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



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THE LONDON SWING
ORCHESTRA

The Roaring Twenties

Upbeat URCD249

 

 

1. You're the Cream in My Coffee
2. It Had to Be You
3. Wedding of the Painted Doll
4. Jealousy
5. What'll I Do
6. The Sheik of Araby
7. The Charleston
8. Breakaway
9. Dance Little Lady
10. Because My Baby Don't Mean Maybe Now
11. Makin' Whoopee
12. My Canary Has Circles under His Eyes
13. The Mooche
14. Copper Coloured Gal
15. Stormy Weather
16. Cotton Club Stomp
17. Ill Wind
18. Mackie Messer
19. Chicago
20. 42nd Street

Graham Dalby - leader, conductor, and vocals
No other personnel listed.
 
No recording data provided.

 

This CD is the first of a quartet of albums to mark the 25th anniversary of The London Swing Orchestra. Titled "The Roaring Twenties," it covers the music of the period from approximately the end of WW I to the outbreak of WW II. (The other three albums making up the anthology are "The Elegant Thirties," "The Birth of Swing 1935-1945," and "The Age of The Crooner 1945-1975.") Except, perhaps, for Breakaway and Dance Little Lady, most of the tunes should be familiar. Mackie Messer, which is sung in German, is better known as Mack the Knife.

Although this orchestra, which recreates the music of the twenties and thirties, has been around for some twenty-five years, I was unfamiliar with it before now. According to their CV, they have appeared at many locations world-wide over the years and for audiences that have included royalty. They have also, the liner notes aver, "recorded extensively for the BBC." They appear to be a "society orchestra"-one that plays for various society affairs, such as "coming-out balls" for debutantes and various charity events headed up by some celebrity, as well as other concerts and dances.

The leader, Graham Dalby, states on the group's web site, that "Using only top, classically trained virtuosi, The London Swing Orchestra represents the very best of British talent in its field...." That is readily apparent as the tunes are played flawlessly. Dalby has rehearsed the musicians well, and there is not a flub or clam to be heard. I am quite sure that this would be true, also, of a live performance, with not a hair or a note out of place. Dancers will find the tempos ideal.

But as well as being a strength, it is something of a weakness, too. While I enjoyed the performance throughout for its technical perfection, I could not detect any swing. The same is true of all of Dalby's vocals-his enunciation and diction are perfect, his vibrato well-controlled, everything indicating a well-trained voice. But I would have liked the orchestra and the vocalist (I didn't dare say "band" and "singer") to be a bit looser. It is all a bit too polite, too prim and proper, too "perfect."

Since no information is given as to recording dates or personnel, it is difficult to say much here, other than it seems that there are several dates as I detect a violin on some of the titles in the first half dozen or so but not any after that. Dalby sings on all tracks except The Mooche (for which I doubt there are lyrics) and Cotton Club Stomp (ditto). But after the guitar intro on Stormy Weather, I wouldn't have been surprised to hear the Ink Spots sing!

This CD should appeal to those who appreciate fine arrangements of music of the period, the lyrics of the songs, and extremely competent musicians to perform them. On all of these counts the CD delivers. But it didn't get me up out of my chair, I'm afraid.

Bert Thompson



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