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on 17 June 2011
As you may know, Charleston was a dance craze in the 1920s and the term became a byword for the music most associated with this era. 'Roaring Twenties' is a phrase also often used, emphasising the period's social, artistic, and cultural dynamism. I have a great passion for the jazzy music of this period, despite being too young to actually remember it.

Here is a CD which contains 26 tracks dating from between 1924 and 1930. It is by far the best album of this kind of music I have ever encountered. They have worked painstakingly to restore, remaster, and so preserve, these superb examples of a wide variety of vocal and instrumental music from the earliest days of electronic sound recording.

Paul Whiteman's famous band leads off in a startlingly vivid version of the song that launched a few hundred musical ships, the title track Charleston, and a tune which evokes the very spirit of this era. Al Jolson follows as he must, but there's an unusual entrant at number three in the form of the British Savoy Havana Band's I Love My Chili Bom Bom. Generally, as well as strong vocal presences, there are brilliant instrumental ones, including some fine sax and trumpet playing. I was especially impressed with the 1920's classic Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue.

Jack Hylton is here too and there's the delightful Fred and Adele Astaire recording of I'd Rather Charleston, where interest can also turn to their pianist, a certain Mr G Gershwin. This was recorded in London in 1926, and two years later, `Whispering' Jack Smith recorded Miss Annabelle Lee with Ambrose. The song that influenced Marilyn Monroe is here - in case you were wondering, Helen Kane doing I Wanna Be Loved By You from 1928, complete with requisite boop boop a doops.

In other words, there's a lot of variety in these strongly animated performances that summon up a time, a place, an era. The remastering is meticulous, using mint condition 78s, and they are careful to preserve a full bodied quality with no digital tinniness. The notes are helpful and detailed enough, even for me!

This CD is an absolute gem, and if you like this kind of music, I strongly recommend it.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 22 October 2009
The Charleston was written by pianist James P. Johnson for the 1923 revue "Runnin' Wild", and started the dance craze most associated with the 20s. This CD contains 26 tracks dating from between 1924 and 1930, some of which seem only distantly related to that genre. For example, both the Black Bottom and the Varsity Drag were different dances altogether, so it's stretching things a bit to describe it as "The Definitive Album". That aside it's a pleasant enough selection (but for "I'd Rather Charleston", where George Gershwin's piano swamps Fred and Adele Astaire), but don't expect every track to set you sashaying uncontrollably.
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on 8 June 2015
We are learning the charleston, and these tunes really helped. Quick postage, and good tunes.
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on 27 February 2013
This was for a friend who has variety of music cds. He absolutely loves it. Would recommend it and would buy another now i know its era he wanted
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on 6 January 2016
Ok, used for my new year 1920's evening. Ok for background sound
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on 10 May 2016
From the piquant notes of the Definitive Charleston CD one is transported to the Roaring Twenties, the wild carefree genre of the Flapper era. I was immediately hooked and must confess that I do indeed play it for pleasure, for cheer and to lift and lighten the mood instantly.
It is tuneful and full of surprises that are both exotic and sentimental. It can be counted on to pick you up if you are down.
I was glad that i went ahead and bought it recently. My friends will get this CD for presents. And another thing what better music to exercise to?
Since the TV show "Strictly" appeared on our screens, this dance has been given a good airing and one imagines that the Charleston will become even more popular. The instrumentation is a joyous affair, you get plenty for your money and the Charleston will always pick you up.
I recommend it, buy some fun.
By Stella Bingham
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on 19 March 2012
1920's party brilliant to have this music playing really set the scene and amazing how a group of 18 year olds quite enjoyed it.
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on 25 November 2014
Fabulous
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on 30 June 2014
Why don't they make music like this anymore???
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