Al Bowlly

Goodnight Sweetheart

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With the European copyright limit of 50 years on recordings, 1930s British pop crooner Al Bowlly's work has been reissued on numerous unlicensed discs mastered from old 78s, and British budget label Prism Leisure's Goodnight Sweetheart is just another one. "20 Nostalgic Classics," proclaims the subtitle for the 66-minute collection, which seems to take 1938 as a key year, since six of the selections -- "Two Sleepy People," "Goodnight Angel," "Sweet as a Song," "Is That the Way to Treat a Sweetheart?," "Sweet Someone," and "You're as Pretty as a Picture" -- had their copyrights then. Irving Berlin's "Marie" dates back to 1928, but did not become popular until 1937. Bowlly favorites like "Goodnight Sweetheart" and "The Very Thought of You" come from the first half of the '30s, but the bulk of this material seems to date from after the singer's return to the U.K. from the U.S. in 1936. Not that you'd know any of that from examining this disc, which contains for annotations only a brief biographical essay, song titles, and plenty of incorrect songwriting credits. (For the record, Arthur Schwartz's name is misspelled in the credit for "Dancing in the Dark," and his partner, Howard Dietz, is forgotten entirely); Al Goodhart, not "Goodheart," is a co-author of "Auf Wiederseh'n, My Dear"; Ray Noble, not "Jimmy McHugh/Harold Adamson" wrote "The Very Thought of You"; "True" was written by Walter G. Samuels and Leonard Whitcup, not "Weers [sic]/Hallifax [sic]"; "Penny Serenade" was written by Hal Hallifax and Melle Weersma, not "Secunda/Jacobs/Cahn"; "Bei Mir Bist Du Schon" was written by Sammy Cahn, Saul Chaplin, Jacob Jacobs, and Sholom Secunda, not by Chaplin alone; poor Arthur Schwartz has his name mangled a second time as "Schawtz" in the credit for "There's Rain in My Eyes"; Jimmy Campbell's and Reginald Connelly's names are misspelled in the credits for "Goodnight Sweetheart", and Noble isn't credited at all for "Love Is the Greatest Thing." Leaving aside the insults to songwriters, though, this is still not the Bowlly compilation to buy, even at the cheap price. As usual, labels like ASV/Living Era and Pearl Flapper do a much better job.

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