During the Fifties and into the Sixties Les Baxter (1922-1996) was amongst three top-notch arranger/conductors - the other two being Nelson Riddle and Billy May - who not only backed Capitol Records star singers but enjoyed personal chart success with purely orchestral music that was often boosted with a full chorus. Amongst these hits, RUBY (1953), UNCHAINED MELODY (1955) and THE POOR PEOPLE OF PARIS (1956) headed a variety of light music pieces that were often covers of hits by others with PLEASE MR SUN, SHRIMP BOATS, THE ROVING KIND and SO LONG, IT'S BEEN GOOD TO KNOW YOU bidding for fame against the ultimate hit winners Johnnie Ray, Jo Stafford, Guy Mitchell and The Weavers respectively.
This excellent two-disc anthology of sixty songs - mainly taken from singles but occasionally tracks from Baxter's many albums - includes all the above plus themes from movies - GIANT, THE SHRIKE, THE HIGH AND THE MIGHTY and HELEN OF TROY; moving over to the small screen for BLUE STAR (THE MEDIC THEME) before offering bright and breezy novelties ZING ZING - ZOOM ZOOM, PADAM, PADAM, THE CLOWN OF THE EIFFEL TOWER and BLUE MIRAGE. Forays into Christmas songs reveal SANTA CLAUS' PARTY and HANG YOUR WISHES ON A TREE before digging deeper for the inspirational THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD and MY NAME IS GOD. Other songs popularised by Baxter include WAKE THE TOWN AND TELL THE PEOPLE, I LOVE PARIS, APRIL IN PORTUGAL, BLUE TANGO and AUF WIEDERSEH'N SWEETHEART with such variety of material allowing many varying orchestrations and moods that will fully satisfy the avid listener.
The fact this type of orchestral splendour has long disappeared from recordings and airwaves makes this comprehensive collection even more essential, with Jasmine's excellent sound restoration so good I can easily forgive lack of chronological placement and absence of those crucial recording dates. Listening to music this good simply has to be the main reason to cherish such a compilation.