NOEL COWARD, VOLUME 3: MAD ABOUT THE BOY (Naxos Nostalgia 8.120623). The third in a beautifully-transferred series of Sir Noel's studio recordings, this one covers 1938-43. To be heard are such lovelies as "Parisian Pierrot," "Poor Little Rich Girl" and "London Pride," along with some campier wartime fare like "Don't Let's Be Beastly to the Germans" and "Imagine the Duchess's Feelings." Of great value for many reasons is the welcome inclusion of Coward's never-issued 1932 record of "Mad About the Boy," which becomes here his ultimate paean to same-sex love.
Rhino continues its wonderful limited-edition Handmade series of MGM musical soundtrack CDs with two Gene Kelly extravaganzas, THE PIRATE and IT'S ALWAYS FAIR WEATHER. Cole Porter's underrated score for THE PIRATE gets its most expansive treatment here, with alternate versions of some songs by Gene and Judy Garland, plus demos by Roger Edens, the musical mastermind behind MGM's musical output. FAIR WEATHER has a so-so score by Comden & Green and Andre Previn, but is given powerhouse treatment by Kelly at his snarkiest and Dolores Grey, who serves up a savory course in Drag Queen 101.
More goodies from Collector's Choice Music and Collectables - TONY PERKINS (CCM-349-2) features Tony at his teen-heartthrob, pre-PSYCHO best, from a 1956 Epic LP with the cool jazz sounds of Marty Paich, plus a passel of Epic singles geared to the proto-rock market. Another teen heartthrob of that era, Ricky Nelson, had an equally adorable (in the 30's, that is) musical Dad. Ozzie Nelson led a fine dance band featuring vocals by wife Harriet Hilliard Nelson. Fifty of their best mid-30's discs are collected on two Collectables CDs (COL-CD-7477 & 7514) with solo and duet vocals by the pair. One tiny complaint is that Oz hogs the singing spotlight with his fairly bland, Rudy Vallee-ish voice. Harriet should have been given more chances -- the band really swings, though, and most of the tunes are great.
Rudy Vallee discovered her and got hit with an alienation-of-affection suit by his wife for his trouble - we're talking about Alice Faye, the darling of 20th Century Fox musicals during the 30's and 40's. Columbia issued a wonderful LP of her 78 records more than 30 years ago and finally Sony and Collectors Choice (CCM-351-2) have transferred it to CD, with improved sound and a few additional cuts. A desert island album if there ever was one! Alice's mellow basso-profundo introduced such standards as "There's a Lull in My Life," "Goodnight My Love" and "I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm," which are all heard here. After 1937, her Fox studio boss, Darryl Zanuck, forbade Alice and his other singing stars from making records, saying "If they want to hear her, let them go to the movies!"
Screen Archives Entertainment (SAE) helps to make amends for Zanuck's edict with the recent CD issue of the complete soundtrack of one of Alice's biggest films, ALEXANDER'S RAGTIME BAND (SAE-CSR-0007). Best known for its reissues of film scores, this is SAE's first movie musical release. The 1938 blockbuster was stuffed with old and new Irving Berlin songs, plus Alice, Tyrone Power, Ethel Merman and you should excuse the expression, Don Ameche. Though the Fox studio orchestra falls on its face when it tries to swing, Merman plows right through "Heat Wave" and "Pack Up Your Sins." Alice's basso never sounded more profundo than on "Now It Can Be Told," where she hits lower notes than Ezio Pinza. And since the script called for her to end up drunk and in the gutter, La Faye is magnificent crying in her beer with "Remember" and "All Alone."
In a more late-night mood is JANE RUSSELL: LET'S PUT OUT THE LIGHTS (Sony Custom A-61324), an expanded version of the pulchritudinous star's 1947 sexy, languorous Columbia album, with a few singles and unissued tracks added. This babe could really sing!
As could Russell's GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES co-star, Marilyn Monroe. She is not to be heard, however, on Film Score Monthly's welcome first-ever issue of the soundtrack of HOW TO MARRY A MILLIONAIRE (FSM Vol.4 No.2). Neither are co-stars Betty Grable and Lauren Bacall, but that's OK, for it's a stereophonic wallow all the way in Alfred Newman's plush, ur-lounge score for this first "comedy in Cinemascope." Newman's famous "Street Scene" is featured in a before-the-credits sequence, showing off the new multichannel technique and then we are treated to the 20th Century Fox Chorus bellowing its binaural way through the "New York, New York!" song that accompanies a Technicolor travelogue of that fair city, circa 1953. Crank up the speakers for this!
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