Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Marlene Deitrich - Live at the Cafe de Paris


"We know God made trees, and the birds and the bees,
And seas for the fishes to swim in.
We are also aware he had quite a flair,
For creating exceptional women."

Before Madonna there was Marlene. This album, from 1954, is the live recording of Marlene's legendary opening night at London's Cafe de Paris. The verse above is part of the introductory patter written and delivered in person by Noel Coward himself.

Marlene's music arranger was non other than the high llama of lounge, Burt Bacharach. His arrangements disguised the narrow range of Marlene's voice, and allowed for the maximum theatricality in her delivery. In an age of bobby-sox and Doris Day, Marlene was wearing outfits made of a fabric called souffle (alas no longer manufactured) which in her words "had the effect of making me look naked even when I was dressed".

Sometimes she would dress in top-hat and tails and sing love songs to the women in the audience. In short, an entertainer ahead of her time. And, after all, anyone who can get Noel Coward in to warm up the crowd must have something going for them.



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Mr Snookles