Marlene Dietrich, Wiedersehen Mit Marlene, Capitol T10282, 1960
A little something seasonal today, as we roll into another month. It’s a supposedly live recording from the supposedly great Marlene Dietrich, but in reality, it’s a collection of studio recordings, recorded in then West Germany, with “live” vocal sounds overdubbed. Wikipedia says that the record actually came out in East Germany as well, but the communist regime took out the audience sounds. I guess fun was not allowed in East Germany, and a few months later, the Berlin Wall went up.
I really didn’t mean to degrade Miss. Dietrich just now, it’s just that 40 years after her breakthrough into silent movies, and 20 years after she was a leading German voice against the Nazis, an album of 1960s German Pop music wasn’t what she needed to further her career. Judy Garland was more able to make that transition, but the stern, serious and direct personality of Marlene Dietrich at nearly 60 years old doesn’t really entertain in the same way.
It’s still nice to hear her voice, no matter how meh the material is. But this is one album that was fairly priced at $2.
Cost: $2, $734 Remaining
Chubby Checker, Twistin’ Round The World, Parkway 7008, 1962
It’s usually good to be the king, but Chubby Checker doesn’t agree. Perhaps being The King Of The Twist isn’t the same as being The King of England, or even The King of Rock & Roll. Chubby feels so trapped by his twist typecast that he actually staged a one man protest outside the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame. It probably doesn’t help though, that records like this are out there as evidence against his case for admission.
Naturally, there is the obligatory twist lesson on the back, this time with Chubby himself confusing things with solitary images of a fluid motion. The Twist doesn’t really cry out for a Lasso Step. But at least they did try a different approach with the music here. It’s just that Chubby Checker clearly doesn’t speak Hebrew, German, French, Italian, Greek or Spanish. And that is painfully obvious, beyond the fact that Let’s Twist Again doesn’t sound good auf Deutsch, especially off tempo.
I really do feel bad for the guy. No one likes to be the biggest thing in music one day, and then unheard of for the rest of his life. And peaking before age 25 has got to be hard. It’s just that it’s really hard to find a record of his that passes the creative test. Well, beyond the one, anyway.
Cost: $2, $783 Remaining
Frankie Avalon, Italiano, Chancellor CHL-5025, 1962
Ciao is the universal Italian word. Italians use it to say hello or goodbye. In this case, Chancellor Records was saying goodbye to Frankie Avalon. There were three other Avalon releases on the label, but one was a Christmas Album, one was a greatest hits record, and one featured older, unreleased material. By late 1962, Avalon left the label to work on film projects such as the non-Oscar nominated Beach Blanket Bingo and Muscle Beach Party.
However, for a sugary sweet teen idol who was getting a little lungo in the denti, this is a fairly enjoyable album. It wasn’t exactly a terrible idea to re-reocrd Italian Pop standards given Bobby Rydell’s success with Volare and Elvis Presley’s reworking of O Sole Mio into It’s Now Or Never, and Torna A Surriento into Surrender. The songs have a Bobby Darin feel too, with a thumping bass and rhythm track underneath harpsichord and mandolin leads.
With the loss of its biggest seller, Mr. Avalon, at the same time as its second biggest seller, Fabian, Chancellor Records was in trouble. The label’s last top 10 hit came in the summer of 1962 with Claudine Clark’s Party Lights. By 1965, the company was gone, and it would be decades until its original hits would be reissued. As a result, fans of Frankie Avalon need to watch out and only by his Chancellor records (or his United Artist film soundtracks), lest they inadvertently wind up with a 1974 Belgian recording of Venus.
Cost: $10, $871 Remaning