Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Chart Toppers of the Thirties [CD]

Different eras seem to trend on the vintage scene – a few years back the 1940s seemed top of the heap, whereas nowadays there seems to be more 1950s to be seen at events, especially with a heavy pinup feel. The 1920s seems popular for themed events, but very few people do it every day, and the 1930s seem pretty neglected, which is a great shame as some fantastic films came out of that well-mannered era, and many of the clothing styles are very wearable still. The music, like the music of the 1920s, is possibly more difficult for modern people to engage with, when you step away from swing. Much of it is as smooth as a marcel wave, as elegant as Carole Lombard in a satin gown, and possibly equally as disconnected from current styles and tastes. Nowadays the place I imagine you're most likely to hear it is one of those 'vintage tea shop' places with mismatched china and embroidered tablecloths. Hmm. Like good embroidery and deco plates, it does have real style and doesn't deserved to be left in the bunting-draping hands of the incorrigibly twee.

This CD is a collection of songs that were massive hits in the 1930s. Al Bowlly popularised 'crooning', a smooth singing style, in that decade, though Bing Crosby is probably the best-known exponent. Here you can hear the former singing 'Love is the Sweetest Thing' and 'The Isle of Capri', and the latter performing 'Pennies From Heaven'. Ella Fitzgerald's 'A-Tisket, A-Tasket' isn't my favourite Ella track, but does work alongside the others on the CD. One of the biggest names in the jazz era, Paul Whiteman and His Orchestra, contribute 'Smoke Gets in Your Eyes'. Some still-famous swing bandleaders and their bands also feature: Benny Goodman, is on here with 'The Glory of Love', sung by Helen Ward, and Tommy Dorsey with 'Music, Maestro, Please'. Of course, the disc contains some wonderful songs from the movies. From Fred Astaire, King of the Golden Age of Hollywood musicals, there's 'Night and Day', 'The Way You Look Tonight' and 'Cheek to Cheek'.

I tend to listen to this album on lazy days at home, or days at work when I need something that's enjoyable yet not too fast and energetic, so it will carry me through a steady pile of work. If I had a criticism, it's that sometimes the music is so slick it slides into the background and can be ignored. Listening rarely gets so easy.

While the collection is available as a download from Amazon, you can get it dead cheap on eBay. I've had my copy for years and can't remember where I got it, but the most likely sources are either a gift from Mr Robot or a purchase from the now-closed greatest music store I've ever set foot in, Duck, Son and Pinker. I haven't thought about that shop for ages, but now I recall it I wish so much that it was still around. In recent years, the number of places where I can go to browse CDs and DVDs seems to have dwindled to almost nothing. Local shops - use 'em or lose 'em, people!

13 comments :

  1. "Nowadays the place I imagine you're most likely to hear it is one of those 'vintage tea shop' places with mismatched china and embroidered tablecloths. Hmm. Like good embroidery and deco plates, it does have real style and doesn't deserved to be left in the bunting-draping hands of the incorrigibly twee." Best paragraph I've read all day! x

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    1. I dislike self-conscious cutesiness. A lot of the things I like probably could be seen as twee, but I am convinced (deluding myself ;-) ) that my sweary guttersnipe nature means they can't possibly be twee in my hands.

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  2. Gawd, no, the twee vintage thing really isn't my cup of tea either...
    The songs you mention are so familiar, yet they aren't really ones I'd ever select to listen to - perhaps I should! xx

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    1. I suspect thirties music is very much a love-it-or-hate-it thing. Many of the songs are classics now, but the smooth style might not be to everyone's taste.

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  3. Yes, I agree. What is it with those places? Bunting and those bloody awful "Keep Calm and......." merchandise. I love all those 30's tunes. My Mum is old enough to know them first time round so I have heard them a lot growing up. Amazon has a lot to answer for, really miss a good record shop. xx

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    1. Don't mention those damned Keep Calm things, they infuriate me! and it debases the original meaning behind it.

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    2. I love Al Bowlly, I especially like The Very Thought of You and Hang Out the Stars in Indiana. Not so keen on Bing Crosby and I hate Frank Sinatra with a passion!

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    3. I was so upset when Duck, Son and Pinker closed. It had a fantastic selection of vintage music, and the shelves were a joy to browse.

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  4. I absolutely love the 1930s, it was such an interesting era with so much to learn about. I've always shied away from wearing it in the past because it seemed so unobtainable but I'm determined to build up some fabulous 1930s pieces to wear this summer.
    The music from this era is fab and I'm definitely going to have a look on eBay for this CD. I love a lot of these and am a big fan of the likes of Ella Fitzgerald and also Dinah Washington who came along in the early 1940s. Thanks for sharing this with us!

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    1. Yes, now when I think of the 30s I think of you! I can't wait to see what amazing outfits you come up with.

      I second Lolly's recommendation of Al Bowlly, he really was great. (Died in the Blitz.) I like 50s Sinatra, but am not so keen on his 30s stuff, even if he did work with people like Tommy Dorsey.

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  5. I love 30's music! I always listen to it when I'm relaxing at home. It's just so fun and easy to listen to. I tend to prefer early 30's music (and late 1920's as well). Although lately I've been mixing in some even older stuff. Bring on the ragtime music! (Whenever my neighbor plays his rock music too loud, I tend to blare ragtime music at him. He is starting to get the message. If I have to listen to your music you must listen to mine! Muahaha!)

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    1. Ragtime warfare! Excellent! A bit of Helen Kane would teach him one serious lesson...

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  6. Hello Mim.
    Great post, I can see you're one of the folks with a good ear, and a taste for some grand music. The list of songs sounds good (indeed, I have heard them - but I don't own them on a CD.. alas, those are: massive, breakable and expensive over here).
    So, we just download the music. Having it all the time on our PCs means we can replay the same "song of the day" over and over.. yeah, I do that sometimes. :)
    Still, I prefer to Old Way: my mornings start with the radio. And my days go by with the radio.. even if it's just some quiet talk in the background.

    Marija

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