Joe Loss was the longest-serving British bandleader, who began his career in the mid-twenties, and graduated to leading a band in 1930. He finally hung up his baton in 1990, and died that June, although due to illness his activities had diminished prior to that. This third Vocalion CD devoted to him covers two distinct periods; the first fifteen tracks date from late 1935 to autumn 1936, and the remainder are set in 1940/41. All were recorded for the HMV label, and the remastering is uniformly excellent. Chick Henderson takes thirteen of the vocals, four fall to Monte Rey (whose voice is an acquired taste), and Clem Stevens, Hughie Diamond, Bob Arden and Irene Johnson take one apiece. These are all excellent examples of records for dancing, in which Joe Loss' innate showmanship is tempered by the element of restraint appropriate to that genre.
on 18 December 2010
It took Vocalion quite a number of years to finally reissue a third volume of Joe Loss records, but here at long last it is, and a very fine one at that. Most titles find the band augmented by three strings, which lends the band that typical British dance band sound. Happily, there are quite a number of not very familiar tunes here, which adds a sense of discovery to the disc. Although admittedly some tunes are forgettable little nothings, they are played and sung with a dedication that lifts them on a higher plane than their lack of memorability would warrant. Most titles are in the capable hands of vocalist Chick Henderson, who in time became even more popular than Al Bowlly (though as a singer not in the same class) and who, like Bowlly, was killed in a bombing raid. The band is perhaps not quite in the same class as the very best (Ambrose, Gibbons etc.) but certainly capable enough to do full justice to the music. The only drawback is the presence of vocalist Monte Rey on four otherwise enjoyable titles (and Irene Johnson, whose voice and delivery remind me of Jimmy Dorsey's singer Helen O'Connell, makes no bones about her mediocrity on her sole title that appears here), but that's just a very minor quibble.
The liner notes give a synopsis of Joe Loss's almost 60 year band-leading career and gives useful background info on the composers and the band personnel. This is yet another example of Vocalion treating this kind of music with the care, attention and love it deserves. Well done!