Alice Faye & Co-Stars: Vol 1: 1934 – 1939: Sepia 1364 (2 CD set) Betty Grable & Co-Stars: Vol 1: 1940 – 1944: Sepia 1365 (2CD set)
Up to now, 2021 has been a bit of a let-down and we all need cheering up. Sepia Records has provided us with the ideal pick-me-up in the form of these two sets of classic performances from a pair of stars of the Golden Age of the Hollywood musical: Alice Faye and Betty Grable (as well as appearances from many of their equally famous fellow performers.)
Alice Faye was one of Twentieth Century-Fox’s major stars in the 1930’s and 1940’s, appearing in many of their classic film musicals. This two-CD compilation starts with her number “Oh, You Nasty Man” from the 1934 film “George White’s Scandals” and ends in 1939 with “There’ll Be Other Nights” (from “Barricade”). In between these, Ms. Faye gives us many of her classic film songs, most of which emanate from studio reference discs which offer “clean” versions without overlapping dialogue or sound effects. Songs like “This Year’s Kisses” (from “On the Avenue”: 1937), “Goodnight My Love” (“Stowaway”: 1936), “There’s a Lull in My Life” (“Wake Up and Live”: 1937), “You’re a Sweetheart” (a rare shellac pressing from the Universal film of the same name: 1937), the gorgeous ballad “I Could Use a Dream” (with her then husband Tony Martin from the film: Sally, Irene and Mary”: 1938) and a host of other rarities.
Alice’s co-stars are also included – Joan Davis is hilarious in the rare song “I’m a Gypsy” (from “Sally, Irene and Mary”: 1938) and Jimmy Durante gets to shine in his solo from the same film “Turna”. Also featured are songs by Don Ameche, Dick Powell, The Ritz Brothers (an acquired taste!) and Buddy Clark, dubbing for Jack Haley in the film “Wake Up and Live”).
Other rarities included are radio preview discs for “Sing, Baby, Sing” and “Wake Up and Live”. 61 tracks in all provide value for money and then some!
Betty Grable had many film appearances for other studios under her shapely belt before signing for Fox in 1940 with a debut performance in “Down Argentine Way”. Songs from that classic musical are included in this two-CD set of Betty’s classics: “Two Dreams Met” is a gorgeous duet with co-star Don Ameche and comedienne Charlotte Greenwood gives us “Sing to Your Senorita”. Studio discs from “Moon Over Miami” (1941): including a rare disc of composers Ralph Rainger and Leo Robin demonstrating “I’ve Got You All to Myself”, “Loveliness and Love”, a duet with Don Ameche and “You Started Something” are also included with Grable and Robert Cummings. Other films featured are: “Song of the Islands” (1942), “Footlight Serenade” (1942) and “Springtime in the Rockies”. The latter offers “Chatanooga Choo Choo” sung memorably by Latin songstress Carmen Miranda, Betty and co-star John Payne’s song “Run, Little Raindrop, Run” and Harry James and His Orchestra with “I Had the Craziest Dream” and “A Poem Set to Music”.
“Coney Island” from 1943 has Betty singing “Cuddle Up a Little Closer”, “Take it from There” and “There’s Danger in a Dance” and in “Sweet Rosie O’Grady” (1943), we have Betty’s lovely ballad “My Heart Tells Me” as well as a fine reprise by fellow star Phil Regan. Completing the two CD set are another version of “Cuddle Up a Little Closer” by Ms. Grable from the film “Four Jills in a Jeep” (1944) and from the same year’s “Pin Up Girl”: “This Is It”.
60 songs and instrumentals from Betty Grable’s classic years at the Twentieth Century-Fox studios by her and her fellow stars provide us with classic songs by composers like Mack Gordon, Harry Warren and Rainger and Robin.
Most of these recordings are taken from original studio playback and reference discs and have been meticulously restored by Robin Cherry for Sepia. Detailed and beautifully-illustrated liner notes are by producer Bryan Cooper and thanks must also go to Sepia founder (and all-round nice guy) Richard Tay for believing in these releases.
If sales are good, we are promised further volumes in this series – so – what’s not to like! In my opinion these are “must-haves” for any self-respecting film music lover and offer a rare viewpoint into the glamorous world of film and song in the 1930’s and 1940’s.
To order I have added the link to Sepia’s website: