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


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'S Wonderful:
The Songs of George Gershwin
His 51 finest

Retrospective RTS 4176



1. Swanee - Al Jolson
2. Do It Again! - Mary Martin
3. I'll Build A Stairway To Paradise - Georges Gu‚tary
4. Somebody Loves Me - Dinah Shore
5. Oh, Lady Be Good! - Cliff Edwards
6. Fascinating Rhythm - Fred & Adele Astaire
7. Hang On To Me - Fred & Adele Astaire
8. The Half Of It, Dearie, Blues - Fred Astaire
9. I'd Rather Charleston - Fred & Adele Astaire
10. Looking For A Boy - Ella Fitzgerald
11. That Certain Feeling - Layton & Johnstone
12. Sweet And Lowdown - Lee Wiley
13. Clap Yo' Hands - Whispering Jack Smith
14. Do, Do, Do - Gertrude Lawrence
15. Maybe - Ella Fitzgerald
16. Someone To Watch Over Me - Frank Sinatra
17. Strike Up The Band! - Red Nichols
18. The Man I Love - Sarah Vaughan
19. I've Got A Crush On You - Frank Sinatra
20. Soon - Ella Fitzgerald
21. Funny Face - Whispering Jack Smith
22. 'S Wonderful - Whispering Jack Smith
23. My One And Only, What Am I Gonna Do - Fred Astaire
24. How Long Has This Been Going On? - Peggy Lee
25. Liza, All The Clouds'll Roll Away - Al Jolson
26. "Of Thee I Sing" - Dance Medley: Of Thee I Sing/Who Cares?/Love Is Sweeping The Country - Abe Lyman

1. Bidin' My Time - The Foursome
2. Embraceable You - Nat King Cole
3. I Got Rhythm - Judy Garland
4. But Not For Me - Ella Fitzgerald
5. My Cousin In Milwaukee - Hildegarde
6. Summertime - Sarah Vaughan
7. I Got Plenty o' Nuttin' - Lawrence Tibbett
8. Bess, You Is My Woman Now - Lawrence Tibbett & Helen Jepson
9. It Ain't Necessarily So - Paul Robeson
10. I Loves You, Porgy - Todd Duncan & Ann Brown
11. By Strauss - George Byron
12. Shall We Dance? - Fred Astaire
13. They Can't Take That Away From Me - Fred Astaire
14. They All Laughed - Fred Astaire
15. I've Got Beginner's Luck - Fred Astaire
16. Let's Call The Whole Thing Off - Fred Astaire
17. Slap That Bass - Fred Astaire
18. A Foggy Day - Fred Astaire
19. Things Are Looking Up - Fred Astaire
20. Nice Work If You Can Get It - Fred Astaire
21. Our Love Is Here To Stay - Larry Clinton
22. I Was Doing All Right - Larry Clinton
23. Love Walked In - Kenny Baker
24. Aren't You Kind Of Glad We Did? - Dick Haymes & Judy Garland
25. For You, For Me, For Evermore - Dick Haymes & Judy Garland


One hears a lot about the Great American Songbook, but it is a very difficult concept to pin down. It usually describes the popular songs written between about 1920 and 1960 - from the roaring twenties to the rise of rock 'n' roll. It was the heyday of the film musical and the stage equivalent, both of which forms were fed by such composers as Jerome Kern, Cole Porter and George Gershwin. Their works were performed by popular singers like Fred Astaire, Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald. Indeed, it is probably no accident that this double album includes no fewer than 14 recordings featuring Astaire, who popularised many of these songs in his film musicals. It is good that George Gershwin himself plays the piano on some of these recordings.

This compilation provides a good survey of George Gershwin's contribution to the Great American Songbook, with the recordings usefully arranged chronologically. The dates 1925-1951 on the cover refer to the recording dates, not the dates of composition, as Gershwin's writing career lasted from 1916 to his death in 1937.

The selection of songs is judicious, although it is a pity that room wasn't found for Let's Kiss and Make Up, He Loves and She Loves or Isn't It a Pity. At any rate, the choice illustrates many important aspects of Gershwin's output: the enduring popularity of many of his songs; the importance of his brother Ira, who wrote most of the lyrics; and the fact that Gershwin's compositions have appealed to such jazz artists as Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee and Sarah Vaughan as well as numerous "popular" vocalists. Gershwin's I Got Rhythm became such a standard among jazz musicians that they call its chords "rhythm changes".

Gershwin's "serious" works, such as Rhapsody in Blue and his Piano Concerto, are understandably not represented, because they were instrumental, but five songs are included from his opera Porgy and Bess - among them Summertime, surely one of the most popular songs ever written. With more than two-and-a-half hours of superb melody, this is a fitting representation of the work of a composer who contributed so much to the Great American Songbook.

Tony Augarde

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