The Exciting ... Lena

Lena Horne

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The Exciting ... Lena Review

by William Ruhlmann

In 1963, an increasingly politicized Lena Horne left RCA Victor Records and signed to 20th Century-Fox Records, for which she recorded the civil rights anthem "Now!," an odd song based on the tune of "Hava Nagila" and written for her by Broadway songwriters Jule Styne, Betty Comden, and Adolph Green. The B-side was "Silent Spring," which took off from Rachel Carson's environmentalist bestseller. The single scraped the bottom of the pop charts, and Horne's follow-up was a cover of Bob Dylan's "Blowin' in the Wind." She then cut an album, Here's Lena Now [20th Century-Fox 4115], which featured more traditional theater music fare, before departing for United Artists Records. Budget label Springboard's The Exciting ... Lena is a low-priced reissue of the 20th Century-Fox material, essentially an abridged version of Here's Lena Now. Horne is typically expert at the show material, and she performs the topical songs with gusto, although those accustomed to hearing folkie versions of "Blowin' in the Wind" may find this supper-club version disconcerting.

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