may only seem familiar to those who have read about Rika Zarai's single on this blog almost six years ago. It is a cover of the 1969 Eurovision song Vivo cantando, one of four winners that year.

Dimitri Dourakine recorded this - instrumental - version of the song in 1969, not long after his single 'Casatchok' became a number one hit in France. It's kitsch, but Eurovision-related kitsch is always worthwhile of course.

My collection: 7" single no. 5599
Found: Velvet Vinyl Outlet, Leiden, January 16, 2015
Cost: 1 euro
Tracks: 'Alors je chante (and then I sing)' / 'Haifa'

Monday, 16 February 2015

The man who sold the world - Lulu

'The man who sold the world' was written by David Bowie and recorded as the title track of his third album in 1970. The song was covered by the Scottish singer Lulu in 1974. Bowie invited her to a concert he gave after which he met her in his hotel room saying: "I want to make an MF of a record with you [because] you're a great singer." She didn't think Bowie would follow up, but a short time later she was actually in the studio, recording tracks with David Bowie and Mick Ronson producing.

When 'The man who sold the world' was released as a single, it reached number 3 in the UK singles chart, and also top 10 in the Netherlands and Ireland.

My collection: 7" single no. 5698
Found: Velvet Vinyl Outlet, Leiden, January 16, 2015
Cost: 1 euro  
Tracks: 'The man who sold the world' / 'Watch that man'

Johnny & Mary - Leigh Jaeger

In 1989, Leigh Jaeger sang a cover of Robert Palmer's 'Johnny & Mary'. The track was produced by Stephen Stewart-Short, but received an 'additional production and remix' treatment by Phil Harding and Ian Curnow for PWL. No wonder, then, that this track sounds suspiciously like a Stock/Aitken/Waterman production.

So who is Leigh Jaeger, actually? The internet fails to give any information about her, and her only claim to fame seems to be this single.

My collection: 7" single no. 5697
Found: Velvet Vinyl Outlet, Leiden, January 16, 2015
Cost: 1 euro
Tracks: 'Johnny & Mary (remix)' / 'Johnny & Mary (instrumental)'

Sunday, 15 February 2015

I was born to love - Rosy & Andres

Well, the following could become complicated... Dries Holten was born on January 30, 1936 in Cimahi, Dutch East Indies. He represented the Netherlands as Andres in the Eurovision Song Contest alongside Sandra Reemer. Sandra en Andres, as they called themselves, performed Als het om de liefde gaat. They were a duo until 1975, when Andres said he wanted to work behind the scenes more.

Sandra went on to participate in the Dutch national final in 1976 and was surprised to learn that Andres had teamed up with Rosy Pereira to form Rosy & Andres. Together they sang 'I was born to love', the song that is presented on this single. They were unsuccessful: Sandra won the national final with The party's over and went on to represent the Netherlands in The Hague.

My collection: 7" single no. 5596
Found: Velvet Vinyl Outlet, Leiden, January 16, 2015
Cost: 1 euro
Tracks: 'I was born to love' / 'Why don't you phone me'

Un baiser volé - Sarah Bray

In the early Nineties, vinyl singles were becoming increasingly scarce. For some reason, singles from that era have become rather collectible. As a result, a single like this commands prices upwards of 8 euros on the internet. If they are offered at all, that is. Imagine my surprise when I found this copy in a big store filled with singles at 1 euro!

Sarah Bray represented Luxembourg in 1991 with 'Un baiser volé', a song composed by Patrick Hippert with lyrics by Mick Wersant and Linda Lecomte. At the close of voting, it had received 29 points, placing 14th in a field of 22 competitors.This single presents both the French and English versions.

My collection: 7" single no. 5595
Found: Velvet Vinyl Outlet, Leiden, January 16, 2015
Cost: 1 euro
Tracks: 'Un baiser volé' / 'One stolen kiss'

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