Sepia features 5 great female vocalists
F. Behrens | Keene, NH USA | 05/20/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have the greatest respect for and owe a lot to the gallant little producers who are restoring old recordings to CDs. So to my list of such companies as DRG and Archeophone, I can now add a delightful little label from London, England called Sepia.
I have just listened to 5 CDs, each featuring a female vocalist from the past, and was fascinated by their contrasting styles.
"Starring Betty Rhodes" (Sepia 1069) showcases a singer whose ""I don't want to walk without you" I have used so many times in my talk about the songs of World War II. Never the great star, she was always around doing a far better than average job in a few films and countless recordings. Here she sings 26 numbers that include "Somewhere in the night," "What is this thing called love?" "Rumors are flying," and "Buttons and bows." Her style is easy going and very very pleasant.
By way of contrast, "Betty Garrett: Star of Stage & Screen" (1038) is filled with lively but never over the top renditions of 28 songs such as "Manhattan," "Take me out to the ballgame," "Side by side," and "Home cookin'." She is accompanied along the way by such luminaries as Milton Berle, Vic Damone, Jimmy Durante, and Gene Kelly. Garrett, by the way, became a star when she brought down the house in "Call Me Mister" singing "South America, take it away." A real fun CD.
I seem to remember the featured singer of "Hildegarde: Entrancing Music" (1066) as far back as my preteens. She was quite popular in cabarets and nightclubs, with a style that was friendly without being obnoxious (as are too many nightclub acts) and with a voice that could be sexy one minute and little girlish the next. Among the 26 numbers on this CD, she is best in slow ballads like "The touch of your lips" and "Every time we say goodbye," not quite comfortable with "Alexander's Ragtime Band" and "The sidewalks of New York." The recordings used are in chronological order from 1936 to 1944 and afford a very pleasurable 78 minutes of listening. Hildegarde, by the way, passed away as recently as July 2005.
Also having gained fame as a cabaret singer in Europe is the star of "Gretta Keller: Remember Me & Other Intimate Songs" (1063). Equally at home in German and English, this chanteuse renders 25 songs, recorded in the mid-1950s, that include "The very thought of you," "They can't take that away from me," "These foolish things," and "Time on my hands." Her smoky voice will conjure up memories of Marlene Dietrich; but Keller is her own self in these engaging renditions of mostly familiar ballads.
The fifth and probably most familiar name on this cross-section of Sepia CDs appears on "Hommage a Josephine Baker: Disque du centenaire" (1065). This centenary tribute to the great singer includes songs recorded from 1930-53, in English and French (just listen to "Peg o' my heart" as "Peg de mon Coeur"!). Here is the voice of a St. Louis slum child who decided to make the most of her talents, even if it meant going to Paris to do so, and building herself into a great exponent of the French music hall.
Her voice can go from high soprano to what sounds like a mezzo, and she sounds great at any pitch. Included in the 27 songs on this CD are "La Congo blicoti," "Besame mucho," "Brazil," and "A message from the man in the moon." This disc should do a lot to make up for the cold reception she got upon her return to her native soil after her European triumphs.
I am assured by the gentlemen running Sepia that these discs are available through amazon.com. And by the way, think what excellent gifts these would make, since you can be sure very few people will already have them in their collections.
Entrancing Indeed: A CD of Hildegarde!
Bruce K. Hanson | Petersburg, VA | 09/04/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I only discovered Hildegarde when I purchased a 78 rpm record set of Lady in the Dark just a few days before she passed away in 2005. Her singing was warm and tender but with an intimate and reserved tone that was so refreshing compared to many contemporary singers who are belting the hell of their songs. The singer was popular in the more plush night clubs of the thirties, forties and fiftis. While searching for more of her 78s I discovered a wonderful CD, Hildegarde- Entrancing Music.
Once again an overseas record company demonstrates how this vintage music should be re-packaged and made available to the public. The cover of this Cd is so inviting that I couldn't wait to listen to the contents. I was not disappointed. Among the 26 selections are "Goodnight My Love", an Irving Berlin Medley, a lovely duet with Buddy Clark- "I've Told Every Little Star", and a surprising rendition of a song rarely recorded, "A Real Nice Clambake" from the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, Carousel. Also included are four rare photos of Hildegarde. Sound quality is superb."
Rave review from a 92 yr.old
Mary E. Warnick | Columbus,Ohio | 07/17/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Bought this CD for my Dad who is 92. He loved hearing Hildegarde again and all the wonderful songs from that era. Great to know you could get it. It brought much happiness and hrs. of listening to my dad."