One of the most grown-up review sites around

54,416 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             




Jussi Björling Collection
Vol. 6: The ‘Erik Odde’ recordings and other popular songs in Swedish 1931 – 1935
Igor BORGANOFF (pseudonym for Sten Njurling) (1892 – 1945)
När rosorna vissna och dö (When the roses wither and die);
(pseudonym for Stig Hansson) (1900 – 1968)
Det är något som binder mitt hjärta vid dig (Something is tying my heart to you);
Helge LINDBERG (1898 – 1973)
Bagdad (Baghdad);
(pseudonym for Bert Carsten Nordlander) (1905 – 1989)
Varje litet ord av kärlek (Every little word of love);
(-Knoop) (1902 – 1968)

Aj, aj, aj du (Now, now, boy);
P. LESSO-VALERIO (pseudonym for Erich Plessow) (1899 – 1977)
Varför? (Why?);
(1896 – 1961)

Någonstans på vår jord (Somewhere on our earth);
(1889 – 1955)

Läppar som le så röda (Smiling red lips); Umberto TOGNARELLI (? - ?)
Allting som är vackert (Everything beautiful reminds me of you);
(1908 – 2000)

Kanske att vi på samma drömmar bär (Maybe we are dreaming the same dreams);
(1879 – 1954)
Sommarens melodi är som poesi (Summer’s melody is like poetry);

Dina blå ögon lovar mer än dina röda läppar (Your blue eyes promise more than your red lips give);
(pseudonym for Alice Henrikson) (1906 – 1977)
Kärlekens sång (Song of love);
Lilian RAY
(d. 1949)

Säg mig god natt (Say good night to me); Guy AMMANDT (pseudonym for Gunnar Ahlberg) (1886 – 1943)
Slut dina ögon (Close your eyes);
Adrian DAHL
(1864 – 1935)

Bachanal (Bacchanale);
Carl Göran NYBLOM
(1867 – 1920)

Brinnande gula flod (Flaming golden stream);
(pseudonym for Knut O. W. Almroth) (1900 – 1971)
Tangoflickan (The tango girl);
Säg, att du evigt håller mig kär (Say that you will love me for ever);
Jacques ARMAND
(pseudonym for Olof Thiel) (1892 – 1978)
Var det en dröm?
(Was it a dream?); Michael CHRISTGAU (1903 – 1976)
Bröllopsvalsen (The wedding waltz);
Georg ENDERS (1898 – 1954)
Lilla prinsessa (Little princess)
Jussi Björling (tenor)
Trs 2 – 13 recorded under the pseudonym Erik Odde. Tr. 1 – 3 with Fred Winter and his Orchestra, 4-5, 7, 14 with Hanns Bingang and his Orchestra, 6 with Håkan von Eichwald and his Orchestra, 9-11 with Gösta Säfbom’s Soloist Orchestra, 12-13 with Sune Waldimir and the HMV Orchestra, 15 with Jens Warny and his Orchestra, 16-18 with Hjalmar Meissner and Orchestra, 19-22 with Sune Waldimir and his Orchestra.
rec. 13 February 1931 – 1 May 1935
Producer and Audio Restoration Engineer: Stefan Lindström
NAXOS 8.110790 [68:16]


Jussi Björling’s autobiography Med bagaget i strupen (My Throat is my Luggage) was published in 1945. There his many Swedish admirers could read: “There was for a time a jazz singer – “whispering” – whose name was Erik Odde. He became quite popular. He sang hits by Fred Winter accompanied by Hanns Bingang’s jazz orchestra. But Erik Odde disappeared as a gramophone singer – nobody knew where. It is he who has written this book.”

That “classical” musicians sometimes appeared under an assumed name was not that unusual. As can be seem from the heading several of the composers represented on this disc also chose to use a pseudonym. “Cross-over” wasn’t always approved by serious institutions like the Royal Opera. However Jussi Björling also sang popular songs under his own name. To avoid over-exploitation his record company ‘divided him’ into two individuals. There is also a marked difference between the two personas: Odde always appeared as a band singer, with the orchestra getting the lion’s share of the playing time. He never used his operatic voice, modelling his singing after “Whispering” Jack Smith. Under his own name Jussi sang more or less the same kind of popular songs as Odde but always showing off his operatic top notes. Of course Erik Odde wasn’t a jazz singer; and the orchestras were dance bands rather than jazz bands. I doubt many people would have been interested in this repertoire at all more than seventy years later, were it not for the name of the singer. Tracks 2 – 13 on this disc are “The collected works of Erik Odde” and the rest is the real Jussi at approximately the same age in other light music.

I don’t feel it necessary to go into detailed analysis of everything, but let me mention a few things that might whet the appetite. The first track, recorded under Jussi’s own name when he was not yet 21, is noticeable for the simple naturalness of the delivery, his articulation and also for the excellent violin soloist’s long introduction complete with double stops. There are even some nice compositional turns that make you listen. Track 3, Helge Lindberg’s Bagdad, offers some orientalisms from the fairly bouncy orchestra. The singing is unexaggerated, never cheap. Track 5 is a real swinger with a jazzy trumpeter and Jussi’s singing is tongue-in-cheek with some elegant falsetto. Listening through the Erik Odde numbers chronologically one can hear how the voice gradually fills out: by October 1933 his lowest notes are baritonal and sonorous. Two years earlier they are more sketchy. From track 14 we are hearing Jussi Björling as opposed to Erik Odde. Säg mig god natt is more suited to an operatic voice. He sings it elegantly, and this was recorded as early as 13 February 1931, only a week after his twentieth birthday. On Slut dina ögon (track 15) from September 1932 he also displays some brilliant top notes but it is his superb phrasing that really catches the listener. The 1933 sides (trs 16 – 20) are authoritative and glowing. Then there is an 18 months’ jump to 1 May 1935 and the two songs he recorded for the wedding of Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark and Princess Ingrid of Sweden, which took place on 24 May. The record was issued with a special label portraying the Royal Couple. Jussi also sang at a gala performance at the Royal Opera to celebrate the wedding. A week later his own wedding took place. Then he was still just 24, an age when most tenors are still in training. At that stage Jussi had been a member of the Royal Opera for four years and was an experienced singer with already 42 roles behind him! Now he is the fully-fledged artist on the doorstep to an international career and his voice is a perfectly obedient instrument, even from top to bottom.

The musical material on this disc may be slender but the singing of it is anything but that. Anyone interested in the development of one of the greatest singers of the last century should lend an ear to this disc to get the full picture. The sound is as good as it could be and Stefan Lindström could do little about the rather backward balance of some of the Erik Odde numbers. The comprehensive liner notes by Harald Henrysson are a model of their kind, Had he had ten times the allotted space at his disposal he could still have filled it with interesting background material.

Arguably the best composer of popular songs from this period was Jules Sylvain. Säg att du evigt håller mig kär (track 19) was one of my favourite tracks on a long since worn-out Music for Pleasure LP bought more than 35 years ago. I think I have to replay it – and I recommend readers to try it as well. What a lovely voice!

Göran Forsling

see also Review by Jonathan Woolf




Return to Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.