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Reviews Written by
Barry McCanna (Normandy, France)
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   

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Rockin' in Rhythm
Rockin' in Rhythm
Price: £9.87

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars FIVE STARS FOR RETRIEVAL, NONE FOR HALLMARK, 1 Dec. 2015
This review is from: Rockin' in Rhythm (Audio CD)
MADAME TUSSAUD’S DANCE ORCHESTRA: “ROCKIN’ IN RHYTHM” (Retrieval RTR 79079)

Duke Ellington arrived in England in mid-1933, and made an immediate impact on all who heard him, not least a musician named Stanley Barnett, then leading a dance orchestra at Madame Tussaud’s Restaurant. Fired with enthusiasm, he produced a series of recordings for Edison Bell Winner, eight of which were Ellington compositions. These were issued in their entirety in 1985 on a Retrieval LP, of which this is a reissue, but for the omission of three non-jazz numbers, namely “I Raise My Hat”, “You’re Still in My Heart” and “Old Fashioned Sweethearts”. Given the relative obscurity of the musicians involved, the results they achieved, particularly with the Ellington scores, are spectacular. “Rockin’ in Rhythm” is taken at breakneck pace, which never falters, and that high standard of virtuosity is maintained throughout the compilation. Gene Gifford wrote “Wild Goose Chase” and it was recorded by the Casa Loma Orchestra just nine months earlier, but their version pales in comparison to that waxed by the band from Madame Tussaud’s. As Sandy Forbes commented in his original sleeve note (reproduced here with added typos!) these gold label Edison Bell records are very rare, and to have them assembled here is a collector’s dream come true. Included also is the trail-blazing Savoy Orpheans’ 1926 “Jig Walk” and two early thirties Spike Hughes versions of Ellington numbers. Not forgetting five hot numbers from Jack Hylton, who was the driving force behind the Duke’s tour of the UK, and whose “Ellingtonia” is the perfect sign-off.
NOTE: Under its bone-headed "product group" system, Amazon automatically cross-posts reviews to anything else with the same title. That includes the offering from Hallmark, which is a pirated needle-drop copy of the original Retrieval LP.


Pickin' A Chicken with Eve Boswell
Pickin' A Chicken with Eve Boswell
Price: £10.27

5.0 out of 5 stars ALL ABOUT EVE, 28 Nov. 2015
Eve Boswell “The Sugar Bush Girl” (Retrospective RTS 4277) presents 56 tracks from the period 1949 to 1958 by this very popular singer, from her first recordings with Geraldo & his Orchestra, other accompanying orchestras including those of Philip Green, Ron Goodwin, Jack Parnell, Reg Owen and Tony Osborne. She had a clear voice with a beautifully controlled vibrato, and was equally at home with novelty numbers (which gave her some of her biggest hits) as with the standards. Sound quality is excellent, and this well-produced compilation contains full track details and an informative liner note.


Sings Annie Laurie & Anytime
Sings Annie Laurie & Anytime
Price: £9.56

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars IMPERIAL SLIM, 27 Nov. 2015
Slim Whitman sings Annie Laurie and Anytime (Jasmine JASMCD 3963) presents two complete stereo albums, both released originally on the Imperial label in 1962. In his informative liner note Paul Hazell traces Slim’s development from the headlining star of the mid-fifties to the mature vocalist encountered here. The steel guitar had been discarded and the vocals, falsetto included, were more restrained. But what was lost in volume was gained in emotional depth, backed by some of Nashville’s finest. These are timeless songs, beautifully sung, and recommended without reservation.


Play In A Day - Hits, Misses And Collectables 1956-1962
Play In A Day - Hits, Misses And Collectables 1956-1962
Price: £9.57

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars LEAD ON, WEEDON, 27 Nov. 2015
Bert Weedon (Jasmine JASCD 911) spotlights a guitarist who served a long period playing in the jazz idiom, including spells with Hatchett’s Swingtette, Frank Weir’s Quartet, Harry Leader and Harry Gold, before going freelance in the mid-fifties. His guitar tutor provided a guide to a later generation of players, many of whom acknowledged their debt. This compilation presents in chronological order 36 of his mono recordings from between 1956 and 1962, of which his first big hit was “Guitar Boogie Shuffle” in May 1959. Crossing over into the more remunerative popular music territory he adapted his style, which despite his background strikes me as quite square, and lacking in variety. That said, it’s an attractive package, which includes a very informative illustrated liner note by Roger Dopson.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 18, 2015 6:25 PM GMT


The Lure Of Tumbleweed Trails
The Lure Of Tumbleweed Trails
Price: £9.21

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars FORMED IN 1933, AND STILL GOING STRONG, 27 Nov. 2015
Sons of the Pioneers (Jasmine JASCD 3692) contains two stereo RCA albums by this famous vocal group trio, which was formed in 1933 and, with numerous changes in personnel (over 40 singers and musicians having been involved over the years) survives to the present day. “Lure of the West” and “Tumbleweed Trail” date from 1961 and 1962 respectively, at which point the group was led by long-serving guitarist and tenor Lloyd Perryman, with baritone Tommy Doss and bass Dale Warren (who took over in 1977 following Perryman’s death) completing the trio. Some of these songs reflect the way that the public’s fascination with the Wild West permeated other entertainments. “When the Bloom is on the Sage” was the theme song of the radio series “Tom Mix and his Straight Shooters; “The Hills of Old Wyoming” was introduced by Frances Langford in the film “Palm Springs”; “Ragtime Cowboy Joe” was sung in both “Hello, Frisco, Hello” and “Incendiary Blonde”; “Silver on the Sage” was introduced on the soundtrack of “The Texans”; and “There’s a Gold Mine in the Sky” was the eponymous title song for the motion picture. Other songs were composed by members of the group, not least Bob Nolan. They transport us back in mood to a time when life was simpler, and more idyllic.


50 Guitars Go South Of The Border Vols. 1 & 2
50 Guitars Go South Of The Border Vols. 1 & 2
Price: £8.67

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A BULL'S EYE FOR TOMMY, 27 Nov. 2015
The 50 Guitars of Tommy Garrett (Jasmine JASCD 912) features the first two “50 Guitars” albums, both of which were entitled “50 Guitars Go South of the Border”. Volume One came out in 1961, the second followed a year later, and although both were available in stereo this compilation is a mono/stereo reissue. He was able to assemble the best session musicians available, and the members read like a guitarist hall of fame, although here their individual identities were cast aside in order to create the unique sound of the orchestral arrangements. Chopin famously remarked “Nothing is more beautiful than a guitar, save perhaps two”. Had he been able to anticipate this number he may well have swooned from sheer delight!


The Scarpetta Factor: Scarpetta 17
The Scarpetta Factor: Scarpetta 17
by Patricia Cornwell
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

2.0 out of 5 stars ENOUGH, NO MORE!, 18 Nov. 2015
The problem with this book is that there's too much background and not enough plot. Because virtually all the characters have been featured before, the author has failed to let this story stand alone, instead giving in to the temptation to backtrack at every opportunity. This results in dialogue where characters improbably remind each other of what they both know already, or mentally review their attitudes in the light of what's gone before. The result is a series of narrative stops and starts, which is disconcerting to the reader. It almost comes as a surprise when periodically we're reminded that there's an ongoing investigation. All of which is largely academic because by the time I'd reached halfway I decided that I did not want to complete the book.


Dixieland Jazz - 15 Original Albums on 10 CDs
Dixieland Jazz - 15 Original Albums on 10 CDs
Price: £10.99

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars REMEMBERING THE GREAT TRADITIONAL JAZZ REVIVAL, 4 Nov. 2015
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Dixieland Jazz provides 15 original albums and more on ten CDs, although a better title might have been “New Orleans Revival”. Be that as it may, the first five CDs, namely “Club Session with Colyer” (on which there's a momentary glitch on track 2); “The Best of Chris Barber”; “The Seven Ages of Acker Bilk”; “Beware, the Vikings are Over Us” (Papa Bue); and “Everybody Loves Saturday Night” (Bob Wallis), each comprise one album, with additional tracks from the same band making up the playing time to between 55 and 76 minutes. The remaining CDs each carry two albums, that is, “I Play as I Please” (Humph); “Invitation to the Ball”; (Kenny Ball); “Tradition in Colour” (Terry Lightfoot); “Dixieland to Duke” (Alex Welsh); “Jazz at The Cottage” (Nat Gonella); “Sidney Bechet with Wild Bill Davidson & Art Hodes”; “Dutch Swing College Band - Hot”; “Firehouse Five Plus Two – Dixieland Favourites”; “George Lewis – Music of New Orleans”; and “George & the Vikings”. Unlike some earlier products from the Documents stable, the boxed set is well presented. Each CD is housed in a cardboard sleeve with a facsimile of the LP cover(s) and basic personnel on the face, and carries a tracklist, with year of recording, on the reverse. Sound quality is excellent, and some of the albums are stereo recordings.


Lonely Girl - An Album Collection
Lonely Girl - An Album Collection
Price: £11.51

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars CALENDAR GIRL WITHOUT THE ILLUSTRATIONS, 30 Oct. 2015
Julie London: “Lonely Girl” (Jasmine JASCD 815) is a 52-track compilation of Julie’s first four singles for Bethlehem Records, plus four of the subsequent albums she recorded for the Liberty label. Her slogan could have been “less is more”, and that minimalist approach was reflected on the album “Lonely Girl”, where accompaniment was limited to bass and guitar, the latter by Al Caiola. Her next album “Calendar Girl” was sought after on the basis of its visual delights, each month being illustrated by the pulchritudinous Miss London in an appropriate pose. No such enticement adorns the CD transfer, and Richard Breen’s space-filling notes on each month are insufficient compensation for the omission. What began as a novel concept had to be completed by several specially commissioned songs, which proved to be quite unmemorable, unlike the remainder. For the 1957 album “About the Blues” Julie was paired with Russ Garcia & his Orchestra, and the 1958 album “Julie”, which is in stereo, saw pianist Jimmy Rowles conducting a studio orchestra. Excellent as both are, there are times when the big band accompaniments seem at odds with Julie’s subtle and under-stated vocal delivery, and conversely the latter seems a little on the lethargic side for the more up-tempo numbers like “Bye Bye Blackbird”.


Forever In Tune - 4 Original LPs On 2CDs
Forever In Tune - 4 Original LPs On 2CDs
Price: £11.47

4.0 out of 5 stars HOT AND HEFTI, 30 Oct. 2015
Neal Hefti: “Forever in Tune” (Jasmine JASCD 814) features four albums by the trumpeter turned arranger. He’d been playing since the early thirties, and joined Charlie Barnet briefly in the early forties, moving on to Woody Herman, where his talent for arranging was recognised. He then had a spell as a freelance arranger and composer, numbering Buddy Rich and Count Basie amongst the recipients of his work. He began recording in the early fifties, and this 2-CD compilation contains four of his albums. In chronological order they are the 1954 Coral album “The Band with Young Ideas”, the 1956 Epic LP “Hefti, Hot ‘n Hearty” (both of which contain a majority of Hefti compositions), the 1958 Coral LP “Hollywood Songbook Vol. 1.” (something of a rarity, this, which offers Academy Award winning tunes from between 1934 and 1945) and the stereo “Jazz Pops”, a 1962 Reprise album. The CDs fall into two distinct categories; the first falls into in the swinging big band genre, with riffs galore, whereas the second is more melodic, and inclines towards the easy listening category.


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