In the 1950s, the British pop music scene included at least three categories of record: American records that were locally issued, British recordings of American hits, and some local favorites that never made the US charts. All three are represented in this collection.
Four of the tracks in this collection are American: The Four Aces' "Woman in Love," Pat Boone's "I Almost Lost My Mind," Teresa Brewer's "A Tear Fell" (my favorite Teresa Brewer recording), and Mel Torme's "Mountain Greenery." It is a but surprising to see the last of these, as it was not a big hit version of the song back in the US, but that sort of thing did happen: US recordings that did better in the UK than at home. They are all nice tracks, but it's not for them that an American would buy this CD, as the first 3 are certainly available on other CDs, and I suspect the fourth is as well.
The reason I got this CD is for the nine tracks that represent unfamiliar versions of familiar songs, done by various British artists. (Four of those artists did make the US charts at various times, including Vera Lynn who actually had a #1 hit in the US, but not with these particular songs!) Actually, I got it for 7 of those 9, since I already had 2, but I'll comment on all 9 at this point. One of the 9, "Seven Days," done by Anne Shelton, sounds better than Dorothy Collins' US version and is the only one I like better than the US original.
But there are several very nice versions that have to be compared with very good US versions, and though I like them a lot, I can't call them better than the versions I know. Winifred Atwell's version of "Poor People of Paris" sounds much livelier than Les Baxter's, and I like it quite a lot. The same applies to Jimmy Young's "More" compared with Perry Como's. Frank Chacksfield (known in the US for "Ebb Tide") has a very nice version of "In Old Lisbon" (better known as "Lisbon Antigua") with a set of lyrics I've never heard before, distinguishing it from the well-known Nelson Riddle recording. And Joan Regan's "Croce di Oro" (a Patti Page hit here), the Johnston Brothers' "No Other Love" (A Perry Como hit of several years earlier here), and Dave King's "Memories Are Made of This" (which sounds much like Dean Martin's hit version here) are all nice, though none is really as good as the US original.
Two disappointing versions are Anne Shelton's "Lay Down Your Arms" (rather dull compared to the Chordettes) and Vera Lynn's "A House with Love in It" (nowhere near the 4 Lads' version).
Of the seven songs on here I don't remember as US hits, two are songs I've heard before in other UK versions; "Willie Can," done by the Beverley Sisters here, and "Twenty Tiny Fingers," done by the Stargazers here, but both also done by Alma Cogan, and I like her versions better. The Stargazers' version of "Twenty Tiny Fingers," though, is not bad even if I don't like it as much as Alma Cogan's.
"Jimmy Unknown," here done by Lita Roza, is supposedly a Doris Day cover according to a friend, but I've never heard the original. I like it, though I'd not be surprised if I liked Doris Day's version better if I heard it. Another unfamiliar song, "Out of Town," is the first song I've heard done by Dickie Valentine, and I like his voice enough that I would like to hear more of his work. On the other hand, David Whitfield (known to me from "Cara Mia," which charted in the US) has an over-formal, almost operatic style that I'm not really enamored of. "My September Love" (an unfamiliar song) is his contribution to this CD.
Two more unfamiliar songs, both instrumentals, complete the set: Ted Heath does "The Faithful Hussar" and Cyril Stapleton (known in the US for "The Children's Marching Song") does "The Italian Theme." Both are all right, but nothing special.