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.
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.
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.
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.
Even without a baton the musicians follow her just fine.
Speaking of beautiful covers, we move into the music realm with this sleeve for Lew Raymond's Big Hits from The Fabulous 50s, which was put out by Tops Records in 1957. And of course that's Jayne Mansfield trying to look beachy wearing a tablecloth from a pizza restaurant. This was still early in her career, before she was Mansfield with a capital everything. The album features Raymond and his orchestra backing various contemporary vocalists, including Mimi Martel, the Laine Sisters, and Lola Grey, as they render classics like “Allegheny Moon” and “Teach Me Tonight.” But of course the attraction is Jayne, so we've cropped her below (as well as the fabulous 50s font, which we kinda want to put in our sidebar). If you're interested in hearing this music—and who wouldn't be a little curious?—you can sample songs here, here, and here, while the links last.
Ladybug sings the blues for French music lovers.
This is a cool little item. It's a record sleeve from famed transgender entertainer Coccinelle, whose nickname is French for “Ladybug.” The record is called Jacques Dufresnoy dit Coccinelle, referencing her pre-trans name, and there are two tunes—“Je cherche un millionaire” on the a-side, and “Avec mon petit faux-cul” on the b. We think both songs are pretty cool evocations of a bygone era of supper clubs, cabarets, and jazzy dance numbers. We were born too late to go to such places, but we can listen to this type of music and pretend. If you want to pretend too, you can listen to the songs here and here.
Nichols returns from beyond Antares to grace fans with a few Earthly classics.
Above is a more complete version of an image from our collection of actresses on polar bear rugs—an album sleeve featuring Star Trek icon Nichelle Nichols. The photo we used in the earlier post was just a close-up of this cover. Nichols sings standards on this 1967 platter, making passes at “Feelin' Good,” “The Lady Is a Tramp,” and “That's Life,” among other tunes. Yes, we listened to it. We once called her a Renaissance woman in deep space, and she certainly does nothing to harm that reputation here. As she once demonstrated on Star Trek with a rendition of the 23rd century classic “Beyond Antares,” her voice is beautiful. Well, actually it's spectacular, a great instrument with good range and a tone as pristine as a violin. Hers is not the type of muscular singing that has taken over American pop music, a style that uses technique to bludgeon listeners into thinking something substantial is going on. It's a more delicate, more purely heartfelt approach. She's backed by a full orchestra, where we'd prefer to hear her with a jazz trio or quartet, but even so, damn—this woman really had it going on. Check out her version of “Tenderly” here.
Grier looks great fronting b-movie soundtrack.
Above, the front and rear sleeves for the original soundtrack to Sheba, Baby, with music by Monk Higgins, Alan Brown, and Barbara Mason. The tunes are nice, but we'll admit we're just posting this to be completist about Grier. We already shared the photo used for this cover but we wanted to include the nice shot on the back. Okay, all done. We'll take a Grier break for a bit.
I got your soft jazz right here.
Is Sophia Loren flipping off the camera? Sure looks like it, but we'll give her a pass—in Italy a raised middle finger doesn't mean what it does in the U.S. In fact, though Italians have dozens of hand gestures, we don't think a raised middle finger means anything. In any case we love this image of Loren on the cover of Jimmy Smith's LP Memories in Rhythm. We saw this at lpcoverlover.com recently and gave it a much needed clean-up. You can see the original image here. If you're thinking of the jazz Jimmy Smith who performed on the Hammond B-3 electric organ, it probably isn't him. There were many Jimmy Smiths in music and we have no way of knowing which this one is. We do know the record was pressed in South Africa, if that helps. Didn't help us. But there you go.
It's even nicer up here than you said. So where are we again? Like exactly. Like if I wanted to come here with someone else.
Keeping on the lookout for pulp style in unusual places, we ran across this GGA style sleeve for Francis Scott and His Orchestra's Moods for Twilight. It's part of a series of records that include Moods for Starlight, Moods for Firelight, and Moods for Candlelight, but this is the only one with cover art that could front a paperback. We're guessing the couple is supposed to be parked above L.A.'s San Fernando Valley, possibly on famed Mulholland Drive. What's this album sound like? Haven't heard it, but since it's orchestral renditions of pop hits we can guess that it's pretty cheeseball stuff, even for 1952. The artist on this was not credited.
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