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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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Johnny Mercer's Music Shop II




Introduction: Johnny Mercer / Wendell Myles
2. Is You Is Or Is You Ain't (My Baby)
3. San Fernando Valley
4. My Blue Heaven
5. Love, Go Away
6. It Could Happen To You
7. Dream
8. Introduction: Johnny Mercer / Wendell Myles
9. Sugar
10. The Trolley Song
11. Sure Thing
12. Conversation With June Duprez / I Woke Up And Started Dreaming
13. Dream
14. Introduction: Johnny Mercer / Wendell Myles
15. Exactly Like You
16. Goodnight, Wherever You Are
17. You Can Depend On Me
18. Crazy Rhythm
19. Alexander's Ragtime Band
20. Dream
21. Introduction: Johnny Mercer / Wendell Myles
22. I Can't Help It
23. Time Waits For No One
24. I Get The Blues When It Rains
25. I'm Not Jealous
26. Dream

Johnny Mercer (vocals) with Wendell Myles (announcer); June Duprez: June Hutton (vocals); Jo Stafford (vocals): The Pied Pipers: The Three Barries: Paul Weston and The Orchestra
rec. [1944]

There's not as much documentation in this disc as there usually is from Sounds of Yesterday. I can't find any transmission dates for these AFRS broadcasts, though I believe they date from either June to September 1943 or June to December 1944. The orchestra is certainly that of Paul Weston, who had met Johnny Mercer a couple or so years earlier at Paramount. The Johnny Mercer Music Shop show coincided with the musician's strike, which meant that no union musician could record between 1942 and `44. The show was therefore an ideal opportunity for Mercer to showcase talent, not least those who had recorded for Capitol, for whom he worked. Weston brought contacts, and had known Jo Stafford from before the War. She duly appeared for Mercer, and later had her own radio show. Weston had also succeeded in getting her group, The Pied Pipers, successfully to audition for Tommy Dorsey. All these forces converged for the Mercer shows.

The quarter of an hour format was stable. There was an introduction, and an outro, called `Dream'. In between there was a guest, or guests, and a conversation segment, often a bit stilted but sometimes considerably perking up when some business took off. One of the joys of broadcast material is hearing just such an event. There is necessarily a lot of duplication as this disc preserves the broadcasts in their entirety and there are four concerts in all - meaning four Introductions and four Dreams. Stafford sings throughout with her usual superb pitching and vocal purity, and the Pied Pipers are classy. There are guests such as The Three Barries (quite good) and musician/actress, English-born June Duprez. The scripted dialogue between her and Mercer is not so bad; and her singing encourages the strings of Weston's orchestra to vibrate with particular warmth.

These AFRS broadcast discs were once available from Nostalgia, but Sounds of Yesteryear are scooping them up nicely.

Jonathan Woolf

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