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Forces’ Sweethearts and Heart-Throbs of World War II. The 50 Finest; 1939-45.
RETROSPECTIVE RTS 4186 [77:09 + 77:55]

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Forces’ Sweethearts and Heart-Throbs of World War II. The 50 Finest; 1939-45.
CD1– The Forces’ Sweethearts
1 Judy Garland - Over The Rainbow
2 Vera Lynn - We’ll Meet Again
3 Gracie Fields - Wish Me Luck As You Wave Me Goodbye
4 Martha Raye - Melancholy Mood
5 Connee Boswell - On The Isle Of May
6 The Andrews Sisters - I’ll Be With You In Apple-blossom Time
7 Ella Fitzgerald - Imagination
8 Helen Ward - I Cover The Waterfront
9 Elsie Carlisle - A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square
10 Peggy Lee - Somebody Else Is Taking My Place
11 Helen Forrest - I Don’t Want To Walk Without You
12 The Andrews Sisters - Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy
13 Lena Horne - Stormy Weather
14 Maxine Sullivan - When Your Lover Has Gone
15 Dinah Shore - Skylark
16 Peggy Lee - The Way You Look Tonight
17 Vera Lynn - The White Cliffs Of Dover
18 Frances Langford - Serenade In Blue
19 Deanna Durbin - Say A Prayer For The Boys Over There
20 Anne Shelton - Lili Marlene
21 Jo Stafford - I Love You
22 Dinah Shore - I’ll Walk Alone
23 Doris Day - Sentimental Journey
24 Anne Shelton - I’ll Be Seeing You
25 Mary Martin - Goodnight, Wherever You Are
CD2 – The Heart-throbs
1 Frank Sinatra - This Love Of Mine
2 Chick Henderson - Begin The Beguine
3 Dick Todd - To You Sweetheart, Aloha
4 Jean Sablon - J’attendrai
5 Ray Eberle - Faithful Forever
6 Denny Dennis - Stardust
7 Frank Sinatra - I’ll Never Smile Again
8 Bing Crosby - Only Forever
9 Al Bowlly - Dreaming
10 Bob Eberly - Blue Champagne
11 Tony Martin - Where In The World?
12 Johnny Desmond - This Time The Dream’s On Me
13 Kenny Baker - Always In My Heart
14 Vaughn Monroe - When The Lights Go On Again
15 Fred Astaire - Dearly Beloved
16 Perry Como - Have I Stayed Away Too Long?
17 Turner Layton - As Time Goes By
18 Dick Haymes - You’ll Never Know
19 Hutch - You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To
20 Nat King Cole - Embraceable You
21 Donald Peers - In A Shady Nook By A Babbling Brook
22 Sam Browne - I’m So All Alone
23 Perry Como - Long Ago And Far Away
24 Dick Haymes - Love Letters
25 Bing Crosby - It’s Been A Long, Long Time

This two CD compilation offers fifty tracks spanning the six War years of 1939-45. The discs present first a ‘sweethearts’ selection and then, in disc two, a ‘heart-throbs’. Thus there’s no intermingling of sexes in this well chaperoned twofer. So, for example, you won’t find Dinah Shore nestling between Ray Eberle and Perry Como.
The selection panel has done a good job, and if I preferred the distaff side maybe it’s because I have a slight preference for their songs’s arrangements. Naturally we have a cornucopia of classics. To start with Garland’s Over the Rainbow is, I suppose, both a chronological necessity and a statement of intent. Still it does no harm to concentrate on canonic songs once in a while, partly to hear what’s in them, and not what you think is in them. So, for example, I’d mis-remembered that Vera Lynn’s We’ll Meet Again recording of September 1939 was accompanied only by the sepulchral, chapel of rest evoking novachord of Arthur Young. It makes one riposte ‘Probably not, actually’. Also, one must acknowledge how Gracie Fields’s Wish Me Luck As You Wave Me Goodbye quite consciously evokes the late Music Hall days of Vesta Tilley and Vesta Victoria. These resonances are useful to absorb, and it’s via a compilation such as this, oddly, that one can best pursue the theme.
Sultry Martha Raye has the great advantage of David Rose by her side – though of course this 1939 recording wasn’t yet war-time for Americans. André Kostelanetz does the dirty, famously, on Tchaikovsky by adapting the Andante Cantabile for Connee Boswell in the shape of On the Isle of May (January 1940). Better, in terms of songs sung, is Helen Ward – a lovely singer - accompanied by Joe Sullivan and his Café Society Orchestra in I Cover the Waterfront. The trombonist who made me sit up is……..Dreaded Arthur Young and his infernal novachord are back to sabotage Elsie Carlisle’s A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square so it’s with relief that we turn to Peggy Lee, accompanied by Benny Goodman and to Harry James’s fat tone – juicy as sirloin steak - accompanying Helen Forrest. Naturally we have the Andrews Sisters and their Boogie Woogie number and Lena Horne’s Stormy Weather. Vera Lynn reappears shorn of novachord and safely with Mantovani for, you guessed it, The White Cliffs of Dover. There are also tracks from the very youthful Anne Shelton.
The chaps start with Sinatra and end with Crosby, though there is a non-chronological shuffle to allow that to happen. It’s not just an Anglo-American selection in this disc, as the Entente allows Jean Sablon to appear with the superb J’attenderai. Of British crooners, the two leading ones are here; Denny Dennis is here, and I know many prefer him to Al Bowlly, who’s also here. Though when the former sings Stardust, I think he has a head start over Bowlly singing Miguel Prado’s Dreaming. Bowlly is rather over-tremulous here in any case. Ray and Bob Eberle are here; the former with Glenn Miller, the latter with Jimmy Dorsey – elite soloists and bandleaders, both. It’s good to come across Johnny Desmond and Kenny Baker, too, and it’s only just that Fred Astaire, Turner Layton and Hutch are represented. Few turntables were free of these marvellous artists. I could have done without You’ll Never Know, a sickly effusion sung by Dick Haymes.
Still, what we do have is most enjoyable. I will resist carping on about the somewhat treble-starved transfers.
Jonathan Woolf

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