January 2003 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Gary S. Dalkin
Managing Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

index page/ monthly listings / January /

51 songs of George GERSHWIN  
Sung by Fred Astaire; Ella Fitzgerald; Judy Garland; Frank Sinatra; Sarah Vaughan; Al Jolson; Lawrence Tibbett; Dick Haymes; Paul Robeson; Peggy Lee and Whispering Jack Smith.
Original mono recordings 1925-1951
  Available on Living Era Records  CD AJA 263 2 CDs  
Running Time: 152:50
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gershwin songs

  • Swanee – Al Jolson
  • Do It Again -  Mary Martin
  • I'll Build a Stairway to Paradise – Georges Guetary
  • Somebody Loves Me – Dinah Shore
  • Oh, Lady Be Good  - Cliff Edwards
  • Fascinating Rhythm – Fred and Adele Astaire
  • Hang on to Me – Fred and Adele Astaire
  • The Half of it Dearie, Blues – Fred Astaire
  • I'd Rather Charleston – Fred and Adele Astaire
  • Looking for a Boy – Ella Fitzgerald
  • That Certain Feeling – Layton and Johnstone
  • Sweet and Lowdown -  Lee Wiley
  • Clap Yo Hands – Whispering Jack Smith
  • Do, Do, Do – Gertrude Lawrence
  • Maybe – Ella Fitzgerald
  • Someone To Watch Over Me – Frank Sinatra
  • Strike Up The Band – Red Nichols
  • The Man I Love – Sarah Vaughan
  • I've Got a Crush on You – Frank Sinatra
  • Soon – Ella Fitzgerald
  • Funny Face – Whispering Jack Smith
  • 'S Wonderful – Whispering Jack Smith
  • My One and Only, What Am I Gonna Do? – Fred Astaire
  • How Long Has This Been Going On? – Peggy Lee
  • Liza, All the Clouds'll Roll Away – Al Jolson
  • Of Thee I Sing – Medley – Abe Lyman and his Californians
  • Bidin' My Time -  The Foursome
  • Embraceable You – Nat King Cole
  • I Got Rhythm – Judy Garland
  • But Not For Me – Ella Fitzgerald
  • My Cousin in Milwaukee – Hildegarde
  • Summertime – Sarah Vaughan
  • I Got Plenty O' Nuttin' – Lawrence Tibbett
  • Bess, You is My Woman Now – Lawrence Tibbett and Helen Jepson
  • It Ain't Necessarily So – Paul Robeson
  • I Loves You, Porgy – Ann Brown and Todd Duncan
  • By Strauss – George Byron
  • Shall We Dance? – Fred Astaire
  • They Can't Take That Away From Me – Fred Astaire
  • They All Laughed – Fred Astaire
  • I've Got Beginners Luck -  Fred Astaire
  • Let's Call the Whole thing Off – Fred Astaire
  • Slap that Bass – Fred Astaire
  • A Foggy Day – Fred Astaire
  • Things Are Looking Up – Fred Astaire
  • Nice Work If You Can Get It – Fred Astaire
  • Our Love Is Here To Stay – Larry Clinton
  • I Was Doing All Right – Larry Clinton
  • Love Walked In – Kenny Baker
  • Aren't You Glad We Did? – Dick Haymes and Judy Garland
  • For You, For Me, Forever More – Dick Haymes and Judy Garland 

The 51 Gershwin songs listed above, sung by such renowned artists, is surely self-recommending.  Most of these songs have now passed into the realm of accepted classics.  The earliest recording here is of Cliff (Ukelele) Edwards singing 1924's 13th biggest hit 'Oh, Lady Be Good' from Lady Be Good recorded in the following year by Pathι.  It may sound very outdated now but its charm is undeniable.  CD1 also has three numbers recorded in 1926 by Fred and Adele Astaire including 'The Half of it Dearie, Blues' with George Gershwin himself at the piano and the sound of tap dancing.  Gershwin's melodic gift was phenomenal. Who knows how many more outstanding songs he might have given us had he not died so tragically young in 1937 before he reached the age of forty? 

 For more mature listeners, half-forgotten artists, like Layton and Johnstone, will prompt a nostalgic glow as they sing 'That Certain Feeling' again recorded in 1926.  Then there is the inimitable expressive voice of Gertrude Lawrence imploring her love to 'Do, do, do'.  Coming a little more up to date there is the incomparable smoky sensual tone of Ella Fitzgerald in such numbers as 'Maybe' – surely Ella was the Gershwin exponent par excellence?   Sinatra makes an early appearance in a 1945 recording of 'Someone to Watch Over Me'.  Peggy Lee with Benny Goodman gives a slinky rendition of 'How Long Has This Been Going On?'  Five numbers from Porgy and Bess are featured on CD2, with Sarah Vaughan another very expressive singer communicating the hot languor of 'Summertime' and the Metropolitan Opera star Lawrence Tibbett, recorded in 1935, enthusing 'I Got Plenty O' Nuttin'. Still from Porgy and Bess the great bass Paul Robeson sings 'It Ain't Necessarily So'.

I need hardly enthuse further - this is an indispensable collection for Gershwin enthusiasts. Peter Dempsey adds his usual well informed notes and the transfers from the original 78s by Dempsey and David Lennick are very good.

Ian Lace

[Not rated]

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