- INDIAN LOVE CALL – Slim Whitman
- SLOW POKE – Pee Wee King
- TELL ME WHY – The Four Aces
- THE WHEEL OF FORTUNE – Kay Starr
- THE BLACKSMITH BLUES – Ella Mae Morse
- BLUE TANGO – Leroy Anderson
- ANY TIME – Eddie Fisher
- A GUY IS A GUY – Doris Day
- PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA – Guy Mitchell
- THE KISS OF FIRE – Georgia Gibbs
- HERE IN MY HEART – Al Martino
- DELICADO – Percy Faith
- WALKIN’ MY BABY BACK HOME – Johnnie Ray
- LOVER – Peggy Lee
- HALF AS MUCH – Rosemary Clooney
- SOMEWHERE ALONG THE WAY – Nat King Cole
- SUGARBUSH – Doris Day and Frankie Laine
- WISH YOU WERE HERE – Eddie Fisher
- YOU BELONG TO ME – Jo Stafford
- HIGH NOON (Do Not Forsake Me) – Frankie Laine
- I WENT TO YOUR WEDDING – Patti Paige
- MEET MISTER CALLAGHAN – Les Paul
- JAMBALAYA – Hank Williams
- LADY OF SPAIN – Eddie Fisher
- WHY DON’T YOU BELIEVE ME – Joni James
- THE GLOW WORM – The Mills Brothers
- AUF WIEDERSEH’N, SWEETHEART – Vera Lynn
In spite of a certain restlessness in the world seven
years after the end of the war, great records were being made, as this
CD of 1952 hits proves. Here is a typical pot-pourri of songs and music
from different artists in their individual styles. A little like the
liquorice "Allsorts" you used to buy then and, like them,
some you prefer to others
The earliest recording here was made in Chicago in
April 1951. It’s "Slow Poke" by Pee Wee King and his Golden
West Cowboys. Pee Wee first joined Gene Autry’s show and then when Autry
went to Hollywood in 1936 King took over his band, renaming it "The
Golden West Cowboys" making it one of the most popular bands in
the Western swing style appearing on The Grand Ole Opry. I listened
with interest as the song slowly started. The first sound is a clock
which ticks away right the way through this lively ditty as vocalist
Redd Stewart clearly tells you he is waiting for someone and, as the
hours slowly tick away, he decides to be a "Slow Poke" too.
It’s a catchy number and I think you will like it.
The recording of "Blue Tango" by Leroy Anderson
and his Pops Orchestra was made in June 1951 in New York. This is music
ideal for doing exactly what the title says. Think of a big ballroom
and gliding around in someone’s arms dancing the tango. What a pity
a dance such as this is hardly ever performed now. However, the music
is well worth listening to and you will hear how excellently the Orchestra
plays, softly and sensuously, just as a tango should be. I loved it.
"Tell Me Why" is sung in perfect harmony
by The Four Aces and recorded in New York in October 1951. They were
regarded as real heartthrobs at that time and that’s not surprising
after hearing this song in which they are in close harmony with some
panache and style thrown in. This was a million-seller and rightly so.
There was a British vocal quartet of this name but the more famous quartet
was the American. I have heard this recording over the years and have
always liked how the group manages to harmonise so well as they ask
why they are still feeling as they do. I suppose it’s not a great song,
but I like it because of the excellence of the performance.
In that same month Eddie Fisher recorded "Any
Time" in his very appealing tenor voice so it’s not surprising
this too was a million-seller. Fisher was especially good with show
tunes and in this one he sings a revival of a song from 1921. He is
accompanied by Hugo Winterhalter and his Orchestra and he tells someone
that any time they are feeling lonesome and blue they will know he is
thinking of them. I do wonder which special someone Eddie meant, of
course. He was another heartthrob and he married three times. (This
is also a number our own Des O’Connor recorded which proves that it
has survived down the years.) There is another Eddie Fisher recording
on this disc to underline what a great voice he had for making you believe
every word he sings. In "Wish You Were Here", recorded in
New York in May 1952, he sings with such pathos that you have no choice
but to believe every word. A hard singer to follow for the kind of numbers
he chose. Eddie’s third song on this disc is "Lady of Spain",
again with Hugo Winterhalter. Many will know and enjoy this revival
of a 1931 Tolchard Evans standard and it became a hit all over again
that year for Fisher. The Orchestra is really superb here and you hear
how the various instruments change at different times when the words
of the song merit it. I was delighted to hear this one again. Just close
your eyes and imagine Eddie singing to a sultry eyed lovely "Lady
of Spain". So put the light out you men, and listen. This is what
we girls like.
I’m not so sure about "Blacksmith Blues"
made in Los Angeles in December 1951. This is sung by Ella Mae Morse
who was a jazz-oriented singer who fell between pure jazz and pop. She
sang with several American bands and then retired but she came back
and scored a No 3 hit with this number. Nelson Riddle, no less, accompanies
and his orchestra plays a long introduction before Ella sings. When
Ella pauses the band continues to play the same theme but they vary
the tempo effectively, a touch that makes the recording worth listening
to. I found it difficult to understand exactly what Ella was telling
me, but perhaps the title of the song should have done that.
I quickly livened up when I heard Guy Mitchell singing
"Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania", recorded in New York January l952
and accompanied by Mitch Miller and his Orchestra and Chorus. I was
always a big fan of Guy Mitchell. I think all his recordings have something
special about them and I don’t think it’s any surprise he had so many
hits. He has never lost that appeal to many people, although it's true
there were some who disliked him. Was it because they were aware Frank
Sinatra refused to record some of these particular songs of Mitch Miller’s
and when they knew Mitchell was singing them decided they couldn’t be
any good if Sinatra refused them? Or was it that they would have disliked
them who ever sang them? For example, in "My Truly Truly Fair"
(not on this disc) perhaps there is a certain jolly vulgarity in the
words, but what a narrow way of looking at music and singers in general
that would be. Surely the proof of how good Guy and his songs were is
in the number of hits he had with them. Sinatra had his hits too, many
more than Mitchell, but he knew the songs that suited him best and so
did Mitchell. There did come a time when it was said that Guy Mitchell’s
era was over. But strangely it was at that point where he had his biggest
hit of all and his first Number One with "Heartaches by the Number"
and "Singing The Blues" which I expect to see in the 1959
disc in this series.
I was somewhat disappointed with Kay Starr’s recording
of "The Wheel of Fortune" with Harold Mooney and his orchestra.
I always thought Kay was an acquired taste and after hearing this I
am still of that opinion. She began as a country singer but gradually
her voice became a mixture of swing and country. I listened intently
to "The Wheel of Fortune" and liked how Mooney and the orchestra
accompanied her. They needed to speed the tempo up just a little to
keep with her too, especially when her voice took on a "brassy
twang". However I could hear the words, and even the wheel going
round on the revolving disc of the Roulette as she tells of her bid
to win a fortune. But she was a favourite with many people and her records
were popular at that time, though not for me.
Who can resist the voice of Nat King Cole, especially
as he sings here "Somewhere Along The Way"? I certainly can’t.
He is accompanied perfectly by Nelson Riddle and his orchestra and this
is a really lovely song that Nat sings softly and in what I felt a very
confiding way. How one day he will meet along the avenue the
special someone he thinks about when he is alone at night. Perfect.
"Walkin’ My Baby Back Home’ was recorded by Johnnie
Ray in February 1952 in Hollywood. Unlike Guy Mitchell, Johnnie Ray
was never a favourite of mine. I never liked the "crying"
edge to his voice that made his name and I am not alone. He sings this
song very clearly, but I have never thought he sang with much deep feeling.
He had a number of hits, though, and became incredibly popular both
sides of the Atlantic.
In February 1952 that vivacious, versatile singer and
actress Doris Day recorded "Sugar Bush" with Frankie Lane.
The end product is a perfect combination with the hand clapping just
loud enough to be heard and coming in exactly where it should. I can’t
imagine anyone not liking this song. It’s the kind of song that, once
you hear it, will stay in your mind and cheer you up even the gloomiest
mood. Around the same time Doris recorded "A Guy Is A Guy",
a parody of the old English tune "I went to the Alehouse"
which she sings in her own inimitable, chirpy style. This too was a
hit and both these records with Doris Day’s are a great tonic. We hear
Frankie Laine alone in his recording of "Do Not Forsake Me"
made in New York in May 1952. This, of course, is the theme song from
Fred Zinnemann’s movie "High Noon" with Gary Cooper. It’s
impossible to fault any of Frankie Laine’s records. He sings everything
with such aplomb and you still find yourself humming.
It was with reservations that I saw the track "Delicado"
from Percy Faith and his Orchestra recorded in New York in March 1952.
What a shock when I heard what a delightful, melodious piece it was,
originally written by Walder Azeveda but given the Percy Faith treatment.
The instrumentalists in the band, especially Stan Freeman on the harpsichord,
make this really special. I loved it and found myself waving my arms
about in time to the music - a lively mixture with the sounds of all
the different instruments making themselves heard superbly in this arrangement.
Percy Faith was the ex-NBC Radio conductor who as Musical Director of
Columbia records during the early 1950s. He recorded several albums
of mood music and backed three of Tony Bennett’s Golden Disc’s.
In Chicago early in 1952 Georgia Gibbs recorded "The
Kiss of Fire" with Glenn Osser and his Orchestra. I have to admit
I had never heard of this singer before and so was anxious to hear her
now. I like the evocative rhythm of the song, but at first I couldn’t
decide if I liked the singer herself. After hearing it twice more I
began to appreciate why it had been a hit. The song was adapted from
an Argentine tango called "El choclo" and Georgia’s voice
is exactly right for it and I can even imagine her swinging in time
to the music.
Recorded in New York we have "Here In My Heart"
sung beautifully by the bricklayer turned club singer Al Martino. My
immediate reaction was "Oh yes I like this", and from then
on I went into a trance, carried away by Al’s velvety voice as he really
sings this from his heart. This was his first hit and it topped the
charts both sides of the Atlantic becoming the first ever British chart
No 1. How could it not have been with a voice like this?
From April 1952 comes the great Peggy Lee singing "Lover"
with Gordon Jenkins and his Orchestra and Chorus. In spite of Peggy
Lee’s accomplishments, when I first heard this recording I had reservations
and I can’t say after listening several times it did much for me. Was
it because the orchestra nearly blanks her out, or it could just be
the song itself? I have heard this sung over the years by many people
and I remember it always sung slower and softer than this so this, for
me, is one of the few disappointments on the disc.
I did listen with great enjoyment to the much lesser
known "Meet Mister Callaghan", recorded in Los Angeles mid
1952 as an instrumental by Les Paul with guitars. It’s short, but what
there is of it is full of lively and cheerful sound. The guitars are
very much in evidence, I assure you and I think you will enjoy this
brief, enjoyable interludes.
I was, however, as always disappointed with Slim Whitman’s
version of "Indian Love Call" from "Rose Marie".
Perhaps I’m too familiar with Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddie in
this but I just cannot take to Whitman’s yodel in this song. To me it
always sounds wrong. Not a plaintive call as I think it should be. It’s
pleasant enough but it’s lost that touch of romance it should have.
However, Whitman scored a hit and went on to have many more.
I do love the recording of "Jambalaya "
from Hank Williams and his Drifting Cowboys with Chet Atkins on guitar.
This was made in Nashville in June 1952 and even though the words are
not always clear the swinging style of Williams and his cowboys was
enough to keep me enjoying without bothering with the words at .all.
Many will know the recording from the 1970s by The Carpenters but this
is the real thing
Also from June 1952 Jo Stafford sings "You Belong
To Me", recorded in Hollywood. It’s a pleasant song, not particularly
different to so many of this type, but I found it easy to listen to
and enjoyed Jo’s singing in a song that I think suits her voice well.
She is accompanied by Columbia’s music-director Paul Western who she
had married by then, helping her progress on records. This song became
a big seller.
This 1952 version of "I Went To Your Wedding"
was made in the August. Like many people, I’ve always associated this
song through its "send-up" by Spike Jones and His City Slickers,
so I was surprised to hear it sung straight by Patti Page with an orchestra
conducted by Jack Rael - the way it should be heard. I had never heard
this singer before and I like her voice which is clear and strong without
in any way sounding harsh and you are left in no doubt of what she is
telling you. Also from August 1952 we have "Why Don’t You Believe
Me?" recorded in Chicago with Lew Douglas and his Orchestra and
his singer Joni James. A pleasant song, not one I had heard before,
and not one to have survived down the years, but Joni James has a pleasant
voice though I doubt this number will linger. Odd that it became a hit,
I have purposely left one song to the last because
it’s the only one on this disc to have been recorded in London. It’s
our very own Vera Lynn with soldiers, sailors and airman singing the
wartime tearjerker "Auf Wiederseh’n Sweetheart". Not having
heard this particular recording of the song before I thought I detected
a note of triumph in this rendering by Vera and the servicemen. It was
as though they were saying: We told you we would meet again, and we
It’s thanks again to Living Era for their excellent
transfers of 78rpm records to CD. This is the third of this label’s
"Hits of the 1950s". Like the other two this is a wide-ranging
assortment of music and singers but there is something to enjoy in each
one, so I recommend it for that reason. Of course you may like one number
more than another, but even the ones that perhaps are not to your liking
you will find pleasant enough. After all, in an assortment of anything,
every one of us has their favourites, don’t they?