Eve Boswell - Pickin’ A Chicken - Her 56 Finest
Various orchestras
rec. 1949-58
RETROSPECTIVE RTS4277 [79:21 + 79:13]
Though she shared their name, South African Eve Boswell had nothing to do with the Boswell sisters. In fact, Boswell was not even Boswell, as she was born Eva Keleti in Budapest in 1922. It was a trip from London to South Africa with Boswell’s Circus that earned her new name and after the war a return to London, and work with an admiring Geraldo, that launched her career.

She was clearly a fun person and sang fun songs. The twofer title track is her most famous number, a Top Ten hit in Britain in the mid-50s. This was with Glenn Somers and his orchestra, though her first records had been made with Geraldo, whose sympathetic accompaniments work well. Whether more up-tempo or ballad, or whether reprising pre-war charmers such as Tolchard Evans’ If, Boswell proves an amiable and pleasing interpreter. What she lacks, though, is a true spark of personality in these songs and even the brio of Jack Parnell’s Big Top support in Tika Tika Tok can’t quite bring the thing to life.

It’s clear that Parlophone gradually decided that she should sing a succession of songs that played to her strengths and facility with languages. Whether it’s Afrikaans, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, German or French there remains a decided air of novelty about the whole affair. Even Noel Coward’s Someday I’ll Find You sounds superficial, emotionally leaden. One of her best efforts is Come Prima, with backing from Ron Goodwin, though it’s now tiresome to hear her sing one verse in English, one in Italian and so on.

Boswell brought some exotic life into the often glowering musical environment of the time. She wasn’t a major singer, more of a niche indulgence. From the sound of this finely transferred and selected 56 tracks, very few escaped the novelty or light banner but that was her metier.

Jonathan Woolf

Previous review: Bruce McCollum
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Track listing
CD1 (1949-1955)
1 Pickin’ A Chicken
2 Blue Star
3 Confidentially
4 Dear Hearts And Gentle People
5 I Can Dream, Can’t I?
6 Bewitched, Bothered And Bewildered
7 Beloved, Be Faithful
8 All My Love
9 If
10 I’ll Be Around
11 I’m Yours
12 Sugar Bush
13 Here In My Heart
14 Moon Above Malaya
15 Hi-Lili, Hi-Lo
16 Everything I Have Is Yours
17 I Believe
18 Playing With Fire
19 The Bridge Of Sighs
20 Romany Violin
21 If You Love Me
22 The Little Shoemaker
23 On The Waterfront
24 Skokiaan
25 These Are The Things We’ll Share
26 Ready, Willing And Able
27 Young And Foolish
28 Tika Tika Tok
CD2 (1956-1958)
1 Les Feuilles Mortes (Autumn Leaves)
2 Cookie
3 You Go To M
4 Down By The Sugar Cane
5 As Time Goes By
6 True Love
7 Where In The World Is Billy?
8 Once In A While
9 The Skye Boat Song
10 April In Portugal
11 Saries Marais
12 Someday I’ll Find You
13 Anna
14 Santa Lucia
15 Sentimental Journey
16 Gypsy Moon
17 Amor
18 You’ll Never Know
19 The Mexican Hat Dance
20 I’ll Walk Alone
21 Besame Mucho
22 The Gypsy In My Soul
23 It’s Been A Long, Long Time
24 Come Prima (More Than Ever)
25 Heat Wave
26 La Mer
27 Quizás, Quizás, Quizás
28 Auf Wiederseh’n, My Dear