Femmes Fatales | Musiquarium Feb 27 2021
VARIETY GIRL
Hmm... it's always a tough decision. Which of my many talents should I demonstrate today?


Above is a photo of vaudevillian, stage actress, movie star, television host, writer, and internationally renowned singer Pearl Bailey. She excelled in all the various areas of her artistic pursuits, but began her career as a nightclub performer, for years touring around the U.S. before her rise to household fame began by appearing in movies, firstly 1947's Variety Girl. The next year she split a platter with Buddy Clark, and went on to release more than two dozen albums. The regal image above is undated, but were we to guess, we'd say it's probably from around the time she appeared in the hit film Carmen Jones in 1954.

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Musiquarium Feb 5 2021
MUSIQUE DES SPHERES
Turns out the French were the first to land on another planet.


It's been a while since we've looked at the output of genius illustrator Raymond Brenot, so today we have a record cover he painted in 1957 for a compilation disc called Party Interplanetaire. This is tasty work in the classic pin-up mode that made him deservedly famous under both his own name and his occasional pseudonym Carols. So who's on this vinyl? That would be Jo Courtin, Otto Rubini, Ray Massey, Conrad Janis, and Los Cangaceiros. Household names, right? Well, we never heard of them. If you have, good on you. If you're unfamiliar and want to hear a few examples, check here and here. But does the music really matter? If you have this just lose the platter and frame the sleeve. 

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Musiquarium Dec 30 2020
PUT ANOTHER RIKA ON
Get ready for two 45 shots right between the ears.


We ran across these 45 record sleeves of kick-happy Japanese action star Rika Aoki to add to the collection of images we've already shared. The first record has a tune called, “Rika the Girl,” on the A, and “Rika My Girl,” on the flipside. The second record, on which she collaborated with an artist known as Alphard, has, “A Wandering Trip Alone,” on the A (by the way, a very poetic title, we think), and, “No Nameless Zeni,” on the flip. Forget the music—just dig her danger shirtdress. But if you must hear it, try here and here. No guarantees. People who normally listen to very good music are at high risk of serious side effects from listening to J-pop. These may include nausea, dizziness, vomiting, explosive diarrhea, and suicidal thoughts. In rare cases listening to J-pop can induce brain bleeds and pulmonary failure. The worst side effect could be realizing you like J-pop. Consult your physician about whether you are in robust enough condition to consume J-pop.
 
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Musiquarium May 29 2020
ANGELINA JOLLY
If you're happy and you know it drop your shirt.


Here's a historical curiosity. Above are two pressings of an album from Angelina, aka Angelina the Singing Model, released in 1957. Sharp-eyed readers may notice that the sleeves use the name and title font of the iconic mid-century tabloid Confidential. The platters were put out by Davis Records, owned by recording entrepreneur Joe Davis, and try as we might, we uncovered no connection between him and Confidential publisher Robert Harrison. Anything is possible, though. They were both New York based, were both publishers—though of different media—so we bet they knew each other. Did Harrison have any idea his font had been borrowed? There's no way we can know.

During the summer of 1957, when this album was recorded and hit stores, Harrison was deeply involved in the libel case that would lead to him selling Confidential. The trial was in L.A., and he stayed in NYC, refusing to appear in court out west, but even so the proceedings kept him plenty busy. Too busy to notice that a novelty album infringed on his logo? We doubt it. Someone, somewhere in Manhattan, would have said, “Hey, Robert, have you seen this new record that uses the font from your magazine?” For that reason we can't help feeling there's some link between Davis and Harrison that led to the look of these LPs, but for now that will have to remain a mystery.

Moving on to the singer, Angelina was actually New York City-based Joyce Heath, who later founded Joyce Heath and the Privateers. These platters, unlikely as the possibility seems, may have actually helped launch her career. As we said, they came in 1957, and Heath's first recordings under her own name were in 1959. Maybe she kept her semi-topless starring role on the cover of Confidential quiet, but we think it more likely she embraced it. While she does show her breast on the second cover, one little boob, after all, was not that big of a deal post-Monroe and Mansfield.
 
The album had either a repressing or was initially released with two sleeves. Since there are two levels of explicitness, we suspect the latter. Davis probably wanted a suggestive cover, and one that was even more risqué. On the other hand, the change in Heath's hair color suggests the former possibility—two pressings at different times with a change of hairstyle between. Both albums have 1957 copyrights, though, which means little time would have elapsed. Alternatively it could be that Heath wasn't the model for both covers. But we think she was. The second sleeve says in white lettering across her red shirt, “This is Angelina.” So there you go. And the first model, if you look past the hair color, resembles Heath strongly. At least to us.

And now we get to the music. You want to know whether it's any good, right? Well, it's a joke record, with double entendre songs like, “All the Girls Like Big Dick,” “Shake Your Can,” and “He Forgot His Rubbers.” We gave it a listen and all the tunes are cabaret style, pairing piano and vocal with no other accompaniment. Twelve tunes of that ilk would begin to sound similar anyway, but in this case, they really are all the same song. Same key, same tempo, same mood, etc. We have it on good authority Heath recorded this in one afternoon and what we heard sure lends credence to that assertion. Still, limited as the music may be, it's pretty fun. If you want to know more about Joyce Heath, check the blog whitedoowopcollector at this link.
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Femmes Fatales | Musiquarium Feb 28 2020
SWEET JANE
Sugar and spice and everything nice.


Above is shot of cinematic girl-next-door Jane Powell, who rose to fame in Hollywood musicals such as Holiday in Mexico, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, and Royal Wedding. While Powell is fondly remembered for those and similar roles, she found it ridiculous that she played teenagers into her mid-twenties even though she had children of her own by that point. Under the studio system she had little choice, but later she did manage to expand her repertoire, co-starring in the Hedy Lamarr melodrama The Female Animal. Afterward she turned her attentions mainly to television, with guest slots on everything from Goodyear Theatre to Fantasy Island. She also had stage and singing careers, and scored a top 20 hit with 1956's “True Love.” The photo you see here was made to promote her 1957 musical The Girl Most Likely, and a shot from the same session appeared on the cover of the soundtrack album, which you see below. We don't generally do musicals here, but we will certainly check out her dramatic turn in The Female Animal. Meanwhile you may want to check out this rare photo we shared a couple of years ago.

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Musiquarium Dec 14 2019
BONNY LASS
Faux vintage album cover raises Leeding question.


The album above sleeve looks old, doesn't it? It's actually a new release by Polish deejay Bonny Larmes purposely weathered to have that vintage look. We also have the black and white photo his graphic designer worked from, and you'll notice right away that the record the model is holding behind her back has changed from Polish jazz to Rod McKuen's Time of Desire. Since McKuen's record came out in 1958, that gives us a ballpark date on the original image.

Bonny Larmes is fine, but his music isn't why we posted his album. We're interested in the model. Incidentally, you probably noticed her asscrack hair. If not, look to the right (or above, if you're viewing on mobile). Now you've noticed. Asscrack hair is a relic of the past you'd never see in a modern photo. We think it's cute, but the question is whose asscrack hair is it? Well, the model here is identified everywhere as actress Lila Leeds, but this is another internet replication error, because there ain't no way the woman you see above is also the woman you see below—and the woman below is definitely Lila Leeds.

For even more proof check a 1949 photo, probably her most famous shot, at this link. See what we mean? We also seriously doubt Leeds ever posed nude, and if she did, certainly she never posed asscrack nude. So, hairy girl, not Leeds. But who is she? We took a long look around the internet and came up with nothing, so we'll probably never know. But the main thing is to have at least one site come to poor Lila's defense. And they say chivalry is dead.
I swear to you that is not my hairy asscrack!

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Musiquarium Sep 4 2019
DISCOVERING ANN
Let the record show that Ann-Margret can sell anything.


We don't think of Swedish actress Ann-Margret as a poster girl for soul music, but a South Korean label called the Oscar Record Co. thought differently and decided to plop her on the cover of their 1971 compilation disc Soul. Oscar wasn't the only label to do this. In fact, it wasn't even the only label from South Korea to do it. Tae Do, Top Hit, Paramount, and Joong Ahng all borrowed Ann-Margret to front compilation discs too.

But this particular platter is probably the best of the lot. It has Tom Jones. Johnny Rivers, Wilson Pickett, The Animals doing “Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood,” Mitch Ryder, The Rolling Stones doing “Satisfaction” and “Paint It Black,” Cliff Richard, James Brown, and The Mamas and Papas doing “California Dreamin',” our personal favorite of the extensive offerings. You also get two songs from The Supremes, so all in all, it's a top quality collection.

The cover was posted last month at the album art blog lpcoverlover.com, a worthwhile stop for vintage vinyl art. Their scan was a little crooked, so we squared it up, separated the two Ann-Margret images, and uploaded them below. We kept the full cover scan at large size, so if you want it you'll find that it's 2500 pixels wide, pretty much twice the size of an actual LP sleeve, suitable for framing. Help yourself, and thank lpcoverlover.
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Femmes Fatales | Musiquarium Aug 26 2019
UNMITIGATED GALL
Can you believe the verve of some people?


French singer France Gall, who was born Isabel Gall, canoodles with an inflatable something-or-other in this beachy photo made on the Côte d'Azur around 1970. Gall worked for years beginning in 1964 to become a top musical act, enduring disappointment after disappointment, until finally achieving stardom in 1974 with the hit single “La Déclaration d'amour.” Our déclaration is that we love this beautiful shot.

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Musiquarium Aug 7 2019
CUBAN INDEPENDENCE
Two wheels, a road, and a full tank of gas.


Singer and dancer Lina Salomé poses on a monster motorcycle in Havana, Cuba, sometime in 1956. Born Luz de Peña Matos Estévez, she appeared onscreen seven times between 1952 and 1957. She had only one leading role, in the Mexican made Alma de acero, aka Soul of Steel. Another film, Los tres bohemios, appeared a month later, but the work dried up completely after that. However, we've seen her described as an iconic musical figure in Cuba, and this photo fits for someone remembered that way. It's probably just a publicity shot, but we like to think of her actually taking this machine to Matanzas on the Via Blanca, because a beast like this needs to eat a lot of road. If you want to see Miss Lina do a little song and dance, check this link while it lasts.
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Musiquarium Jul 21 2019
SOME VELVET MOANING
Reiko Ike gives fans a dose of ecstasy.


Like many 1970s Japanese actresses Reiko Ike took advantage of her cinema stardom by releasing music. In 1971 she and Teichiku Records got together put out the album Kôkotsu No Sekai, which as we mentioned above was called in English The World of Ecstasy. Here you see the front cover with its famed topless photo of Reiko, and the rear and inside covers are below. The rear cover is almost identical to the photo in the above post, with the difference being in the direction of her gaze.

The album was basically a novelty release. Only a thousand copies were ever pressed. At least initially. It's since been released as a remastered CD. The original vinyl can be expensive. In the U.S. people try to sell it at anywhere from $100 to $1,000, but in Japan it usually goes for less. The cost differs depending on whether it's a first or later pressing, and whether the gatefold poster is inside, which you see at right.

For the kind of cash people ask for this platter, Reiko can obviously sing like a lark, right? That came across as flip, we know, but actually she's better than you probably suspect. Her voice is low, mellifluous, and quite confident, and interestingly, a lot of the vocals are orgasmic moans and sighs.
 
She does all this backed by Masami Kawahara & The Exotic Sounds, who had released a 1970 album with orgasmic vocals, so apparently this was a trend. It's weird at first, but after a while it's pretty effective. That may be a good way to describe Reiko's movies too. You can listen to a couple of songs from the disc here and here.

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
February 28
1953—Watson and Crick Unravel DNA
American biologists James D. Watson and Francis Crick tell their friends that they have determined the chemical structure of DNA. The formal announcement takes place in April following publication in Nature magazine. In 1968, Watson writes The Double Helix, a non-fiction account of not only the discovery of the structure of DNA, but the personalities, conflicts and controversy surrounding the work.
February 27
1922—Challenge to Women's Voting Rights Rebuffed
In the United States, a conservative legal challenge to the nineteenth amendment to the U.S. Constitution establishing voting rights for women is rebuffed by the Supreme Court in Leser v. Garnett. The challenge was based partly on the idea of individual "states rights" to self determination. The failure of such reasoning as it applied to basic human rights created a framework for later states rights losses involving the denial of voting rights to African-Americans.
February 26
1917—First Jazz Record Is Made
In New Orleans, The Original Dixieland Jass Band records the first ever jazz record for the Victor Talking Machine Company in New York. The band was frequently billed as the "Creators of Jazz", but in reality all the members had previously played in the Papa Jack Laine bands, a group of racially mixed performers who helped form the basis of Dixieland while playing under bandleader George Laine.
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