Originally known as the Bagelman Sisters, Claire and Myrna Barry were the queens of the postwar Yiddish swing scene.  Here they are covering Fiddler on the Roof from 1964.

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I have it on good authority that the title of this record is “Bremen Minstrels.” Apart from that, I can’t tell you much (shocker: I don’t speak Russian) except that this has to be the grooviest, funkiest kids record known to man. You will find yourself unconsciously humming these tunes tomorrow, perhaps over your morning cofee, while making that big presentation at the office, or indeed during the consummation of your martial vows. It’s that catchy. From Melodiya, the Soviet state-owned record monopoly.


These Boston boys gratuitously misuse images of Smurfs on their album cover. This album has absolutely nothing to with Smurfs, however– it’s a folksy rendering of some traditional Irish songs and tunes, and a couple of original pieces as well.

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From Finland With LoveThis trio of fine Finnish ladies’ talent is as big as their hair. Why, Maire Tammenlasko (accordionist) also wrote two of the songs on this record (including “Kapakkalaulajatar” or “Cabaret Singer”) and did most of the arrangements. Hannele Lehtonen is the Geddy Lee of the trio, playing bass guitar and singing. Amelita Tammela studied classical cello and piano, but now (or at least in 1974), bangs the drums slowly. These nordic chicks have played in the leading hotels and night clubs throughout Finland, according to the liner notes… and offer “this album to you for your listening and dancing pleasure.”

So put on your Finnish dancing shoes, because we now bring you:

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I need a hat like thoseThere are no credits on the album whatsoever–nobody will own up to creating this masterpiece, except for Winston Jones, the “leader.” Which happy, be-ponchoed dude in a colorful silly had is he? Alas, we’ll never know. All we know is that this records contains 12 of our most beloved tunes rendered in none other than– steel drums! Each cut is a voyage of multiculturalism as we hear Caribbean rhythms and sounds bang out “Paris Mambo,” “Spanish Eyes,” “Guantanamera,” and of course, the staple of all records done in the ’60s, Offenbach’s “Barcarolle” from Tales of Hoffman. Crank up this album in the dead of winter when you yearn to be on a golden beach under palm trees with a bunch of guys with brightly-colored maracas emblazoned across their chests smiling at you.

“Barcarolle” from Tales of Hoffman (Offenbach)

TruckstopAs 1980s German country music goes, I suppose this is pretty catchy. It doesn’t have any of the sad themes of modern country music– nobody loses a truck, nobody’s dog dies, it’s just happy little ditties about cowboys with a lot of slide guitar. But, it’s in German. Can you picture Herman Goering riding the range? Helmut Kohl rustling cattle? Well, neither can I, which is why I love this album.

The best track on the record is undoubtedly “Jonny Galaxis,” which is a space anthem set far in the future. It is the tale of Jonny Galaxis, the the 3-eyed futuristic space cowboy and seasoned sheriff, who threatens the narrator with a parking violation.

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