I've spent quite a bit of time re-reading my old posts over the past few days and, if I'm completely honest, I vastly prefer them to most of the shit I've been churning out lately. It's hard to pinpoint the difference but I think somewhere along the way I started showcasing acts that I thought people would enjoy reading about instead of simply worshipping my beloved Z grade divas. As a result, there are several glaring omissions in my archives - one of which I'm hoping to rectify with today's post. I'm really quite ashamed I have yet to mention one lady in particular over the year and a half I've been writing this blog. I'm referring to the legendary Audrey Landers, one of my all time favourite divas and an enduring trash icon of the highest order.
Audrey Landers is probably best known as the glamorous lounge singer from the 1980s super-soap "Dallas". I vaguely remember being enamoured by Audrey's character as a child but I became completely besotted by her when the series was released on DVD a few years ago. Those fabulous 80s fashions, that big hair and most importantly, the completely random ballads that Audrey would belt out almost every episode. There was just something so utterly captivating about Audrey's beautiful voice. I had to learn more about this stunning goddess and quickly discovered trash credentials that would make La Toya blush. Audrey has done it all - starred in Z grade movies, posed for Playboy (with her sister no less!), released more amazing flop albums than Dannii, recorded duets with her 11 year old son and carved out a niche singing Christmas carols on German TV! It would take a week to explore all of Audrey's astonishing achievements, so I'll concentrate on a few of the many highlights.
Appearing in "Dallas" turned Ms Landers into an overnight sensation and it wasn't long before record producers started knocking at her door. Audrey released her first album in 1983 and it proved to be a huge success in Europe on the back of the smash hit single "Manuel Goodbye" (above). A sweet ditty about the end of a holiday romance, the song reached the top 10 in Germany and remains Audrey's signature tune to this very day. "Manuel Goodbye" was followed by the fabulously overwrought ballad "Little River", which tried to cash in on the country music Audrey performed on "Dallas". It might have been a bigger success without the unintentionally hilarious lyrics about drowning children. Audrey returned to her beloved holiday theme for her next single and scored another hit with the relentlessly cheerful and gloriously camp "Playa Blanca". Make sure you watch Audrey perform the song on German TV (below). Mesmerising!!
Realising she was onto a winning combination, Audrey spent most of the 1980s singing about exotic holiday destinations - proving herself to be one of pop music's true iconoclasts in the process! Some of my favourites include "Santo Domingo", "Summernight In Rome", "Honeymoon In Trinidad", "Guantanamera", "Tennessee Nights", "Hideaway Havana", "Santa California", "Chinatown Is In New York", "Sun Of Jamaica" and the unforgettable "Haiti Cherie". No diva in pop history has been better travelled! Sadly, by the late 1980s Audrey's star had started to wane but she carried on regardless, releasing a string of relatively unsuccessful albums in Germany and Austria. They might not have set the charts on fire but "Paradise Generation" and "Secrets" remain two of my favourite pop albums. Audrey had begun to experiment with her sound, mixing synths and keyboards with her beloved Latin rhythms and tender ballads. Favourites from this period include the blissfully ridiculous "Bella Italia" (music does not get any more camp!), "Silverbird" and the stunning "Never Wanna Dance (When I'm Blue)".
Audrey briefly returned to the spotlight in 1990 with the release of the remarkable "Love Me Tender" (also known as "My Dreams For You"). The album delivered the delightful reggae flavoured single "Sun Of Jamaica" as well as a popular cover of ABBA's "Fernando" - a song that Audrey seemed destined to sing given her penchant for Latin romance. Further highlights include the poptastic single "Shine A Light" and the beautiful ballad "For The Rest Of My Life". However, the true gem is the gorgeous "Shadows Of Love". This catchy pop anthem hasn't lost any of its sparkle - the chorus is addictive, the punchy production holds up well and Audrey's voice has never sounded lovelier.
Audrey followed "Love Me Tender" with "Rendez Vous" in 1991 but the album generally lacks the appeal of its predecessor. While not Audrey's finest moment, "Rendez Vous" does offer several fabulous treats. The singles "Santa Maria Goodbye" (above)and "Monte Carlo" are well worth a listen, while "Ballerina" remains one of my favourite guilty pleasures. An hysterical ballad about a porcelain ballerina that comes alive at night, this sublime trash borders on genius! After "Rendez Vous", Audrey disappeared from the music scene for 14 years to raise children and work in television. She made a comeback with a German language album in 2005 (containing the infamous duet with her 11 year old son) and followed that with another dose of German Schlager in 2006. Audrey continues to perform regularly on German TV and recently appeared on the American television series "Burn Notice". The years have been very kind to Audrey. She is still a vision of loveliness and her voice has only improved with age. Hopefully, the success of her nieces (the tragifabulous girlband 2 Girlz) will inspire her to release another English language pop album. The world needs more sun filled tunes about life, love and fabulous holiday destinations!