Wednesday, June 09, 2010


You've heard Priscilla Paris sing. She's the girl who crooned "I Love How You Love Me," a killer single from Phil Spector. That was back when she was the lead singer for The Paris Singers. A bit later, she went solo for a few delightful albums.

Before there was Claudine Longet, there was Paris.

One of the earliest of the "breathy-sexy" singers in pop, Priscilla guided her sisters away from their manager's initial vision: a teen version of the aging Andrews Sisters. At first, The Paris Sisters recorded horrid tunes such as "Daughter Daughter" on Decca in 1954. A more tolerable single was "Zorch Boogie"/"The Bully Bully Man" on Cavalier…reflecting the influence of hipsters like Harry Gibson, Red Blanchard and Nervous Norvus (who wrote "The Bully Bully Man").

Phil Spector recognized Priscilla's potential as a lead vocalist and re-made the trio into intimate pop crooners. They never topped their 1961 hit "I Love How You Love Me," but did issue a lot of delicious musical bonbons, including some unusual cover versions such as a dreamy version of Bobby Darin's "Dream Lover" and a soft and tearful take on Lesley Gore's bawling, fast-paced "It's My Party."

The "sex kitten" was a fairly recent phenomenon, via Brigitte Bardot in France and Carroll Baker ("Baby Doll") in America, but an audio version? Julie London didn't sing like a sex kitten; her voice was soft, intimate but very adult. Marilyn Monroe was the closest, delivering breathy vocals in several films, but at the time nobody rated her singing highly and she had no hit singles. So you might make a case for Priscilla as being one of the first.

1967, the same year Priscilla sang "It's My Party" on the group's neglected "Under the Sun" WB/Reprise album, she issued "Priscilla Sings Herself," testing a solo career. In 1968 the sisters turned up on GNP-Crescendo for an ill-fated single, "Stand Naked, Clown," with the flip-side a cover version of the theme song for "The Ugliest Girl in Town," a failed sitcom about a guy who dresses in drag to become London's most successful new fashion model. (Twiggy's popularity contributed to the idea, and the lyric declaring "You don't have to be a Mia or Sophia, this is the year of the clown…")

Priscilla went solo, recording two more indie albums including your download below, "Priscilla Loves Billy," which was a curiously misspelled tribute to "Billie" Holiday. The album's one smooth mp3 file, so you can listen to it as originally intended; perfect for a romantic half-hour in the bedroom or the dining room. Or in the bathroom, if your tub is built for two.

For those who feel that Billie Holiday's style gets very annoying within two or three songs, Priscilla's versions will be more satisfying…they're more intimate and romantic, and not gimmicked up via one-trick jazz phrasing (Billie's predictable habit of emphasizing one word of a chosen song line and singing it higher or longer than the writer intended).

It took nearly ten years before she made her third and final solo disc, "Love is…Priscilla Paris." After this, Priscilla actually moved to Paris, where she ran a company called Telamerique, which coached the French on overcoming the cultural differences between themselves and their coveted American tourists. This would be the perfect place for a side remark, except to judge from my own experiences in Paris, Priscilla must've successfully coached a lot of the people I met over there. Although my French pronunciation seemed good enough for many natives to instantly smile and speak a lot faster than I could comprehend.

Priscilla was only 59 when she passed on, in March of 2004, leaving behind both her two sisters Sherrell and Albeth and two sons, Edan and Seth. And since you probably have some curiosity about that last Paris Sisters single, you can hear that in a separate Rapid-download zip file…along with "It's My Party" and one of their first tracks, the Andrews Sisters-type novelty "The Bully Bully Man."
UPDATE, the Rapidshare links have expired, and bandwidth is a little too precious to re-up the entire "Paris Loves Billy" album...but...the Rapidshare link for the four songs in the zipfile has been replaced via



A Man and A Mouse said...

Great post. I would love a copy of the Oddities ZIP. Is it still available?

Frankie Valli said...

Please be so kind as to re-upload these to the BOX. Would love it ...

Ill Folks said...

March 20, 2014 -- the Four oddball songs have been re-upped to the more stable BOX cloud.