Ruth Etting - America’s Sweetheart of Song
Love Me Or Leave Me - Her 51 Finest
rec. 1927-1937
RETROSPECTIVE RTS4283 [78:21 + 77:47]

Affectionately known as “America’s Sweetheart of Song”, Ruth Etting was an enormously popular singer in the 1920’s and 30’s. Born in David City, Nebraska in 1905, she moved to Chicago as a teenager to attend art school. Ruth began working part-time at the Marigold Gardens nightclub and soon became their featured vocalist. She was a natural torch singer, with a sweet soprano singing voice and her own distinctive style. She would often improvise tunes, changing tempos in the middle, with graceful intonation and phrasing.

Early in her career she recorded primarily with Columbia, where she was known as the Sweetheart of Columbia Records. Ruth recorded hundreds of songs for various record companies between 1921 and 1958, and had over 60 hit songs. She also performed with Art Kahn’s Dance Band, Paul Whiteman’s King of Jazz Orchestra, and Abe Lyman’s orchestra in Chicago. This two-disc set features 51 of Ruth’s hit songs between 1927 and 1937. She was blessed to work with many talented musicians at the Columbia studios in New York. Among them was Rube Bloom, a marvelous pianist and songwriter who accompanied Ruth on many of her recordings. Rube is joined by accordionist Mario Perry performing with Ruth on the song Sam, The Old Accordion Man, a novelty fox trot with a lively rhythm that fit Ruth’s singing style and range.

Ruth co-wrote the song When You’re With Somebody Else with Abel Baer and L.Wolfe Gilbert in 1927. She sings the tune in her lilting, dancing, vibrating soprano accompanied by Phil Schwartz on piano. The song was originally recorded by Columbia in January 1928. If I Could Be With You One Hour Tonight was written by James Johnson and Henry Creamer in 1926. The song begins with Ruth singing a slow gentle ballad with a piano background and Charlie Spivak on trumpet, then turning up-tempo, joined by guitarist Eddie Lang, violinist Ben Selvin, pianists Lou Alter and Frank Signorelli, and highlighted by the maestro of the mouthpiece, harmonicist Larry Adler. The song was recorded for Columbia in September 1930. Ruth recorded with Jay Wilbur and his Orchestra in London in August 1936. Two songs from that session were originally released on the Rex record label. You was composed by Walter Donaldson and Harold Adamson and appeared in the 1936 film The Great Zeigfeld. The orchestra performs primarily with strings and piano, and Ruth sings along with impeccable timing. The song It’s A Sin To Tell A Lie was written by Billy Mayhew in 1936, and quickly became a popular dance tune. The orchestra supports Ruth with a charming piano introduction and turns it into a gentle waltz, before changing to a happy swing rhythm. A bonus track features Doris Day singing Love Me Or Leave Me, from the 1955 film in which Doris and Jimmy Cagney star in the life story of Ruth and her rocky marriage to gangster Martin Snyder.

This is a great selection of tunes from Ruth Etting’s career. A 16-page booklet is included, with notes by Greg Gormick. The music was compiled by Ray Crick. The audio restoration and remastering was performed by Alan Bunting and Martin Haskell, and the sound quality is excellent. David Lennick performed the transfers from the original 78 rpm recordings.

Bruce McCollum

Previous review: Jonathan Woolf

CD1 (1926-1929)
Love Me Or Leave Me [3:16]
Lonesome And Sorry [3:19]
But I Do, You Know I Do! [2:43]
‘Deed I Do [2:47]
What Do We Do On A Dew-Dew-Dewy-Day [2:44]
It All Depends On You [2:57]
I’m Nobody’s Baby [2:52]
Sam, The Old Accordion Man [3:07]
Shaking The Blues Away [3:08]
The Song Is Ended, But The melody Lingers On [3:27]
Keep Sweeping The Cobwebs Off The Moon [2:53]
Back In Your Own Back Yard [2:59]
When You’re With Somebody Else [2:46]
Ramona [2:58]
Happy Days And Lonely Nights [3:08]
Because My Baby Don’t Mean Maybe Now [2:36]
Beloved [2:57]
Sonny Boy [3:26]
My Blackbirds Are Bluebirds Now [2:50]
You’re The Cream In My Coffee [3:04]
I’ll Get By As Long As I Have You [2:34]
Button Up Your Overcoat [2:45]
Mean To Me [3:26]
More Than You Know [2:59]
Cryin’ For The Carolines [2:53]
Bonus track: Love Me or Leave Me [2:16]

CD2 (1930-1937)
Ten Cents A Dance [3:12]
Funny Dear, What Love Can Do [3:03]
Dancing With Tears In My Eyes [2:45]
Don’t Tell Him What Happened To Me [3:19]
Just A Little Closer [2:59]
If I Could Be With You One Hour Tonight [2:59]
Body And Soul [3:21]
Love Is Like That, What Can You Do? [3:25]
Nevertheless I’m In Love With You [2:39]
Shine On, Harvest Moon [2:46]
Guilty [3:17]
Me! [2:40]
A Faded Summer Love [3:13]
Cuban love Song [2:52]
It Was So Beautiful [2:43]
I’ll Never Be The Same (Little Buttercup) [3:11]
Linger A Little Longer In The Twilight [2:58]
Close Your Eyes [2:46]
Smoke Gets In Your Eyes [2:34]
Riptide [2:48]
Easy Come, Easy Go [2:41]
Life Is A Song, Let’s Sing It Together [3:01]
You [2:45]
It’s A Sin To Tell A Lie [2:43]
There’s A Lull In My Life [2:38]
Goodnight, Sweetheart [2:59]
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