Let's present another track from Timo T.A. Mikkonen's Christmas Album "Joulusydän" (Christmas Heart). "Vuoden vaan saan Joulua odottaa" (It's only a year till next Christmas). The Finnish lyrics for this one were provided by famous Finnish poet and writer Tarleena Sammalkorpi. The original carol was called "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" written in 1963 and recorded and released that year by pop singer Andy Williams for his first Christmas album, The "Andy Williams Christmas Album".
As we all know so very well, Christmas is near. There's been quite exceptional weather conditions in Finland - especially in Southern Finland - this winter. No snow, but water everywhere. Finnpicks sends now this Christmas Wish to weather gods: "Lunta saa tuiskuttaa" (Let the snow fall). Timo T.A. Mikkonen recorded the song with that title in 1989 for his Christmas Album "Joulusydän". Timo has many years been a prominent figure in Finnish entertainment - in various ways. This album was his one of his rare attempts in singing. For it, he selected many famous Christmas songs not covered in Finnish before. The original version of today's Finnpick was "Let It Snow!, Let It Snow!, Let It Snow!". It was written by lyricist Sammy Cahn and composer Jule Styne already in 1945. It was first recorded by baritone singer Vaughn Monroe (sometimes called "the Baritone with Muscles") and has since been covered countless times by many artists. It is commonly regarded as a Christmas song - but despite the song's winter holiday feel, it is a love song that never mentions Christmas.
Arja Koriseva (see earlier entry) recorded "Tuttu juttu" (A familiar story) for her debut album in 1990. This particular track was not released as a single, but the album was very popular and the sales earned her platinum in 1991. The Finnish lyrics were written by Turkka Mali, a finnpicked artist himself (see here). It's somewhat peculiar that this famous song was not covered in Finnish prior to Arja's version. The original was namely "Stupid Cupid", a massive pop hit for Connie Francis already in 1958. The song was composed by Neil Sedaka and it was chosen (by Connie herself) to be Francis' single as it was in contrast to her preceding ballad hits (most notably "Who's Sorry Now").
The vocal group Neljä Penniä ("Four Pennies") recorded in 1964, in the wake of folk music boom the song "Washington Square". This was their one and only single, but they sang backing vocals in many Finnish records at the time. The group onsisted of Ritva Mustonen, Heikki Laurila, Rauno Lehtinen and Raimo Henriksson. They all were renown singers/musicians. This song continued the fine Finnish tradition of doing vocal covers of instumental hits. The original "Washington Square" was a number 2 US hit for The Village Stompers. They were a dixieland music group originating from Greenwich Village, New York. Washington Square Park is one of the best-known of New York public parks. It is the landmark of Greenwich Village and since the end of World War II, folksingers had been congregating on Sunday afternoons in the park.
Inga Sulin is a first-timer in Finnpicks. She started her recording career in 1965 and ended it in 1980. She recorded 4 albums and several singles but never really broke through as a singer. But she's done a remarkable career in theater and television. On her second album "Feelings (1976) were many covers of such diverse originals as Van McCoys "Hustle" and Hoagy Carmichaels's "Stardust", and this "Tämän kaupungin yöt" (The nights of this town). It's quite an extraordinary version of "Poor Side Of Town", which is the most known song of Johnny Rivers (b. John Henry Ramistella). Johnny's been finnpicked before, see here. This song was written by Rivers himself, together with his producer Lou Adler.
Well, well - it's time for another Frederik Friday. And this song nicely fits in the dark season we now live in here in Finland. Frederik recorded "Pettävä nainen" (Cheating woman) in 1970. It was on Frederik's debut album and also released as a single, but it wasn't such a great success. Again, the original was an international success for Tom Jones. "Daughter of Darkness". The song reached number 5 in UK Charts in 1970. It was written by Les Reed, who also arranged it, and another prolific songwriter Geoff Stephens. This duo wrote also "There's A kind Of Hush", finnpicked here. You can see Tom perform "Daughter of Darkness", here.
Mona Carita recorded "Hollywood" for her debut album "Mona Carita" in 1979. The Finnish lyrics were - again - provided by Raul Reiman. We seem to have - purely by coincidence - a "Raul Reiman Week" now. The arrangement was done by Esa Nieminen. The original "Hollywood" was done by a Dutch group called Dingo. (not to be confused with the Finnish group of the same name). This disco combo had a modest hit with it in 1978. The song was written by famous Dutch songwriting duo Janschen & Janschens. Their real names were Hans van Hemert and Piet Souer, respectively. Hans also produced this song and Piet arranged it.
We leave now the 'death songs' and here's something completely different. The group Finlanders recorded "Gimme Dat Ding" in 1986 for their album "Haave nainen". Finlanders is a very popular Finnish dance band, formed in the 80's and still going strong. They're playing mainly Finnish schlager songs but some pop covers fit in nicely in their repertoire. The original "Gimme Dat Ding" was a novelty hit for the duo The Pipkins. They were Roger Greenaway (the 'dirty-old-man' voice), best known as a songwriter, and Tony Burrows (the high-pitched voice), a singer who at time fronted such groups as Edison Lighthouse, The Flower Pot Men and The White Plains. The song reached number 6 in the UK Singles Charts and number 9 on the US charts in 1970. The song was written by another famous duo Albert Hammond and Mike Hazlewood. You can read more of the background of the song, here.
In some respect, today's finnpick "Kuin Romeo ja Julia" (Like Romeo and Juliet) shares the theme with yesterday's "Nuori kuolemaan" (Too young to die). In deed, Romeo and Juliet died so very young. The group Pelle Miljoona & Rockers feat. Andy McCoy recorded the song in 1995. Andy was the former member of the famous Finnish rock group Hanoi Rocks and made a short stint with - almost as famous - Pelle Miljoona & Rockers in 1995-1997, making some recordings and one tour. This "Kuin Romeo ja Julia" was released on a Finnish rock compilation album in 1995. The lyrics (by Pelle Miljoona, real name Petri Tiili)) contain references to Andy and his wife Angela, as if depicting them as modern-day Romeo and Juliet. Andy McCoy (real name Antti Hulkkonen) takes the lead vocals on this one. The original song was the biggest hit of the US rock group Blue Oyster Cult. "Don't Fear The Reaper" was released on the group's 1976 album "Agents of Fortune" and when released as a single, reached number 12 in Billboard Hot 100. The song was written by lead guitarist Donald Roeser and it's about the inevitability of death that one shouldn't be afraid of.
Jukka Raitanen recorded "Nuori kuolemaan" (Too young to die) in 1979. It was released on the B-side of the single "Keikka Ouluun" (cover of Marty Robbins' "El Paso"). Jukka made his breakthrough in 1970 with self-written "Vangin toive" (Prisoner's wish). He had written it while doing time in Konnunsuo prison. Raitanen was quite succesful schlager artist throughout the 70's and is still active in performing. The Finnish lyrics for today's finnpick were written by Raul Reiman, who himself died too young ... The original song "Wanted" became known in Finland when it was played as signature tune in a popular radio morning show. The original name of the tune was "Wanted" and it was performed by Italian group Doogy degli Armorium. Doogy was a guest artist (the whistler?) for this one and a follow-up single. But Armonium was a rock group formed 1975 and still active today. The "Wanted" song was written by Armonium's keyboardist Franco Zulian and guitarist Vincenzo Stavolo.
Anki Lindqvist recorded "Päivän vain" (For only a day) for her album "Sateen jälkeen" in 1967. For some reason the song was never released as a single. Two other Finnish versions of the same song were released in that same year. But none of those became a hit. The Finnish lyrics (used by all three) were provided by Juha Vainio. The original song "Walk With Me" was written by singer-songwriter and producer Tom "Dusty's Brother" Springfield. The Seekers had a big hit with it in 1966. It peaked at 10 in the UK and at 31 in Australia in October of 1966. In January 1967 The Seekers achievements were recognised at the highest level in their homeland when they were named Australians of the Year, becoming the first popular musicians to be so honoured.
Now that major part of Finland has finally been covered with snow, I find it appropiate to present this song. Päivi Paunu released "Lumilintu" (Snowbird) in 1971 as a single. It was arranged by Rauno Lehtinen and the Finnish lyrics were written by Chrisse Johansson. The original song "Snowbird" came from Canada, It was written by Gene MacLelland, who wrote also "Put Your Hand in the Hand" (finnpicked here) and made popular by Anne Murray. The song was on her second studio album "This Way Is My Way" issued in 1969. In 1970 the song reached number 8 on the US pop singles chart. You can hear Gene perform his version of the song, here.
We presented Vesa-Matti Loiri's "Voi saasta" song here. On the B-side of this 1970 single was "Valtakunnallinen toveruusviikko" (National brotherhood week). The Finnish lyrics (by Sauvo "Saukki" Puhtila") referenced to some real then-day Finnish celebrities by their real name. The idea of the song was of course the same as in the original: there should be one designated week of the year when even the most bitter enemies would be friends/brothers. The original song was the namesake "National Brotherhood Week", and it is one of the most famous songs of the American satirist Tom Lehrer. Lehrer does not name names, with one exception: The line "Lena Horne and Sheriff Clark are dancing cheek to cheek" refers to singer and civil rights activist Lena Horne and to Sheriff Jim Clark, of Selma, Alabama, who was responsible for a violent attack on civil rights marchers. You can see Tom present the song - with oral introduction - here.In this live concert version "Cassius Clay dances cheek to cheek with Mrs (Lurleen) Wallace", the Governor of Alabama, who strongly opposed to racial desegration in Alabama.
Kari Tapio passed away excatly one year ago. To commemorate this late great singer, Finnpicks presents Kari's first solo single "Tuuli kääntyköön" (May the wind turn) from the year 1972. The Finnish lyrics were written by Pertsa Reponen and the arrangements were done by Esko Linnavalli. Kari's manly voice was already blooming. The original song was called "Una Favola Blu" (A blue fairytale) and it was the debut single and a modest Italian hit for Italian singer/songwriter Claudio Baglioni in 1970. The song was again riding the charts in 1971 when covered by Jose Feliciano. You can hear his interpretation here. In my humble opinion, Kari Tapio's version is best of these three ...
Today is the 94th Independence Day of Finland. Finnpicks gives this musical birthday rose to Finland. Tauno Palo was probably the most popular Finnish male actor ever. In addition to acting he recorded several songs, of which this "Ruusu on punainen" (The rose is red) is most famous. It was released in 1967 and became a well-deserved hit. The Finniah lyrics were provided by Sauvo "Saukki" Puhtila and the arranghement was done by Aarno Raninen. The anti-war lyrics depict the various wars the Finns have been involved in. And reminds us that bloodshed has not been in vain, however, Finland being now independent country. The original song - or chanson - was of German origin and was called "Die Rose War Rot" (The rose was red). It was released in the then-day DDR in 1966 and interpreted by German TV- and film actor Gerry Wolff. You can see Gerry perform the song at the Polish Sopot Music Festival, here.
Mona Carita recorded the song with an odd name, "Retkussa on meidän Meikkis" (Our Meikkis is tied up in love), in 1980 and it was released as a track on her "Soita mulle" album. The Finnish lyrics were from the pen of Raul Reiman, and the arrangement of the song was in the capable hands of Veikko Samuli. The original song was called "Under Fire" and it was a 1979 Euro -hit for the South African all-girl band Clout. The song was written by songwriting duo Brian Robertson and Terry Britten. Robertson did some succesful records as a singer under name B. A. Robertson and Britten wrote some of the Tina Turner's biggest hits. You can see Clout perform "Under Fire", here.
This Finnpick is very 'up-to-date', simply because it's called "Tänään on sunnuntai" (Today is Sunday). Tuula Siponius recorded the song on 1960, and it was released on the B-side of her hit single "Tom Pillibi". The arranger and the conductor of the backing orchestra was Jaakko Borg. The Finnish lyrics were written by Reino Helismaa using one of his many pseudonyms, Rauni Kouta. The original song "Oh Lonesame Me" was written and performed by country legend Don Gibson, with Chet Atkins producing in 1958. The song topped the US country chart and reached number 7 on the Billboard Hot 100. The single was one of the all-time greatest, because on the B-side was "I Can't Stop Loving You", that became massive success for Ray Charles 4 years later. You can see Don perform "Oh Lonesame Me", here.
This Finnpick should have published yesterday, as a part of Frederik Friday -series. But I didn't have time to post it, so here it is somewhat belated. Frederik recorded "Teen niin kuin teen " (I'll do as I please) in 1978 for his album "Tuu jo tangoon". The Finniah lyrics - taylor-made for Frederik - were provided by Chrisse Johansson. The original song was also performed by Frederik, i.e. a Belgian–Italian singer Frederic Francois (b. Francesco Barracato), who wrote and sang "Valentino" in 1978. You can see him perform the song, here.
Yesterday we presented a song that told about friendship ("Ystävyys"). Today follows a song that deals with honesty, the base of all in friendship. The group ELF (Eric Lars Four) (see earlier entry) recorded "Rehellisyys" (Honesty) in 1979 for their album "Tarantella Joe". The Finnish lyrics were written by Raul Reiman. The original song was also called "Honesty" and it written and performed by Billy Joel, who had a worldwide hit with it in 1979. It was the third single from his album "52nd Street", and it reached number 24 on the US Billboard Hot 100. Phil Ramone was responsible for the production. For some reason the song was especially popular in japan and Korea. You can see Billy perform the song, here.