Today's Finnpick honors the start of my summer vacation (tomorrow). And it means that there will be no new posts for a long while.Lasse Liemola (see previous entry) recorded "Toiveloma" (Ideal holiday) in 1963. It was not a big hit but the single was somewhat extraordinary becouse both sides were covers of the same artist's songs and also the song writer was the same on both. "Toiveloma" was cover of "Summer Holiday" and the other side of the single "Tanssikengät" was cover of "Dancing Shoes". Both were originally done by Cliff Richard & Shadows and both were penned by Shadows band member Brian Bennett, the former with Bruce Welch and the latter with Hank Marvin. Additionally, both songs were featured in the "Summer Holiday" music film released in February 1963 The film was the debut direction of Peter Yates. "Summer Holiday" was one of Cliff's biggest hits and it still one of the epitomes in summer records.
Petri & Petterson Brass (see previous entry) recorded "Maalaismaisema" (Country scenery) in 1971. It was the breakthrough single for the band and has become a Finnish pop classic. There's no noubt that the songs popularity is largely explained by the touching and witty lyrics made by Jukka Virtanen (see previous entry) . The story line follows the original - depicting everyday life in the countryside - but Jukka has succeeded in adding a special Finnish flavour to it. The original song was written and performed by Elton John, and the original lyrics were of course done by Bernie Taupin. It was on Elton's 1970 album "Tumbleweed Connection".
As we are at the moment experiencing showers of summer rain (and a little bit of thunder and lightning) here in Finland, I think it's more than appropriate to introduce "Sade" (Rain) as today's Finnpick. Markku Suominen (see previous entry) recorded "Sade" in 1970. It is one of Markku's best known songs and biggest hits. The original song "Rain" was written and performed by Jose Feliciano (b. José Montserrate Feliciano García). It was on his 1968 hit album "Light My Fire". Jose, who is often called "world's greatest living guitarist", was born in Puerto Rico, but moved to New York at the age of five. At early age he got guitar from his grandfather and reportedly sat in his room for up to 14 hours a day to listen to 1950s rock albums, classical guitarists such as Andrés Segovia, and jazz players such as Wes Montgomery. And as we all know, he learned well ... Besides his musical skills, Feliciano is known for his strong sense of humor. Blind from born, he often makes fun of people's reactions to his blindness. Rumour has it that in a show he said, "I was going to dedicate this song to Jackie Kennedy but I can't see her anywhere in the audience."
The legendary Finnish crooner Olavi Virta (see previous entry) probably recorded more covers in the 50' than other Finnish artists combined. One of Olavi's better known songs from those years is "Tyttö metsässä" (Girl in the wood"), released as a single in 1960. The song is also credited to the backing vocal group Nordias. The original song was sung by Frankie Laine (b. Francesco Paolo LoVecchio) in 1951. It was written by Terry Gilkyson, who later wrote the classic "Greenfields". Frankie Laine is perhaps best known for singing well-known theme songs for many Western movies. However, he was not a country & western singer, but rather a singer's singer who sang in variety of song styles and genres, stretching from big band crooning to pop to gospel, to rock, to folk, to jazz and blues, all delivered in his inimitable singing style.
Today is the First Anniversary of Finnpicks. Close to 300 posts has been posted. To celebrate the day I have chosen "Parhaimmat muistot" (Best of memories) to be today's Finnpick. Becouse that's what the year has done to me - brought back some of my best memories. I hope something like that has happened to you, too. Jouko and Kosti (see previous entry) recorded "Parhaimmat muistot" in 1970 and it was only a minor hit for them. But the song has some staying power. The original was done by an Irish showband called The Real McCoy. The song reached #4 in Irish charts in 1969. The band was one of Ireland's first true "pop" bands scoring two hit singles in 1968. In mid-1969, they added trumpet player, Dave Coady to the lineup to both fill out the sound and strengthen their vocal sound. Their first release with Dave on lead vocals was this "Many The Memories".
Mona Carita (see previous entry) released "Kaupungin lapset" (Kids of the city) as a single in 1981. It gained some attention but it's success didn't match up with the original "Kids in America". It was the break-through song of one Kim Wilde (b. Kim Smith). Kim was a member of very musical English family. Her father Marty was one of theher fab rockers of the early 60's and her brother Ricky was a singer and a musician . This song was recorded in 1980 after record boss Mickie Most heard Kim singing on a backing track for her brother. He liked her voice and image and expressed an interest to work with her. Ricky, together with his father wrote the song "Kids in America" for Kim to record. Most remixed the track himself and released it on RAK as Wilde's first single in January 1981. And worldwide hit was born. The new wave-flavoured song has since become a pop classic and was the start of a highly successful career for Kim.
Eini (see previous entry) recorded "Je t'aime je t'aime" (I love you, I love you) on her album "Aika Pakkaus" in 1983. It is one of those 'should-have-been-hit' songs, but what can you do... The title of the song was somewhat peculiar, becouse the original French title was "Comment ça va" (meaning something like 'how are you doin’). Perhaps the lyricist Vexi Salmi thought that the Finns don't know more about French than "je t'aime". The original version was made by Dutch teenage boy group The Shorts. Organiser/producer/composer Eddy de Heer scouted new talents and he discovered the band that first appeared as 'De Bliksemafleiders'. In 1982 De Heer wrote "Comment ça va" , which became an international hit in 1983 thanks to the boys, who had by then changed their name to The Shorts. Later it was released in German, French, Spanish and English. A total of four million copies of the song were sold. It was later also translated by foreign (adult) artists and released in Scandinavia, Japan and other countries. The follow-up singles did not match the success of "Comment ça va" and The Shorts stopped playing in 1986,
Pertti Nieminen - better known as Neumann - was the lead singer in the legendary Finnish pop group Dingo. During his solo career he in 1986 recorded "Naiselleni" (For my woman). It was a considerable success, not only becouse of Neumann's Dingo-based fame but also on the count of the beautiful melody and the lyrics written by Neumann himself. It also remained as his biggest solo hit. Neumann is still actively performing with a new line-up of Dingo. The original song was performed by The Moody Blues and was written by group-member and flautist Ray Thomas. It was first released on the 1972 album Seventh Sojourn and later released on the B-side of the single "I'm Just a Singer" in 1973. The song prominently features Ray Thomas on the flute and lead vocals. BTW, The Moody Blues can only perform the song live when they are backed by a live orchestra, since Ray Thomas cannot sing and play the flute at the same time.
The group New Joys was formed by 5 schoolboys in 1965 and recorded it's first single in 1967. It was a cover of Turtles' "Happy Together" and turned out to be a big hit for them. Their third single was "Tamburiininsoittaja" (Tambourine player) in 1968 and it was the last in their pop period. After this single they turned to soul anf later rock'n roll. But without much success, so they called it quits in 1973. The original version of today's Finnpick was made by US group Lemon Pipers and it was their only big hit, and called "Green Tambourine". The lyrics were written by Shelly Pinz, and reportedly inspired by an article about a one man band that performed outside a British bank. The song was composed by the groups producer Paul Leka. The Lemon Pipers are said only to have agreed to record "Green Tambourine" after it was revealed that the record label would drop them if they refused to do so. A wise decision becouse the song reached #1 on the charts by February of 1968.
The greatest hit of Merja Rantamäki (see previous entry) was "Jossain" (Somewhere) in the year 1977. It is still warmly remembered and frequently requested. The pro-nature lyrics were done by rhyme-master Juha Vainio. The original song was of Swedish origin and called "Det gör detsamma" (It doesn't matter). It was performed by popular dansband Schytts in 1976. At the time several Swedish artists made their versions of the song, but perhaps Schytts' was the first one. The group Schytts was born already in 1962, but at first they were known as Public Killers(!). Becouse punk and/or underground were not in fashion those days, its understandable that they quickly changed their name. The new moniker was taken after drummer Yngve Schytt. The band played frequently in folkparks but their big breakthrough chartwise didn't come until 1973. The band is still active, but it has of course gone through many line-up changes.
Anna Hanski (see previous entry) , recorded "On surut makeita" (The sorrows are sweet) in 1990 and it was released as single. The success was modest, Anna's major breakthrough was still to come (in 1992 with "Jos et sä soita"). The song however is a showcase of Anna's intimate singing style. The original was called "Sugar Town" and it was written by Lee Hazlewood and performed of course by Nancy Sinatra. "Sugar Town" was released in USA in 1966 and the single reached #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The song was featured also in 1967 TV special: Movin' With Nancy. The B-side to "Sugar Town" was the legendary Nancy & Lee duet "Summer Wine". That was also covered by Anna, and we hear it here in Finnpicks in the near future.
Robin (see previous entry) released "Aika näyttää sen" (Time will tell) as a single in 1969. It was a beautiful song, but perhaps the time wasn't right, becouse it wasn't a hit. But one of Robin's best. It wasn't the first Finnish version of this song, becouse Pekka Loukiala recorded it already in the year 1965. But that version I don't unfortunately have. The original song was called "Save Your Heart For Me" and it was first performed by Brian Hyland in 1963, as a b-side of a single. Teen idol Hyland scored his first and biggest hit single at the tender age of 16 in 1960, "Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini", But the hit version of "Save Your Heart For Me"" was made by Gary Lewis and the Playboys. It was released as a single in the summer of 1965, peaking at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Lewis, son of the comedian Jerry Lewis, credited the success of the record to both producer Snuff Garrett and to the short length of the song. Since it was less than two minutes duration, it was played everywhere.
Eurovision Song Contest 2009 Final is now safely behind us. This was the 3rd time Norway won and Finnpicks dedicates today's song to Norway. Congrats! Kari Tapio recorded "Osuit oikeaan" (You got it right) in 1977. Kari wasn't at the time big enough to make a big hit out of it, but still the performance is enjoyable even in today's standards, The arrangement was done by famous Finnish arranger and composer Veikko Samuli. The original song was called "So You Win Again" and it was witten by Russ Ballard and produced by Mickie Most. It was performed by Hot Chocolate, being the band's sole UK number one single, spending three weeks at the top in July 1977.They were originally named 'The Hot Chocolate Band'. This was quickly shortened to Hot Chocolate by Mickie Most. Interestingly, Hot Chocolate started their recording career with a reggae version of John Lennon's "Give Peace A Chance" in 1969. Lead singer Erroll Brown and bassist Tony Wilson wrote most of their original material. Hot Chocolate achieved their biggest successes in the disco era of the mid- to late 70's.
Tonight is the Eurovision Song Contest 2009 Final. We end the Finnpicks ESC week with "Halayla" (Tonight), which was the Israeli entry in the Eurovision Song Contest 1981 in Dublin. It was performed in Hebrew by group called Hakol Over Habibi. The song is a dramatic ballad, with the singer describing what will happen between herself and a lover "tonight". It received 56 points, placing 7th. Finland's Riki Sorsa with "Reggae OK" placed 16th, Hakol Over Habibi had originally been offered the song "Hallelujah" as a potential Eurovision entry in 1978 but turned it down. The song went on to represent Israel in 1979 and won (!) but was performed by Gali Atari & Milk & Honey. The Finnish version of was done by Eini (see previous entry), who recorded it as "Liian pian ilta päättyy" (The night ends too soon). This song is more or less forgotten, which is sad becouse it is a very good song (one of my ESC favourtites) and one of Eini's better peformances.
The 1978 Eurovision Song Contest was held in Paris. It was the year when Israel became the clear winner with "A-Ba-Ni-Bi". It resulted in most of the Arabic televison stations ending their transmission of the contest. Jordanian TV finished the show with a photo of a bunch of daffodils on screen, later announcing that the Belgian entry (which finished second) was the winner. The German entry was "Feuer" (Fire) sung by German-British pop singer Ireen Sheer (b. Ireen Wooldridge) finishing 6th after getting 84 points. Finnish Seija Simola (see Finnpick entry here) placed 18th with 2 votes. Ireen sang in the 60's in several UK pop groups, such as The Family Dogg, before she devoted herself from 1970 onwards to her solo career, focused mainly in Germany. The Finnish version of "Feuer" was done by 70's unofficial Finnish Disco Queen Päivi (see previous entry) , and it was called "Palaa" (It burns). Perhaps it was too teutonic song for Finnish taste to receive any greater attention.
The 1977 Eurovision Song Contest was held in London. The language rule was brought back in this contest, four years after it had been dropped in 1973. So every country had to perform their song in one of country's official language. For Switzerland this was done by Pepe Lienhard Band, and they sang about "Swiss Lady" (Only the title was in English , the rest was in German). Before the contest they were one of the greatest favourites, but they ended up placing 6th with 71 points. Finland's "Lapponia" sung by Monika Aspelund placed 10th. Pepe Lienhard, (b. Peter Rudolf Lienhard) was a Swiss bandleader and musician who in 1969 founded this sextet with which he released numerous albums. What was extraordinary in the ESC performance was of course the huge alphorn, which was played in the introduction and between the verses of the song. This use of the alphorn in pop music was at the time a singular case, but after this its influence spread throughout Switzerland. The Finnish version was done by Kari Tapio (see previous entry), and it was called "Aikuinen nainen" (Grown-up woman). For some reason this melodic song with driving beat wasn't a hit in Finland, and it's now completely forgotten. But Kari Tapio is today more populat than ever.
The Eurovision Song Contest 1976, the 21st in the series, was held in The Hague, Netherlands. The Belgian entry was a song called "Judy et Cie" (Judy and company)and it was written and performed by Pierre Rapsat. Pierre was Belgian singer-songwriter who began his solo career in 1973. His powerful style, oscillating between rock and chanson, was quite original at the time. The song got 68 points and placed 8th. Finland's Fredi & Friends placed 13th with "Pump-Pump". Markku Aro (see previous entry), he himself a Eurovision participant (in 1971) recorded the Finnish version of the Belgian entry with the title "Judy, Judy". Four(!) other Finnish versions of the song were made in 1976, but Markku's was the most popular.
In the year 1974 ESC was held in Brighton. The UK entry this time was "Long Live Love" performed by Olivia Newton-John, a British/Australian pop singer. At the time Olivia wasn't quite the superstar as she later would be, but nevertheless was one of favourites in the contest. The song came 'only' fourth. Rumour has it that Olivia didn't like this song and preferred others from the UK preliminaries, but this was chosen by a public postal vote. I doubt that those other songs wouldn't have made any difference, becouse this was the year that Abba won with 'Waterloo'. Finland's Carita Holmström placed 13th. Päivi Paunu (see previous entry) recorded the Finnish version of "Long Live Love" with the title "Kun rakastaa" (When one loves). On the other side of the single was cover of that years' Netherlands' entry, "I See A Star" that Päivi performed together with Kai Hyttinen.
In the year 1971 ESC was held in Dublin. The UK entry was "Jack In The Box" performed by Clodagh Rodgers. The song got 98 points and placed 4th. Finland's entry, performed by Markku Aro & Koivistolaiset placed 8th. Clodagh was a singer, actress and TV star from Northern Ireland. As it happens, she received death threats from the IRA as a result of her representing the UK. The single reached number 4 on the UK Singles Chart, her third and last UK Top 10 success. The Finnish version of "Jack In The Box" was recorded by Eija Merilä (see previous entry) and it was called "Vieterinukke" (Jack in the Box). I don't remember it getting much airplay at the time, and it sunk without a trace. But it is a good cover, anyway ...
It's six days to Eurovision Song Contest Final. We began our journey with past years' Eurosong covers from the year 1969. Johnny recorded "Judy-ystäväin" (My friend Judy) which was a version of Sweden's Eurovision entry of that year. It was called "Judy Min Vän" (Judy my friend) and performed by Tommy Körberg. Tommy has been finnpicked before, see entry here. He made also an English version called "Dear Mr. Jones", and you can hear it here. In ESC the song got three votes from Norway and Finland, and 9 votes in total. It was enough to tie the 9th position with Siw Malmkvist's "Prima Ballerina" (this one already finnpicked, see previous entry).
Today we start the countdown to Eurovision Song Contest 2009 in Moscow. We shall present 7 Finnish covers of past years Eurosongs. But - as a kick-off - we of course listen to the Eurovision theme song. Our frequent contributor Fredi recorded "Kun rakkaus voittaa" (When love conquers) in 1972. It was a vocal version of a prelude to baroque composition called "Te Deum, H. 146" written by French Marc-Antoine Charpentier in the end of 17th century. It is better known as the signature tune for the European Broadcasting Union, heard in the opening of the Eurovision Song Contest and other Eurovision events. However, the version that Fredi actually covered, was done by German singer Drafi Deutscher. He had several hits in Germany as a singer but he also composed several worldwide hits for Boney M and and Tony Christie.
Updated on 06.08.2010: added Miguel Rios' original English language version.
Sammy Babitzin (b. Aleksandr Babitzin) was the older brother of Kirka Babitzin (see previous entry). He was on his way on to become as big a pop star as his little brother when a fatal traffic accident took his life in 1973. Sammy recorded "Kukat kauniit aamuin sulle toisin" (I'd bring to you beautiful flowers in the mornings). It wasn't much of a hit but the performance and interpretation stand out still today. At the time Sammy didn't yet have his breakthrough that became in 1972 when he won big Television song contest. The original song was performed by famous British singer Cilla Black (b. Priscilla White) who recorded it in 1969 reaching number 20 in the UK charts. It was produced by one George Martin. In 2004 Agnetha Fältskog made a very succesful version of this beautiful song.
Updated on 5.9.2009: added Blond's version (or original, if you wish).
Anneli Sari (b. Anneli Lundberg) recorded "Näin on käynyt sorry" (So it goes, sorry) in 1978 on her album "Luonnonlapsi" (Nature Child). It was not released as a single, which is a pity, becouse it would have been potential hit for Anneli. Her recording career began in 1964 when she covered the Italian Eurovision winner 'Non ho l'eta" gaining substantial success. In later years she has recorded less of schlagers and pop and more of chansons and romany music. She's also performed in various stage acts and concerts. The original song was called "Il lupo e l'angello" (Wolf and angel) and it was written by our old friend Toto Cutugno. I don't know if Toto ever recorded this himself, but the hit version was made by French legend Mireille Mathieu as "Ciao Bambino, Sorry". This was most probably the version that Anneli covered.
Updated on 12.05.2010: added Kai Hyttinen's version.
For some reason there were very few so called girl groups in Finland in 60s/70's. But Ringa ja Kaksoset (Ringa and the Twins) was one of this rare breed. However their career span was very short and resulted only to two singles. The song "Kunhan maksat kyytisi" (As long as you pay your fare) was the A-side of the second one in 1967. The group consisted of Ringa (real name Hannele Rinne) and Lehtimäki twins Arja and Mervi. These three 14-year old girls from Helsinki suburbs, started singing together in January 1966, after the lead singer Ringa had got herself a guitar as a Christmas present. They stood out from other Finnish singing girls by performing soul and pop instead of folk. After these unsuccesful singles the group disbanded and Ringa tried solo, but unfortunately it didn't caught fire, either. The covered song "Surrounded By A Ray Of Sunshine" was exceptional in the sense that it wasn't a hit in Finland, and quite a small one in the land of it's origin, UK. The performer was Samantha Jones (b. Jean Owen) who earlier had been a member of the group Vernon Girls. Jones was produced by Charles Blackwell who also wrote this song. Samantha was only modestly successful in UK despite a powerful voice and great songs to work with, like this one ...
Seija Karpiomaa recorded "Delfiinipoika" (Dolphin Boy) in 1957. It was the A-side of her first single that included our earlier finnpick "Maruzzella" (see previous entry) on the B-side. Both songs were great successes and launched her career in a good foot. Her career although remained short as she took singing only as a hobby. The original song "Boy On A Dolphin" was from a sountrack for the movie of the same name. The film was set in Greece and starred Sophia Loren and it was Sophia's American film debut. The plot of the movie revolves retrieving an ancient Greek statue of a boy riding a dolphin from the bottom of the Aegean Sea. Loren plays a Greek sponge diver who accidentally found the statue. The title song can be heard in the opening credits. It was performed in smoky, sensual voice delivered by the famous songstress Julie London (b. Gayle Peck), in her famous style of singing intimately close to the microphone accompanied only by a guitar.
Jarkko and Laura (see previous entry) recorded "Taas kerran" (Once again) in 1967. It was an ambitious move from the duo to excel in harmony singing. Somehow it didn't really work out and their version is long forgotten. Admittedly it is quite modest compered to the original song "Let's go to San Francisco", sung by The Flower Pot Men, It was one of hallmark tunes of the Summer of Love 1967. The Flower Pot Men were a British pop group and their sound was characterised by rich, three-part vocal harmonies. Actually, the group did not exist before this song had its big chart success. It was originally recorded by session singers and musicians along with songwriters John Carter and Ken Lewis, who, having no interest in going on the road themselves to promote the record, created the group to do it. The lead singer of the group was Tony Burrows who has sung lead on various hit singles under various group names (for example the classic 'Love Grows" as Edison Lighthouse). We present here rarely heard full-ledged version of this OTHER 'San Francisco' -song - Parts 1 & 2.
Eija Merilä (see previous entry) recorded "Mä tahdon teidän oppivan" (I'd like you to learn) in 1972. It was a modest hit for her, but achieved not nearly as much success as the original. The original song "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing (In Perfect Harmony)" at first originated as a Coca-Cola advertising jingle with lyrics "I'd like to buy the world a Coke and keep it company", sung by the Hillside Singers, and was featured in 1971 as a TV commercial. The Hillside Singers' version was released as a successful single the same year; it reached #13 on the Billboard Hot 100. The group was born when advertising agency McCann Erickson got in touch with producer Al Ham, who then put together a group of singers for the project (including his wife, Mary Mayo, and their daughter Lori). The song began life as a collaboration by UK hit songwriters Roger Cook and Roger Greenaway. The legend has it that idea originally came to Cook and Greenaway while delayed at Shannon Airport, Ireland, overhearing fellow travellers talking and joking near a Coca-Cola vending machine. As we all remember, New Seekers had a massive worldwide hit with this tune, but let's listen to the rarely heard original version.
Johnny recorded over 20 singles in the 60's. "Et vielä tiedä" (You don't know yet) was single number 29, in the summer of 1969. It wasn't such a big hit at the time but the simple and beautiful song has lived through the years. The original song "Lo Mucho Que Te Quiero" (The More I Love You) was a hit in the USA in spring 1968. It was performed by a duo that was a pioneer of Tejano/Tex-Mex music - Rene y Rene. The two Renes - Rene Ornelas and Rene Herrera - were fron Laredo, Texas and very popular in Latin music circles. The group scored two hit singles in the U.S. in the 1960s and this was the bigger pne (reached number 14 in Hot 100). The song has frequently used as wedding music, which is easy to understand. I think the Finnish version - with new lyrics - would also be a sure bet in Finnish weddings ...
Let's now hear some Euro rock'n roll. The Finnish representative is a man who in no way is associated with rock or rock'n roll - Kari Tapio (see previous entry). Nevertheless he recorded this driving song "Se oli kuuma yö" (It was a hot night) in 1979. It was released as a single but didn't go anywhere. Kari's time wasn't just yet ... The original song "She Was Dynamite" was of Dutch origin and performed by Jack Jersey (real name Jack de Nijs), who also recorded under many other names. He was most famous for his Elvis style pop music, of which this song is perfect example. Jack had begun his musical career already in 1958, but the biggest success he met in the 70's with the moniker Jack Jersey.