Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Genres: Jazz, Special Interest, Pop, R&B, Broadway & Vocalists
Similarly Requested CDs
Infectious, Bubbly Forgotten Fun
James Morris | Jackson Heights, NY United States | 12/23/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"When I was 15, I was already as gay as a picnic basket and totally out of the closet. My best friend in the world at that time was a very pretty and rather effeminate Italian boy named Carmine, and we spent our after school afternoons giggling and laughing and having ourselves a campy old time. One day, while rummaging through Carmine's mother's attic, we came upon a stack of old 78 records. As nostalgia was very much "in" in our circles in the late 1960's, we pulled them down and began to play them. They were mostly well-known pop songs by singers of yesteryear that even we had heard of; people like Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney and Al Jolson. None of what we found that day got us too excited, but we appreciated and respected the old masters for their place in popular culture anyway. Suddenly, at the bottom of the pile, we came upon a name unfamiliar to us - Rose Murphy, but she was singing a song that we did know, I Can't Give You Anything But Love. What the hell, we said, let's give it a spin.
Carmine placed the record on the turntable, and a piano started playing in a most engaging and peppy style (we did not know at the time that Rose herself was playing that happy instrument). After a few moments we heard what sounded like a few contented sighs, and a breath, and suddenly out came the most child-like, infectious and joyous voice I have ever heard, then or since. In a high, screechy but definitely serious manner, Rose Murphy informed us that she couldn't give us anything but -- Chee-chee. What? There, she said it again - Chee-chee. We looked at each other, and instinctively knew we had struck gold. Ms. Murphy continued to entertain us for a full two minutes and seventeen seconds that seemed like - well, rather like a party that had gone on for hours but only felt like moments; the kind of party that you want to go on all night and never end. But end it did, rather abruptly, with a long piano flourish and a fade out. We almost tripped over each other scrambling to be the first to put the needle back to the beginning of the record. In our quest for some "new" and exciting "old" music, we had hit camp pay dirt, for one listen was all we needed to convince ourselves that Rose Murphy possessed one of the "campiest" singing voices we had ever heard. The flip side of the 78 (I've long since forgotten what it was) was equally joyous, but we played the main side over and over that summer of 1967 or 1968, until Carmine's mother's 78 of Rose Murphy was nearly worn to dust. I tried desperately to find some more Rose Murphy on a long-playing vinyl album, but I never succeeded in finding either a complete album of her music, or even any more information about her (in fact, all Carmine's mother was able to volunteer was that Rose Murphy's rendition of I Can't Give You Anything But Love had been very popular when first released, but she knew nothing else about her, and wasn't even sure what year the record was a hit). With time, she faded from my mind almost entirely.
A full thirty years later or so I was browsing for Christmas presents in a NY music superstore, when in the "vocal" department I suddenly saw the name Rose Murphy on this CD. Instantly, I remembered that hot simmer day and our quest for some fun to pass our afternoons. I grabbed the CD and anxiously scanned the tracklist, actually holding my breath while I checked to see if it contained that song which we had found so enchanting so many years before. YES! The lead track was indeed I Can't Give You Anything But Love, and without hardly giving it a thought, I bought three copies on the spot (the price was quite reasonable).
I gave two copies to friends for Christmas, and like the vampires of Salem's Lot, they multiplied themselves tenfold, as the friends I gave them to played them at Christmas parties, and wound up having to procure more copies for almost all their delighted guests. I myself went back one week later and bought every copy left in the store, and then went back for more when the store was re-stocked.
So what's the deal with Ms. Rose Murphy that she should inspire this frenzy of CD purchases? There is only one word to describe her, and that word is FUN.
The history of Ms. Murphy is rather sketchy, although I did learn that (sadly) she passed away in November 1989. It turns out that her recording of I can't Give You Anything But Love was as popular as Carmine's mother remembered; at the height of her popularity, even Ella Fitzgerald was doing Rose Murphy imitations in her act. As I finally found out, these tracks were recorded in November and December of 1947.
Like many old singers, there are legends concerning her style that may or may not be true. The most popular being that she stumbled on her signature phrase when she momentarily forgot the words to the title line of her biggest hit, substituting the word "chee-chee" for "love". I doubt it, but it's a fun story anyway. She never attained a great deal of respect in the Jazz world, which is a shame, for in spite of her jovial and somewhat comic approach to singing, she is a genuine talent as well as a serious musician and entertainer. Another legend is her famous "beat board" - she couldn't afford to hire a rhythm section to back her up, so legend has it that she nailed one end of two boards together with a spring in-between, and tapped them together with her free foot to keep time while playing the piano. I'm not sure I'd believe that story either if I hadn't heard it myself - you can hear the "beat board" plainly on almost every track on this CD, and it's exactly how you would imagine such a device would sound.
But the music! Ms. Murphy does not sing so much as she chirps; she also sighs and giggles her way through her repertoire. Her sound is totally unique; her voice is not so much a vocal as it is a high-pitched flutter, and her piano playing is amazingly suited to her upbeat, happy-go-lucky style. Even if you have never heard her before, I absolutely guarantee that the first track alone will put a smile on your face from ear to ear, and your foot will be tapping along with her beat board (that is, if you can restrain yourself from outright dancing). Virtually all of the 12 tracks on this CD are done in the same effervescent style, which somehow never gets tired. Besides the hit aforementioned track, my favorite are The Best Things In Life Are Free (a song so remarkably suited to her style you'd swear it as written for her) Coquette, My Blue Heaven and Cecilia.
Although she faded from the limelight and was soon forgotten by much of the public after these songs were hits, she continued to record for Decca, Verve and Untied Artists records almost up to the time of her death. I have acquired several more of her CD's since purchasing this one; although they are all fun, none of the later material quite compares with the tracks on this album, which are the original hits that made her an overnight sensation in 1948.
Rose "Chee-Chee" Murphy Swings Again!
Alan Eichler | Hollywood, CA United States | 06/13/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"What a treat for fans of Rose "Chee-Chee" Murphy! All of her biggest Majestic hits remastered in state-of-the-art digital sound on a sparkling new CD. A must for any good jazz or "ultra-lounge" collection. A new generation will just eat her up! Great infectious fun..."