It's surprising how much vintage British pop music has come to light at the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st. For those who are so inclined, the reissuing of this material comes as an invitation to peruse a sort of alternate universe neatly stocked with naïve, harmless entertainments. In 2007, the Sounds of Yesteryear label came out with Penny Serenade, a pleasantly nostalgic anthology of British pop music from the 1930s. Sweetly sung by Al Bowlly, the title song, which was also recorded by Canadian crooner Dick Todd (and later by Lew Stone, Sammy Kaye, Guy Lombardo, and Vic Damone), played a pivotal role in Penny Serenade (1941) a melodramatic film directed by George Stevens that starred Irene Dunne and Cary Grant. Most of this collection consists of recordings by musicians who were affiliated in some way with a British bandleader who went by the name of Geraldo; born Gerald Bright, he was at one point billed as "The Tango King of England." Individuals from Geraldo's circle include singer Dorothy Carless and Cyril Grantham, Geraldo's star male vocalist and alto saxophonist who leads his own big band (topped with sugary vocals by the Carlyle Cousins) as well as the string-laden orchestra heard paddling through its own syrup on "Love in Bloom." Geraldo himself was responsible for a vivacious rendition of "The Continental" and a bouncy take on "You're a Sweet Little Headache." Monte Rey is caught in the act of singing with several of Geraldo's Gaucho Tango ensembles, variously garnished with violins, an accordion, or the concert pedal harp. This confectionary compilation closes with a pair of tunes recorded in 1934 by Al Bowlly with Ray Noble's Orchestra, and two selections played by Bert Ambrose's Orchestra with vocals by Jack Cooper and Sam Browne.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by arwulf arwulf