Various Artists

The Golden Age of Light Music: The 1930s, Vol. 2 - In Town Tonight

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Guild's In Town Tonight -- The 1930s, Vol. 2, is an entry in Guild's ongoing Light Music series that surveys British and American music belonging to that designation in historical recordings. The transfers from original recordings, made by Alan Bunting, are always first-rate, and informative, if brief, and notes by compiler David Ades help to place this largely forgotten music in context. The rubric of light music contains a wide range of music; it was a widely used term at the time that has since fallen into disuse, but covered both popular music that was not really jazz and lightweight classical music that wasn't considered "serious" in the way that, say, a Brahms symphony would be. A good example of that would be the little Badinage composed by Victor Herbert, heard here played by the salon orchestra led by Russian-American bandleader Harry Horlick, who was a mainstay of NBC radio in the 1920s and '30s. On the other side of the coin is the cultured English music hall tune Bitter Sweet Waltz, composed by Noël Coward for his show of that name and played -- with weird, spooky organ effects that almost approximate the sound of a Theremin -- by London's Paramount Theatre Orchestra in 1939. Technology is a side element to this collection that makes it especially interesting, for it includes an experimental stereo recording, made in 1934, by engineer Alan Blumlein at Abbey Road of some bits from Johnny Green's show Mr. Whittington played by Ray Noble's New Mayfair Orchestra; the complete mono track of this recording is also included. The stereo is highly successful in this case, though Bunting's transfers of many of the mono recordings are just as crisp and responsive, for example Alfredo Campoli and his Marimba Tango Orchestra performing a thing called Chinese Street Serenade. Skaters with an interest in vintage dance music might well take note of the Ice Rink Selection heard here, played by the Debroy Somers Band. With such a wide-ranging selection and terrific sound, fans of the popular music of the distant past will want to seek out Guild's In Town Tonight -- The 1930s, Vol. 2.

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