The Song Never Ends
Stephen Crum | Kansas City, Kansas USA | 04/12/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Deep in my heart the melody lingers, and the song never ends. That is why this marvelous double CD set produced by Brian Gari, "Legends and Songwriters in Concert 1941", appeals to me. It will also connect with any lover of the American popular song. The 45 tracks represent a spectrum of song hits beginning in the teens of the 1900s. As the title suggests, this is a concert--a rarely heard concert even in its time. Taken from what was thought to be lost discs, the Feb. 25, 1941 Greek Relief Fund evening features not only the songs, but the composers. (Many died within a few years of this recording.) Some sing their own creations (always a joy, even when they cannot sustain all the notes), and some accompany other singers via a piano or play solo piano.The war in Europe was festering. Pearl Harbor was only months away. So this precious two hours and 20 minutes recording exists as a history bookmark--an extremely entertaining one. There are patriotic songs (Tony Martin belts out a very mean and stirring "God Bless America" at the conclusion--nearly equaling Kate Smith's final note); and there are references to the Greek resistance effort against the Axis in a special lyric that Bob Hope sings via "Thanks for the Memory." This extravaganza was performed at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles and broadcast soley to West Coast listeners. It includes some of the great entertainers of all time: Jack Benny (playing his theme song "Love in Bloom" on the violin); a young Judy Garland (singing "Over the Rainbow" with its composer Harold Arlen on the piano--to a thunderous ovation); composer Hoagy Carmichael singing what most consider the greatest pop song ever written, "Star Dust"; and Eddie Cantor, producer Brian Gari's grandfather, singing his immortal "Makin' Whoopee" as songsmith Walter Donaldson accompanies him on piano.This is one honey of a CD set. The live performance includes numerous fluffs, including Dinah Shore having to restart "South American Way" several times, and Bob Hope coming back for curtain calls twice, even though he is told on air that the show is running late. Sound quality is monoraul, no surprise, and there are a few clicks and scratches due to the condition of the original discs. But such imperfections are minor. On with the plus factors:*"St. Louis Blues"--performed by the composer, W.C. Handy, on trumpet. *"Smoke Gets in Your Eyes"--Jerome Kern plays the piano, backed by full orchestra. (The orchestra, conducted by either David Rose or Alfred Newman, assists most of the artists.) *"Lover, Come Back to Me"--played by Sigmund Romberg, the composer, along with a medley of his hits. *"Indian Love Call"--Rudolf Friml on piano. *"You Made Me Love You"--played and sung by its soulful and warbly creator, Jimmy Monaco. *"My Heart Belongs to Daddy"--Mary Martin sings her signature song with writer Cole Porter on piano. *"My Buddy"--Remember the wonderful Frances Langford? She sings a wrenching version as composer Walter Donaldson accompanies.Perhaps the surprise of the show opens the program. Albert Von Tilzer might be a forgotten song writer, but he sings his own all-time hit that will always be remembered: "Take Me Out to the Ballgame." Wait until you hear its seldom sung verse.Pardon me as I listen again."
I Wish I Had Been There!
Diana Stuve | Brea, Ca USA | 07/19/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I can only restate how much I wish I had been sitting at the Shrine Auditorium on that February night in 1941! The amount of brilliant talent on these 2 cd's just astounds me! I can only wonder whether it was filmed for newsreels or if somewhere there exists footage of all of these fabulous performances. Listening to the audience laugh while Jack Benny performs "Love in Bloom", hearing beautiful renditions of "The Donkey Serenade" & "Moon of Manakoora", the golden standards that still sound so marvelous and always will. I almost didn't purchase this CD thinking that I had all of these songs already on recordings of various artists, but when I saw that the songwriters of almost every popular song ever written were to perform their own tunes, I had to get it. I am ever so glad I did!! Just try not smiling when Bob Hope sings! I dare ya!"