Various Artists

The Golden Age of Light Music: Orchestral Gems in Stereo

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Ahh, the glory of stereo. It is so difficult to impart what a difference it made when it first became generally available on records in 1958; for audio nuts, it was a dream come true, whereas for the common listener stereo was a little slower to catch on. Of course, many decades have gone by since no record company in their right mind would issue something new in mono and when they stopped mentioning that a given album was in stereo; it had become the accepted standard. Guild's The Golden Age of Light Music's Orchestral Gems in Stereo hearkens back to that first blush when stereo was available for the first time, and the recordings included reflect such infatuation; the horns in Paul Weston's take on Jerome Kern's "She Didn't Say Yes" are on the opposite side of the stage from the strings, certainly not the way it would be in reality, but this is a reality created expressly for stereo. Not all of the selections sparkle; Warren Barker's "Just a Kiss Apart" is trapped in the maudlin sludge of the smarmy side of the easy listening genre like a pachyderm sinking in the La Brea tar pits, and the future Angela Morley's (née Wally Stott) rendering of Fats Waller's "Chelsea" is led by dreamy trumpet and is as lush as extra thick carpeting. But certain other pieces -- and there are 25 of them here -- are quite commendable; while John Scott Trotter's version of "Misirlou" will probably never rock you like Dick Dale's, it's still plenty spicy, and the little trails of melodic weirdness in Les Baxter's "Shooting Star" well succeeds in lifting the piece out of the category of the merely ordinary. With a little patience and some measure of understanding of the light music genre Guild's The Golden Age of Light Music's Orchestral Gems in Stereo should deliver some thrills and entertainment, even if you find yourself moving it forward a track or two at some point during the program.

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