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That Old Arlen Magic
CD 1: The Songs of Harold Arlen
CD 2: Harold Arlen Sings Sweet and Hot
Full track list at end of review
RETROSPECTIVE RTS 4206 [77:34 + 78:38] 

Experience Classicsonline


Harold Arlen was one of the most prolific popular composers of the twentieth century. For over half a century he wrote music, mainly for the theater and for movies, and teamed with many other song writers and lyricists such as Ted Koehler, Yip Harburg, Ira Gershwin and Johnny Mercer.
 
This two disc CD features a collection of 51 original mono recordings of his songs. Disc One offers 26 songs performed by many of the great stars that made them famous. Some of the highlights on this disc are: It’s Only A Paper Moon performed by Cliff Edwards on vocals, ukulele and kazoo; One For My Baby sung by Frank Sinatra, with Axel Stordahl and his orchestra, and Over The Rainbow, performed by Judy Garland and the Victor Young Orchestra. Stormy Weather, from Ethyl Waters and accompanied by the Dorsey Brothers’ Orchestra, sounds as fine as it must have done in 1933. There are also some forgotten classics and of these I must mention Jo Stafford singing Let’s Take The Long Way Home with the Paul Weston Orchestra recorded in 1944. The war years produced some remarkable song writing and recordings, and Harold Arlen figured large in that era.
 
Disc Two presents 25 songs showcasing Arlen’s talents as a singer and pianist. They span three decades, from 1926 with Baby Face, performed with the Buffalodians, to late 1954 with Hit the Road To Dreamland. Most were written and recorded in the 1930s, predominantly on the original Brunswick and Victor labels. How Come You Do Me Like You Do features Harold Arlen on piano and vocals supported by an all-star cast, including Red Nichols on trumpet and his Five Pennies, Benny Goodman on clarinet, Ruby Weinstein and Charlie Teagarden also on trumpet, Art Miller on double bass, Glenn Miller on trombone and Gene Krupa on drums. Pardon Me Pretty Baby and Little Girl are two jazzy numbers recorded in 1931 with Joe Venuti on violin, Eddy Lang on guitar and Jimmy Dorsey, clarinet. Two more that stand out are from the 1934 show “Cotton Club Parade”: the beautiful and bouncy As Long As I Live, and the lyrical and haunting Ill Wind. Both feature Arlen singing accompanied by Arthur Schutt on piano.
 
Greg Gormick wrote the program notes and discusses Harold Arlen’s dual career as a performer and a composer. The notes are interesting and informative, and leave the reader wanting to know more about Arlen and his career.
 
This 2-disc set is very much for listeners who enjoy and appreciate Arlen’s music which apart from its intrinsic pleasures stands as a staging post in the evolution of twentieth century popular music.
 
Bruce McCollum
 
Full Track-List 
CD 1: The Songs of Harold Arlen [77:34]
Get Happy, Judy Garland (1950) [2:47]
Hittin’ The Bottle, Jimmie Lunceford (1935) [2:59]
Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea, Boswell Sisters (1932) [3:00]
Kickin’ The Gong Around, Cab Calloway (1931) [3:11]
I Gotta Right To Sing The Blues, Benny Goodman (1933) [3:09]
I’ve Got the World On A String, Bing Crosby (1933) [3:08]
It’s Only A Paper Moon, Cliff “Ukulele Ike” Edwards (1933) [2:32]
Stormy Weather, Ethel Waters (1933) [3:09]
Ill Wind, You’re Blowin’ Me No Good, Lena Horne (1941) [2:30]
As Long As I Live, Lena Horne (1944) [2:47]
Let’s Fall In Love, Annette Hanshaw(1934) [2:50]
Over The Rainbow, Judy Garland (1939) [2:48]
Blues In The Night, Dinah Shore (1942) [3:09]
This Time The Dream’s On Me, Glenn Miller (1941) [3:03]
That Old Black Magic, Margaret Whiting (1942) [2:39]
Hit The Road To Dreamland, Margaret Whiting (1942) [2:29]
Happiness Is A Thing Called Joe, Woody Herman (1945) [3:28]
My Shining Hour, Glen Gray (1943) [2:55]
One For My Baby, And One More For The Road, Frank Sinatra (1947) [3:02]
Ac-cent-tchu-ate The Positive, Bing Crosby and the Andrew Sisters (1944) [2:40]
Let’s Take the Long Way Home, Jo Stafford (1944) [2:57]
Out of This World, Jo Stafford (1944) [3:03]
Come Rain Or Come Shine, Helen Forrest and Dick Haymes (1946) [2:52]
For Every Man There’s A Woman, Peggy Lee (1947) [2:46]
Hooray For Love, Tony Martin (1947) [2:52]
The Man That Got Away, Judy Garland (1953) [3:38]
CD 2: Harold Arlen Sings Sweet and Hot [78:38]
Sweet And Hot (1931) [2:58]
Baby Face (1926) [2:39]
Happy Go Lucky Lane (1928) [3:16]
Linda (1930) [3:04]
How Come You Do Me Like You Do (1930) [2:58]
You Said It (1931) [3:03]
Pardon Me, Pretty Baby (1931) [3:06]
Little Girl (1931) [2:58]
Stepping Into Love (1932) [3:23]
Stormy Weather (1933) [3:15]
Happy As The Day Is Long (1933) [2:23]
Smoke Rings (1933) [3:13]
Let’s Fall In Love (1933) [3:11]
This Is Only The Beginning (1933) [3:35]
Ill Wind (1934) [3:02]
As Long As I Live (1934) [2:49]
You’re A Builder-Upper (1934) [2:49]
Over The Rainbow (1940) [3:06]
Blues In The Night (1941) [3:09]
Hooray For Love (1954) [2:24]
I Never Has Seen Snow (1954) [3:38]
Moanin’ In The Mornin’ (1954) [3:35]
Buds Won’t Bud (1954) [4:21]
Last Night When We Were Young (1954) [3:10]
Hit The Road To Dreamland (1954) [2:26]

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