Gordon Jenkins

Manhattan Tower/California (Two Musical Narratives)

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This LP is a reissue of a pair of Gordon Jenkins conceptual pop pieces from the mid-'40s, and which originally appeared on 78 rpm albums. Manhattan Tower was the more successful of the two works, sufficiently so that it was re-composed and expanded by Jenkins a decade later for Capitol Records; California: The Golden State, which features Lee Sweetland, Beverly Mahr, Betty Brewer, and Art Gentry, isn't nearly as well known, or as bold or successful a work, relying on too many clich├ęs and conventions, and suffering from some considerable predictability -- but it is fun, and some aspects of the narrative and the subject do anticipate theater works such as Paint Your Wagon. Universal should long ago have reissued this pairing, which remains not only entertaining in its own period fashion, but also reveals a good deal of the sensibilities that drove popular music to new levels of ambition and content in the post-World War II era.