February 2005 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Marc Bridle
Managing Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

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Drifting and Dreaming with Felix Mendelssohn and his Hawaiian Serenaders  
Music composed by Felix Mendelssohn
  Performed by the Hawaiian Serenaders
  Living Era CD AJA 5568
Running Time: 76:23
Crotchet   Amazon UK   Amazon US

No, this is not music by the 19th century German classical music composer but that of another Felix Mendelssohn who performed colourful South Pacific island-orientated numbers redolent of swaying palms, golden sunsets and straw-skirted Polynesian girls decked in flowers.

Felix Mendelssohn’s Hawaiian Serenaders were favourite broadcasters and recording artists of the 1940s but almost forgotten today so this album will bring back pleasant memories for the over 60s. The band’s idiosyncratic orchestral sound was immediately recognisable by its swing, swooning, sensual ‘ethnic’ style with its characterful slides, and steel guitars.

A number of the 26 tracks on this CD have exotic (probably B film) connections: Alfred Newman’s ‘The Moon of Manakoora’ was featured in the 1937 film, The Hurricane; the upbeat ‘Chant of the Jungle’ as featured in Untamed (1929), is heard with a vocal by George Barclay and the Hawaiian Sisters; a rumba-like version of Cole Porter’s ‘In the Still of the Night’ used in M-G-M’s Rosalie (1937); Fred Hollander’s smoochy ‘Moonlight and Shadows’ (sung here by Archie Coates) from The Jungle Princess (1936); the slinky romantic ballad, ‘Sweet Leilani’ from Waikiki Wedding (1937); and the breezy ‘Sing Me a Song of the Islands’ from the 1942 film, Song of the Islands.

Other track favourites include a spirited Hawaiian rendering of ‘Tiger Rag’, the dreamy, atmospheric ‘Song of the Islands’ and somewhat appropriately Eric Coates ‘By the Sleepy Lagoon’ although its inspiration was a view in Sussex rather than a Pacific location. The melody of ‘The Japanese Sandman’ was a great favourite in the 1940s and much requested at that time and this Felix Mendelssohn recording was a hit but even more popular was the ‘Hawaiian War Chant’ with its amusing grunting, ethnic lyrics.

Other tracks include George Gershwin’s ‘I Got Rhythm’ ‘Aloha Land’ style; and yet another big hit ‘Yaaka Hula, Hickey Dula’ (A Hawaiian Love Song), plus the famous Maori farewell song, ‘Now is the Hour’ and the once familiar ‘Aloha Oe’.

Colourful nostalgic treat for the over 60s.

Ian Lace

Not Rated.

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