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Singer-actress of the thirties and forties
on 11 June 2009
Deanna Durbin achieve fame as a child star, but the public lost interest as she grew into adulthood, culminating in her retirement aged just 26. Her music mainly focused on the movies in which she acted, but this British budget collection shows that this allowed her to record plenty of great songs. Deanna originally recorded these songs for such movies as Spring parade, Christmas holiday (though there are no obvious Christmas songs here), Nice girl, Three smart girls and Can't help singing.
The sub-title, 24 greatest hits, is somewhat optimistic. There were no charts in Britain as we know them today, though there were sheet music charts, while the American Billboard charts show a solitary hit for Deanna and that track isn't included here. Furthermore, a look at those Billboard charts shows that only a few of these songs were actually hits for anybody, although some of the non-hits certainly sound as though they ought to have been a hit for somebody.
From the opening song (It's foolish but it's fun) to the closing song (Can't help singing), there is plenty to enjoy. Ave Maria (the Gounod-Bach version) is the most famous of all, and as near as we get to a Christmas song, but other highlights include Always (the Irving Berlin classic), Amapolo, Because, Poor butterfly and Last rose of summer. Other highlights include My hero, When the roses bloom again, Love's old sweet song, Waltzing in the clouds, Beneath the lights of home and It's raining sunbeams.
When I was much younger and my hearing was stronger, I remember that when I first heard Deanna's music, I decided that I couldn't stand her piercing voice and would never buy any of her music. I've obviously changed my mind since then, perhaps because I don't hear the range that I once did, but if you've never heard Deanna sing, it'll be a wise move to make sure that hear a sample before you buy. The liner notes describe her voice as a light soprano, but if you think shrill or piercing is more accurate, you should avoid her music, at least for the time being.
If you enjoy hearing Deanna sing songs from the Hollywood movies of her era, as I do now but didn't always, you'll love this collection.