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Hits of Ď53

The Fabulous Fifties: Donít Let The Stars Get In Your Eyes

Living Era CD AJA 5553 [79:22] ADD

 

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Perry Como - Donít Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes [2:41]
Teresa Brewer - Till I Waltz Again With You [2:59]
Eddie Fisher - Outside of Heaven [2:41]
Kay Starr - Comes A-Long A-Love [2:23]
Percy Faith - The Song From Moulin Rouge [3:34]
Guy Mitchell - She Wears Red Feathers [3:06]
Joni James - Your Cheatiní Heart [2:48]
Les Baxter - April In Portugal [2:41]
Nat King Cole - Pretend [2:40]
Frankie Laine - I Believe [2:06]
Silvana Mangano - The Song From Anna [2:29]
Frank Chacksfield - Terryís Theme From Limelight [2:19]
Kay Starr - Side By Side [2:52]
Eddie Fisher - Iím Walking Behind You [3:03]
The Hilltoppers - P.S. I Love You [2:40]
Pee Wee Hunt - Oh! [2:39]
Frankie Laine - Hey, Joe! [2:19]
Les Paul & Mary Ford - Vaya Con Dios [3:05]
Perry Como - No Other Love [3:13]
Ray Anthony - Dragnet [2:48]
June Valli - Crying in the Chapel [2:44]
Guy Mitchell - Look at that Girl [2:48]
The Ames Brothers - You, You, You [2:50]
Tony Bennett - Rags to Riches [3:03]
Frank Checksfield - Ebb Tide [2:59]
David Whitfield - Answer Me, My Love [2:24]
Teresa Brewer - Ricochet [2:39]
Dean Martin - Thatís Amore [3:05]

The early 1950s was a time remembered for its innocence, timeless style (excepting perhaps pink tail-finned Cadillacs), the end of the Korean War, and the end of the big band era. By the end of 1955 "Rock Around The Clock" would be an international hit for Bill Haley and the Comets, and shortly thereafter Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Fats Domino, and Elvis Presley would take the limelight away from the crooners. However, in 1953 the world of music was not yet caught up in revolution, and this collection is a fine example of the sounds that were popular in the world of light music.

The musical world was far more diverse than is often remembered. While the Rat Pack along with Tony Bennett, Nat King Cole, and Perry Como may have epitomized the crooner sound that was popular, that was not the only sound that would strike a chord with the listening public. For instance, included here are "April In Portugal" and the extended version of the TV theme "Dragnet", both fine examples of the instrumental sound that epitomized the instrumental sound directly descended from the big bands. "The Song from Anna", more correctly known as "El negro zumbón", was a Spanish-language hit harkening to the sounds of Cuba. "Terryís Theme from Limelight" is a Hollywood inspired string-section feature complete with harp at the fore that would have been a comfort for many an Ozzie Nelson after a long day at the office. "No Other Love" is a Perry Como Latin influenced ballad that displays both his powerful voice and the wonderful Rogers & Hammerstein songwriting and arranging skills.

"Oh!" is a Dixieland soft-shoe that made it to No. 3 on the US charts, and is a fun aside that was an old song when recorded by the Hilltoppers, and has largely been lost to history. "Side By Side" is another remake from the previous generation that derives exactly from the big-band music, with the jazz-orchestra figuring prominently into the song.

Some younger listeners could be deceived by some of the titles. "P.S. I Love You" is not the Beatles classic. "Hey Joe!" does not have any relation to or commonality with the later Jimi Hendrix Experience other than the name. In fact, this "Hey Joe!" includes a Hawaiian guitar solo and brass section in the otherwise what must be defined as a Western swing song. On the other hand, "Crying In the Chapel" may be familiar to Elvis Presley fans, and this June Valli version is as good as the Elvis recording in every way. Also "Your Cheatiní Heart" will be familiar to fans of Hank Williams, who had died a matter of months before this Joni James cover went to #2 on the US charts.

It can only be considered a treat to hear recordings such as Tony Bennettís "Rags to Riches" or Dean Martinís "Thatís Amore", as the performers would continue doing these songs for the rest of their careers. Even though every listener has doubtlessly heard these songs dozens of times, hearing the song when it was still new to the crooner, still in his heyday, allows us to find that original spark that hooked listeners the first time.

Unfortunately, throughout the disc there are several occasions when the listener may wish that Living Era had done a bit more work with the original recordings. "Comes A-Long A-Love" has so much background noise that it sounds as if the remastering software added static to the recording. "The Song from Anna", "Your Cheating Heart", no matter how good a rendition, and "Pretend", the Nat King Cole hit, all suffer from a lack of fidelity on the transfer that is loud enough to be distracting.

All told this is a collection that was well selected and is representative of a broad swath of music popular in 1953. However, while the transfers from the original tapes often leave something to be desired, the true fan of these venerable recordings will doubtlessly enjoy having this collection to add to their music library.

Patrick Gary

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