CD:PPCD 78128 / CASSETTE: / RUNNING TIME: 73:01
Bask in a warm nostalgic glow with Fred Astaire, Bing Crosby, Noel Coward, Nat King Cole and many more.
Al Bowlly : Love Is The Sweetest Thing
Marlene Dietrich: Falling In Love Again
Nat King Cole: Sweet Lorraine
Bing Crosby: White Christmas
Connie Boswell: All Alone
Glenn Miller & His Orchestra: Moonlight Serenade
Fred Astaire: Top Hat, White Tie And Tails << sound clip
Vera Lynn: The White Cliffs Of Dover << sound clip
Frank Sinatra: Nancy (With The Laughing Face)
Tony Martin: If It's You
Gertrude Lawrence: Someday I'll Find You
Noel Coward: Mad Dogs And Englishmen << sound clip
Hutch: Night And Day
Paul Robeson: Ol' Man River
Dorothy Lamour: The Man I Love
Jack Buchanan: Goodnight, Vienna
Flotsam & Jetsam: Little Betty Bouncer
Flanagan & Allen: Underneath The Arches
Hildegarde: Darling, Je Vous Aime Beaucoup
George Formby: Leaning On A Lamp Post
Jean Sablon: Si Tu M'Aimes
Frank Crumit: Abdul Abulbul Amir
Jessie Matthews: Everything's In Rhythm With My Heart
Perry Como: Till The End Of Time
The artists on this collection vary widely in style, from the sophistication of Fred Astaire, to the warmth and humour of Flanagan and Allen. However, they all share two things in common: in their day - the thirties and forties, they were the very best in their field; and they all have the ability to evoke that wonderful era for us today - the golden age of popular music. Whether wartime memories evoked by Vera Lynn, or memories of the dance hall with Glenn Miller - we are entering the warm world of nostalgia! Twenty-four different artists, all singing their greatest hits.
We begin our survey with one of the greatest songs of the period, Love Is The Sweetest Thing, sung in the definitive 1932 recording by the great Al Bowlly. Originally from Mozambique, he was the most popular dance band singer of the thirties, and the most prolific, recording more than six-hundred titles. Tragically, he was killed during the Blitz in London, but the legacy he left behind is ours forever.
Mysterious, glamorous Marlene Dietrich was born in Berlin, and as a child studied music. She began her German film career in 1923, and in 1930 made her most successful film, 'The Blue Angel', in which she sang the classic Falling In Love Again. She went on to make many films, mostly in the USA, and in later life began a new career in cabaret.
Sweet Lorraine is performed here by Nat King Cole in his Trio days, before he achieved his later huge fame. The Trio had their first hit in 1942, with 'Straighten Up And Fly Right', and became more popular throughout the forties, before they disbanded in 1951. Cole went on to launch his meteoric, solo career, achieving almost eighty hit singles in Billboard charts before his sadly premature death in 1965.
Bing Crosby is one of the century's greatest popular singers, who turned everything he sang into something special. Whether in jazz or slow ballads, the Crosby magic is always there, and White Christmas is no exception. The song won an Academy Award in 1942, and went on to become one of the best selling records of all time.
Connie Boswell was one of a trio of singers who were perhaps the greatest female vocal trio of them all. Although they worked together until 1936, Connie was always determined to achieve a solo career, despite being confined to a wheelchair due to contracting polio as a child. She was an all-round musician, playing cello, saxophone, trombone and piano, but here she sings for us, All Alone, without her sisters, in the classic song by Irving Berlin.
The fame, even today, of Glenn Miller and his Orchestra makes it hard to believe that the band existed for only five years. Yet within that short period it became the most popular and successful dance band in the world, clocking up 40 top ten records in three years. Original recordings of the band still sell extremely well in the 1990s. Moonlight Serenade was the band's theme tune, recorded in April 1939.
The name Fred Astaire has become synonymous with elegance and style, his seemingly effortless perfection on the dance floor matched by his intimate delivery of classic songs, many of which he introduced. Top Hat, White Tie And Tails is from Irving Berlin's 'Top Hat', one of the greatest of all pre-war musicals. Recorded in June 1935, this song remains one of Berlin's most loved contributions to popular song, sung to perfection by the incomparable Astaire.
Vera Lynn, 'The Forces Sweetheart' began her singing career with Joe Loss and his Band. She was signed up by Charlie Kunz, with whom she stayed for eighteen months before joining the prestigious Ambrose orchestra in 1937. But it is one of her legendary wartime recordings we have here, The White Cliffs Of Dover, backed by another musical great - Mantovani and his Orchestra.
Frank Sinatra began his recording career with Harry James in 1939, before joining Tommy Dorsey and his Orchestra. Once he had left to pursue a solo career, there was no stopping him, and he is possibly the most popular singer of the century, his unique phrasing and intimacy drawing in the listener. Here we hear him in the delightful Nancy (With The Laughing Face).
Alvin Morris, better known as Tony Martin, took an early interest in music, singing, and playing saxophone and piano. After being advised to concentrate on his singing, he persevered for several years, taking small parts in movies, and making his recording debut in July 1936 with 'A Star Fell Out Of Heaven'. 1937 saw big changes to his fortunes, achieving greater film success, and marrying film star Alice Faye. If It's You is from the 1941 Marx Brothers film 'The Big Store'.
Born in Teddington, near London in 1899, Noel Coward was one of the century's most versatile entertainers: an actor, composer, playwright and singer showing brilliance in all he did. Mad Dogs And Englishmen remains a comic masterpiece, and is still as funny today as it was in 1932, with its hysterical rhymes and images. We have another Coward song, Someday I'll Find You, from 'Private Lives' sung by the inimitable Gertrude Lawrence.
Leslie A. Hutchinson, better known as Hutch, was one of the most stylish entertainers on the London cabaret scene. Born in Grenada, he went first to Paris, then on to London, where he made many fine recordings, including Cole Porter's Night And Day.
Ol' Man River, from the wonderful 'Show Boat' is performed here in its most famous version by Paul Robeson, a giant of a man in every sense. It is one of the most moving of any thirties recording, the power and emotion of Robeson's voice perfectly expressing the anger and frustration of Robeson's character Joe, as well as that of Robeson himself, a politically and socially aware man of great integrity.
Dorothy Lamour appeared in fifty films, most famously the 'Road' pictures with Bing Crosby and Bob Hope. Born in New Orleans, she entered show business in 1934 when she was signed by band leader Herbie Kay at a talent contest. Here she gives a lovely performance of the Gershwins' classic The Man I Love, with Lou Bring and his Orchestra.
Jack Buchanan was, like Astaire, a top hat and tails singer and dancer, full of charm and sophistication. Born in Helensburgh, Scotland, he rose to become of the great British musical stars of the thirties. Goodnight, Vienna is the title song from one of his most successful movies, recorded in January 1932 with Ray Noble and his Orchestra.
Flotsam & Jetsam (B C Hilliam and Australian born Malcolm McEachern) were a unique double act, composer Hilliam playing piano and singing in a high, gentle voice; and McEachern, possessed of a superb low bass voice. Here they are heard to great effect in our earliest offering, from June 1927, the humorous Little Betty Bouncer, the sad story of a girl who falls in love with a BBC radio announcer's voice.
Bud Flanagan and Chesney Allen were two of the most loved British entertainers throughout the thirties and early forties, enchanting people with their mixture of sentiment and comedy, and their warm and friendly personalities. Like George Formby and Vera Lynn, they did an enormous amount to lift the spirits of the British people during the Second World War. Underneath The Arches is their most famous number, this recording dating from 1932.
Hildegarde (Hildegarde Loretta Sell) was born in Wisconsin and began her career as a pianist. After a brief unsuccessful period in London, she travelled in 1934 to Paris with her manager, the songwriter Anna Sosenko, where she studied cabaret technique. She returned to London where she made many fine recordings, including Darling, Je vous aime beaucoup. This song, written by Anna Sosenko, is in a kind of 'Franglais' - exquisitely performed, accompanied by the impeccable Carroll Gibbons.
In his day, George Formby was the biggest attraction in British show business, and for six years was the top box office star in British movies. Although famous for his cheeky songs and ukulele, his great gift was in understanding the thoughts and feelings of ordinary people, and expressing them in a natural, spontaneous way. Leaning On A Lamp Post is a perfect example, and has become one of his most popular songs, gently describing how he waits at the street corner lamp post for his girl to come by. Effortlessly performed, with the bonus of a terrific ukulele solo - pure magic!
Known as 'le roi de micro', Jean Sablon like Bing Crosby, used the microphone to express an intimacy with his audience, whether to theatre audiences, or on record. He also worked with some of the very best French and American artists, including great jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt, and on this offering, Si tu m'aimes, with the American pianist Garland Wilson. Frequent visits to the United States and Britain brought him an international audience, his reputation as the 'king of the microphone' entirely justified.
Frank Crumit had a soft, whimsical voice, and sang gently comic songs about every subject under the sun, from golf, horse riding and poker, to prunes, an insurance man and bootlegging - the list is long and varied. Born in Jackson, Ohio in 1889, he became an engineer after his graduation from college in 1910 - but then did the sensible thing, quitting to become a song and dance man on the vaudeville stage. Our offering here, Abdul Abubul Amir is from August 1934, and became one of Crumit's biggest hits. In fact it was so popular that sequels had to be written to continue Abdul's antics, which was an interesting challenge to the songwriters, as he had actually died in the original song, murdered by his rival Ivan Skavinski Skavar!
In the thirties, Jessie Matthews was a huge talent, Britain's only musical star to be successful in America as well as in Britain. She had a string of hit musicals, including 'Ever Green', 'Gangway' and 'First A Girl', from which she sang Everything's In Rhythm With My Heart, in 1935.
Perry Como is another legendary artist. His recording career began in 1936, with Ted Weems and his Orchestra, sounding rather like a Bing Crosby clone; but over the years his own style developed and the instantly recognisable Perry Como voice we know was born. Till The End Of Time, from 1945, was his first Number One and first million-seller.
We hope you will enjoy our selection of the very
best of yesterday's great entertainers. Some wit once
quipped "Nostalgia isn't what it used to be". I think
when you hear this collection you'll disagree. Happy