LEONA ANDERSON - MUSIC TO SUFFER BY (remastered)
CATALOGUE NUMBER JBH037CD
In the canon of terrible and terrifying singers, Leona Anderson reigns supreme. Sandwiched perfectly between Mrs Miller and Florence Foster Jenkins, this 1958 recording badly needs to be heard by anyone with a sense of humour, and also by anyone with no humour at all. From the classic Rats In My Room to the swinging Limburger Lover (possibly the greatest song about cheese ever sung), Miss Anderson is faultless in her extraordinary timing and musical execution. Every song here is magic, made even more so by the most perfect orchestra, who add humour and a true sense of importance to what has to be the best worst album of all time. And here it is, for the first time in all its remastered glory, so it now sounds even more glorious.
Recently I tried to remember where I first got hold of a copy of Music To Suffer By. I think it might have been from Intoxica in the mid 1990s. The photos on the reverse of the sleeve showed her in full musical flow, yodelling and beautifully bonneted. I loved the pictures so much I wanted to meet her. Then I heard the record and immediately wanted to hear her live. This was not to be as Leona passed away aged 89 in 1973.
With the album always within easy reach, I would often torture my wife with it, and occasionally plant the album’s devilish musical hooks into unexpecting visitor’s minds. The only other time I heard the recording was on the Danny Baker radio shows, Leona being the perfect musical foil to Danny’s wildly creative banter.
Since then I have notice the album has appeared on blogs, as rough downloads and as straight forward downloads too. But I also notice no one had really bothered to remaster the album at all. So we did. And here it is in all its insane glory, sounding worse than ever.
Here’s the terrible tracklist
1. I love Paris
3. Hep Cat
4, Habanera from “Carmen”
5. Il Bacio
6. Tell Me A Tale
7. Indian Love Call
8. Limburger Lover
9. Giannina Mia
10. Rats In My Room
11. Yo Ho The Crow
12. Italain Street Song
And here are the original sleevenotes
Less you hasten to place this record on your phonograph (in an unguarded moment) for the muted background entertainment of dinner guests, or perhaps just droppers-by, a word of advice to those who perchance fall in the category of the more ardent lovers of the arts…in this case, music (?)…EN GARDE!!!
Vocal coaches throughout the world are still recuperating from their fruitless attempts to make a singer out of LEONA ANDERSON…who, after exhausting the best available teachers in the country, headed for Europe to continue her search for a master musician of vocal vitalization! But from her every tonal-tutor came the same comment, “Woest voice I’ve ever heard! Try the piano…or bass violin, maybe?” And so, Leona finally threw in the towel and downheartedly headed back to New York, through with singing and singing teachers forever! But hardly two months had gone by ‘til the dejected diva happened to read a news item about a search for “the worst voice in the world” and, with more than enough “references” to literally guarantee her uncontested quality, Leona applied for the job and from that moment on has worn the undisputed crown of “THE WORLDS MOST HORRIBLE SINGER”.
Nothing delights foggy (or should we say froggy) voiced Leona more than for people to tell her how badly she sings…”the badder, the better” she chirps! The kid sister of Bronco Billy Anderson, silent picture star, has been wailing (that’s a pretty good word for it!) for many a moon, never giving an inkling to her age…word has it when the Dutch purchased Manhattan Island from the Indians, a Miss Anderson gave a most admirable performance at the Ceremonies!
From her debut at 15 in a George M. Cohan revue, Leona first pursued a serious operatic career before her switch to satire landed her a starring roles in such movies as “In The Park” and a burlesque with Stan Laurel on “Blood and Sand” titled “Mud and Sand.” Between film assignments, radio shows and club dates kept Leona on a steady trek back and forth across the country. Her “assault and battery” song stylings won out over the other facets of her busy career and her first recording “FISH,” cased a mild earthquake in the music business! The critics screamed, “She can’t sing a note!”…ah, but they spoke in haste, for in truth, Miss Anderson has mastered one full note…and confidently predicts that before the year is out, she’ll be giving top coloraturas some stiff competition with TWO full, pear-shaped tones!
The St. Louis messo-with-method in her madness is a lovable lady with a delightful way of kidding herself while, simultaneously poking fun at the opera singers…the way they “slur up and down…prolong notes and pronounce simple words with such an over-abundance of emotion.” Leona’s rolling of an “r” closely resembles the sounds of a rapid-firing machine gun! The “chan-tootsie” says, “Opera singers just can’t kid themselves properly…they can never let their voices go.” But Leona has the advantage…she really lets her voice go, and in fact, hasn’t been able to get it back again!
It’s been said that there is an art in being consistently bad, and if so, this is a collection of a true artist who’s top in her field…so, brace yourself for “Music To Suffer By”…for this is LEONA ANDERSON at her WORST…which is actually at her BEST!!