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LETíS MISBEHAVE
A COLE PORTER COLLECTION, 1927-1940

18 original mono recordings
Transfers by David Lennick and Graham Newton
NAXOS NOSTALGIA 8.120533 [58.05]

 

 

Crotchet Budget price


1) Letís Misbehave
2) Love For Sale
3) Youíre The Top
4) Thank you So Much, Mrs. Lowsborough-Goodby
5) Iím In Love Again
6) Miss Otis Regrets
7) Be Like The Bluebird
8) The Physician
9) Youíve Got That Thing
10) Find Me a Primitive Man
11) The Cocotte
12) Iím A Gigolo
13) They All Fall In Love
14) Down In The Depths
15) Two Little Babies In The Wood
16) Anything Goes
17) Waltz Down The Aisle
18) Letís Do It (Letís Fall In Love)


Fate must have destined Cole Porterís life before he was born because if ever a child was born with a silver spoon in his mouth it was Cole Porter. Not only was he born into great wealth he was also blessed with a natural gift for words and music and after nearly forty years he remains one of popular musicís acknowledged masters in both departments. Born in Peru, Indiana in June 1891, Cole was financially secure before he chanced his luck as a commercial songwriter. He might have been next in line as estate manager in the family business save for the intervention of his mother who regarded farming as a sinful waste of her sonís outstanding musical talent. Proficient from an early age on piano and violin, Cole had begun writing music at the age of ten and at thirteen enrolled at the Worcester Academy. His grandfather promised him a large inheritance on condition that he studied law. Accepting this condition he graduated first at Yale then at Harvard where abandoning law he then switched to music. At Harvard he wrote for college shows and in 1915 his first published songs were placed in two Broadway shows.

His first musical to hit the Golden Mile, written in collaboration with a fellow student, was a disaster which only ran for fifteen performances. Then during the First World War he served in Europe in the French Foreign Legion . On Americaís entry into the war he transferred to the French Artillery School at Fontainebleau but no one could call Cole a military man. Before the Armistice he had joined forces with the New York pianist and vocalist Melville Gideon in London revues and in 1919 provided one number for Gideonís musical "The Eclipse". So individual was his wit with what became a "lifetime facility for the off-colour rhyming joke" that from about 1920 he shied away from others writing his lyrics for him. So with his wealthy Kentucky-born divorcee wife by his side he was a Parisian resident and high flier of private means. He couldnít put a foot wrong and with his gifts and his wealth life proceeded as fate decreed.

The song "Iím In Love Again" from "Greenwich Village Follies" and "Up with the Lark" was recorded in March 1927 with Ben Bernie and his Hotel Roosevelt Orchestra with vocals by Ben Bernie, Scrappy Lambert and Billy Hill Pot. Not a number that has lingered, I have to say, although itís one that is tuneful and the vocals are certainly excellent. I liked particularly the orchestra playing a short refrain of the number before the vocals join in once again. An ideal song to follow is "Letís Behave" recorded in March 1928 with Irvine Aaronson and his Commanders and with vocals by Phil Saxe. This is another lively number with plenty of different changes of tempo to send it along. It will certainly liven everyone up and I loved it. After listening to the next song which is "Youíve Got That Thing" from "Fifty million Frenchmen" and recorded September 1929 I began to really appreciate what exceptional songs these must have sounded to everyone in the Jazz Age and here we are hearing them how they were first heard. This particular number starts with a long introduction by Leo Reisman and his Orchestra before Reisman himself sings. Not a number Iíve heard before, but is charming.

Next is "They All Fall In Love" from the film "Battle of Paris" recorded in May 1930. This is a tuneful number and one that I enjoyed listening to for our own Jack Hylton and his Orchestra with vocals by Pat OíMalley, Hylton himself and Chappie DíAmato. I think youíll find yourself tapping your feet as you listen to this. "Love For Sale" from "The New Yorkers" was recorded in December 1930 with Waringís Pennsylvanians and the Three Waring Girls on Vocals. I did think that it seemed a long time before the girls joined in and that the band nearly swamped them when they did so that it was impossible to hear the words. But then I listened with real pleasure to one of my all time favourites, "Miss Otis Regrets". It is beautifully sung here by Ethel Walters with Victor Young and his Orchestra in August 1934. I have heard this unique song many many times but Ethel Walters really puts something extra into the words. Itís hard to define what it is but she sings with such sensitivity you get the feeling she really knows why Miss Otis regrets. A real Gem of a song and a real gem of a recording.

Next are a batch of songs featuring Cole Porter himself singing at the piano songs from various shows and films. What better to start with than the unforgettable "Youíre The Tops" which Porter sings perfectly, showing all that is really needed to make an effect is a piano to accompany the singer. The same applies to "Thank You So Much Mrs Lowsborough-Goodby". A slightly different number from the previous one but itís noticeable that, although Porter doesnít sing it in the conventional way, his voice is so attractive and stylish in the way he appears to chat while he sings that it makes a unique effect. Much the same can be said of "Be Like The Bluebird" and "The Physician" too. This last song can always be guaranteed to raise a smile. After Porter singing the pleasant but rather forgettable "Two Little Babes In The Wood" we come to the inevitable "Anything Goes". This is one of his best of all his songs and a real treat to hear the man himself singing it. The last two songs from Cole Porter at the piano are "The Cocotte" and "Iím A Gigolo". He sings both of these in an attractive way but they are songs that are more likely to be enjoyed at an after dinner cabaret at a smart restaurant than from a record at home, I think.

After the appearance of the man himself itís back to his interpreters. The next recording is the pleasant "Waltz Down The Aisle" with Xavier Cugar recorded September 1935. This was dropped from one show but added to another in 1935 and reworked again in 1948 as "Wunderbar". No problems in the next number either, "Down In The Depths (On The 90th Floor)" recorded November 1936. No less than Ethel Merman sings this one. Itís not a song that will appeal to everyone and I have heard Ethel Merman sing other songs better than this, but I have yet to hear a song from her that I have disliked. I liked the next song too, "Find Me A Primitive Man" recorded April 1940 with Lee Wiley and Bunny Beriganís Music. The title may not appeal but itís a good song and Lee Wiley has a clear voice and sings in the style that so many vocalists used at that time. Bunny Berigan accompanies with great abandon but never swamps. Many will know the final number, "Letís Do It? (Lets Fall In Love)" recorded in February 1940 with Rudy Vallee. I have heard this many times over the years and I am sure you have, but I have yet to hear it sung so precisely as this. You are left in no doubt what this singer wants to do.

A disc of one of the great masters. Valuable for the chance to hear the man himself sing his own compositions along with some of the greats of his day. Lovely transfers and a real pleasure.

Joan Duggan

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