I know next to nothing about Jack Payne and His Orchestra (I was led to this purchase by The Amazon System while searching for another band of the period) but this was cheap and the samples sounded good, so I ponied up. Glad I did!
This is the type of music that got the Brits through tough times in the '30s. It's upbeat and silly to the point of absurdity, and at the same time it's rich with sophistication in its orchestral arrangements and performance, and very danceable for the fox trot crowd.
It's the kind of stuff that inspired the Bonzo Dog Band in the '60s, too -- the real archetypes they worked from are right here, and it's easy to see why they were so taken by the sounds of this period. No dates are given in the notes, but I'd guess these are recordings made between 1930-1936 (or so). There are some real gems here: The first nine titles seem to come from a cohesive set, given that they're clever and in a similar vein of humor that suggest very strongly origins in the music halls, with a certain debt to Fred Waring's orchestra's Popeye-style voicings and female-impersonating falsettos. These first nine can be taken to comprise a singular set on the disc -- they even conclude with what seems to be the end of a radio show, with "Let's Have a Happy Ending", which incorporates what must have been the Payne theme song, the splendid "Say It With Music". But the brightest gems of the album might be the dizzying "Argument Song", a melodic, tremendously silly, logic-twister on a par with the American classic "I'm My Own Grandpa"; the nutty "You Can't Do That There 'Ere" ("anywhere else you can do that there / but you can't do that there 'ere!") and "My Brother Makes The Noises for the Talkies", which contains a ridiculous movie-making skit that's a classic of sheer goofiness. Overall, this is stuff that Nick and Nora Charles would have been very comfortable with after several smart cocktails.
Items 10 through 13 are instrumental pieces, definitely entirely enjoyable, but a bit of a wind-down after the high energy of the first nine cuts.
Things pick up again beginning with cut 14, "In the Dim, Dim, Dawning", gaining steam and culminating with the optimistic "Give Yourself a Pat on the Back", which really did somehow raise my spirits, first time I heard it, after an especially stupid day.
Two other cuts conclude the program, decent but nondescript by comparison with the foregoing, as it winds down. Note that the sequence of tunes on the CD is not at all the same as the order of the Amazon samples.
Overall, this CD is a great deal of fun when you just want to block the world's concerns out for awhile and get into some catchy, optimistic tunes from simpler times. The sound quality is mostly good, though it varies throughout, notably with regard to the high end having been shaved off to diminish surface noise from the original discs. Many of the cuts are bright enough, and the others can be made better simply by increasing your own treble. This disc is definitely a good choice for those who like this sort of thing, because it's exactly the sort of thing that we like!