At the dawn of the 20th century, the record business did not yet exist, so songwriters relied exclusively on the sales of sheet music to make a living, hoping to come up with hits that everyone would want purchase to perform at home. This collection of 14 songs published between 1884 and 1909 became hits, though most of them are long forgotten in the 21st century except by those born prior to 1960 or so. The husband-and-wife team of William Bolcom and Joan Morris treat each of these songs with passion; the accomplished pianist's accompaniment of the rich-voiced mezzo-soprano brings out the best in each tune. Though some of the songs, such as the badly dated "After the Ball," haven't particularly stood the test of time, the gems by Harry Von Tilzer ("A Bird in a Gilded Cage" and "Wait 'Till the Sun Shines, Nellie"), Kerry Mills ("Meet Me in St. Louis, Louis"), and Ernest R. Ball's "Will You Love Me in December As You Do in May?" more than make up for the occasional museum piece. Morris' detailed liner notes and the inclusion of the complete lyrics to each song are an added bonus, and six previously unreleased tracks were added for the CD reissue.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden