Diana Krall Glad Rag Doll

The cover of Glad Rag Doll  Good grief woman, you're 47!  Impressive!

We love Diana Krall and not just because she comes from Vancouver (well, Nanaimo which is just across the water on Vancouver Island).  However, we can't get away from the fact that many of her songs have been the soundtrack to our friendship with S from that fine city.  Indeed, so identified is she with British Colombia that when we stayed at the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel in Vancouver for the first time they had Diana Krall CDs to play in the CD player in the room. 

Triple P's suite at the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel 2007

That said, we don't like all her albums equally and she does tend to go off and do something a bit "arty" every once in a while.  This could well be the case with the forthcoming Glad Rag Doll which comes out next week (except in Britain where we have to wait another fortnight).  Supposedly it has a twenties/thirties feeling about it and the visual inspiration for the cover and accompanying publicity photographs were the photographs by Alfred Cheney Johnstone (1885-1971) of Ziegfield girls from the twenties.

A 17 year old Barbara Stanwyck (1924) by Alfred Cheney Johnston 

The more successful Krall became the more she had to suffer the stylists of her record label but this effort exceeds even the leg-flashing cover of The Look of Love.  Oscar winning costume designer Colleen Attwood (she's won three times, including for Chicago) worked with photographer Mark Seliger to produce these very theatrical images.

The problem for Diana is the perpetual one for a popular artist in keeping your public happy but not getting bored as an artist.  The Look of Love, with its slitheringly slinky strings, upset many of her more traditional jazz fans but it went ballistic worldwide.  The Girl in the Other Room, much of which she co-wrote with husband Elvis Costello, was a more personal and less commercial album and it is noteworthy that her next three CDs were a Christmas album, a collection of standards and a follow up to her bossa nova themed The Look of Love.

So, will we like the new one, which is being heralded as something different?  We have managed to listen to bits of it and the sound is very forward, with her piano sounding quite honky tonk in style.  It's twenties and thirties in style but not the twenties and thirties of New York or Hollywood but the bluesy twenties and thirties of the Dust Bowl and the depression. We're not sure, to be honest, but her chocolatey contralto can usually overcome most of our doubts.

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Andy Williams - December 3rd 1927-September 25th 2012

We have written at length before (here  here and here) of our hatred of Andy Williams' Christmas song It's the most wonderful time of the year and how it almost sent us mad in 2008, when we were on an extended trip to North America.

Still, his death yesterday does reduce the list of surviving classic crooners somewhat (with probably only Tony Bennett left now) as Williams had a remarkably long-lived career (even appearing on Strictly Come Dancing a few years ago).  

We have rather more Andy Williams in our music collection than we had imagined (even discounting Andy Williams' Christmas Album which Agent DVD bought us as a (successful) wind up).  Can't take my eyes off you (1968), Almost there (1965) and Can't get used to losing you (1963) even feature on our cocktail/lounge playlist to accompany drinking Martinis in expensive Canadian hotels with S from Vancouver.

In a rather more frenetic mood we also enjoy Music to Watch Girls By (1967); a classic piece of sixties grooviness with a great brass sound in the Herb Alpert tradition.  This had originally been released as an instrumental by The Bob Crewe Generation who heard it as a demo jingle for Pepsi (Pepsi did eventually use it to back their commercials entitled "Come Alive! You're in the Pepsi Generation!").  The Williams version copied the Crewe orchestration almost exactly although the vocal version goes at a slightly faster pace which gives it more punch than Crewe's original, rather more laid back, pace.  Crewe, co-incidentally, wrote Can't take my eyes off you. He also wrote the soundtrack to the equally groovy Barbarella and writing with Bob Gaudio penned many of Frankie Valley and the Four Season's big hits.  But we'll forgive him that.

So,  Triple P's thoughts towards Andy Williams are not as negative as his posts on It's the most wonderful time of the year might suggest.  Still can't stand that one, though!

Maybe we'll have a Martini in his honour tonight...
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Strictly Come Dancing returns...with Victoria Pendleton

Agent Triple P can't believe that Strictly Come Dancing has returned again already but it starts up on BBC1 tomorrow.

Despite what the BBC are saying it isn't quite as strong a line up as last year's series but it does have the bonus of Triple P's favourite sportswoman Victoria Pendleton as one of the competitors.

Poor Vicky didn't have as good an Olympics as she had hoped for in her last games winning "only" one gold and a silver.  Still, she is looking pretty good in her delightfully abbreviated Strictly outfits.  We are glad that the BBC isn't bowing down to the cover-up lobby!

We suspect that she may not be the best dancer (how come Denise van Outen is allowed in the show, foxy though she is, when she is a West End actress, singer and dancer?) but the opportunity to see Victoria's magnificent thighs flexing is one not to be missed.


Even better news is the return of terpsichorean totty Ola Jordan who, it was widely rumoured last year, would not be returning because of friction between her husband, James, and the Strictly judges.  We hope we get another catsuit this year!

Karen Hauer

The only bad news, from Triple P's perspective is that lovely Lithuanian-Canadian Katya Virshilas is not returning having been booted out by the BBC for being not famous enough.  Her replacement is Venezuelan dancer and Nicole Scherzinger look-alike Karen Hauer on whom we reserve judgement until we have seen her in motion.

Can't wait!

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A short (s) summer

This summer has been rubbish! A nice young lady in Hanover Street this morning

This has been, according to the Meteorological Office, the wettest summer in Britain for a hundred years.  Only now, really, at the beginning of September, are we getting a bit of warm sunshine as compensation but already it is cool in the mornings and getting dark early in the evening.

Warm sunshine this morning but for how much longer?

Today Agent Triple P was out and about in London and all the girls were out in their summer outfits; perhaps conscious of the fact that they will all have to start wrapping up again soon.

A very nice example at Waterloo Station

These summer outfits can greatly enhance Triple P's day but they have been in sadly short supply this year and this is particularly annoying because it is shorts that have been this summer's fashion favourite for young ladies.  Not just large baggy shorts or that horrific item of clothing, culottes, but proper little (mostly) denim shorts.  They are the closest we have had to the hotpants of 1971.  A few pairs we have seen are Daisy Duke style cheek-revealing efforts as well.

Back next year? We hope so!

The legs have very much been this year's erogenous zone in the way that the stomach was about ten years ago.   Usually fashions are so mixed that it's hard to tell what is or isn't in fashion in any particular period.  This summer, just like that delightful time a decade ago when hipster jeans first appeared on young women, it has been quite obvious that it is all about legs.  Yes, there have been some fine short skirts but to really make an impression it has to be shorts.  We have to say that, unlike tummies, if you possess a less than perfect pair of pins the effect is not quite as horrific for the casual watcher.  A good tan and nice tone can make up for a lot.    The two ladies above are not supermodel standard by any means but they both look very fetching in their little denim numbers.  Part of it is just having the confidence, we suppose, and these two certainly had that! 

Triple P does feel, however, for those women who don't have good enough legs for very short shorts.  It's tough when this season's fashion means that you just don't feel like you can join in due to your physical make-up which is no fault of your own.  It's tough being a woman in a fashion conscious world.  Men have it a lot easier!

Let's hope that the  fashion hangs on for another summer and that we get some decent hot weather next year!
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Curiosity's picture of Mars

The view from inside Gale Crater

Triple P loves this shot of the Martian landscape from NASA's Curiosity Rover.  So far the pictures from the craft have been a little disappointing with black and white pictures of what look like someone's gravel path.  This, however, is a wonderful view of another planet and a red planet at that!

We covered the launch of the Martian rover on our blog last November and was delighted that the fantastically complex landing sequence all worked perfectly; it really was a a major achievement in space exploration. 

Lynn Collins as Dejah Thoris.  Could have been shot in Gale Crater too!

Back then we mentioned the new John Carter film and opined that we did not have high expectations of it.  The critics agreed and gave it a particularly vitriolic reception; to the extent that Disney lost huge amounts of money on it. When we eventually watched it on DVD, however, we really enjoyed it and overdressed though she was, Lynn Collins' performance as Dejah Thoris was excellent. It's a shame there won't be any more films in the series.

Martian pyramid in Total Recall (1990)

Just opening this week is a (unnecessary) remake of Paul Verhoeven's Total Recall (1990) which we were going to see until we found out that the characters don't go to Mars in it.  How ridiculous!  It was the Martian scenes that made the Schwarzenegger film (and it was very much his film; he had a lot of creative control over it, even down to choice of director).  Indeed, Jerry Goldsmith's excellent score contained some suitably "alien" musical effects that added greatly to the Martian atmosphere (so to speak) of the movie.

Sharon Stone in Total Recall

Likewise, much as we admire the lithe form and elegant features of Kate Beckinsale we really can't see her competing, as hero Quaid's wife, with Sharon Stone in her prime.  

More on Martian princesses another time...
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