Here’s a salute to Jane Morgan, a pleasant pop star who, as tastes began to change, tried to adapt via covers of The Mamas and the Papas and the Young Rascals, among others. OK, this didn’t quite please her older fans, or make many new ones. But these ARE valid interpretations.
Over the years, many older chickens tried to cross over from the middle of the road to the fast lane. Ethel Merman and Cab Calloway tried disco versions of their 78’s, and Bing Crosby tried "Hey Jude" while Frank Sinatra took on "Mrs. Robinson." The road goes in the opposite direction, too, from Pat Boone's heavy metal album to Bob Dylan warbling "Blue Moon" and Rod Stewart recording "The Great American Songbook."
92 year-old Jane Morgan (May 3, 1924) was born with the more evocative monicker of Flo Currier. Sounds like some kind of smoothie at an Indian restaurant, huh? She chose her more commercial name in tribute to two forgotten singers she admired, Janie Ford and Marian Morgan. Oddly enough, she became famous in France, where blonde Americans were scarce. She was signed by Polydor in 1949, and began recording bilingual singles, one side in French, the other in English. She parlayed this voo into gigs in French-speaking Montreal, and then got bookings in nightclubs in New York.
In those days BIG RECORD LABELS (those evil companies run by “The Man,” and whom Pirate Bay still urges us to “stick it to") were always looking for new talent. For Jane Morgan, “the man” was Jewish record exec David Kapp, who first worked at RCA (he was responsible for giving Gogi Grant her odd new name) and then formed Kapp Records. Her debut album was titled “The American Girl from Paris.”
She scored her most famous hit in 1957 with “Fascination.” Into the 60's, her song choices followed Andy Williams (she covered “Moon River”) and Matt Monro (“From Russia with Love”) among others. She was still trying to appeal to French audiences, with “Dominique,” “Poor People of Paris” and “C’est si Bon.”
She began recording for Epic in 1965 and they tried to update her sound with "Fresh Flavor," in 1966. The two songs below are from that album, which had a disappointing photo on the cover (what, no cleavage?) That Doris Day-type picture was not going to win her any fans under 30, and I guess older audiences simply weren't buying a record with unfamiliar song titles like "Monday Monday." Her next album went back to middle of the road songs and a sexy album cover, but she and Epic realized the title was correct: “Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye.”
Jane finished her attempts at hit singles while with RCA. There was the pop tune “Traces,” om 1060. the novelty number “A Girl Named Charlie Cash,” in 1970, and lastly, 1971. “Jamie Boy.” Her last RCA album was the 1970 release “In Nashville,” perhaps an attempt to follow another pop blonde, Patti Page, into more friendly territory.
Yes, most of her output remains of interest to the "easy listening" crowd, a style of music that was never a critics favorite. Jane and others who thrived in that category, rarely sang what could in any way be charitably re-labeled as "jazz," something considered far more worthy. But, although she tended to "swing low," some of her swingin' material does work very well, and hipsters have rescued SOME "easy listening" music and recategorized it as "lounge." Ring a ding ding!
You don’t think of “Good Lovin’” as anything but a hard drivin’ bit of 60’s Rascals rock. Sorry, but Jane’s lounge treatment isn’t sacrilege at all. It does show that basic melody can be interpreted fast or slow.
It’s hard to separate “Monday Monday” from the particular twisted harmonies of the Mamas and the Papas. You remember them: a creepy perv with a too tall hat, an immense blob that people laughed at, an indifferent looking perv without a too tall hat, and a skinny skanky chick that was everyone’s dream of a tough hippie that could somehow be tricked into bed with some superior weed. They basically had only TWO hits, this one and "California Dreaming." The other hit you're thinking of was actually from "Spanky and Our Gang." Anyway...Jane's take is not laughable at all; quite pleasant, in fact. All you sheep who learned to like Sinatra because Dylan was a fan of "Mr. Frank," don't have to feel ashamed for liking this cover version.
Hardly forgotten over the next decades, her music has continued to find an audience on CD, and rather late, 2011, she finally got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. And now, 2017, a mention on the blog of less renown!
Oh what a beautiful mornin' -- MONDAY MONDAY gets relaxed by Jane Morgan Instant download or listen on line. No porn ads, pop-ups, waiting or code numbers.
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