Kern and Berlin dominated the American music scene almost completely in the first 50 years of the last century and their sky-high popularity is amply exemplified in these two albums recorded by the young Stanley Black for Decca.
The Jerome Kern album is in the form of a continuous symphonic sweet with the more overtly famous numbers given lush romantic treatment. 'The Touch of your Hand', 'The Song is You' and 'Don't Ever Leave Me' sound wonderfully lush and romantic in these arrangements. Black and his session musicians provide a typically rich sound recorded in the expansive Kingsway Hall acoustic. It's a pity no 'Showboat' items were included but the LP is a memorable one just the same.
The Irving Berlin selection is even more varied and memorable with several items from 'Top Hat', 'Ziegfield Follies' and 'Annie Get Your Gun', the staple items from Berlin's astonishingly varied repertoire. There are also a number of rarities such as 'Heat Wave', 'Play a Simple Melody' and 'The Song is Ended', all imbued with the typical Irving Berlin charm.
Vocalion's remastering is out of the top drawer and the original LP covers coupled with David Ades charmingly nostalgic annotation creates a wonderful package for young and old alike.
Copyright © 2001, Gerald Fenech