Irish tenor Josef Locke (1917-1999) is honored by Living Era with 24 selections from the first 33 months of his recording career (March 1947-December 1949) during which his wholesome music appeared exclusively on the Columbia label. Locke's ever-expanding posthumous fame has resulted in scads of compilation albums, and an uncanny number of them use the words "Hear My Song" in the title; the phrase comes from his hit record "Hear My Song, Violetta." Apparently the folks at Living Era couldn't resist the temptation to run with the pack by calling their Josef Locke memorial album Hear My Song. Certainly, drawing upon the titles of its 24 tracks, this works better than would "Strange Music" or "Macushla." The son of a butcher, Locke was christened Joseph McLaughlin. He served in the Irish Guards and the Royal Ulster Constabulary, performed in public as "The Singing Bobby," had his professional name changed to "Josef Locke" by manager Jack Hylton, and made his first recording, "Come Back to Sorrento," on August 14, 1947. Locke's original intention was to become an opera singer. This background is pleasantly evident throughout these early recordings. Locke is at his most personable when breathing precious old airs like "Santa Lucia" and "Beneath Thy Window (O Sole Mio)." He handles Enrico Toselli's "Serenata" ("Serenade") most gracefully, unwittingly places himself in league with Sidney Bechet by taking on the "Song of Songs" (Bechet's passionate jazz version was recorded for Columbia a little more than one year earlier); and moves onto Edith Piaf's turf with "While the Angelus Was Ringing (Les Trois Cloches)." Even if Living Era has lots of competition in this neck of the woods, this is altogether a fine and serviceable introduction to Josef Locke.
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AllMusic Review by arwulf arwulf