Jack Payne was a household name by the time these recordings were made in the period 1932-1934. He had just stepped down as director of the BBC's house dance band and was cashing in on his radio fame as a top-of-the-bill act at theatres across the British Isles and on the continent of Europe. His BBC Dance Orchestra had been recording for the Columbia label since 1928 and it was a big coup for the budget Imperial label to secure the services of this famous band. The recordings presented on this collection are taken from the Imperial catalogue and show just how good this band was in those years. The arrangements, largely crafted for their stage appearances, and ensemble work are second-to-none and I treasure my own little collection of Jack's Imperial 78s.
The lovely song "Love Is The Sweetest Thing" was written by Ray Noble for Jack's 1932 film "Say It With Music" and it is included along with two other numbers from that popular film, which sadly appears to have been lost to posterity. I've always loved Jack's recording of "I'll Do My Best To make You Happy" which is beautifully arranged and nicely sung by Jack himself, and it's a pity we can no longer see how it appeared on film.
"Dinner At Eight" was reissued in the LP era, but Ronnie (Ronny) Genarder's vocal was removed by the producer on questionable grounds. Fortunately the recording can be heard again as intended and it's a lovely record and an interesting arrangement with lovely use of strings. I hadn't heard "I've Gotta Get Up And Go To Work" before and it's a bright number with some excellent solo and section work - nicely transferred from the original disc. The final track was originally on two sides of a disc and the band pretends to close a broadcast, after which an enthusiastic songwriter tries to interest a rather tired and irritable bandleader! It's a nice period piece, but this remastered recording lacks the clarity of the original disc.
Some of my favourite Jack Payne recordings are included here like "Wanderer" which is given a dramatic setting with Jack himself taking the vocal. My only complaint is that the bass has been diminished in favour of the treble during the remastering, and not only in this track. Some of the warmth of the original recordings has been lost in the process, which is regrettable and why I can only give this a four-star rating. The band itself is clearly five star.
Unlike more recent Vocalion releases, this has eight pages of first class notes. Two photos from Jack's book `Signature Tune' are included and a cartoon depiction of the 1933 band from a contemporary magazine of the time.
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In March 1932 Jack Payne created a sensation by upping sticks and leaving the BBC, taking his dance orchestra with him. The break was marked by a switch from Columbia to Imperial records, and it wasn't long before his face and facsimile signature adorned their label. It is this period, which lasted until early 1934, which Vocalion's fourth volume concentrates upon, and as a result it is my favourite. I have less of a problem with the sound than my fellow-reviewer, and since he'd like to award it four-and-a-half stars I've gone the whole hog, thereby producing a satisfactory average.
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