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The Ziegfeld Follies
Ziegfeld Follies of 1927 Medley (Irving Berlin)
Shaking The Blues Away; Ooh! Maybe It's You; Jungle Jingle; Rainbow Of Girls; Shaking The Blues Away; It All Belongs To Me; Tickling The Ivories; Ooh! Maybe It's You; It's Up To The Band;
Nat Shilkret & The Victor Orchestra; Fairchild & Rainger, piano duet, The Brox Sisters, Franklyn Baur
A Pretty Girl is like a Melody (Irving Berlin) (1910)
John Steel with Joseph Pasternak & orchestra
Has anybody here seen Kelly? (Murphy & Letters) (1909)
Nora Bayes with Walter Rogers & orchestra
Nobody (1913)
Bert Williams with Charles Prince & orchestra
Go-zin-to (Ponce & Gene Buck) 1917
Frances White with Walter Rogers & orchestra
Mandy (Irving Berlin) (1919)
Van & Schenck with Charles Prince & his Orchestra
You'd be Surprised (Irving Berlin) (1919)
Eddie Cantor with studio orchestra
The Moon shines on the Moonshine (Bowers & Die Witt) (1919)
Bert Williams with Charles Prince & orchestra
My Man (Mon homme) (Yvain & Pollack) (1921)
Fanny Brice with Rosario Bourdon & studio orchestra
Second-Hand Rose (Hanley & Clarke) (1921)
Fanny Brice with Rosario Bourdon & studio orchestra
It's getting Dark on old Broadway (Stamper & Buck) (1922)
Gilda Gray's shimmy dance, Bennie Krueger & his Orchestra
Mr. Gallagher and Mr. Shean (Ed Gallagher & AI Shean) (1922)
A new Slant on War (Will Rogers) (1923)
Will Rogers
So this is Venice! (Warren & Clarke) (1924)
Paul Whiteman & his Orchestra
Follow the Swallow (Henderson & Rose; Dixon) (1924)
George Olsen & his Music
If you knew Susie (Meyer & De Sylva) (1925)
Eddie Cantor with Columbia Studio Orchestra
Valentine (Christine & Reynolds) (1920)
Maurice Chevalier with Tom Griselle & orchestra
What wouldn't I do for that Man? (Gorney & Harburg) (1929)
Helen Morgan with Leonard Joy & orchestra
You're Baby Minded Now (Jurmann & Dubin) (1931)
Leon Errol, Ben Lyon? & Marilyn Miller
Film soundtrack, Hollywood
The day I drank a Glass of Water (Bill Morrow) (1915)
W.C. Fields with Les Paul –guitar, unknown voices
Shine on, Harvest Moon (Bayes & Norworth) (1931)
Ruth Etting with studio orchestra
Shaking the Blues away (Irving Berlin) (1927)
Ruth Etting with Rube Bloom (piano)

Living Era have brought together a whole library of lost songs and music of the early 20th Century that has awakened an interest in those who have studied the development of the musical stage. We hear numbers that predicted the rise and heyday of the Charleston and energetic Irving Berlin-style dance routines.
Florenz Ziegfeld began his frothy Broadway shows with a recipe for success: a cross between London’s vaudeville and Paris’s Folies Bergère. This started with his ‘Follies of 1907’. He combined good well-dressed performers with colourful music and glittering backdrops and rose to fame over the following years. Instrumental to the success was the partnership with Irving Berlin who provided much of the music.
Three tracks of particular interest are the fast-running 'Follies of 27' medley, Ruth Tilling, and the W.C. Fields monologue. Of the singers, there is excellent clarity of diction and for the majority an absence of American twang apart from Fanny Brice who, although well known for her impersonations, disappointed me in her rendering of 'Second-Hand Rose’. She may have been an excellent comedienne in her day (immortalized in 'Funny Girl'), but her style here in singing "secind" for "second" can be irritating and does not impress. The ever-popular 'I Love Susie' follows Berlin's ragtime principles but is let down by Eddie Cantor who finds difficulty in holding his high notes with any regularity.
The high tenor, John Steel impresses with his considerable clarity in the 1919 recording of 'A Pretty Girl' while soprano Nora Bayes displays good agility in use of an Irish brogue for "Has anybody here seen Kelly?" She continued to entertain for three Follies seasons while Bert Williams strutted his stuff as the first black singer to join the Ziegfeld troupe for ten consecutive seasons. His slow deliberate delivery as a baritone is characteristic. Will Rogers’ satirical monologue gives an American opinion on War. Recorded in 1923 it is interesting to hear of his plan to stop all wars: politicians today should take note!
The transfer from the 78s has a noticeably harsh ‘top’ with a constriction of intermediate and lower frequencies, particularly apparent on the opening tracks. Despite the lift given to the top frequencies all cymbals sound like saucepan lids being hit. Unsuccessful is the inclusion on the disc of a portion of grainy soundtrack from the 1931 film 'Her Majesty Love'. The music in this excerpt is not really worthy of merit.
The written notes make absorbing reading, but cover only three sides of the booklet, with the accent put more on the performers rather than any discussion of the composers and vocal numbers. Was the introduction of music from France (Yvain and Christine) brought about because of the engagement of Maurice Chevalier, perhaps? Yvain's 'My Man' seems to lack inspiration. The composer Phil Ponce is a new name and could be related to the Spanish/Mexican composer: he is certainly quite skilled at mimicking Berlin's ragtime style.

Raymond J Walker


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