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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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The Talk of the Town




  1. Who's That Knocking?
  2. I'm Making Believe
  3. My Blackbirds Are Bluebirds Now
  4. Don't Be Like That
  5. If I Had A Talking Picture Of You
  6. You're A Heavenly Thing
  7. The Right Kind Of Man
  8. Fit As A Fiddle
  9. It All Depends On You
  10. Tiptoe Through The Tulips
  11. It's The Talk Of The Town
  12. Them There Eyes
  13. Under The Moon
  14. Yes, Sir That's My Baby
  15. What I Wouldn't Do For That Man
  16. One Sweet Letter From You
  17. Lovable And Sweet
  18. You Wouldn't Fool Me

Debbie Arthurs' Sweet Rhythm; Debbie Arthurs (vocals and percussion), Trevor Whiting (clarinet and saxophones), Spats Langham (guitar, banjo, ukulele, vocals), Martin Litton (piano), Andy Woon (cornet), Mike Piggott (violin) and Malcolm Sked (double bass and sousaphone)
rec. February 2010, Nordern Farm Centre for the Arts, Maidenhead [56:25]


I've extolled the virtues of Debbie Arthurs before. Her interest in Annette Hanshaw is an abiding one and as I wrote in that previous review her singing is marked by `clear refinement, no ersatz American accent and a fine appreciation of period style.' There are 18 tracks in this latest disc from her and her Sweet Rhythm, and as ever the 20s songbook has been mined with discrimination and a focus on Hanshaw.

This is a congenial and stylistically aware band. With men such as Martin Litton, Spats Langham, Mike Piggott and Trevor Whiting on hand it could hardly be otherwise. Violinist Piggott makes a spirited contribution to Who's That Knocking? whilst Langham, who loves Ukelele Ike, adds his singing chops to I'm Making Believe.

Don't Be Like That is a vital and energising opus and gets peppy hot breaks. Andy Woon's trumpet is tightly muted and marvellous Malcolm Sked's sousaphone is appositely sepulchral. Charm is evident in If I Had A Talking Picture Of You and Fats Waller haunts Litton's Stride playing in You're A Heavenly Thing as indeed it does in the rather over-fulsome support he offers on It All Depends On You to Woon's fragile-sounding trumpet. Do Litton and Arthurs really agree on the tempo? Maybe I'm wrong, but I sense she would have preferred a slightly slower one.

Tiptoe through the Tulips works surprisingly well, lightly etched by percussion, trumpet and piano. Woon's Bixian phrasing on Them There Eyes is mixed with a rather thicker vibrato than his model, whilst clarinettist Trevor Whiting takes a bluesy solo on What I Wouldn't Do For That Man. Ensembles are varied, and textures too, and throughout Arthurs's pure, crystalline and unaffected singing ensures - along with her percussion work, and the fine recording balance - that period manners remain apposite and hugely enjoyable.

Jonathan Woolf

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