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Jo Stafford
Make Love To Me: A Tribute Her 54 Finest 1942–1953
with Paul Weston and his Orchestra, Tommy Dorsey and his Orchestra, Nat King Cole (piano), Gordon Macrae (vocalist), Frankie Laine (vocalist)  and others

Re–issued from 78rpm discs recorded, mainly, in Hollywood between 1942 and 1953 ADD

RETROSPECTIVE RTS 4112 [77:09 + 76:46]

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Songs by Harold Arlen, Irving Berlin, Jimmy van Heusen, Jerome Kern, Burton Lane, Frank Loesser, Cole Porter, Richard Rodgers, Hoagy Carmichael, Arthur Schwartz, Kurt Weill and many others

1. Blues in the Night
2. Manhattan Serenade
3. i Remember You
4. It Could Happen to You
5. Long Ago and Far Away
6. I Love You
7. Tumbling Tumbleweeds
8. Let's Take the Long Way Home
9. There's No You
10. That's For Me
11. Symphony
12. Day by Day
13. The Boy Next Door
14. Walkin' My Baby Back Home
15. Over the Rainbow
16. Georgia on my Mind
17. I'll Be With You in Apple Blossom Time
18. September Song
19. Ivy
20. Temptation ("Tim-Tay-Shun")
21. Almost Like Being in Love
22. Smoke Dreams
23. I'm So Right Tonight
24. Feudin' and Fightin'
25. Serenade of the Bells
26. He's Gone Away
1. In the Still of the Night
2. Haunted Heart
3. Smoke Gets in Your Eyes
4. Make Believe
5. If I Loved You
6. My Darling, My Darling
7. Always True to You in my Fashion
8. Some Enchanted Evening
9. Whispering Hope
10. Ragtime Cowboy Joe
11. Scarlet Ribbons
12. Play a Simple Meldoy
13. Pagan Love Song
14. No Other Love
15. The Old Rugged Cross
16. Goodnight, Irene
17. Autumn Leaves
18. If
19. La Vie en Rose
20. The Tennessee Waltz
21. Shrimp Boats
22. Allentown Jail
23. Hawaiian War Chant
24. You Belong to Me
25. Hey, Good Lookin'!
26. Jambalaya, On the Bayou
27. Keep It a Secret
28. Make Love to Me!


Imagine a day when popular music consisted of lyrics which made sense, and actually said something. When music was built on great tunes, aided and abetted by arrangements of the highest order and vocalists who could really “sell” a song. Jo Stafford was one of the finest singers around. I remember as a child hearing Shrimp Boats on the radio and thrilling to the energy and the excitement in the voice of the singer. Now I’m also aware of a harpsichord in the accompaniment.

Stafford’s career lasted for 30 years – from the 1930s to the 1960s – starting with her sisters, Christine and Pauline in a vocal group, The Stafford Sisters, and when they married, Jo joined the 8 voice ensemble The Pied Pipers who were signed by Tommy Dorsey for his radio show. In 1944 Jo went solo and had a string of hits – she was the first female artists to have a number 1 hit in the UK singles chart.

These two CDs give a very good impression of her art, and the selection of songs, and the programming, has obviously been undertaken with a lot of care. There’s well known tunes – Hugh Martin’s Walking My Baby Back Home, Victor Schwertsinger and Johnny Mercer’s I Remember You – later made famous in the 1960s by the yodeling Frank Ifield –  Kurt Weill’s September Song and many more – and some of the best composers of the period are represented.

The arrangements are very interesting for the arrangers have managed to transform some up–tempo numbers into very handsome ballads – Lerner and Loewe’s It’s Almost Like being in Love (from Brigadoon) – and there’s a few very funny C&W take–offs, at least I think they are take–offs,  C&W cannot be meant to really be like this! Amazingly enough, Temptation (Tin–Tay–Shun)  was issued under the name of Cinderella G Stump and was a number 1 hit!

As always with these compilations there’s something for everybody. I was very taken with the gutsy Blues in the Night (a splendid arrangement by Sy Oliver and great support from Tommy Dorsey and his Orchestra) which starts the first disk, and Jerome Kern’s Long Ago and Far Away – what a song! – is given a slightly up–tempo performance which seems to add to the longing. Perhaps her version of September Song is unsatisfactory for it really is a man’s song – remember the pathos which Walter Huston brought to it – it was written for him – but Cole Porter’s In the Still of the Night is a lesson in how to deliver a love song with the utmost simplicity.

Strafford recorded some of the best songs of the time and, although she had a limited vocal range and limited emotional response she could put a song across with a heartwarming effortlessness. Harold Arlen, Jerome Kern, Cole Porter, Arthur Schwartz and many others all gain from Stafford’s approach and I wish that there had been a few more real up–tempo numbers, like the aforementioned Shrimp Boats, for Stafford’s voice is really suited to this kind of material. But this is a small point.

The transfers have been undertaken with great care and the sound is excellent. The notes are very good, detailing every song and who is playing in the accompaniments. This is an excellent reminder of perhaps not a great singer, but a very fine one and a superb artist. Don’t miss this one!


Bob Briggs

 see also review by Tony Augarde

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