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HITS OF 1950


20 Original Recordings

Transfers by David Lennick and Graham Newton

NAXOS NOSTALGIA 8.120637 [57.21]



Crotchet Budget price

  1. "If I Knew You Were Cominí Iíd Have Bakes a Cake" (Eileen Barton and the New Yorkers.

  2. "Rag Mop" (The Ames Brothers)

  3. "My Foolish Heart" (Gordon Jenkins and his Orchestra with Joe Graydon)

  4. "Orange Colored Sky (Nat King Cole with Stan Kenton and his Orchestra)

  5. "Bonaparteís Retreat" (Kay Starr)

  6. "The Third Man Theme" (Anton Karas)

  7. "Daddyís Little Girl" (The Mills Brothers)

  8. "Dearie" (Jo Stafford and Gordon MacRae)

  9. "The Cry of the Wild Goose" (Frankie Laine)

  10. "Count Every Star" (Ray Anthony and his Orchestra with Dick Noel)

  11. "Music! Music! Music!" (Teresa Brewer)

  12. "Mona Lisa" (Nat King Cole)

  13. "A Bushel and a Peck" (Perry Como and Betty Hutton)

  14. "No Other Love" (Jo Stafford)

  15. "Dear Hearts and Gentle People" (Bing Crosby)

  16. "Goodnight Irene" (Gordon Jenkins and his Orchestra with The Weavers)

  17. "Bewitched" (Bill Snyder and his Orchestra)

  18. "Thinking of You" (Don Cherry)

  19. "Tennessee Waltz" (Patti Page)

  20. "The Thing" (Phil Harris)

Many of the recordings on this disc of American recordings from 1950 soon became favourites in Britain too. Like the people in the USA one of the many changes taking place here at that time was the influence of the "baby boomers" growing up and starting school. In the USA as in Britain families could stay at home and watch TV if they were lucky enough to have one but in both countries the cinemas were still an attraction, as can be heard in some of these songs. Here is an assortment of 1950 novelties and other light hearted numbers, many you will recognise, even though there may be a slight difference in how they are sung now.

The earliest recording is one everyone will know and comes from a movie. Itís "The Harry Lime Theme" from the film "The Third Man" with Anton Karasís zither recorded in London September 1949. Just as distinctive as the day it was made, you can still see the film on television from time to time and like so many of these old black and white films it is still good to watch. A very different recording to follow this in order of recording is Bing Crosby with Jud Conlonís Rhythmaires and Perry Botkinís String Band from October 1949 singing "Dear Hearts and Gentle People". Itís a great song and the young Crosby sings as only "the old groaner" can. Next comes a soft and slow introduction from Gordon Jenkins and his orchestra leading in Joe Graydon in singing "My Foolish Heart" recorded in November 1949 in Los Angeles. Itís a short song but what you hear is gentle and silvery from both the orchestra and Joe Graydon who has a voice that is soothing and mellow without being too cloying.

I smiled when I heard the start of the next recording. Nothing could be more different from the previous one than The Ames Bothers in this novelty song "Rag Mop" made in New York in February 1950. Itís a "quick fire" number and the brothers sing it so fast itís hard to figure out what they are singing about. The word "Mop" was the only word that dominates. Did I like it? I did, I suppose, but wouldnít wish to hear it too often. If you happen to still be in a daydream after listening to a romantic song and still glowing from it perhaps "Rag Mop" is ideal to break the spell. Again we have a change with Ray Anthony and his orchestra and Dick Noel on vocals in "Count Every Star" recorded in Hollywood in December 1949. This hasnít really survived down the years. I do like how the orchestra plays the introduction and then lowers the volume when Dick Noel starts to sing in a low, very tuneful voice. You certainly know he means all he is telling you, which is all you can ask. The next recording is another great novelty song with tremendous appeal that has certainly lasted down the years and here it is in as merry and lively version as you could want. Itís "Music! Music! Music" with Teresa Brewer, Jack Pleis and The Dixieland All Stars. This arrangement really gets you bouncing and the accompaniment from all the different instruments is great fun.

"Daddyís Little Girl" by the Mills Brothers was made in Los Angeles in January 1950. Sentimental and cloying, I can hear some say, but Iím sure there will equally be many who will appreciate this and acknowledge the melodious voices of the Mills Brothers as I did. What could be more different from the previous song than Frankie Laine in "The Cry of The Wild Goose" with Carl Fischerís Orchestra and Chorus in New York in January 1950. Iíve a strong feeling Frankie really enjoyed himself singing this racy song as he sings it so very well. But keep on chasing, Frankie, this is not a song that does anything for me.

What a perfect follow up is the next recording: "If I Knew You Were Coming Iíd Have Baked A Cake" with Eileen Barton and the New Yorkers. I have never heard this particular arrangement before, but then I had never heard Eileen Barton before. But she and the New Yorkers make this into something special and I hope youíll clap along with them. Such a difference is the next recording, "Bonaparteís Retreat" with Kay Starr and Lou Busch and his Orchestra recorded in Hollywood. This is termed a Country tune. I canít say on first hearing that I cared for it very much, although now and again I thought there was something about the melody I could become accustomed to. But it was so fleeting it didnít register for long and Kay Starr makes the most of the number, as always.

The next recording is "Dearie" and it really cheered me up when I saw it was by Jo Stafford and Gordon MacRae. Jo has always been a favourite and she and Gordon MacRae make an ideal pair to sing a duet while at the same time indulging in amusing repartee as the song proceeds. The orchestra plays along in a lazy slow rhythm making sure the words are heard, while at the same time seemed to be part of the number, never once diverting from their melody. This is a remarkable production and a real gem. You can hear Jo Stafford again in "No Other Love, once again with Paul Westonís Orchestra and George Greeley on the piano. I have always loved this song adapted from Chopinís Nocturne in E flat, and itís a treat to hear it once more. The orchestra plays the theme beautifully in a slow, somnolent way while keeping pace with Jo. George Greeley is the pianist who suits the soft, plaintive tone of the music too. It will cast a spell over the more romantic of you, as it does me. I was still in the same frame of mind as I listened and remembered "Goodnight Irene" with Gordon Jenkins and his Orchestra and The Weavers. What memories some of these songs evoke to take you back into the distant past. This particular song does just that to me as good as any of them and this version is excellent. Next the great Nat King Cole singing in that soothing, caring and comforting way the lovely song "Mona Lisa" with Les Baxterís orchestra and recorded in March in Los Angeles. Nat is a great favourite and this is a great song, one of his standards. We hear a complete change of mood from Nat in his other recording on this disc that he made with Stan Kenton in Los Angeles. Itís "Orange Colored Sky" and I really would have preferred this without the sudden outbursts from the chorus, but Iím sure some will disagree with me. I think the song would have been good enough without it.

Now is the time to sit back and become "Bewitched", which is the next recording with Bill Snyder and Orchestra recorded in Chicago. You will hear a first class pianist and an orchestra who make this melody into something you will want to hear again. Like me you will probably have heard a vocal arrangement, but agree try this version for something different.

I was interested to hear "Thinking of you" with Don Cherry and Dave Terryís Orchestra and Chorus. I have never heard this before, or even heard of Don Terry, but I was impressed as itís most pleasant to listen to and the arrangement made it even better. A pleasant novelty number to follow is "A Bushel and A Peck" with Perry Como and Betty Hutton recorded in New York. This particular number has survived well and you will love the chirpy singing of Perry and the responses that Betty Hutton makes when the words of this lively song demand it. Great record this, and quite an unusual one for Perry Como whose soft and romantic voice normally brought us love songs and ballads.

What a delight to hear Phil Harris with Walter Scharfís Orchestra. I love Phil Harrisís records. No one could help but be amused by his clever songs and unique delivery of them. This one, "The Thing", was recorded in Hollywood October 1950 and is a warning to everyone of picking up a box while on the beach and never being able to be rid of it. Philís unique singing compels you to listen to his clear voice, and you can, with a little imagination, follow his progress trying to get rid of The Thing. To follow this with "The Tennessee Waltz" is perhaps inappropriate but I really liked the arrangement with Pattie Page with Jack Raelís Orchestra very much. She sounds so crestfallen and sad and the orchestra plays up to how she feels that I began to feel for her and imagined myself in her place.

After listening to these "Hits of 1950" I was aware that many of these singers were to become even more famous in later years. Thanks to Naxos for their excellent transfers to build up such an enjoyable profile of a great year.

Joan Duggan

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