Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Taco - "Puttin' On the Ritz"

Puttin' On the Ritz (Radio Edit) - Puttin' On the Ritz - EP

(Debuted June 25, 1983, Peaked #4, 21 Weeks on the Chart)

The first time I remember hearing Taco's "Puttin' On the Ritz," I was close to 11 years old and riding in my grandmother's car. Grandma wasn't normally "with it" when it came to current pop music, so I was a little surprised that she knew the words to the song. Then, she told me that it was a song that had been popular when she was a lot younger. At the time, I thought she was putting me on.

A little while later, I did some research in my school library and discovered that -- sure enough -- it was written in 1929 by Irving Berlin and was a parody of the high-class socialites of the Roaring Twenties, just before the Great Depression. It had been recorded several times over the years and had been part of several films, including one where Fred Astaire leads his own line of dancers. It also appeared in the 1974 Mel Brooks comedy Young Frankenstein. Since Astaire is identified with the song, there is a tap-dance routine in the instrumental bridge of Taco's version the song (as well as a "Gotta dance!" refrain near the end). The instrumental bridge also includes passages from other Berlin songs like "There's No Business Like Show Business," "Alexander's Ragtime Band" and "Always."

Taco (that's his real first name, his last name is Ockerse) is Dutch, but was born in Indonesia and based in Germany. "Puttin' On the Ritz" would be his only American hit, as his follow up "Singin' in the Rain" stiffed and further releases failed to chart. He has continued his musical career, focusing on Europe, as well as acting.

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