Noël Coward

Mad Dogs and Englishmen [Hallmark]

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Hallmark's Mad Dogs and Englishmen is a neat little budget-priced Noël Coward anthology, running an hour and containing 18 tracks, most (though not all) also written by Coward, and many (if not all) overlapping with the contents of EMI's now out-of-print four-CD box The Master's Voice. Though there are no notes or dates listed, it's easy enough to figure out whence all of the different numbers come -- the best song here is "Could You Please Oblige Us With A Bren Gun," a wartime satirical piece dealing with the British Home Guard, but "The Stately Homes of England," "Mrs Worthington," "Play Orchestra Play," and the title track aren't far behind. The sound is clean and, with a volume boost, offers decent presence, especially given the 1930s and 1940s origins of everything here. Coward's only departures from his own songbook are for the Jerome Kern co-authored "We Were So Young" and "Just Let Me Look at You." There are also two separate medleys of his hits, each running eight to nine minutes, representing large bodies of his theatrical work.

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