Dave (real name Seppo Kohvakka) was for a short time in the beginning of 1970's among the most popular Finnish male pop singers. He dropped his pop career, however, after turning religious and recorded thereafter only spiritual music. Dave had one big and a couple of smaller hits, and this "Rosy" in 1972 was one of the latter (and better) ones. The original "Rosy" came from Spain. It was written and performed by Lorenzo Santamaria (b. Lorenzo Roselló Horrach) , singer and actor, more known as a singer of romantic ballads. In the 1960's he was member in the beat groups like Los Brios and Z-66. In 1971 his second solo single "Rosy" sold more than 50000 copies in Spain.
The second single for Pepe & Paradise (see earlier entry) was "Butterfly" in 1971. Despite the English title it was sung in Finnish. At the time the group was still called Paradise and was a year away from its breakthrough, so this song was just a minor hit. A bigger hit in Finalnd was the original "Butterfly" that was written and performed by a French singer and composer named Daniel Gerard (b. Gérard Daniel Kherlakian). Gerard is a true world citizen; he was born in Paris, he was the son of an Armenian and an Italian, and grew in Rio de Janeiro. His breakthrough came in 1971 with "Butterfly", which he recorded in seven languages. It was several weeks in the charts in various countries.
The woman that the world got to know as BB, turns 75 today. To honor her we present a song that was made to honor her. Marion Rung (see earlier entry) recorded "Brigitte Bardot" in 1961 for her first ever single. The song originated from Brazil. It was a 'marcha de carnaval' - carneval march - written by Miguel Gustavo, who had a couple of other successes with similar kind of tunes. "Brigitte Bardot" was turned to a Brazilian hit in 1960 by one of the great samba artists Jorge Veiga. In 1961 the song was a hit all over Europe with several versions in several countries. We present here a version by Roberto Seto y su Rumberos, which was a huge hit especially in Italy.
Now we meet for the first time in Finnpicks, a true Finnish legend, Tapio Rautavaara. Rautavaara was a Finnish master athlete, singer and movie actor. He won the Olympic Gold Medal in the javelin throw at the 1948 Summer Olympics in London. And later in his career he won the gold medal in the Finnish archery team in World Championships of 1958. Since 1940's Tapio had also played in several movies and reorded hudreds of songs. His songs were mainly of Finnish origin, but he did some covers, too - often on country & western songs. This is one of those. Tapio recorded "Kylmää vettä" (Cold water) in 1961 with vocal group Neloset (see earlier entry). The original was country classic "Cool Water", a song written by Bob Nolan, founder member of The Sons of the Pioneers. This group also recorded the original and best-selling version of the song in 1948. The lyrics of the song tell about a man and his mule, Dan, and a mirage in the desert.
Eini (see earlier entry) recorded "Kellot käy" (Clocks are ticking) in 1985 on her album "Eini". (She released two albums with the name "Eini", this is the latter one). It was released also as a single, but didn't actually raise commotion. Anyway, a decent rock-ish disco-pop tune it is. The original was a Hungarian song, which are rarely covered in Finland (see one earlier example here). The song "Holnap Hajnalig" (Tomorrow sunrise) was performed by popular Hungarian pop-rock group Neoton Familia (a.k.a Newton Family), and co-written by group's frontman György Jakab. The goup was the one of the most successful Hungarian pop-bands, during several decades, with various line-ups. It was most active from 1977 to 1989, releasing albums and touring in several countries. You can see the band performing "Holnap Hajnalig" live, here.
As stated before, there are surprisingly many Finnish covers of songs that have originally been instrumental tunes. One of these is "Luvattu maa"(Promised land), a single released by Irmeli Mäkelä (b. Hellä Muisto Irmeli Liikanen), together with vocal group Four Dogs), in 1962. Irmeli was quite popular schlager singer in the end of 50's and in the beginning of 60's. She won the Finnish preliminaries of Eurovision Song Contest 1963 with "Muistojeni laulu", but for some reason another songstress, Laila Halme, was chosen as Finnish representative. The original song "Wonderful Land" was massive hit for Shadows in 1962. It went to number one in the charts in UK and stayed there more weeks than any other single during the 60's - including those by The Beatles. The tune was written by Jerry Lordan, as was their first hit, "Apache", which is also covered vocally in Finnish (we might hear it here someday ...).
Now we meet again (probably for the last time) the country-rock group H Band. On their sole album "Taival" (1978) was one cover that wasn't exactly country or country rock. "Kotka" (The Eagle) was very good cover of Steve Miller Band's "Serenade", a beautiful song from their 1976 album "Fly Like An Eagle". Steve Miller formed the band in 1968, with Royce Scaggs (better known by his nickname, 'Boz') handling the vocals and a series of discs rooted solidly in the psychedelic blues style albums followed but failed to yield a hit. However, after Boz Scaggs had left the band, both he and the band gained success on their own. The album "Fly Like An Eagle" marked a real breakthrough and worldwide success for Steve Miller Band. Three hugely succesful singles was culled from the album, and "Serenade' was not among them. That only shows how good the album was.
Songs of Austrian origin are very rarely covered in Finland (or anywhere else for that matter). We had one example of those in earlier Finnpicks (here), and here is another. Leo Luoto recorded "Villi yö" (Wild night) in 1985- Altogether 6 (!) Finnish versions were made of this same song on that year. Leo's was the only one released as a single. Leo was in the group Kalmar Union in the 70's, and later cut also some solo recordings. He's still actively performing. The original song - called "Live Is Life" - was written and performed by group called Opus. Opus is an Austrian pop-rock group from Graz which was formed in 1973, and is still active today. The band is fine example of 'one hit wonders'. In 1985 they released "Live Is Life" which topped the charts in many countries, and a live recording of the song even made the Top 40 in the USA. Thereafter ... nothing. We present here the live version.
Here's another James Taylor cover. Danny released "Voit Luottaa Ystävään" (You can trust a friend) in 1971. It was on the B-side of "Valvoin tänään aamukuuteen" -single (finnpicked here). The original song, "You've Got a Friend", written by Carole King, was included in her album Tapestry, but was made famous by James Taylor. Taylor's rendition was released as a single from his own 1971 album "Mud Slide Slim and the Blue Horizon". It went all the way to number 1 on the Billboard charts.
Eero Raittinen (see earlier entry) released "Joskus näin, joskus ei" (Sometimes so, sometimes no) in 1971 on the B-side of his big hit "Toivotaan, toivotaan" (cover of Feliciano's 'Che sara'). It is one of the rare Finnish James Taylor covers, and a good one. The song was Taylor's own composition and originally called "Fire and Rain". It was included on his second album 'Sweet Baby James', gaining widespread attention for James. The song was released as a single in February 1970 and it quickly rose to number 3 on the Billboard Hot 100. You can find more information on the background of the song, here.
In our recurrent series 'Both sides Now' - here's "Pariisin tango" (Tango of Paris), the A-side of the yesterday's Finnpicked song by Koivistolaiset. This tango fared popularity-wise better than the disco tune. The Finns are 'tango people' - you see. Like the one on the flip side, the original song was of German origin. It was written by famous schlager composer Christian Bruhn (his 'Liebeskummer lohnt sich nicht' previously Finnpicked here). It became a big European hit for Mireille Matthieu in 1971-1972.
Let's continue a while with Koivistolaiset. It was a duo of two sisters - Anja and Anneli Koivisto. They began in the 60's basically as background dancers. For awhile they seemed to be "official go-go dancers of Finland". Whenever the TV music shows included background dancing, you'd bet Koivistolaiset were in it. Later they widened their repertoire and started singing. They represented Finland in the 1971 Eurovision Song Contest with the song "Tie uuteen päivään" together with Markku Aro. In 1972 they recorded "Jättiläinen" (Giant), playing quite minor role compared to the unknown vocal talents of "Jättiläinen". The original song was co-written by famous German bandleader and composer/musician James Last (b. Hans Last). It was published the 1971 album "Voodoo-Party" that was released under name James Last, but I guess his role was only in producing the record. Around 1970 the James Last Orchestra's rhythm section was reorganized as a rock group, and this album was done by that formation. The drummer Barry Roy Reeves and the bassist Benny Bendorff were co-writers of this "Mr. Giant Man" song.
Lasse Mårtenson (see earlier entry) recorded "Limon limonero" in 1969 together with dance and vocal duo Koivistolaiset. It was a sizeable summer hit in that year. At those days few people realized that this song wass in fact based on the same Brazilian song "Meu limão, meu limoeiro" as yesterday's Finnpick 'Lemon Tree'. In Brazil the old song was given new life by Wilson Simonal who was a very successful Brazilian singer in the 60s and 70s. The song is credited to his producer Carlos Imperial, but as we have learned the roots of the song are deep in the Brazilian music tradition. Subsequently the Simonal's song found it's way in to Europe and it was a big hit, especially in Spain, in 1968, as the version performed by Henry Stephen. And I guess that's the one our Lasse covered. Henry August Stephen Pierre was one of the pioneers of rock in Venezuela, fronting the 'Los Impala' rock band, before launching solo career in 1966. "Mi Limon Mi Limonero" as his Spanish language version of "Meu limão, meu limoeiro" was called, was his biggest international success. You can see him perform it, here.
Anki (see ealier entry), Bosse & Robert (see arlier entry) released "Sitruunapuu" (Lemon tree) as a single in 1964. On the crest of the blooming folk music wave it became a hit, together with the cover of another classic "500 miles" on the flip side (we will present that later). It is not generally known that the song is of Brazilian origin. This old folk song was called "Meu limão, meu limoeiro" (My lemon, my lemon tree) and it was recorded first time in Brazil in the 30's. In some sources US writer and lyricist Will Holt appears as writer of the song but he only made the English lyrics. He also recorded it himself (with Dolly Jonah) in 1960. The song was made popular by Peter, Paul and Mary on their hugely successful debut album in 1962. The most known version is of course the one in 1965 by Trini Lopez. Now we proudly present the first original recording of the song made by Jorge Fernandes in 1937, and the first popular English language version by Peter, Paul & Mary.
Anna Hanski released her second album "Syksyiset unet" in 1991. One of the covers on that album was "Kameramies" (Camera man). The original "Kodachrome" was written and performed by Paul Simon on his 1973 album "There Goes Rhymin' Simon ". It was also released as a single and it was a hit in USA but not in England, partly because BBC rarely played it. The BBC had very strict rules about commercial endorsements, and they would not allow stations to play songs that seemed to push products. Kodachrome is a registered trademark of the Kodak company. It is a method of color transparency.
Updated on 18.09.2010: added the first Finnish version "Mustavalkoista" (Black and white) by Aaron.
Lasse Mårtenson (see earlier entry) teamed up with Carola (see earlier entry) in 1967 and they recorded "Mä lähden stadiin" (I'll go downtown). It was released as a single (Carola covered James Bond -theme "You only live twice" on the B-side). The record was a big success, as would be expected. The original was done Kingston Trio in 1963 on their album "Sunny Side!" The song called "Jackson" was penned by Billy Edd Wheeler with the help of veteran songsmith Jerry Leiber. Billy was inspired by the bickering couple in Edward Albee's play 'Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf', The song became worldwide hit when it was recorded by Johnny Cash & June Carter, and Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazlewood. But now we present the rarely heard original "Jackson".
Updated on 15.01.2011: added the version that might be the true original one - by Billy Edd Wheeler and Joan Sommer.
Mona Carita (see earlier entry) recorded "Helli mua hiljaa" (Pamper me gently) in 1983. It was one the last recordings in her short career. Shortly afterwards she moved to Canada and stopped recording. The original song was an international smash hit "Words", written by Robert Fitoussi, a Tunisian-born French singer. He also performed it himself, using his stage name F. R. David. During the early 1970s, Robert was a band member in the French rock band, Les Variations. But in 1982 he broke through as solo artist with "Words".
Updated on 17.11.2009: added Berit's version (1983).
Greger (b. Greger Nervander) won a national song contest in 1977. His first single was released in the same year and was called "Huulin hymyilevin" (With smiling lips). Greger's voice and Chrisse Johansson's lyrics made it a great success. And for a couple of years Greger was in the front row of Finnish schlager singers. The original song was of Polish origin It was called "Gdzie ten swiat mlodych lat" (Where are the years of young world) and it is one of the most beloved tunes of composer Adam Skorupka. The song was performed in the 1976 Sopot Music Festival. That version is not in my possession, so I present here a beatiful 1977 version by unjustly forgotten Polish female singer Jadwiga Strlecka, who was blessed with a beautiful voice and charm on stage.
Eija Merilä (see earlier entry) recorded "Ei ajatella huomispäivää" (Let's not think about tomorrow) in 1965. It was not a big hit, but definitely worth of re-listening. The melody and the hook line is bound to be stuck in your head. The original song was called "Forget Domani" and was introduced on the soundtrack of the movie "The Yellow Rolls-Royce", starrring Ingrid Bergman, Rex Harrison and Shirley MacLaine. The perky song was written by famous Italian composer Rizero "Riz" Ortolani. The english lyrics were made by Norman Newell and the late great Frank Sinatra recorded it 1965, making it one of his biggest hits in the 60's. The song tells us to take each day as it comes and to be in love, because when you're in love, tomorrow never comes.
One of the lesser known Finnish 'trucker songs' is "Punainen kuu" (Red moon) that Rexi (see earlier entry) recorded in 1977. It was released on his "Puhtaat purjeet" -album. The lyrics and arrangements were done by two known professionals, Raul Reiman and Jori Sivonen respectively. There's no moon in the original song "Red Rubber Ball"; the 'ball' is the sun ("The mornin' sun is shinin' like a red rubber ball") The song is in a way extraordinary, becouse it seems to be the only Paul Simon song that Simon & Garfunkel didn't record themselves at the time. The song became a big hit (number 2 in the Billboard Hot 100) in the 1966 as a version recorded by US band The Cyrkle. They had one other Top 20 hit and faded quickly out of fame, disbanding in 1967. "Red Rubber Ball" was actually co-written by Paul Simon and Bruce Woodley of The Seekers. And The Seekers also recorded it for their 1966 album Come the Day. We present here the Cyrkle's hit version and a rare live version by Simon & Garfunkle, with Art Garfunkel commenting on the song in the introduction.
As we have learned, the most succesful song that was originally used for advertising purposes, was "I'd like To Teach The World To Sing" (Coca-Cola). This ad music for Diet Pepsi follows close behind ... Eddy (see earlier entry) recorded "Kun tyttöjä katselen" in May 1967. It was released as a single and was some kind of summer hit for him. The original was made by singer/songwriter and producer Bob Crewe. He scored numerous hits with his solid production of Four Seasons. Crewe stepped out into fame on his own in 1967, when he heard a jingle demo for a Diet Pepsi spot called "Music to Watch Girls By" and quickly rushed into the studio to record a big-band, horn-driven instrumental version of it. Released under the group name the Bob Crewe Generation, the track went Top 20 on the Billboard charts. A little later, Andy Williams, scored big with a vocal version of the same tune.
Now is the time to keep an old promise of mine. Marion Rung recorded "Kaiken saan" (I'll get everything) in 1965. The original was "That's the Way"'. a song performed by The Honeycombs and produced by legendary Joe Meek. The Honeycombs were a London band with a female drummer, Ann "Honey" Lantree. The group's founder Martin Murray had worked as a hairdresser - Ann being his assistant. They decided to combine his profession with the nickname of the drummer, and changed their name to The Honeycombs. Previously they were known as the Sheratons. This song was written by Alan Blaikley, the other half of the famous songwriting team of Howard - Blaikley. And it's somewhat exceptional, as Honey is the lead singer alongside Dennis Dell, who usually was taking the lead.
Anna Hanski (see earlier entry) is mostly known of her slow ballads. But she can rock too. Anna recorded "Saappaat ampuu lujaa" (Boots shoot fast) in 1989 and I bet you have never heard a version quite like this of the original song "These Boots Are Made For Walkin''. This was a mammoth hit for Nancy Sinatra in 1966. The song was written by Lee Hazlewood. Eventually, Lee wrote "Boots'' for himself. But Nancy told him that 'It's better for a girl to sing it, because when you sing it, it sounds mean. When I sing it, it will be sexy and cute.' Well - let's now hear Lee's tongue-in-cheek version, on which he throws comments on the original.
Now something for the first time in Finnpicks - a cover of a Bee Gees' song. For some reason they were seldomly covered in Finland, but here's a rare example. Petri & Pettersson Brass (see earlier entry) recorded "Kaikkeni teen" (I'll do my everything) in 1972 on their first album. The original was a smash hit for Bee Gees called "How Can You Mend A Broken Heart" and it was jointly written by Gibb brothers Barry and Robin and included it on their 1971 album, Trafalgar. This was the first album following a period of break-up, and Robin going solo. The song became the Bee Gees' first US number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Laila Kinnunen (see earlier entry) recorded "Tietää tähti jokainen" (Every star knows) in 1961. It seeems to have been quite popular target for covering, becouse two other Finnish versions were done in that same year. The original song was called "I've Told Every Little Star" and it was written by legendary songwriter duo Oscar Hammerstein (lyrics) & Jerome Kern (music). The song was published in 1932 and it was introduced in the musical play "Music in the Air". It has since been recorded by several artists, but the most well-known recording is the 1961 hit version by 16-year old US teen sensation Linda Scott (b, Linda Joy Sampson), which inspired also Finnish artists. As an example of how it sounded in the 30's, we present a contemporary version by Mary Ellis, a Broadway star at the time.
In our randomly recurrent series "Both Sides Now" we present now the flip side of yesterday's Jarkko & Laura entry. It was called "Samanlainen onni" (Same kind of happiness) and was more popular of the two. The lyrics, again, were done by Juha Vainio. The original was called "Les moulins de mon coeur" (The windmills of my heart) and composed by famous Frenchman Michel Legrand. The first vocal version, however, was done by English actor and singer Noel Harrison. Noel was the son of another British actor, Rex Harrison. "The Windmills of Your Mind", as the English title went, was used as the theme tune for the film The Thomas Crown Affair, and won the Oscar for best song in 1968, and was also a Top 10 hit in the UK Singles Chart.
OK, so September has come. Here's a happy song that will cheer you up. Jarkko & Laura (see previous entry) recorded "Kahden ollaan" (We're twosome) in 1969. It is a wonder that it wasn't a hit becouse it is that kind of melodic, happy tune that Finns usually love. And, on top of that, lyrics are done by Juha Vainio. The original song was called "Come September" and it was one of the 5 Lulu's entries in the UK Public National Final for Eurovision Song Contest 1969. (It placed 3rd, and the winner was 'Boom Bang-a-Bang that tied the first prize in the ESC). Lulu (b. Marie McDonald McLaughlin Lawrie) is a Scottish singer-songwriter, actress, model and television personality, who has been successful in the entertainment business from the 1960s through to the present day. She is now officially known as Lulu Kennedy-Cairns, and in 2000 she was awarded an OBE by the Queen.