Dennis Lotis sings “How About You?” Nixa Records (England) I never heard of this guy before but thought it was a cool cover. Seems he had a long successful career on the other side of the pond as a concert performer, recording star and in films. Listening to a few cuts here, I can’t say I’d put him on before a dozen other more famous crooners.
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Young model Nico on the cover of this French LP. Emil Stern Hit Parade Barclay Records Photo by: Willie Maywald
On October 16, 1938, Velvet Underground singer, model, actor and member of the Warhol Superstars, Nico was born in Germany. Nico’s trademark deep voice, exquisite style and somewhat troubling attitude made her one of the most interesting figures in rock and roll.
By the time she was 17 Nico had moved to Paris to continue her modeling career. She worked briefly for Coco Chanel, but abandoned the job to move to New York City.
Modeling wasn’t Nico’s only successful job though. By 1965 she had recorded a cover of Bob Dylan’s “I’ll Keep It With Mine” as well as her first single “I’m Not Sayin’”. Soon after, she met Andy Warhol, who was putting together the Velvet Underground. Warhol suggested that the band take on Nico as a “chanteuse”, and albeit reluctantly, they accepted her. The band became a centerpiece of Warhol’s Exploding Plastic Inevitable.
Lou Reed and Nico had a short physical relationship, which Nico ended. This did not help her relationship with the band, which considered her an “interloper”. After her tenure in the Velvet Underground was up, she had mentioned to Warhol in several letters a desire to make another record.
Nico released her first solo album, Chelsea Girl, in 1967. Her 1969 album, The Marble Index, contained more original songwriting as a result of Jim Morrison’s coaching in California. She would continue writing her own music for her later albums as well.
Nico died on the island Ibeza in 1988. She was riding her bicycle and suffered a heart attack, and then a concussion from falling. A local taxi driver found her, but could not get her admitted to a hospital because she had no insurance. Eventually, she was incorrectly diagnosed with having heat exposure, but x-rays later revealed her actual cause of death to be cerebral hemorrhaging.
Nico and the Velvet Underground have had a huge influence on the world of music. Brian Eno even said that despite their lack of success for their first albums, “everyone who bought one of those 30,000 copies started a band.”
“An Evening with Anita O’Day” Columbia Records (England) This album started in 1954 (in the US on Norman Granz’ Norgran Records) and was completed by 1955, but not issued until 1956. An Evening With Anita O’Day began its life as Songs By Anita O’Day, a ten-inch record released in 1954 for Norman Granz’ Norgran label and later expanded to its present form. The music is comprised of three small group sessions that took place in Los Angeles in the spring of 1954 and the summer of 1955. These are studio recordings, leaving the listener to assume that the titular “evening” refers to the time of day in which the listener will want to experience these songs, which feel like they must have been recorded by candlelight. Stellar guitar work by Tal Farlow and Barney Kessel
I had an evening with Anita O’Day. She’s been one of my favorite singers for as long as I can remember. It was in the Winter of 1984. I had just moved to New York City after college. I saw that she was appearing at a club in Teaneck, NJ – just over the George Washington Bridge. Easy. Or so I thought. Having no money and no car, I tried to walk it from my room on the Upper West Side. It was a snowy night and I ended up willing myself there with a combination of hiking, hitching, bus and subway. Finally inside that warm, intimate jazz room, with Anita sitting on a stool in the spotlight and singing on a low, small stage, the world outside melted away. It was magical. After the first set, I had the gumption to offer her a drink and she took a seat and we talked about her music, her band, her schedule. Meeting your idols can go either way, but she was very nice – sensing, I’m sure, my excitement and appreciation. I stayed for the late show before trudging out through the snow in the early morning feeling that the world was a little smaller and the future filled with wonders.
I met Eartha Kitt in 2003 at a promotional event that I produced for Meow Mix cat food. We opened the world’s first restaurant for cats –The Meow Mix Cafe — and, we thought, who’d be more purrrfect to host our grand opening than Eartha Kitt who famously once pounced on the role of Catwoman on the Batman TV series in the sixties. She was lovely, game for the fun and playing her role it to the hilt. She walked the red carpet in a silver fur coat and did her famous coo and purr for the press and tv cameras over and over. She held cats in her lap and stroked them with a mock evil smile and twinkle in her eyes. Check out what a life ride she had — from Paris to Hollywood to the White House to the great White Way. If you think coming out to shill for a cat food was beneath her consider that she also once did a TV commercial to promote the Steely Dan LP Aja.
A rare EP that was only released in Sweden which features the extremely in-demand northern soul / new breed r&b / mod dancer “I Changed My Mind Jack” by Jo Ann Campbell. One of the hottest floor fillers around. Another answer song to Ray Charles’ “Hit the Road, Jack” Juke Box Records (1962)