Guild's The Golden Age of Light Music series continues apace with Strings in Rhythm, a survey of mostly Latin and popular material recorded by pop orchestras between 1953-1959 with an emphasis on big string sections. Getting those big string sections to move was quite a challenge, and this disc it is clear; certain orchestras could do it better than others, for example the blazing "Habañera" from Victor Herbert's opera Natoma as arranged by Percy Faith lifts right out of its chair and flies out the window. However, nothing here can really be described as "sludgy," and perhaps "sedate" would best describe some of the slower, less up-tempo numbers; annotator and compiler David Ades never scrapes the trough so deep that the slime comes up. However, certain slower numbers can be catchy and ingratiating, such as Hal Mooney's Cancer, taken from the 1958 album Musical Horoscope, which contained a piece devoted to each sign of the Zodiac. However, the Latin-themed pieces and those with at least a beat are the ones that catch your ear the most; Monty Kelly's Neapolitan Nites Mambo (after J.S. Zamecnik), Frank Chacksfield's jaunty take on the popular Bing Crosby number "Swinging on a Star," Nelson Riddle's classy rethinking of the old 1927 hit "Rain," and unexpected, delightful obscurities like German leader Helmut Zacharias' saucy retrofit of Ernesto Lecuona's tango "Maria La O." Although much of the album grooves at least to some extent and Alan Bunting's transfers of these vintage recordings are first-rate, listeners should know what they are in for; some of this material was once marketed as easy listening and if that doesn't appeal to your taste, then this won't. For anyone else, however, it should prove satisfactory and, in the main, highly entertaining.
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AllMusic Review by Uncle Dave Lewis