365 Days, 365 Files: 8 1/2 Souvenirs two-fer

When I saw the commercials for the movie Happy Feet, the first thing I thought of was 8 1/2 Souvenirs. I’m probably not the only Austinite who lived through Web 1.0 to think so.

8 1/2 Souvenirs was a swing band when swing was big among the dot-com yuppie hipsters. Although anchored by the smooth guitar and suave vocals of founder Olivier Giraud, the stars of the band were singer Chrysta Bell and pianist Glover Gill. In my mind, Gill moreso than Bell.

Gill could make a piano sound like an orchestra, and his dynamic playing was a potent glue for the Souvenirs’ sound. The difference was stark on Twisted Desire, the band’s final studio album recorded after Gill left.

Happy Feet has the strange distinction of being recorded three times with different singers. I haven’t heard the other two versions, so I can’t comment on how Bell compared to predecessor Juliana Sheffield. Bell has a magnetic stage presence, I can say that much.

I actually like Souvonica, the band’s second album, more than Happy Feet. It’s rougher around the edges and stylistically more diverse.

Since I pretty much blew the whole New Year’s resolution to post everyday, I’m going to offer a two-for-one post, a file each from Happy Feet (third edition) and Souvonica. The title tracks, namely.

P.S. It’s a pity a movie named after one of the Souvenirs’ staples doesn’t even include the song.

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