March 2001 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

index page/ monthly listings /March01/

Curio Corner

To each his own

Recorded 1939-1949
ASV CD AJA 5368 [77.36]
   Amazon UK    Amazon US

The title is very appropriate, to each his own indeed. By the time track twelve was beginning with the same format of an introduction of dotted rhythm arpeggios at the same speed as all the previous eleven, followed by the tenor-sung melody, the predictable and rather sentimental 'talking chorus', and a reprise of the tenor, was beginning to pall a little. But this is to forget that 50 years ago one would have just six to eight minutes on a 78rpm of the Ink Spots. Here you have 25 tracks totalling just under 78 minutes. It was a tried and tested formula by this quartet of black artists, which obviously worked. The four of them first got together in 1934 when they were porters at the New York Paramount Theatre and they followed in the footsteps of the Mills Brothers. Jack Hylton brought them over to England, where they proved popular in high society circles. Bill Kenny's stratospheric tenor, soars as high as Orvell 'Happy' Jones plumbs the depths of his basso profundo.

The 40s were their heyday, entertaining troops and dominating US radio, as well as making film appearances in Tin Pan Alley and The Great American Broadcast. Close harmony singing is comparatively rare in their songs but the more effective at the end of 'Don't get around much anymore'. Ella Fitzgerald fans will enjoy her four appearances on this CD, the first in 'Cow Cow Boogie', which made it to No.10 in the US, with her sexy background scatsinging. The piano break in 'A lovely way to spend an evening' followed by the catchy 'Into each life some rain must fall' show just how well served their songs were by the lyrics (another Fitzgerald appearance with some duetting with Kenny). She's also on 'I'm making believe', their first million dollar seller, and 'I'm beginning to see the light'. The formula set out at the start of this review goes on to track 24, but No.25 differs with a full string section backing.

Transfer is generally (ink)spot-on and for devotees there's another CD available (CD AJA 5082) called 'Swing high, swing low' covering the period 1936-1940 which includes the song which launched them into the big time in 1939, 'If I didn't care'. The Platters were a group which carried on their style in the 1950s, but the public has always held the Inkspots in affection and there has been a group carrying their name up to the middle of the last decade (the original lead tenor/guitarist Jerry Franklin Daniels died as recently as1995).

Christopher Fifield



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