Twenty years ago, the album Red Hot + Blue was released. It featured the music of American musical theater legend Cole Porter and some of the top acts of the day, all to raise money and awareness for AIDS research. The album contained 20 cuts, and I found 17 videos for those cuts, and for the next several weeks, will be running them in this Monday night spot. The album was thought of as a fundraising tool, it also allowed the artists involved great freedom with their interpretation of Porter's music, making for a wide variety of styles on the album. We shall go through the album in the order that is on my CD, which I did purchase at the time.
Porter was an amazing talent, and some consider him one of the best LGBT songwriters, if not THE best. He started his Broadway career in 1915, when one of his songs appeared in a Broadway Revue. He was just 24 years old. He went on to write songs for the theater like Lets Do It, Let's Fall In Love, What Is This Thing Called Love, and Anything Goes. Despite having a whife of 35 years, most believed him to be gay, and the marriage one between two dear friends who gave one another space and freedom, while gaining both wider acceptance in the greater world at large.
I've Got You Under My Skin was written in 1936 for the MGM musical Born To Dance. Frank Sinatra had a hit with his version, as did the Four Seasons, better known today from Broadway's Jersey Boys. On the album, it was performed by the incredible Nenah Cherry, who retitled it Under My Skin. I loved her take on it, which was very new and fresh [at the time], and oh-so-appropriate for the song.
In The Still Of The Night was written for another MGM musical, this one named Rosalie. Originally published in 1937, the song was covered by countless artists, but the most well-known would be the Doo-Wop group Dion & the Belmonts. On the album, it was covered by The Neville Brothers, featuring the incredible voice of Aaron Neville.
You Do Something To Me was written in 1929 for the show Fifty Million Frenchmen, although more people know it from the cover versions. Everyone from Frank Sinatra to Ella Fitzgerald had sung the song, and on this album, it was the Irish singer Sinead O'Connor who did the duties, and her version is pretty amazing!
The next track was Begin The Beguine, covered by Salif Keita. While a video was made, I was unable to find it. The song was written in 1935, and appeared in the Broadway show Jubilee. Keita is an Afro-Pop singer/songwriter from Mali, and definitely put his own spin on the song. Love For Sale followed, a song that first appeared on the Broadway stage in 1930 in a show called The New Yorkers. It was covered by Billie Holiday in 1945, and Harvey Fierstein in the movie version of Torch Song Trilogy. Here it was covered by Fine Young Cannibals with a rather sultry version. Unfortunately, this is one of two songs that did not have a video.
Written in 1939 for the musical Du Barry Was A Lady and sung by pin-up girl Betty Grable, and later added to the 1956 film High Society, sung by Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby, Well, Have You Evah was classic Porter. On the album, it is performed to perfection by Debbie Harry & Iggy Pop.
Hope you enjoyed this, and I look forward to bringing you more in the coming weeks!