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The Early Years: Volume 2

1) Iím Yours Sincerely
2) When My Dream Boat Comes Home
3) The Generalís Fast Asleep
4) No Regrets
5) Roses In December
6) Careless
7) Itís a Lovely Day Tomorrow
8) When You Wish Upon a Star
9) Until You Fall In Love
10) Memories Live Longer Than Dreams
11) Thereíll Come Another Day
12) Smiliní Through
13) When They Sound The Last "All Clear"
14) Yours
15) My Sister and I
16) I Donít Want To Set The World On Fire
17) Youíre In My Arms
18) That Lovely Weekend
19) Someoneís Rocking My Dreamboat
rec ADD 1930s and 1940s




It wasnít until 1935 that people heard the voice of the young Vera Lynn on the wireless with Joe Loss and his band and it was around this time that she began her recording career too. One of her earliest records is on this disc and is a song hardly known today, "The Generalís Fast Asleep", recorded in 1935. Vera was accompanied by Jay Wilbur and his band in a really entertaining song by Michael Carr and Jimmy Kennedy who later gave us "The Mountains of Morne" and "The Isle of Capri". It is also apparent by the excellence of the sound on this new transfer how very young Vera was when she recorded it and it is doubtful if her voice has ever sounded clearer. Very different from how people will think of her today. A recording of "No Regrets" quickly followed and here again we have to thank Peter Dempsey for transferring this lovely song on to the new CD so well as he does every song on this CD. Here Vera is accompanied by Arthur Young at the Novachord, of which more later, and she sings this with such feeling that you could wonder if she had any "Regrets" herself at this time.

By 1937 Vera was recording with Charlie Kunz's Casani Club Orchestra for "When my dream boat comes home". The refrain is played first by the orchestra but you are conscious of the accompaniment cleverly being lowered as Vera comes in with the chorus. This song, by Cliff Fried and Dave Franklin, was a great favourite of many people when it was first recorded and Veraís version compels you to become conscious of someone dreaming of the time when a special person came back and they would always be together. She also conveys the impression of dreaming. It's a song with a good melody too and with the technology we have now it is a pleasure to hear how Vera has used her voice to make you think how very possible it is to sit and wonder how it would be when "My dream boat comes home". Superbly accompanied by the Orchestra, no other recording of this song could have brought out the yearning of her waiting for her dreamboat but a CD such as this has achieved it.

By 1940, the second year of the war, Vera had become much better known. By then she had been with Ambrose and his Orchestra for some time while at the same time entertaining troops and generally boosting national morale just when it was needed. In fact, she was soon to be known as the "Forcesí Sweetheart" mainly through her BBC radio request programme "Sincerely Yours" where she would read out messages for men abroad. With Ambrose she recorded that year "Careless". I think you can hear that by then music making had undergone a change as it is noticeable how individual instruments were being heard more when changes in the melody were indicated. Passages of pathos and sudden cheerings up see the melody take on a whole new sound. It is a tribute to the skills of transfer engineer Peter Dempsey that we can hear this too. Vera always sang with warmth and charm but by 1940 gone was the sweeter sound of very young Vera to be replaced by an experienced voice that could emphasise even more her, always natural, way of expressing her feelings through the words of the song.

Later in 1940 Vera recorded another song with Ambrose, "Until you fall in Love". The orchestra plays very softly in the background, never at any time swamping Vera, and by doing this you hear her all the pleading in her voice. Then as her voice dies away the clarinet repeats the refrain beautifully. This is a nice song, another that is perhaps not so well known now, but hearing it in this lovely arrangement made it a true pleasure.

About the same time, Vera recorded the much more famous "It's a lovely day tomorrow" by Irving Berlin and accompanied by Jay Wilbur's Band with Arthur Young at the Novachord. A real morale booster this one, believe me. Vera sings as if she is telling you that, in spite of the happening in that second year of war, she wants you to forget your troubles and believe it will still be "a lovely day tomorrow". It was possible to believe it. I know, because I was there. Again the music plays along with just the right tempo and Arthur Young with his distinctive Novachord accompanies.

It was a pleasure to hear the dulcet notes from Arthur Young and his Novachord and if you are wondering what a Novachord is, itís a kind of electric organ/piano first invented in the thirties by Laurens Hammond. It was a pleasurable addition to any Orchestra at the time that now gives so much "period feel" to the recordings it is featured on.

A song which immediately became popular in 1940 was "When you wish upon a Star", by Leigh Harline and Ned Washington and Vera Lynnís version is with Arthur Young at the Novachord once again. I remember that it was a song that people whistled while they worked or even tried to play on the piano. Even without the music, anyone with the basics of training could be heard strumming it at gatherings where people tried to forget what might happen to them at any time. Listening to the words as Vera sings them you can hear again that she was of the generation that knew the words of a song were as important as the music.

It is no surprise that "Memories live longer than dreams", recorded by Vera Lynn in 1940 yet again with Arthur Young at the Novachord, was considered an appropriate "follow up" to the previous one. Vera sings the words with all the meaning sounding in her voice, not over-pleadingly, but reminding you that in spite of what could happen you would still have your memories that last for ever. A song to be listened to and to and remembered that every word is so true.

"There'll come another day", accompanied by Jay Wilbur and his Band, comes from 1940 too. This one was written by the actor Allen Shanks ("PC 49" to radio listeners) and Pat Patterson. It's a simple song and many people thought it too sad at the time, I remember. Well, perhaps it was, but this was Vera desperately trying to assure you that the day would come when there would be no shadows and it would be possible to stroll once again into the sunset hand in hand with the one you love. During those horrendous days it was hard to believe a day such as Vera sings would actually come and maybe that was why it didnít gain such popularity. Jay Wilbur and his Band strike just the right tempo, keeping their contribution soft and gently helping Vera sing this song that is meant to ensure everyone gets the right message. But perhaps this recording is not for everyone.

Vera Lynn had by then met her future husband and manager Harry Lewis, a clarinettist and tenor-saxophonist. During the war she also toured wherever the troops were. All the time boosting them with her songs and generally making sure by doing so she was entertaining them. She also appeared in the West End comedy revue "Apple Sauce" with Max Miller and made three films. With ENSA she started tours singing her way to become what she was already but even more of a household name.

In April 1941, with Jay Wilbur and his Serenaders, she recorded "Smilin' through" by Arthur Penn. This was a song that really tugged at the heart, and brought a tear to many eyes. It can have the same effect even today to some people too. Jay Wilburís Serenaders play along with Vera brilliantly and Vera does full justice to the song in every way. It came at a time most needed when people never knew from one day to the next if they would still be alive. The worry too of not knowing if they would ever see their loved ones again who were fighting the enemy somewhere overseas pressed heavily. It was a time when people met and comforted each other, a time when everyone was a friend. Sheltering in an Air-Raid shelter listening to music was one of the popular ways the people indulged in. Vera Lynn was a great favourite. This recording of "Smilin' through" even though it pulled at those heartstrings was loved by all.

"When they sound the last all clear" by Hugh Charles and Louis Elton was one of the recordings that Vera made with Mantovani's Orchestra and it became an instant favourite. No one ever doubted the last all clear would sound, I remember. People talked about that time when the bells would ring, and people would sing again, and no one would ever be parted again. So this song really caught the mood. But hearing Vera sing with such conviction made this record what it became - a song to remember, and one never to be forgotten for many years.

Accompanied again by Mantovaniís Orchestra, Vera Lynn recorded that great song "Yours" that same year. In her distinctive way she always knew when to speed a song along and as always the music accompanying her faithfully follows. This was a song that brought a few tears to peopleís eyes as well and is very much a Vera Lynn song. I doubt if anyone would think of it as anyone elseís.

A song never heard now, on the other hand, is "My Sister and I". Again Vera is with Mantovani and she faithfully sings this story-song by Sy Zaret, Joan Whitney and Alex Kramer. We hear of two elderly sisters who are reminiscing and how they are thinking of a time when they sailed away leaving their friends who stayed behind. You hear Veraís voice change as she tells you how they say "But we donít talk about it anymore." A nice little song that tells of a habit often indulged in by many people.

The great song "I donít want to set the World on Fire", is often to be heard now, of course. Mantovani accompanies again and I do like the orchestra in this recording. You can hear every instrument and this is Mantovani at his very best. It easy to hear that his Orchestra is enjoying playing with such enthusiasm as this, but always supporting Vera. The same applies to "Youíre in my Arms" by Michael Carr and Jack Popplewell with the Orchestra catching Veraís plaintive mood superbly. This is not a song heard often these days either and it is good to be reminded of it.

I can highly recommend this CD to Vera Lynnís many fans.

Joan Duggan


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