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GEORGES GUÉTARY
Ma Belle Marguerite

23 original mono recordings 1946-1951
Compiled by Peter Dempsey and Ray Crick
Transfers and restoration by Peter Dempsey and Martin Haskell
LIVING ERA CD AJA 5455 [75.36]

Crotchet Budget price



BLESS THE BRIDE

  1. Ma Belle Marguerite
  2. Table For Two
  3. This is My Lovely Day (with Lizbeth Webb)
  4. I Was Never Kissed Before (with Lizbeth Webb)
  5. La Chanson De Juanito
  6. Serenade
  7. Robin Des Bois
  8. A Honolulu
  9. Quant Un Cowboy
  10. Comme Une Étoile
  11. Le Pítit Bal Du Samedi soir
  12. Dors, Mon Amour
  13. Valse Des Regrets
  14. Magdelena
  15. I Dreamt I Was Back In Paris
  16. In Chi-Chi Castenango
  17. Bella, Bella, Marie
  18. No Orchids For My Lady

  19. LATIN QUARTER
  20. Clopin, Clopin
  21. La Bas
  22. Bolero

  23. AN AMERICAN IN PARIS
  24. ĎS Wonderful
  25. Iíll Build a Stairway To Paradise

Born Lambros Worloou in Alexandria, Egypt of Greek parents, Georges Guétary was all set for a career in accountancy until at the age of nineteen he was sent by his parents to Paris to study commerce. But the French capital provided just the right trigger for the already stage struck Lambros. His musical inclinations were encouraged by his Uncle, a pianist, who persuaded him to enter the Music College run by two of the outstanding French virtuosos of the day, violinist Jacques Thibaud and pianist Alfred Cortot. It was Thibaud who advised Lambros to take up singing and after vocal auditions with soprano Ninon Vallin he first appeared as a vocalist, billed as Georges Guétary, with the Jo Bouillon Orchestra at the European in January 1937. He was spotted there by Mistinguett, the 64 year old Queen of the Paris Night, who was keen to make another comeback and she chose him as her leading man in Revue. So began Georgesís rise to fame. Not only did he have a tremendous voice but he also had that exotic Latin charm.

The songs on this disc are from many well-known musicals, revues and films. There are a few sung in French but with a voice such as Georgesís the words simply don't matter. Itís his voice that will enthral you. Georges had a string of hit song to his credit, several written for him by Paris-base operetta composer Francis Lopez. In Paris in May 1942 he recorded "La Chanson De Junanito". Having never heard this song before I was impressed by how Georges could control his voice. Not a straightforward song either but one that needed a singer of some ability to cope with all the different changes in it and Georges does it brilliantly, pitching his voice lower or higher when necessary and without effort. His next recording is "Serenade" and sounded very familiar to me. It was recorded in Paris in June 1943. I love the introduction by Marcel Gariven and his orchestra, then to hear Georges join in with his rich soothing voice as he serenades someone you sense he may be thinking of is perfect. A good number to follow is one Georges recorded in Paris in July 1943, "Robin Des Bois", with Marius Coste and his orchestra. Georges is obviously singing about someone special. His voice has lost a little of that soothing, velvety sound heard in his previous recordings and quickens to just the right speed, but at the same time showing he can sing any type of song with a quality that is unique.

A slightly different song comes from Paris in July 1945, "A Honolulu". Georges, as usual, sings as though he is very happy, his voice nigh on perfect for this song. He ends on a high note without any effort and holds it for as long as he needs too. Marius Coste with orchestra accompanied him in splendid harmony. This was followed with "Quant Un Cowboy", again with Marius Coste and orchestra, recorded at the same time. This is a number where you hear again the sheer range of Georgesís voice. Sometimes you are conscious of him explaining what is happening, then without warning but still in full flow, he gaily changes for a few bars, then just as suddenly goes back to the first style. Itís a clever number and I liked how Georges could so easily go from one extreme to another without once losing the theme of what the song was all about.

The following in Paris he recorded "Comme Une Etoile". This is one of those serious songs where Georges sings in that quiet soothing way he is well suited to. He has the voice to make you feel relaxed. I also found myself sitting back and listening with pleasure when he sings "Vase Des Regrets" made in Paris in 1946 with an orchestra conducted by Marcel Cariven. I recognised the songs immediately although he sings it in French and would count this one of his most beautiful love songs and I think you will too. The following with Guy Luypaerts he recorded "Dors Mon Amour". Another beautiful love song from which you get the feeling Georges is singing his thoughts aloud about someone rather than putting into words what he feels.

We find Georges in London in March 1947 recording four songs in English from the musical 'Bless the Bride' with Michael Collins and his orchestra. With a chorus he first sings with joyous abandon "Ma Belle Marguerite". This is followed by "Table for Two", a song only someone with a voice like Georges could sing quite like this. Itís a number that has many changes of rhythm and Georges manages these easily. Next we have him singing a duet with Lizbeth Web, a soprano with a magnificent and charming voice, "This Is My Lovely day". Their voices blend well and they sing together in complete accord. They follow this with the lovely "I Was Never Kissed Before", a real delight to listen to. The Michael Collins orchestra is excellent all through. While still in London he also recorded "Magdalena", one of his hit songs written for him by Francis Lopez. He starts softly and gently, but soon his voice quickens. A pleasant number but not all the words are clear enough to take in all that the song is about. From that same month in London comes "I Dreamt I Was Back In Paris" with Vivian Ellis at the piano. I liked this very much and in this number you can just hear the French accent in Georges voice as he tells you of his dream, and with a voice such as he has, you can almost believe him. Vivian Ellis adds to the pleasure of listening to this pleasant song. I loved it.

The following year in February 1948 Georges was back in London to record "In Chi-Chi Castenango" with Phillip Green and his orchestra. This is a jazzy number and one that will make you want to get up and swing to it. He finishes by speaking some words of the song and the music in the background quietly lowers to match. This is followed by "Bella, Bella, Marie" made at the same time. This is a simple love song, yet Georges manages to make it into something special, his voice has that unique quality. As I listened to Georges next recording in London from June 1948 I wondered yet again why some of his songs are never heard today. This is "No Orchids For My Lady". You hear the orchestra quietly lead Georges in as he then softly and tenderly sings this simple love song. Not for one moment does his voice lose that special caressing sound he has when he sings this type of song.

The following three recordings are from the revue "Latin Quarter", made in London in 1949 with George Melachrino and his orchestra. The first one is "Clopin, Clopant". Itís a good song with Georges starting off by humming a few bars and whistling another few before he starts singing. He sings as though he is telling you a story, and every now and again he whistles the melody and hums. Itís as though he is walking somewhere and humming as he goes. Next is a typical Latin number, "La Bas" and I liked it very much. Georges sings with such joyous abandon it makes one think of the beautiful Latin dances.

In June 1951 we find Georges in Hollywood recording from the MGM Studio two songs from the film "An American in Paris". In a duet with Gene Kelly we hear "'S Wonderful" which became a hit from the start. Lastly we have the great "I'll Build A Stairway To Paradise". A lovely song beautifully sung by Georges and a fitting conclusion to this really enjoyable disc that has all the excellent transfer sound we have come to expect from Living Era.

Joan Duggan

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