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Charleston! - the definitive album - Audio CD
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.