Monday, March 12, 2012

WHM 2012 Connie Francis

If you hear the name Connie Francis you probably think of "Who's Sorry Now?" or "Where The Boys Are." However, during her peak popularity she sang almost everything: rock, country, and pop (pap) standards. And she and Brenda Lee battled it out on the charts for Most Popular Female Vocalist for years.

Connie hit big in early 1958 with "Who's Sorry Now?" and followed that up with a dozen top-ten hits, including two consecutive number one hits in 1960: "Everybody's Somebody's Fool" and "My Heart Has a Mind of Its Own" in June & September. She recorded several of her songs in Spanish, German, Italian, and other languages in order to sell more copies in Europe. She was one of the first truly international stars.

What's fun for me as a pseudo musical historian is to know the actual records and compare them to the live shows I can find on youtube. In the late Fifties and early Sixies it seems that most singles are wilder than their "live" performance let on. For example, listen & watch the following live version of Connie Francis singing, "Lipstick On Your Collar" from an episode of The Dick Clark Show (aka The Saturday Night Beechnut Gum Variety Show). It sounds like the original audio track here has been switched out with the actual single. That's fine; except for the silly "nya-nya-nya" at the beginning, this is one rocking record. Afte you listen to that, come back and listen to THIS, an actual live recording of "Lipstick" from some nameless TV show circa Spring, 1959. Can you hear how the show's arranger has taken out the guitars completely and made it more of a "standard" pop song? It sucks! The same was done for this live version of "Everybody's Somebody's Fool". I absolutely hate how those horn were added! If I were to hazard a guess, I would say this was done so that the parents (in charge of the one television in the home at that time) would not get up and change the channel, haha. "Those kids and their damn rock and roll music!!" Unfortunately, it has the historic result of watering down what was, at the time, the closest kids had to "hip" music. :-(

Listening to this stuff now I think it has a certain charm. Also, as pre-Beatles singers go she definitely has more of an edge than, say, Pat Boone or Chubby Checker. Sure, Connie Francis is never going to be in the same "rebel" class as Janis Joplin or Cass Elliot, but I do think it's fair to mention her in the same breath as Karen Carpenter or Dione Warwicke. Don't you?

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