One of Kai Hyttinen's biggest hits was his 1970 single "Tuulen tie" (The way of the wind). The driving up-beat melody, Juha Vainio's lyrics and Kai's pleasant delivery made this song an instant hit. The original song was of German origin. It was a small hit in 1969 for a German pop- and schlager star Peter Rubin (b. Peter Kohlhuber), who was born in Ostrava, Czech Republic. Because of his height, Peter was given the ironic nickname "The Greatest Pop Singer of Germany".
Lemon was a modestly successul Finnish pop group in the beginning of the 70's. It's main claim to fame was the cover of Uriah Heep's "Lady In Black" in 1972, but on their second single in 1970 they covered an even more famous song. This "Ilman ystävää et jää" (You won't be left without a friend) didn't however win many friends at the time, and is still largely forgotten. The Finnish lyrics were done by Chrisse Johansson. Prior to and after Lemon, the band was known as The First (see earlier entry). The original song "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother" was collaboration between veteran US songwriters Bobby Scott and Bobby Russell. The title came from the motto for "Boys Town", a community for troubled and homeless boys, formed in 1917 by a priest named Father Edward Flanagan in Omaha, Nebraska. Father Flanagan found a drawing of a boy carrying a younger boy on his back, with the caption, "He ain't heavy Mr., he's my brother." Father Flanagan thought the image and phrase captured the spirit of Boys Town, so he got permission and commissioned a statue of the drawing with the inscription, "He ain't heavy Father, he's my brother." The statue and phrase became the logo for Boys Town. In 1938, Spencer Tracey portrayed Father Flanagan in the movie "Boys Town". The song has of course become known as the mega-hit for Hollies, but it was originally recorded by Kelly Gordon, mainly known for his production work for Glen Campbell, Bobbie Gentry, Aretha Franklin, a.o. This slow and soulful original version was on Kelly's 1969 album "Defunked". We present here the original version, but you can see Hollies performing the song, here.
In the early 60's when Anki Lindqvist (see earlier entry) was starting her singing career, the record company decided to make her a teen starlet. For that purpose, the songs for her first single in 1962 were chosen accordingly. "Neiti yksinäinen" (Miss Lonely) was cover version of the hit (number 8 in UK chart) by England's own teen sensation of the time, Helen Shapiro. Her "Little Miss Lonely" hit the charts in 1962 and told story of a teenage girl crying over being left alone by his boyfriend. Teenage angst at its best ...Helen was only 15 years old at the time, but her voice sounded like a mature woman. BTW, on the flipside of Anki's single was a cover of another Shapiro song, "I Don't Care". When I get hold of that, I will of course present it here.
Now that we - after many 'black' years - have experienced a real winter in Southern Finland with lots of snow and freeze, it is only appropriate to present "Lumikenttien kutsu" (Call of the snowfields), a song that was a big favourite in the seventies. The song was recorded in 1976 by at least 7(!) Finnish artists, and here is the version by Matti Esko (real name Matti Eskonniemi). Matti has always been predominantly a schlager singer and his career began already in 1969. He is still performing actively and is still among the most popular singers of his genre. The lyrics to this epic tune were written by Pertsa Reponen. The original song was the signature of the television series ""Jack London - L'avventura del grande Nord". It was produced by the Italian national TV network RAI and shown on the Italian TV in 1973-74 and in 1975 also on the Finnish TV, with the title "Lumikenttien kutsu". This "I Wanna Go" was performed by Italian singer and actor Orso-Maria Guerrini, who also played leading role in the series.
Almost all the famous carols have been covered in Finnish - hundreds of times over. Every generation of Finnish singers seems to be obliged to do their own versions. Well, here we have 5 Finnish interpretations of well-known Christmas songs. The first one of these originally had nothing to do with Christmas. It was only a beautiful Italian tune "Soleado" performed by Daniel Santacruz Ensemble. In the Christmas 1976 it was a worldwide success for Johnny Mathis as "When A Child Is Born". Before this it was already covered in Finnish by Kisu with the title "Lähdit taakse pilvien" (You went behind the clouds). The other 4 of these seasonal songs are performed by the Finnish 'cover girls' of the 50's and 60's; Laila Kinnunen (Petteri Punakuono/Rudolph The Red-Nosed Raindeer), Brita Koivunen (Hei Kuuraparta/Frosty The Snowman) and Vieno Kekkonen (Rekiretki/Sleighride). In the last song the three ladies join forces and present "Tonttuparaati", which originally was a German military march called "Heinzelmännchens Wachtparade" (Parade of the Brownies). I'm not sure if this tune has been 'christmasized" anywhere, outside Scandinavia.
Robin had a small hit with the "Jäähyväiset" (Goodbyes) released as a single in 1970. The orginal was written and performed by British Roger Whittaker (born in Kenya). He is best known for his baritone singing voice and trademark whistling ability. This "Durham Town" became Whittaker's first Top 20 hit in Britain in the spring of 1970.
Petri Pettersson (see earlier entry) had successful but short solo career as a singer after he parted ways with the group Petri & Pettersson Brass. In 1978 he recorded "Ei enempää voi pyytää" (One can't ask for any more). The lyrics were - again - by Chrisse Johansson, who was extremely active lyricist in the 70's. The original song was called "You To Me Are Everything" and this mellow disco tune was a big hit for the Liverpudlian group Real Thing. It was the debut single by the group and it was co-written by their producer Ken Gold. It became number-one single in the UK, spending three weeks at the top in July 1976. It was some kind of a landmark, becouse it was the first single by a black British band to top the singles chart.
Kari Tapio (see earlier entry) recorded "Romanella" in 1976 for his album "Klabbi" ("Klabbi" is Kari's nickname). It remained just as an album track, but is a fine example of Tapio's delivery. The lyrics are from one of the top female lyricists of Finland, Chrisse Johansson. The original song of the same name was of French origin, but it was made popular by Gianni Nazzaro, an Italian singer and actor. His career has focused mainly in the seventies after he won the Festival di Napoli in 1970. You can see Gianni perform the song live, here.
Rexi (see earlier entry) recorded "Cherry Baby" in 1977 for his album "Puhtaat purjeet". It wasn't released as a single. The lyrics were done by a fanous lyricist (we have many of those in Finland) Raul Reiman. The original song with slightly different name "Cherry, Cherry" was performed by one and only Neil Diamond. About a dozen of his songs have been versioned in Finnish, but for some reason none of them was a hit - at least not a big one. But this original song was a great success gor Neil. It reached number 6 in US Charts in 1966. Worldwide sales are said to have reached over one million copies. The song was produced by Ellie Greenwich and Jeff Barry, and they also sang background vocals. But the song was written by Neil himself.
Today is the Independence Day of Finland. In the spirit of the day we present "Sotilaat, kansat, maat" (Soldiers, nations, countries) recorded by Pepe & Paradise (see earlier entry) in 1972. The lyrics of the song (by Vexi Salmi) tell about a childhood in the bomb shelter, and all countries, nations and soldiers are begged to "put their cannons away" for not to have wars anymore. The original song "Joy to the World" was written by Hoyt Axton and made famous by the band Three Dog Night. The song went to number one on the pop music charts in February 1971 and was the top single of the year in Billboard Magazine. The song was released on the band's album "Naturally". The group never really wanted to record the song, but they needed one last track for this album. Later they were greatly surprised that the song they didn't want to record ended up being a big hit.
"Pienet Kirjeet" was the B-side of the 1967 single of Robin. The A-side was earlier finnpicked (see it here) "Ei se pelaa joka pelkää". The A-side was a big hit, but this flipside is long forgotten. The original song "The Letter" was written by Wayne Carson Thompson, an American country musician, songwriter and producer. But the song is not a country tune, but as a superb pop rock piece made by the group Box Tops. It was released in 1967 and reached number one on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. The record, produced by Dan Penn, sold over four million copies and even received two Grammy awards nominations. The band Box Tops was headed by then-16-year-old Alex Chilton . The composer Thompson played guitar on the recording and he didn't like the Chilton's singing, believing the lead vocal was too husky ... You can see and hear the husky Alex here.
Barbara Helsingius was the first Finn to record "Neljä vahvaa tuulta" (Fours strong winds). She did it in 1966 on her debut album "Barbara". Barbara Helsingius is folk singer, composer and lyricist. She has recorded music in Finnish, Swedish, English and Norwegian. Prior to his career as a musician Barbara graduated as a teacher of gymnastics and participated in the Rome 1960 Olympic Games in the Finnish floret fencing team. The original "Four Strong Winds" was written by Canadian Ian Tyson and he recorded it with his wife Sylvia as a duo Ian & Sylvia. (see earlier entry). It was on an album of the same name released in 1964. The first version was done by US vocal group Brothers Four in 1963. The song has sometimes described as the other Canadian national song and it has been versioned by hundreds of artists all around the world.
Markku Suominen (see earlier entry) recorded "Muuta tehdä en voi" (I can't do anything else) in 1969. It was released as a single, but didn't do much chartwise. But it's a good song, and the little extra curiosity in this case is that the lyrics are done by Kari Kuuva, another famous Finnish singer. The original song was a considerable hit for the Israeli duo Esther and Abi Ofarim (see earlier entry). This was the 1968 follow-up single for their smash hit "Cinderella Rockafella". It wasn't nearly as successful, but still worth to remember. You can see the couple singing the song live here.
The Ruohonen brothers Matti & Teppo have been on the top of Finnish pop music for 40 years. Since they have almost excusively written their own songs, this is their first appearence in Finnpicks. Matti & Teppo recorded "Sait mitä hait" (You got what you wanted) in 1977. It was released on their eponymous 4th studio album. The duo is one of the most succesful Finnish pop acts. It has sold about 1,5 million records, and gained 2 double platinum , 7 platinum and 27 gold records. The original song originated from Netherlands. A pop group named The Classics had a hit with "My Russian Lady" in 1975. The Classics was formed in 1967 as a showband, but had some pop hits in the seventies. This slavic-flavoured song was written by their producer Fred Limpens.
The single "Viimeiseen mieheen" (To the last man) was a big hit for Kirka in 1969. The remarkable lyrics were from the pen of Pertti Reponen,and the fine arrangement by Esko Linnavalli. The original song was written by the Gibb brothers Barry, Robin and Maurice, better known as Bee Gees. The song became a smash hit for another Brithish rock duo The Marbles in 1968. The duo consisted of Graham Bonnet and Trevor Gordon, who were cousins. Trevor grew up in Australia where he met the Gibb brothers. Subsequently they wrote six songs for the Marbles and provided some background vocals. The Marbles were typical one-hit wonders because "Only One Woman" became their one and only major hit. After the group broke up in 1969, Bonnet started a lengthy solo career. From 1978 to 1980 he was the lead singer with Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow.