a Past Perfect recommended CD

PPCD78134The Great British Dance Bands

this page first published by John Wright, 24 May 2003
last update 2 February 2012 vintage@r2ok.co.uk

A special feature CD: Past Perfect PPCD78112

The Great British Dance Bands - a fine selection of music from 1928-1943
(to order, click the image)

title list :-

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This varied programme of music does not disappoint and gets off to a great start with Jack Hylton's band featuring the superb close harmony female group that Jack hired from USA, the Swingtette, in a delightful Did You Mean It?. There may not be many female vocals to be heard on this CD but the lady singers are well represented. The teenager Mary Lee is excellent on the Roy Fox track I've Got Beginner's Luck and a very bluesy performance by Evelyn Love is made more effective by the equally bluesy Billy Cotton band in a fine arrangement of My Heart Belongs To Daddy - I still don't know what this song is all about! One of the later recordings on this CD features a very swingy Geraldo Orchestra supporting a very cool vocal from Dorothy Carless in Walkin' By The River; the GI's must have thought they were hearing a US band when they heard this on the radio in 1943.
So what do the lads have to offer? Sam Browne is represented twice. There's one of the classic records he made with the Ambrose Orchestra back in 1932, I Guess I'll Have To Change My Plan. A strong delivery from Sam maybe doesn't get across the lyric about a lost love but the arrangement is superb. Sam is heard again in a rare song As Long As The World Goes Round And Around, a very straight performance but faultless. Brian Lawrance is also featured twice on this CD. He sings a top class vocal with the Savoy Hotel Orpheans in From The Top Of Your Head made just perfect with two little samples of Carroll's inimitable piano style. Brian Lawrance pops up again with his own band in a lively performance of One In A Million which features some fine trumpet breaks. The Henry Hall record Got To Dance My Way To Heaven starts off with a very rich sax sound and we then hear fine vocal by Dan Donovan. Jack Payne's Organ Grinder's Swing IS a fine swingy performance and features the best vocal I have heard from Ronnie Genarder, and I'd say the same of Alan Kane's Stars Fell On Alabama with the Lew Stone band. If I have to choose then I'd say the finest male vocal on this CD has to be Chick Henderson's You Go To My Head with the Joe Loss band, Chick's delivery is impeccable. Other vocals are very enjoyable, including the trio singing with Jack Jackson's band You Turned Your Head, which certainly includes Fred Latham and maybe Jack himself. And the hottest track on the CD, Mister Rhythm Man, features Nat Gonella's effective scat singing as well as his rasping trumpet playing. On the big scale there's a typical movie music score from Louis Levy's large orchestra in The Eyes Of The World Are On You with a very suitable vocal from Robert Ashley. Things do quieten down a bit for Mantovani's atmospheric performance of the waltz Let's Fall In Love For The Last Time greatly enhanced by the fine vocal of George Barclay.
There are some great instrumental tunes on this CD too. Harry Roy's Temptation Rag is a vehicle for the twin pianos of Ivor Moreton and Dave Kaye but the rest of the band contribute excellently to an overall lively performance. I'm always amazed at how hot the Victor Silvester Jive Band was, and Crazy Rhythm does not disappoint - it features Tommy McQuater (tr), George Chisholm (tb) and a fine tenor sax. The Sid Phillips recording of Palais De Danse is a fine swingy number; I notice that it was issued only in USA at the time (1937).
There's only one title on this CD that I thought was a disappointing choice, Mrs Jack Hylton's Plain Mary Jane, I just can't say anything positive about it all.
The two earliest records on this CD may sound misplaced among all the swing numbers but they are fine examples of what our bands were playing around 1930. The Bert Firman Orchestra play a typical performance in My Pet featuring the 'period' voice of Maurice Elwin and hot licks from the trumpet of Sylvester Ahola. And there's a good choice of a Ray Noble record in Shout For Happiness where we are treated to a unique duel between Al Bowlly's patter and Max Goldberg's trumpet.
A long review, but I wanted to mention every single track from this excellent CD, a very interesting choice of titles from Past Perfect, most of which I had not heard before. The team from Past Perfect produced this CD back in 1994 and it's impressive to hear what superb audio-restoration results they were getting then. They have continued to issue only equal quality since.

John Wright

Past Perfect

digitalised re-issues of dance bands, swing bands, jazz and entertainers
available by Tel: 01869 325052, Fax: 01869 325072, clarity@pastperfect.com
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