“Baby, come and swing with me!”
When that invitation was extended by the flame-haired siren known as Ann-Margret, who could resist? Cherry Red’s El label has recently reissued two of the sultry entertainer’s classic RCA Victor albums on one CD: Songs from The Swinger and Other Swingin’ Songs, and the soundtrack to her starring vehicle, The Pleasure Seekers, to create one happily nostalgic musical time capsule for fans of music and movies alike.
Ann-Margret Olsson of Valsjobyn, Sweden honed her fiery, exciting onstage style as a high school student in the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois before earning her stripes on stages in California and Nevada. While playing Las Vegas in 1960, she caught the eye of George Burns and earned a place in his act at the Sahara’s Congo Room. The engagement led within weeks to a stunning fourteen-page, Life magazine photo spread, a recording contract with RCA, and a movie deal with 20th Century Fox. For Ann-Margret, there was no turning back.
She remained at RCA through 1966, recording six proper studio albums (including a collaborative effort with Dixieland trumpeter Al Hirt) as well as scoring a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist and three chart hits. Ann-Margret also appeared on RCA’s soundtrack to Bye Bye Birdie and was featured on the label’s various-artists compilations and tribute albums.
Songs from The Swinger (1966), which leads off El’s two-fer, was the incandescent starlet’s final RCA long-player. George Sidney, director of Bye Bye Birdie and Viva Las Vegas, helmed The Swinger. The film emphasized Ann-Margret’s image as a vixen, this time with the rather close-to-home name of Kelly Olsson. The film is best-remembered today for a sequence in which she was covered in body paint and used as a human paintbrush (!). The album, recorded in May and August 1966, reunited Ann-Margret with arranger-conductor Marty Paich (with whom she had previously recorded at RCA), composer of the film’s score.
Ann-Margret’s zesty performances of André and Dory Previn’s groovy title theme “The Swinger” (arranged by young John, or “Johnny,” Williams), “I Wanna Be Loved” (with a Quincy Jones chart) and “That Old Black Magic” were all heard in the Paramount picture, while her delicious readings of additional standards like “More,” “That Old Black Magic,” “The Good Life,” and Neal Hefti’s “Cute” rounded out the album. “You Came a Long Way from St. Louis” even got a “Day Tripper”-style riff, while “After the Lights Go Down Low” showcased the singer at her most smoky and suggestive. Though billed as an Ann-Margret solo album, Songs From The Swinger also boasted some of Paich’s melodic and brassy score cues for the film.
Though sequenced second on the CD, the soundtrack to The Pleasure Seekers actually came first, in 1964. In the Madrid-set romance, Ann-Margret starred as young American traveler Fran Hobson in a cast including Anthony Franciosa, Pamela Tiffin, Carol Lynley, Gene Tierney, and Brian Keith. The renowned, Academy Award-winning team of Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen penned four songs for her to sing in the film, all of which appeared on RCA’s soundtrack album including the title track and “Next Time.” The album also featured Lionel Newman’s frothy and atmospheric, “lounge”-style instrumental cues from the movie.
A 12-page color booklet briefly sets out the history of both films. These original RCA albums have been licensed from Sony Music Entertainment for this sparkling new reissue. The ever-vivacious Ann-Margret is still lighting up the screen today; she’s part of the star-studded cast of Going in Style with Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, and Alan Arkin. Songs From The Swinger/The Pleasure Seekers lives up to its titles, for there’s plenty of swinging pleasure to be derived from Ann-Margret’s saucy, sexy and timeless performances. You can order this new two-for-one CD at the links below, and if it’s more Ann-Margret you’re after, don’t forget to check out Real Gone Music’s new release of the 2-CD RCA anthology The Definitive Collection!
- The Swinger
- By Myself
- I Just Want to Make Love to You
- Swinger’s Holiday
- You Came a Long Way from St. Louis
- The Good Life
- After the Lights Go Down Low
- I Wanna Be Loved
- Kelly’s Dance
- That Old Black Magic
- Madrid/The Pleasure Seekers (Vocal by Ann-Margret)
- Blue Moon Cha-Cha
- Next Time (Vocal by Ann-Margret)
- Romantic Bossa Nova
- Tender Moment
- The Pleasure Seekers Bossa Nova
- Something to Think About (vocal by Ann-Margret)
- The Terrace
- Costa Del Sol
- Everything Makes Music When You’re in Love (vocal by Ann-Margret)
- Prado Museum
- End Title: The Pleasure Seekers
Tracks 1-12 from Songs from The Swinger and Other Swingin’ Songs, RCA Victor LSP-3710, 1966
Tracks 13-26 from The Pleasure Seekers: Original Soundtrack Recording, RCA Victor LSO-1101, 1964