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Puttin' On the Ritz by Taco
Album: After EightReleased: 1983Charted:
This was originally written in 1929 by legendary composer Irving Berlin ("God Bless America"). It was a hit for Fred Astaire in 1946 when he performed it in the movie Blue Skies. Taco pays homage to Astaire by including a tap-dance solo in the middle of the song.
The expression "Puttin' On The Ritz" means to dress fashionably. The saying comes from the upscale Ritz-Carlton hotel company.
Born in Jakarta, Indonesia to Dutch parents on July 21, 1955, Taco Ockerse (yes, it's his real name) was raised in Germany, where he studied dance and theater. He made a name for himself on the European supper-club circuit by dressing in formal attire and performing dance versions of American standards. This song was on his first album, and it became an unlikely hit when MTV picked up the video, which showcased Taco's distinctive look and performance that he had perfected in the supper-clubs. MTV didn't have many videos at the time, and this one had lavish costumes, a glowing cane and a tap dance sequence, making it very appealing to the fledgling network.
This appeared in the West German stage remake of West Side Story.
Taco's entire repertoire was comprised of older songs including some by Jazz bandleader Glen Miller and show tune writer George Gershwin. He played the role of "Chico" in a Marx Brothers stage show in Germany.
Taco's follow-up album was also named after an Irving Berlin song he covered, "Let's Face the Music and Dance." He also did Berlin's "Cheek to Cheek."
This came out around the same time as a cheesy TV show called Puttin' On The Hits. In the show, contestants would lip-synch for prizes. It could only have happened in the '80s.
In the Mel Brooks movie Young Frankenstein, there's a scene where Dr. Frankenstein (played by Gene Wilder) does a song-and-dance act to this with his monster.