A dance craze cash in-from Finland. Or is it Sweden. Or perhaps Germany?
First we need to know what the Jenka is, given that at least half the songs on this album use that word in the title. Jenka is more or less the Finnish word for the conga (defined – as if you didn’t know – as three quick steps and a hop danced to music in 2/4 time). Finnjenka is also known as letkajenkka or letkis, and the latter obviously gave our Finns ideas for a pun on the English Let’s Kiss. Here the pun is taken to full album length courtesy of the Midnight Sun Letkiss Jenka Band. Issued in May 1965, the album seems to have spun off the back of the hit title track Letkiss Jenka (which heads up side one), a track covered by trumpeter Eddie Calvert on single back in the UK later that year.
Anyway, enough about that, just dig the cover. The front must have used up any amount of lipstick as our anonymous cover girl smacked her lips onto sheet after sheet of paper (the images are all different but clearly by the same woman). It is on Polydor and turns out to be a German manufactured and released record (so you get that lovely thick glossy card finish), but much is made on the back of how this is the authentic Finnish originals rather than the diluted versions popular “throughout the rest of Europe.” They have even devised a little corner logo to convince the buyer, a cartoon figure of a Viking, horn goblet in hand, astride a Polar Bear. So three cliches in one! “This is a real Polar Finnish Jena Letkiss” reads the small print below. However, the even smaller print tells us that it was actually recorded in Sweden.
Anyhow, with the lipstick printed in pinky red, and the extended block serif type in grey (finished with a nice 6mm grey border), it’s a very modern looking design and sleeve. The back, in common with many Polydor dance albums of the sixties, is written in German with an English translation of sorts. There is even an attempt at being witty, as the writer apologises for not featuring a beautiful blonde Swede on the cover because “they’re already all in America working as models.” So we’ve further muddled our Finns and Swedes up.
The designer rounds up the package with a colour shot of four Scandinavians doing the Jenka. And we know they’re Scandinavian because they’re in a sauna, wearing towels. Mind you only one of them is a blonde, and that’s the bloke.
I’m not sure of Harry Arnold’s career, though he does seem to have been based in Sweden during the fifties and sixties, drawn there perhaps on the back of the demand for American big band orchestras (Scandinavia remained a regular destination for all types of musicians), but also working with people like Quincy Jones. From 1956 to 1961 he led a jazz big band in Sweden and cut a version of a 40s track called Midnight Sun, which we assume gave rise to the name of the band on this album.