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Reviewers: Don Mather, Tony Augarde, Dick Stafford, John Eyles, Robert Gibson, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby



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LES PAUL & Vocalists

The Essential Collection

Avid AVC 924

 

 

 



CD1

With Bing Crosby

1. Gotta Get Me Somebody To Love
2. What Am I Gonna Do About You?
3. Itís Been A Long, Long Time
4. Pretending
5. Whose Dream Are You?
6. Drifting And Dreaming
7. Gotta Get Me Somebody To Love
8. Hey Lolly Lolly Lo
9. I Ainít Gonna Be Treated This Way
10. Blue Skies
With Helen Forrest

11. Baby, What You Do For Me
12. Everybody Knew But Me
With the Delta Rhythm Boys

13. A One Sided Affair
14. What Would It Take?
With The Andrews Sisters

15. Rumours Are Flying
16. Itís A Pity To Say Goodnight
With Dick Haymes

17. What Are You Doing New Yearís Eve?
18. My Future Just Passed
With Kay Starr

19. What Can I Say Dear, After I Say Iím Sorry
20. Thereís A Lull In My Life
21. What Goes Up, Must Come Down
22. What A Difference A Day Made
23. Ainít Misbehaviní
24. Nobody Knows The Trouble Iíve Seen
25. Honeysuckle Rose
26. My Future Just Passed
27. Betcha I Getcha
28. The Dixieland Band
With Clancy Hayes

29. My Extraordinary Gal
CD2

With Mary Ford

1. Mocking Bird Hill
2. Cryiní
3. Dry My Tears
4. I Wish Iíd Never Seen Sunshine
5. Tennessee Waltz
6. How High The Moon
7. Just One More Chance
8. In The Good Old Summertime
9. Iím Confessiní
10. Three Little Words
11. Smoke Rings
12. Take Me In Your Arms And Hold Me
13. The World Is Waiting For The Sunrise
14. My Babyís Cominí Home
15. Tiger Rag
16. Bye Bye Blues
17. St. Louis Blues
18. Iím Sittiní On Top Of The World
19. Vaya Con Dios
20. Johnny Is The Boy For Me
21. I Really Donít Want To Know
22. Donícha Hear Them Bells
23. Iím A Fool To Care
24. Blues Stay Away From Me
25. The Auctioneer
26. Mr Sandman
27. The Lonesome Road
28. Iím Moviní On
29. Baby Wonít You Please Come Home
30. The Best Things In Life Are Free
31. Donít Cry Baby
32. Some Of These Days
33. The Moon Of Manakoora

 

Les Paul is well-known in several capacities. Heís a virtuoso guitarist as well as a guitar designer whose trademark "Les Paul" electric guitar is still highly regarded. Jazz fans will probably remember Les from his recordings with Norman Granzís "Jazz at the Philharmonic" in its early days, with some memorable duets (or duels) with pianist Nat "King" Cole. But to the wider public he is most familiar for the recordings he made in the 1950s with his wife, Mary Ford. These pioneering recordings multi-tracked Lesís guitars as well as Maryís voice, creating a wonderful series of musical collages which were far ahead of their time.

The recordings with Mary Ford are represented on the second CD of this double album. They are set in context by the tracks on the first CD, which comprise recordings made between 1945 and 1948 by Les Paul with various singers. In some ways these anticipate Les Paulís later multi-tracked recordings. Most of them use Les Paulís trio (which sounds like two guitars and a double bass, or sometimes guitar, piano and bass) but the trio creates some very rich accompaniments with simple resources. These tracks also betray the way that Les often repeated himself from a battery of favourite guitar phrases, which can also be heard on the Mary Ford tracks.

The recordings with Bing Crosby are lifted by the Bingleís pleasant crooning. Tracks 8 and 9 are clearly from a radio broadcast and have Bing duetting with an unnamed singer (who I guess is Burl Ives). Blue Skies has an orchestral backing but Les Paul gets to play an inventive solo. Dick Haymesís mellow voice is well-suited to Frank Loesserís What Are You Doing New Yearís Eve?, a gorgeous song which is usually only heard around Christmastime. Haymes also sings My Future Just Passed, which is also performed by Kay Starr, with Les Paul supplying a very different accompaniment, assisted by a violinist who is possibly Joe Venuti. Sadly, the sleeve fails to supply full personnel details. The tracks with Kay Starr are probably the jazziest on the first CD, with Les Paul sounding very much at home in a small jazz group, which lets us hear what a fine vocalist Kay was even before she gained a wider audience with pop songs like Wheel of Fortune and Comes A-long A-love.

Mary Ford was also a fine singer, as you can hear on the second CD. The wonders of multi-tracking allow her to harmonise with herself as well as accompanying her singing with wordless vocals, and she is backed by a fascinating variety of sounds from Les Paulís guitars. The first few tracks are fairly gentle but you have to sit up when How High the Moon hits your ears. I remember the impact this track had when I first heard it on Jack Jacksonís Record Round-Up BBC programme in the 1950s. The song was already a favourite among jazz musicians but Les Paul makes it a stunning experience. The song swings along unstoppably with marvellous guitar behind Mary Fordís vocal. Les Paulís solo is a classic construction, with a throbbing bass-line beneath the swaying guitar. Les adds to the trackís effectiveness by using the tune of My Guyís Come Back as a counter-melody. Still wondrous after all these years!

Other highlights include the throbbing In the Good Old Summertime; The World is Waiting for the Sunrise with a characteristic Les Paul riff; and Iím Moviní On, which recalls Lesís country-music roots. Iím sorry that room was not found for some other splendid tracks like Goofus or La Rosita, but you canít complain at a double CD for the recommended price of £4.99. This album is another solid bargain from the Avid label - and a reminder of the genius of Les Paul. At the time of writing, the 92-year-old is still playing weekly at New Yorkís Iridium club.

Tony Augarde

 

 

 


 



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