The very first LP album that I ever bought with some pocket money was double LP titled "Eurovision winners 1956-1981" and it shows what a good little boy I was, when what appealed to me was nothing remotely rebellious or angry but a very tame, old-fashioned compilation that for some reason called my name. No doubt, little kids today would go for some rap or head-splitting rhythms but cute, little goodie two shoes wanted and got himself a compilation of Eurovision winners that got me swooning to radio oldies. Today I find this incredibly cute and surely it defined my later music taste that privately always tended to lean towards easy listening even though from time to time I try to branch elsewhere and in my fact my music collection has everything from Jaco Pastorius to Willie Nelson and Muddy Waters but sooner or later I will eventually go back to Eurovision and its archives. Out from sheer curiosity I did some research who else performed on these stages besides the winners and trough last few years discovered some wonderfully obscure favourites, whom I tried to highlight in previous posts but what really delighted me were earliest decades - the moment when I arrived in 1980s music didn't really excite me anymore and it could be the ubiquitous synthesisers dampened my enthusiasm but now I discovered another twist to my research: cover versions of Eurovision songs as recorded by contemporary international artists in their languages. Not just winners (that would be expected) but all the wonderful, less known material that appealed to various audiences and was translated & repackaged everywhere from Estonia to Hungary. I actually didn't have idea that Eurovision had such strong effect and impact all over the continent.
First surprise was French cover of Swiss 1956. winner "Refrain" that I know all my life as recorded by Lys Assia, who recorded it in both French and German but apparently it was recorded instantly by French artist Cora Vaucaire and she gives it such a beautiful, particularly French tenderness & charm that its absolutely delightful, sounds as completely new song. In her hands its a smoky, old-fashioned French chanson like something Édith Piaf would have done.
"Net als toen" was covered (amongst others) in Germany by Margot Eskens who sounds so much like Vera Lynn to me that I actually had to check out who is singing. Melody is still close enough to original, but its just exciting to hear it now upside down in another language.
Nora Brockstedt from Norway had her go at French 1958. winner "Dors mon amour" and its still same song but sounds very pretty in this unusual language + she had truly beautiful voice that is joy to hear. She actually had her own Eurovision moment just a few years later, although another singer from Norway (Inger Jacbsen) might be my favourite from what I heard so far.
In Finland, Seija Karpiomaa had covered contagious 1959. Dutch swinging winner and she is lovely although the original was far more coquettish and kittenish - Karpiomaa had different, more womanly and sonorous voice that might strange at first, but she swings admirably and its just great fun to hear the song in another language.
1960. winner "Tom Pillibi" always sounded too much like some children cartoon theme to my ears to take it seriously and no wonder Julie Andrews recorded it herself, because it could have been Disney music but Spanish artist José Guardiola did admirable job singing in Catalan and I genuinely love it for the sheer novelty of it. There is equally cute version as recorded by Dutch artist, than very young Willeke Alberti who sounds just like original.
A song that didn't win and even failed to get my interest initially from 1961. was covered by Dutch duo Die Blue Diamonds as "Ahoi Ohe" and I find it so infectious that now I wonder what was I thinking when I didn't notice it before. Its a beautiful, sunny little joy of a song, very uplifting and shoe tapping.
Another song that I didn't notice before was this one from 1962. recorded as "Ring-Dingeding" by Dutch guy called Hans Boskamp and it sounds so sweetly innocent & featherlight in the best sense of the word, that I find it irresistible. The biggest Eurovision loser that year was German "Zwei kleine Italiener" that sounded as a surefire winner but that one was covered so many times that I eventually found it annoying, even though there is a nice Spanish version by Gelu.
Danish 1963. winner "Dansevise" is deservedly a classic and personally I think its one of the prettiest songs ever performed on Eurovision, here covered by duo from Estonia and they are fine, although slightly less seductive - note by note it follows the original, but the fact that its a different voice makes it shade less brilliant. That was one of the strongest years in history of Eurovision and I particularly love Spanish José Guardiola with "Es maravilloso" which was cover of UK entry.
... to be continued!