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At The Stardust Las Vegas / You Go To My Head
At The Stardust Las Vegas / You Go To My Head
Price: £8.04

5.0 out of 5 stars A DASH OF DANIELS!, 21 April 2017
Recalling my youth, American singer/entertainer/actor Billy Daniels (1915-1988) was regarded as a bit of a joke on account of his energetic version of THAT OLD BLACK MAGIC which everyone thought they could parody. However the singer was a regular visitor to the UK during the Fifties and built up a loyal fan base following although his fame has somewhat diminished since his death.

After listening to BILLY DANIELS AT THE STARDUST, reputedly recorded just after the night club opened in Las Vegas during 1958, I’m sure the two recording sessions were overdubbed, as hinted in the liner notes. Joined by polite applause between songs, this was an occurrence applied for technical reasons to many such “live” recordings released around this time and only later admitted as being studio produced - one of them being Peggy Lee’s BEAUTY AND THE BEAT. In other words, Daniels’ cabaret act was actually successfully replicated at Radio Recorders in Los Angeles and WHO’S SORRY NOW? OH LADY BE GOOD and OL’ MAN RIVER come up fresh via Daniel’s swinging style whereas the contrasting TENDERLY, DON’T WORRY ’BOUT ME and STARDUST are given solid ballad interpretations.

The previous year he was in the recording studio for the album YOU GO TO MY HEAD and a choice batch of standards BLUE SKIES and IT’S DELOVELY etc. vying with the more recent JUST IN TIME. Both albums have orchestral arrangements and direction by Benny Payne whilst two excellent rare bonus tracks, recorded in 1962, feature the Bricusse/Newley STOP THE WORLD…..numbers WHAT KIND OF FOOL AM I? and GONNA BUILD A MOUNTAIN.

It is hoped this Sepia release, in admirable sound remastering, will do much to remind collectors that Daniels’ charismatic was apparent on both studio and cabaret performances and it’s no wonder he later successfully extended his talent and appeared in Broadway musicals later in his career.

Lawrence Welk Presents The Lennon Sisters & Let's Get Acquainted
Lawrence Welk Presents The Lennon Sisters & Let's Get Acquainted
Price: £9.71

In the popular wake of those Boswell, Andrews, Dinning, King and numerous related sibling singing groups, The Lennon Sisters enjoyed a mid-Fifties popularity especially as US television promoted variety shows where they could charm audiences with their weekly close harmony appearances; particularly on "The Lawrence Welk Show" which well fitted their slightly old fashioned outlook on the world of music. Eventually freed by Welk, the girls continued to record albums and singles and appear on various light entertainment shows. Dubbed "America's Sweethearts of Song," such exposure did indeed sell cartloads of records in the USA but their lack of television exposure and somewhat sporadic releases failed to register their undoubted talent in the UK where their nearest equivalent would have been The Beverley Sisters who reigned supreme and frequently promoted their shellac wares via small-screen appearances during the decade.

This Sepia release features two of the quartet’s early albums from the period 1957 and 1958 and the outcome confirms the girl’s easy-going style which may well be considered old-fashioned but there’s a considerable amount of vocal charm to enjoy as they smoothly deliver ballads TOO MARVELLOUS FOR WORDS, HI-LILI HI-LO, YOU ALWAYS HURT THE ONE YOU LOVE, GREENSLEEVES, SCARLET RIBBONS and LITTLE WHITE LIES among a nicely chosen repertoire. To fill maximum disc time, Sepia has added half-a-dozen bonus tracks including TONIGHT YOU BELONG TO ME - a USA #15 in 1956. In other words - lots of pleasant ballads often in waltz time with a few upbeat favourites finely presented in close harmony and obviously the way only a sister act could, with sympathetic orchestral backing taking care of the desired magic mood.

Sepia's remastering and presentation remain first-rate with reproduced original album notes accompanied by some typical photographs revealing the undoubted Lennon Sisters untarnished image.

The Old Payola Roll Blues and Other Hysterical Hits of the 50's
The Old Payola Roll Blues and Other Hysterical Hits of the 50's
Price: £11.54

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Most comedy doesn’t travel the decades well without losing much of its satirical bite. However, if you were around during the fabulous Fifties, the recordings of Stan Freberg (1926-2015), included on this two-disc anthology, will sound as funny as when originally released with those born in more recent times also benefiting from the cutting parodies he waxed for Capitol Records over the years 1948 - 1959. He left no stone unturned in his quest to send up current musical trends with questionable humorous alternatives aimed at the hits of Johnnie Ray, Eartha Kitt, Bill Hayley, The Platters, Presley and Harry Belafonte; many of which charted in both the UK and US so competed with the serious originals. I really enjoyed the barbed humour of BANANA BOAT, HEARTBREAK HOTEL and ROCK AROUND STEPHEN FOSTER with of course JOHN AND MARSHA, ST. GEORGE AND THE DRAGON, THE YELLOW ROSE OF TEXAS, GREEN CHRISTMAS and THE OLD PAYOLA ROLL BLUES still hitting their satirical targets.

Freberg may have also been a noted author, voice actor, comedian, radio personality, puppeteer and finally advertising creative director but it’s these recordings which really confirm his great ability to lampoon those over-inflated hits and trends of the times. With two never-before-released recordings included, it’s assumed this collection contains the complete recordings of this unforgettable satirist.

The Album Collection 1960-1962
The Album Collection 1960-1962
Price: £9.19

5.0 out of 5 stars TWO ROMANTIC ADAM WADE ALBUMS ARE A JOY!, 13 April 2017
There’s no doubt Adam Wade was influenced by Johnny Mathis with his velvet vocal delivery and smooth romantic approach coming up trumps on this welcome two-album combination released by Jasmine Records. With a pop career that lasted a mere five years during the early Sixties, this talented vocalist somehow passed me by, but of course, like many others, his solo attempt at real success was knocked sideways by the seismic wave of musical change wrought by groups like The Beatles who dominated the Charts and left balladeers beached on rocky ground. During the period Adam released five albums and then left a gap until 1977 when a further album briefly surfaced but was dedicated to a more soulful blues formula.

What AND THEN CAME ADAM (1960) and ONE IS A LONELY NUMBER (1962) reveal are not only tasteful versions of standards; among them TENDERLY, FASCINATION, I HAD THE CRAZIEST DREAM, WHERE ARE YOU? WHAT’LL I DO? but also Adam’s ability to swing with the best with JUST IN TIME, WITCHCRAFT, AROUND THE WORLD satisfying examples. There are also some fine originals (SOMEONE MENTIONED YOUR NAME, A MOMENT OF MADNESS, I’M WISE) that add freshness to the listening proceedings.

Apparently, this recommended release will soon be joined by Jasmine’s TAKE GOOD CARE OF HER - THE COLLECTION which should further the still performing Adam’s fame but I’m wishing for another twofer which includes two of this singer’s other albums.

Join Bing and Sing Along 101 Gang Songs / On the Happy Side
Join Bing and Sing Along 101 Gang Songs / On the Happy Side
Price: £13.20

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars HAPPY CROSBY BRIGHTENS THE DULLEST OF DAYS!, 11 April 2017
This collection is a happy sing-along in the manner set by Mitch Miller and his gang with their series of such albums during the late Fifties and into the Sixties. Such cheerful rendering of old song favourites with enthusiastic male chorus may lack originality but what price a musical cartload of toe-tapping charm afforded to the beloved music of past Americana? Certainly for Bing Crosby this project was hardly a challenge and he could have just stepped off the golf course to wax his contributions as front man to such jolly musical capers but JOIN BING AND SING ALONG 101 GANG SONGS, recorded as a double album in 1960, found a public willing to do just that. Sepia’s continuing interest in releasing so much Crosby vocal magic has come up trumps with this double-disc delight. Adding the rare and similarly themed ON THE HAPPY SIDE recorded in 1962 is a logical move as is SING-ALONG WITH BING on which Bing was joined by a kids’ chorus on behalf of the Girl Scouts of the USA. Viewing this collection as a whole, the inclusion of so many song favourites is sure to brighten up the dullest of grey days.

With Bob Thompson and his Orchestra, three solo Crosby songs complete this excellent release and as usual Sepia’s remastering and informative accompanying booklet are up to the usual standard of presentation.

Four Classic Albums (I'm Shooting High / The Many Moods Of Ann Richards / Two Much! / Ann, Man!)
Four Classic Albums (I'm Shooting High / The Many Moods Of Ann Richards / Two Much! / Ann, Man!)
Price: £8.02

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE GREAT ANN RICHARDS IN MANY VOCAL MOODS!, 7 April 2017
The relatively brief recording career of Ann Richards (1935-1982) was dogged by bad personal choices, including marriage and break-up from Stan Kenton which along with other troubles no doubt helped to contribute to her tragic end.

Naturally, being Kenton’s big-band singer for a brief period, her vocal style was slightly influenced by her predecessors Anita O’Day, June Christie, Chris Connor but by the time she produced the three solo albums for Capitol Records included in this two-disc set, some of the “cool” had been off-set by a more high octane swinging mode. Suitably brassy backing accompanies the singer on I’M SHOOTING HIGH (1958) and POOR LITTLE RICH GIRL and LULLABY OF BROADWAY which prove to be effective swingers. As promised by its title THE MANY MOODS OF ANN RICHARDS (1960) changes gears and the promised contrast offered by BE EASY - BE TENDER, I’M GONNA LAUGH YOU OUT OF MY LIFE and LAZY AFTERNOON individually demonstrate Ann’s fine handling of ballads leaving BY MYSELF, SOMETHING’S COMING and I’M LATE to maintain full swing momentum. The third album, TWO MUCH! (1961) united the singer with famed band-leader husband Kenton and must surely have met Ann’s jazz aspirations with the mood generally buoyant and spotted with scattered scat moments as she zings through IT’S A WONDERFUL WORLD, the bluesy-restrained THE MORNING AFTER (THE NIGHT BEFORE); into I GOT RHYTHM, DON’T BE THAT WAY and ALL OR NOTHING AT ALL.

Moving on to ATCO in 1961, the mood was more intimate and restrained for ANN, MAN! with a backing quartet comprising Barney Kessel (guitar), Jack Sheldon (trumpet), Red Callender (bassist) and Larry Bunker (drums). THERE’S A LULL IN MY LIFE, YOU GO TO MY HEAD, YES SIR THAT’S MY BABY, and BEWITCHED are amongst the song goodies with varying tempos convincing the listener of the singer’s sassy vocal qualities.

Sadly, Ann Richards failed to find the success she craved but as a jazz singer she deserved better and this excellent two-disc set will fill a few gaps in collections - bearing in mind the four albums fetch high prices when bought singly. Avid’s care with sound remastering, original album graphics in booklet and on CD’s; original sleeve notes plus musician details/recording dates make this a real bargain.

Four Classic Albums Plus (Take The A Train / Singin' & Swingin' / Lightly And Politely / Moody)
Four Classic Albums Plus (Take The A Train / Singin' & Swingin' / Lightly And Politely / Moody)
Price: £8.17

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Avid brings two forgotten jazz vocalist to the fore in this excellent two-disc set. First of all, the spotlight falls on Apollo Theatre talent contest winner Betty Roche (1920-1999) who initially went on to become a big-band vocalist and along the way she proved to be one of Duke Ellington’s most successful girl singers during the early Forties with her extended recording of TAKE THE “A” TRAIN in 1952 her most memorable hit with the orchestra.

Her clear diction and sure-footed light swinging style was a winning fixture but her solo career proved somewhat erratic and she seems to have waxed just three albums - TAKE THE “A” TRAIN for the Bethlehem label in 1956 and SINGIN’ & SWINGIN’ and LIGHTLY AND POLITELY both for Prestige in 1960/61 respectively; all of which appear in this Avid two-disc collection.

With small instrumental backing, Betty proves her worth with such gems as CAN’T HELP LOVIN’ DAT MAN, TIME AFTER TIME, A FOGGY DAY, WHEN I FALL IN LOVE, SOMEONE TO WATCH OVER ME and POLKA DOTS AND MOONBEAMS delivered as emotionally charged ballads whilst ROUTE 66, SEPTEMBER IN THE RAIN, BILLIE‘S BOUNCE and the novel ROCKS IN MY BED are upbeat swingers; all of which confirm her jazzy reputation. Avid has added SUMMERTIME as three bonus cuts from an album THE COMPLETE PORGY AND BESS. Apparently Betty was a favourite with other singers including Ella and Mel Torme and listening to her jazzy approach to these standards it’s easy to understand why.

With just the solo album MOODY (1957) to her credit, Marilyn Moore’s vocal credentials are barely recalled from her rare mid-Fifties exposure but with a vocal style replicated towards that of Billie Holiday, it is understood the two singers were friends. Maybe moving in jazz musician circles (wife of saxophonist Al Cohn and mother of guitarist Joe Cohn) was the reason she just happened to record this sole album. Naturally, Billie’s song catalogue does fine service with Marilyn’s ILL WIND, LOVER COME BACK TO ME and I CRIED FOR YOU amongst the song choices with backing sextet including Cohn on tenor and bass clarinet, Milt Hinton on bass, Barry Galbraith on guitar, Joe Wilder on trumpet, Don Abney on piano and Osie Johnson on drums and all adding the smoky ambiance such a tribute demands.

Avid’s care with sound remastering, original album graphics in booklet and on CD’s; original sleeve notes plus musician details/recording dates make this an intriguing treat.

Four Classic Albums (The Genius Hits The Road / The Genius Sings The Blues / The Genius After Hours / Genius + Soul = Jazz)
Four Classic Albums (The Genius Hits The Road / The Genius Sings The Blues / The Genius After Hours / Genius + Soul = Jazz)
Price: £8.22

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE WORD "GENIUS" FULLY APPLIES TO RAY CHARLES, 7 April 2017
Influenced by Art Tatum, Nat King Cole, Louis Jordan, Charles Brown, Louis Armstrong and others, Ray Charles (1930-2004) was well set to establish his music-mix of jazz, blues, rhythm & blues and country which sent him to the top of the tree as a living legend. In turn, Ray always encouraged promising up-and-coming talent to reach their goals. Avid’s second two-disc set contains four Charles albums and the overworked word “genius” is well deserved in this case for there’s no doubting it applies to both the man, his career and these albums.

THE GENIUS HITS THE ROAD (1960) is indeed a song trip through the highways and byways of Americana and which other country can claim such cross-over romantic connotations as GEORGIA ON MY MIND, MOONLIGHT IN VERMONT, MOON OVER MIAMI and references to New York, California and Texas? Charles is both vocalist and pianist with Ralph Burns as arranger/conductor of a full-blown orchestra. THE GENIUS SINGS THE BLUES (1961) tells it all with Charles not only providing vocal/piano and organ but composer of half a dozen songs like RAY’S BLUES, FEELIN’ SAD and NOBODY CARES added to known blues numbers such as EARLY IN THE MORNING and I’M MOVIN’ ON.

Moving on to Charles in fully-fledged jazz-oriented pianist mode within an instrumental setting, THE GENIUS AFTER HOURS (1961) adds five of his own compositions (including DAWN RAY, CHARLESVILLE and album’s title number) to the familiar MUSIC MUSIC MUSIC, AIN’T MISBEHAVIN’ and THE MAN I LOVE and he jams with fellow musicians Oscar Pettiford on bass, David "Fathead" Newman on tenor and Joseph Bridgewater on alto and trumpeter Joseph Bridgewater with septet arranged by Quincy Jones. Finally, RAY CHARLES - GENIUS + SOUL - JAZZ (1961) is focused as a mainly instrumental album although Charles, on organ, does provide a couple of vocal moments (I’M GONNA MOVE TO THE OUTSKIRTS OF TOWN and I’VE GOT NEWS FOR YOU) and with the swinging Count Basie Orchestra in tow ONE MINT JULIP, MOANIN’ and STRIKE UP THE BAND are among choices that really swing the shared Quincy Jones and Ralph Burns big band arrangements to the fore.

Excellent remastered sound and original album graphics in booklet and on the CD’s; original sleeve notes plus musician details/recording dates make this a premium budget-priced reissue of four essential classic albums by genius Ray.

Love Theme From "The Godfather" / Solitaire / You Lay So Easy On Me
Love Theme From "The Godfather" / Solitaire / You Lay So Easy On Me
Price: £10.65

With the advent of the Seventies, Andy Williams was faced with the demise of his popular television show as well as the continuing upsurge of unpredictable music styles and due reappraisal of his recording career confirmed he should adopt a more contemporaneous outlook with regard to his choice of material. With the necessary implementation of suitably stronger pop arrangements. the chronologically placed albums in this collection, released during the years 1972-1974, provide a focused assessment of this change, with all four emphasising the antithesis which separates them from the singer’s earlier work. All found album chart placement and taken as a whole, this diverse ballad selection includes Andy’s versions of songs which had already been covered by other artists yet gained much from Andy’s fresh romantic interpretations. However, unlike the foregoing three albums, YOU LAY SO EASY ON MY MIND was solely directed at country songs although the Nashville sound and arrangements edged towards a more neutral style and among the choices I HONESTLY LOVE YOU, MY ELUSIVE DREAMS and I HAVE TO SAY I LOVE YOU IN A SONG had already found popularity acceptance within the pop charts when recorded by others so Andy’s interpretations are typically suited to his vocal strengths.

The other three albums include SOLITAIRE, YOU ARE THE SUNSHINE OF MY LIFE, THAT IS ALL, MY LOVE, SEASONS IN THE SUN and IMAGINE represent the best of Neil Sedaka, Stevie Wonder, George Harrison, Paul McCartney, Rod McKuen/Jacques Brel and John Lennon respectively. Add Harry Nilsson’s inspiring and beautiful, REMEMBER and John Denver‘s co-written and similarly uplifting SUNSHINE ON MY SHOULDERS, there’s much to appreciate and even if many of the other song-writers appear to have faded into that now long-gone era, it’s possible to retrace the memory back to their songs’ original fame. Not forgotten were the film themes that seemed to proliferate Andy’s recording career and so it was versions of THE WAY WE WERE, SPEAK SOFTLY LOVE (THE GODFATHER), THE SUMMER KNOWS (SUMMER OF ’42) and maybe the lesser-known LAST TANGO IN PARIS add further distinction to the albums’ choices.

Whilst lacking any conscious thematic purpose, these albums do share a romantic and often contemplative subtext which enable them to combine with seamless harmony, with all confirming Andy could easily extend his vocal expertise into contemporaneous gear-chance without compromise.
Excellent effusive notes, original album covers and full information on their provenance make this two-disc release another winner from the BGO label.

Her Greatest From Abbey Road
Her Greatest From Abbey Road
Price: £5.99

5.0 out of 5 stars EXCELLENT 100TH BIRTHDAY TRIBUTE TO DAME VERA LYNN, 24 Mar. 2017
Dame Vera Lynn’s 100th birthday celebration may now have passed but among the tribute CD releases for the occasion, this compilation of Sixties and early Seventies EMI recordings gathers together a unique showcase of songs enhanced by her superb vocal style which I personally consider improved with age. Despite the fact her recorded output was so rich, I feel these later recordings were somewhat undervalued after she left Decca and moved to EMI and was given the opportunity to re-appraise those wartime hits via fresh new recordings, enhanced by superior arrangements, large orchestral accompaniment, spacious modern sound technology. Vera was very aware of changes in musical styles and was unafraid to approach modern compositions without compromising her own style and integrity, with her sincerity and distinctive lyric clarity delving deep into the emotional intensity of each song.

Suffice to say, this collection shines the spotlight on some of Vera’s signature hits (THE WHITE CLIFFS OF DOVER, WE‘LL MEET AGAIN, YOURS), familiar songs (AUTUMN LEAVES, AS TIME GOES BY, LILI MARLENE) and finest tracks (WHERE HAVE ALL THE FLOWERS GONE? YOU‘LL NEVER KNOW) from this productive 1962 -1974 period with newly discovered outtakes of MY SON MY SON (1964), IT’S A SIN TO TELL A LIE (1964), NO REGRETS (1964), THE NEARNESS OF YOU (1972) and WHERE OR WHEN (1972) among the twenty-three selections; the latter two superb renderings added as bonus tracks having been recorded at the Chappell Recording Studios.

It’s great to have this new release with the rediscovered remastered recordings described in the booklet which also contains notes by Dame Vera herself and appropriate tribute by Sir Tim Rice. Highly recommended.

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