October 2001 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

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Gordon MacRae - It’s Magic ASV CD AJA 5394 [72:16] AmazonUK

Ruth EttingAmerica’s Sweetheart of Song ASV CD AJA 5374 [73:21] AmazonUK


The handsome, debonair, wide-grinned Gordon MacRae (1921-1986) is mainly remembered for his film partnerships with Doris Day in such well-loved 1950s Warner Bros musicals as Tea for Two, On Moonlight Bay and By the Light of the Silvery Moon; and with Shirley Jones in those spectacular 20th Century Fox films of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s immortal hits Carousel and Oklahoma!

Here is an album of 27 songs recorded between 1947 and 1950. MacRae’s attractive dusky baritone voice and easy laid back style (like his acting) was very popular; his control and enunciation silken, his delivery expressive and sincere. There are many hit numbers included here and older listeners will remember with keen nostalgic warmth such songs as: ‘It’s Magic’; ‘You Were Meant for Me’; ‘Hair of Gold, Eyes of Blue’; ‘"A" You’re Adorable’; ‘Rambling Rose’; ‘So In Love’; ‘Younger than Springtime’; ‘Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo’; ‘Mule Train’; ‘Dearie’; ‘Dear Hearts and Gentle People’; and ‘Tea for Two’. Many of these songs are duets with the popular Jo Stafford (b. 1920). As Petyer Dempsey says in the album notes, "By and large, these comprised his biggest overall record successes and for many listeners the cream of the MacRae discography resides in some fine harmonising with this charismatic Californian singing colleague – just listen to them in ‘Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday’ for instance. Now, ASV what about something with Gordon and Doris Day?

The name, once known as ‘America’s Sweetheart of Song’ and the ‘Queen of Torch Singers’, Ruth Etting, is now almost forgotten. The name crops up whenever there is a rerun of the 1955 MGM Doris Day/James Cagney biopic, the Love Me Or Leave Me (it won an Academy Award for best original story for Daniel Fuchs) – a particularly vicious and nasty gangster/musical for its time – that charted her chequered private life. (Cagney portrayed the racketeer who pushed her to the top but drove her to drink and despair in the process.) Etting had a brief film career in the early 1930s starring in Roman Scandals with Eddie Cantor and Hips, Hips, Hooray, and Gift of the Gab. This album consists of 25 numbers recorded mostly in New York between 1926 and 1937. The voice here is of the period – both ‘girl-next-doorish’ for the more innocent wholesome songs and sexily smoky for the torch songs. The numbers include: ‘Deed I Do’; ‘Happy Days and Lonely Night’; ‘I’ll Get By As Long As I Have You’; Smoke Gets in Your Eyes’; ‘Nevertheless I’m In Love With You’, ‘A Faded Summer Love’;

Ian Lace.

Gordon MacRae ) Ruth Etting


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