Is it just me or are all market record stalls heaped high with Irish tenor
CDs and cassettes. The stock in trade of such discs is sentimentality and
the glycerine tear. This is often creamed over Mantovani style. How does
this disc shape up?
RCA has the most exalted stable of Irish tenor tapes on which to draw. This
is a strength. However the company seem determined not to embarrass us with
riches. Just look at the playing time. For a disc like this it should have
been stacked high, wide and deep. You could have given us eighty minutes
if you had wanted. This is not, however, the end of the debit side of the
Robert White with his distressing vocal throb sets the seal on this
shamrock-saccharine production. This is connived at in Come Back to Erin
by the usually more careful Charles Gerhardt and the National Philharmonic
warm from their Great Film Scores series. In the same session (Jan 1979)
White also set down Danny Boy, She Moved Through the Fair and The Bard of
Armagh. Come ye Back has a dreadful bleat (you may love it - I don't) but
Gerhardt's regal orchestration compensates considerably in dewy splendour.
The problem is that people are not buying this disc for the orchestral trimmings!
In all fairness White is much better in the jaunty rapid nonsense of the
Ballynure Ballad and is tolerable in Cockles And Mussels. He is no match
for Gerhardt's superbly touching Delian treatment of She Moved Through The
Fair where a hushed trance is magically conjured.
Dennis Day recorded in 1945 with a less syrupy orchestral accompaniment
is much more satisfactory if you like your Irishry leis'a Bhing Crosby and
with a dollop of Hollywood glitz in the strings. Frank Patterson,
recorded in 1998, is nasal and seems to strain at some of the higher notes
in a way at odds with Galway Bay's sentiments. This comes complete with its
own tearful angel choir. He is much better in I'll take you home again Kathleen.
Patterson is a fine artist; witness his role in the Anthony Burgess opera
Blooms of Dublin. In The Fields Of Anthenry he is good though the
arrangement is nowhere near as skilled as Gerhardt's. McCormack's
recordings are from 1927 and 1930 and it shows.
I can take sentimentality from American musicals but this is daffy stuff
dripping with Guinness and molasses. I would advise against trying this all
at one go. Dedicated collectors will already have most of these tracks but
if you have a very sweet Celtic tooth and a tolerance for vibrato then this
is not a bad place to start though the portions are on the thin side.