This is most suitable obscure song for the Eve of The First of May. This day has always been the ultimate Party Day in Finland. So here's some party music. Päivi Paunu (see earlier entry) recorded "La Balanga" in 1975. It was released on the B-side of her cover of Carpenters' "Only Yesterday". In the recording she was joined by a mysterious "Talonmies" (Janitor), who provided most of the partying effects. The original "La Balanga" was the follow-up single of mega hit "El Bimbo" (featured in Finnpicks, here) for the French studio group Bimbo Jet. It tried quickly to cash-in on the huge success of it's predecessor, but failed. As you can hear, the tune has some similarities to "El Bimbo", and the man behind the music was again Claude Morgan.
Frederik has recorded many odd songs in his long career. This is one example of those. "Kunnon maalaishäät" (Real rural wedding) was a track on his album "Se jokin minulla on" in 1975. The album was full of cover songs of which the version of "Kung Fu Fighting" was most popular and this "Kunnon maalaishäät" most obscure. The unusual lyrics were provided Vexi Salmi. The original song "Shoes" (or "She Didn't Forget Her Shoes" in some sources) was a minor (and only) hit for American singer Reparata (b. Mary Aiese O'Leary), formerly known as the lead singer of the girl group Reparata and The Delrons. "Shoes" was unlike anything else in the charts at that time, and was not in any definable genre. Described as a "bizarre wedding song" (same can be said of the Finnish version), the lyrics tell the story of Johnny and Louise's wedding day, and the contributions of various relatives and friends to the wedding. The song is not about shoes, although it does include the line "Mother didn't give her abuse / she didn't forget her shoes".
Iris Rautio started her career in the 50's. Although being primarily jazz-singer, she did record seven pop singles in the 60's. This "Miks hän ei olla saa niinkuin haluaa" (Why can't one be as one wants to be) was one of those, released in 1965. It didn't have any great success, but it's a good example of Iris' talent in deploying her deep, dark voice. The original song was called "Home of the Brave" and it - as well as the Finnish version - told about those basic human rights; equality and liberty (hence the title reference to lyrics in US National Hymn) from the perspective of one human . It was written by famous US songwriter combo Cynthia Weill and Barry Mann (featured in Finnpicks before, here). The artist who made the first recording is debatable; either it was the girl group Bonnie & Treasures or pop & country singer Jody Miller. For the sake of equality (;-)) I present here both of their versions. Bonnie's (b. Charlotte Ann Matheny) record was produced by Phil Spector, as you might hear, but Jody's version fared better chartwise.
Psychedelia was not very popular genre in Finnish music. I was quite surprised to discover a song that was recorded by Markku Suominen (not much psychedelia in him), the origin of which was in the psychedelia/sunshine pop genre. Markku recorded "Kuin kukka sä oot" (You're like a flower) in 1971 for his first album. It was perhaps a bit out-of-date as the days of the Flower Power were already long gone. But the song is still pleasent to listen to. The original song "Pink Lemonade" was written by Paul Leka. He is best known for writing the two smash hits "Green Tambourine" (finnpicked here) and "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye". This "lemonade" song was the first single by a group called Peppermint Rainbow, but didn't chart at all. PR was an American sunshine pop group from Baltimore, Maryland. They did couple of singles and a mildly succesful album and folded in 1970.
In the coming days I will present some finnpicks of the more obscure kind. By that I mean songs that you would never expect to be covered in Finland. Most of them were not big hits originally, nor in Finland. This first one however was a hit, albeit lesser one here in Finland. recorded "Per-Erik "Pärre" Förarsrecorded the cheerful "Kili watch" in 1961. He was quite popular singer in the turn of the decade 50/60. In addition to being a schlager singer, Pärre was also a competent violinist. He was often seen in the early TV Music Shows. The original "Kili Watch" was first recorded by a Belgian group called Les Cousins. It was a Shadows-like guitar group, who were among the first to successfully export rock & roll music from Belgium. The song "Kili Watch" of 1960 became an instant and huge hit in 1960. The song is an adaptation of an Indian warsong that the group's bass-player Gus Derese had picked up during his years as a boy-scout. The song was versioned in France by Johnny Hallyday, and you can see him perform it, here. In Finland the song re-surfaced in the 1994 Aki Kaurismäki movie "Leningrad Cowboys Meet Moses". You can see hilarious version, performed by André Wilms & the Leningrad Cowboys, here.
Pasi Kaunisto (see earlier entry) released "Ihminen on tehnyt sen" (It was caused by man) as a single in 1976. It was a minor hit and one of the first 'environment-aware' pop songs in Finland. The elephant in the original song was changed in Juha Vainio's lyrics into bear, that was more at home in Finnish nature. The original "The Elephant Song" was of Dutch origin. It was written by Hans van Hemert, a music producer and songwriter, Mouth & MacNeal and Luv' being the greatest pop acts he produced. He composed also three songs for the Eurovision Song Contest. "The Elephant Song" was made famous by Kamahl , which is the stage name of Kandiah Kamalesvaran, an Australian singer, born in Malaysia. In 1975 the song hit number one in Dutch and Belgian charts. The song was used in the soundtrack of a World Wildlife Fund TV documentary.
"Marianne" was the first single of Tapani Kansa, released in 1967. He did not like it, but it however launched a very successful an long-lasting career for him. The original, "C'mon Marianne" was performed by The Four Seasons. The single was the last Four Seasons single to reach the Top Ten in the 1960s, At the time the lead singer Frankie Valli was already starting his solo career. The song includes a very Motown-like riff, one which The Doors also used in their 1969 single "Touch Me". A group called Grapefruit had a hit with their version of "C'mon Marianne" in UK in 1968.
Leo Luoto (see earlier entry) never really made it to the premier league of Finnish pop singers. But nevertheless he recorded many nice songs and cover versions in particular. This "Katos vaan" (Well, I never) from the year 1973 is one of those. The lyrics were written by Chrisse Johansson. The original song was called "Well Hello" and it was performed and written by Steve Voice and Peter Yellowstone (b. Peter Papini), known simply as Yellowstone and Voice. The duo was formed in 1972 in London. Their minor hits were “Philosopher", “Grandmother Says” and this "Well hello", neither of which was hit in Finland. Their career as a group lasted only for an album and a couple of singles. They continued as songwriters, most notable writing the famous Kelly Marie hit “Feels like I’m in Love”. Steve Voice later formed the band Revolver and Peter Yellowstone wrote or co-wrote several hits for Joe Dolan.
Pepe Willberg (see earlier entry) recorded "50056" in 1979 on his album "Päivä tuskin päättyis kauniimmin". The lyrics were provided by our old friend Hector (Heikki Harma). The original song was performed by a British rock group City Boy in 1978. The song was on their album "Book Early" and it was also released as a single, and turned out to be their first (and practically only) hit. The group was characterised by complex vocal arrangements and heavy guitars. Their albums were critically acclaimed, but apart from "5-7-0-5", their singles failed to make any grater impact. 5705 was the telephone number of the house where City Boy used to rehearse. I don't think Pepe's version has same kind of connotation. You can see a City Boy promotional video of the song, here.
This song is remembered by many but heard by few. "Kurkunleikkaajien yö" (The night of the throat cutters) has become some kind of cult classic, becouse of it's obscurity and odd lyrics (by Juha "Junnu" Vainio"). It was recorded by Kari Häme in 1968. Kari's recording career was only two years long, consisting of mere two singles. This song was on his first single. I don't know why Juhan Vainio decided to write lyrics about throatcutting, while the original dealt with a completely different subject. It was an instrumental tune called simply "Bud", recorded by Herb Alpert and The Tijuana Brass (finnpicked before, see here) in 1967 on their album "Herb Alpert's Ninth". This mournful, minor-key melody was written "In memory of our dear friend Ervan (Bud) Coleman" (who had died from surgery complications, albeit not throat cutting I guess, before the album was completed). Bud Coleman was the composer of several Brass tunes (notably "Tijuana Taxi") and also played guitar and mandolin and several TJB tracks.
Now, this is one again one of those forgotten gems. At least the original song is. Frederik recorded "En periks anna milloinkaan" (I will never give in) in 1974. It was on the album of the same name, and was released also as a single. Although the song and the lyrics (by Veikko "Vexi" Salmi) fit well with Frederik's macho image, the song wasn't such big hit for him. The original - that I haven't heard until quite recently - was an obscure, almost instrumental pre-disco tune from France called "Arabian Melody". It was performed by a group called Pop Concerto Orchestra. It appears to have been popular in France (and probably elsewhere in Middle-Europe) in the 70's. However it did not break through in Finland, nor did almost any other French act. But this tune is something to go wild about. The PCO group was formed by Frenchmen Olivier Toussaint and Paul de Senneville. Toussaint was the lead singer, and he (together vith Celine) reprsesented Monaco in the 1978 Eurovision Song Contest.
Seidat was one of a rare breed; a Finnish female vocal group that had a short succesful career mainly in the 70's. This trio of Kiviharju sisters Raisa, Eeva and Suvi started their musical career in the late 60's and released 5 singles and 1 album during the years 1968-1979. This "Kuinka voit sä kaukomailla" (How are you, in that faraway country?) was the B-side of their fourth single in 1972. On the A-side was their version of instrumental smash hit "Popcorn". Both songs went unnoticed. Eeva Kiviharju has made a career also as a songwriter, e.g. writing 5 songs for the Finnish national preliminaries for Euroviosn Song Contest in 1977-1990. The song that Seidat covered was "How Are Things In California" was a minor hit for Nancy Sinatra in 1969 reaching number 17 in the US Adult Contemporary Charts.
Aaron (see earlier entry) sang about "Lämmin ajatus" (A warm thought) in 1976 to the lyrics of Chrisse Johansson. It was released as a single, on the other side of which was his version of Luxembourg's ESC entry of that year "Chansons pour ceux qui s'aiment". The single wasn't a hit but at least this side should have been. The original was of French origin. The song "La suite de ma vie" (The walk of my life) was written by Eric Charden and performed by him and his singing partner Annie Gautrat. They were known as Stone & Charden, and they were very popular in French speaking Europe in the 70's. They have been finnpicked before, here.
Ringa ja Kaksoset (see earlier entry) recorded "Kun lähden pois" (When I'm going away) in 1967. It was the A-side of their first single. It didn't sell much but got them into a television program and subsequently into touring with Johnny. The original song was performed by American pop singer Lesley Gore (b. Lesley Sue Goldstein) and it was called "I'm Going Out (The Same Way I Came In)". It was the B-side of her 1967 Top 20 single "California Nights", and it was versioned in UK that same year by Helen Shapiro.
Timo Jämsen (see earlier entry) recorded "Eilen vasta Liisan näin" (I saw Liisa just yesterday) in 1963. It was released on the B-side of his big hit "Yyterin twist" (a cover of "Twist a Saint Tropez"). The lyrics were done by Sauvo "Saukki" Puhtila. The original song was performed and co-written by American pop- and country singer and songwriter Dickey Lee (finnpicked before, see here) l "I Saw Linda Yesterday" was released in 1963 and reached number 14 in US charts.
Kristiina Hautala (see earlier entry) and Lasse Mårtenson (see earlier entry) collaborated often in performing and recording. In 1970 they recorded "En koskaan aio rakastaa" (I will never love again) for Lasse's solo album. It was never released as a single although it surely had some hit potential. The original song was written by famous Amercan songwriter duo Burt Bacharach and Hal David. It was originally written for the 1968 musical "Promises, Promises", and it soon became one of Bacharach and David's most enduring songs. It was nominated for Song of the Year in the 1969 Grammy Awards. "Promises, Promises" was a musical based on the 1960 Billy Wilder film "The Apartment". In the first stage version of the musical the leading roles were played by Jerry Orbach and Jill O'Hara. We present here the original cast version of the song sung by them. The first hit single version was done by Bobbie Gentry in 1969 and it reached number one on the UK Singles Chart. In the following year Dionne Warwick's version rode the US charts. I'm not sure which one of the many versions was inspired by Lasse and Kristiina, but let's now hear Bobbie's 'almost original' version.
Cumulus (see earlier entry) recorded "Marseillen poika" (The boy from Marseille) in 1977 and it became one of their greatest hits and the song is fondly remembered even today. The lyrics were provided by Irina Milan. The success was largely based on the eponymous popular television series that run in Finland in summer 1977. The melody line of this song was used as it's signature tune. The tv-series as well the song originated from Italy. The tune "Il marsigliese" was composed by brothers Guido and Maurizio de Angelis. And they also performed it as M & G Orchestra. The De Angelis brothers were among the most prolific Italian musicians in the 70's. Often they were forced to use different names for many of their projects to avoid over-saturating the market. One of those names was Oliver Onions, which is the name they are mostly identified with. They also became famous as score writers for the Terence Hill and Bud Spencer movies.
Finntrio (see earlier entry) sang about "Hurja vaari" (Outrageus grandpa) in 1964 to Juha Vainio's lyrics. It was relased as a single but wasn't a hit at all. The covered song was old Bahamian traditional song "The John B. Sails" that has been covered by numerous artists; Weavers, Kingston Trio, Jimmie Rodgers, and most notably, the Beach Boys. I guess the version that Finntrio covered was that of Kingston Trio. It appeared on their 1958 LP "The Kingston Trio". The "John B." was an old sponger boat whose crew were in the habit of getting notoriously merry whenever they made port. It was wrecked and sunk at Governor's Harbour in Eleuthera, The Bahamas, in about 1900. You can see Kingston Trio perform the song in 2005, here.
Meeri is a singer that I know almost nothing about. Her real name might have been Pirkko Kauppinen, but this piece of information is unconfirmed. She recorded two unsuccessful singles in the 70's and also contributed in some hit compilation albums. This "Illan tullen" (As the night comes) was released as a single in 1972. The original song was performed by Cilla Black (b. Priscilla White), who is an English singer, actress, entertainer and media personality. She is most famous worldwide for her successful singles "Anyone Who Had A Heart" and "Alfie". After a successful recording career and a brief time as a comedy actress, she became the best paid female presenter in British television history. She was born in Liverpool and closely associated with the Beatles, and her first single was written by Lennon & McCartney. She was featured in the first edition of the local music newspaper "Mersey Beat" and in it she was mistakenly referred to as Cilla Black, rather than White, and she decided she liked the name, and took it as a stage name. "Something Tells Me (Something's Gonna Happen Tonight)" was her 1971 single and her last Top 10 hit in UK. It was written by the famous hit songsmiths Roger Cook and Roger Greenaway.
Berit (b. Tuula Härmä) recorded "Sattuma kuljettaa" (Driven by coincidence) in 1972. It was her first hit single. Berit had started her career already as a 14-year old in the 60's, and made her first recording in 1969. Her most successful period was in the 80's. Although she did one acclaimed disco-album, her strong line was the schlagers. I've always assumed that this song was a Finnish one but actually it was of Italian origin and called "Finche la barca va" (Until the boat goes). It was performed by Orietta Berti (b. Orietta Galimberti). in 1970 and it is her best known song. It placed 3rd in the popular "Un disco per l'estate" contest. Orietta has had many hits in Italy in 60's, 70's and 80's, but she has never really broken through internationally. Both the Finnish and Italian lyrics are partly based on the old fable of "The Ant and The Cricket".
p.s. I'm now leaving for a holiday trip and there are no Finnpicks for about a week.