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February 2001 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

index page/ monthly listings / February /


  Stereo recreations from 78rpm originals by Robert Parker of Sydney.
  ADD NIMBUS NI2007   [74.02]

'Lullaby of Broadway' (Warren/Dubin)[2.11]
Winifred Shaw
From Gold Diggers of 1935
'My Mammy' (Donaldson/Young/Lewis)[3.16]
Al Jolson
From The Jazz Singer (1927)
'42nd Street' (Warren/ Dubin)[5.45]
Ruby Keeler & Dick Powell
From 42nd Street (1933)
'I'm no Angel' (Du Bois/Ellison/Brooks)[3.37]
Mae West
From I'm no Angel (1933)
'It's only a paper moon' (Rose/Harburg/Arlen)[3.01]
Cliff "Ukelele Ike" Edwards
From "Take a chance" (1932)
'On the good ship Lollipop' (Clare/Whiting)[3.09]
Shirley Temple
from Bright Eyes (1934)
'Lulu's back in town' (Warren/Dubin)[2.58]
Dick Powell
From Broadway Gondolier (1935)
'About a quarter to nine' (Warren/Dubin)[3.01]
Al Jolson
From Go into your dance (1935)
'Rose Marie' (Harbach/Hammerstein II/Friml)[1.45]
Nelson Eddy
From Rose Marie. (1936)
'Indian Love Call' (Harbach/Hammerstein II/Friml)[6.14]
Jeanette Macdonald and Nelson Eddy.
From Rose Marie (1936)
'I'm putting all my eggs in one basket' (Irving Berlin)[3.31]
Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers
From Follow the Fleet (1936)
'Get thee behind me, Satan' (Irving Berlin)[1.42]
Harriet Hilliard
From Follow the fleet (1936)
'Let's face the music and dance' (Irving Berlin)[5.15]
Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers
From Follow the Fleet (1936)
'A Fine Romance'. (Fields/Kern)[2.46]
Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers
From Swing time (1936)
'Bojangles of Harlem' (Fields/Kern)[3.09]
Fred Astaire
From Swing time (1936)
'Broadway Melody' (Title fanfare) (Brown/Freed)[0.52]
Orchestra and Chorus
From Broadway Melody of 1938
' Dear Mr. Gable (You made me love you)' (Monaco/McCarthy/Edens)[3.54]
Judy Garland
From Broadway Melody of 1938
'Yours and mine' (Brown/Freed)[1.19]
Eleanor Powell
From Broadway Melody of 1938
'Everybody sing' (Brown/Freed)[4.28]
Judy Garland
From Broadway Melody of 1938
'Some of these days' (Brooks)[3.30]
Broadway Melody (Finale) (Brown/Freed)
Sophie Tucker
From Broadway Melody of 1938
'Swing me an old fashioned song' (Spino/Bullock)[2.59]
Shirley Temple
From Little Miss Broadway (1938)
'Little Miss Broadway' (Spina/Bullock)[4.10]
George Murphy and Shirley Temple
From Little Miss Broadway (1938)
'Lullaby of Broadway' (Finale) (Warren/Dubin)[1.14]
Winifred Shaw
From Lullaby of Broadway (1935)

In all the gloom and despair of the Depression years in the United States one industry prospered. Hollywood and its products thrived during those years and the film musical led the way. Sound, initially partly from multiple discs synchronised with the film projection, arrived in 1927 with The Jazz Singer and it and its masses of successors had enormous success. They offered what the public wanted – escapism pure and simple in those grim days – offered for a minimal admission payment at the door.

This CD from Nimbus is a compilation disc made using 78s from the period, using the best sources available and converting them to a digital form. The transcriptions are the work of an Australian, Robert Parker, who has attempted to add some stereo effect as well as the normal de-clicking and general cleaning up of the tracks. Unless one hears the originals comparisons are impossible but the "stereo" is a marginal widening of the sound source and the quality overall is perfectly acceptable.

The selection is inevitably something of a curate’s egg. Artists such as Judy Garland and "Fred and Ginger" come through with reminders of their timeless qualities –Astaire and Rogers in "Let’s face the music" and the young (then sixteen) Judy with her spoken "Dear Mr Gable" introduction to "You made me love you" – a song that would always be associated with her. Some curiosities emerge– for instance a version of "Lulu’s back in Town" sung by Dick Powell in 1935 that is so unlike the later Mel Tormé version in metre, tempo and rhythm that it could be a different song.

Names of artists that are almost forgotten appear as reminders of popular music of the period – Cliff Edwards with an attractive "Paper Moon" sung to his own guitar accompaniment with a vocal ‘wow-wow’ interlude, Sophie Tucker ‘belting out’ – there is no other way to describe it - "Some of these days", and Mae West at her sultriest. Without any visual element the long sequence from "42nd Street" – the sound picture of New York with its people, cars, news-vendors, gun-shots and police whistles – still makes a powerful impact with its immense vitality.

There are tracks on the disc that are better forgotten – in the opinion of your reviewer at least. Al Jolson, when listened to objectively, is quite appalling and "Mammy" – that gift to impressionists for so many years - must rate as one of the worst performances on record ever - famous though it may be. Only the call of duty stopped me from turning it off. I feel the same about Shirley Temple and her "Good Ship Lollipop" – such arch, sentimental rubbish contrived down to every nuance shows what the whiff of money will do to otherwise normal men.

Television these days has such an apparently insatiable desire to fill time that many of the films listed now can be seen occasionally on our screens. Added interest then to this CD that has an undoubted period appeal and has something that many would find of interest. Interesting. A look back at early film musicals – using original sources - that will appeal to many.

Harry Downey


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