Rhode Island-born baritone Nelson Eddy is honored with a 25-track salute on this first of two Living Era compilations. Issued in 1999, Through the Years blends the refined strains of sentimental nostalgia with popular Tin Pan Alley melodies and colorful show tunes, as the singer demonstrates his exacting artistry backed by studio orchestras under the direction of Leonard Joy and Nathaniel Shilkret. In and amongst sweet reveries like Victor Herbert and Rida Johnson Young's "Ah! Sweet Mystery of Life" and Sigmund Romberg and Oscar Hammerstein's "When I Grow Too Old to Dream" Eddy is heard savoring the romantic delicacy of Cole Porter's "In the Still of the Night"; delicately enunciating the lyrics to a pair of Noël Coward's nonchalant whatnots; deliberately pronouncing the word "meadow" as "medah" during Rodgers & Hammerstein's "Oh, What a Beautiful Morning"; wrestling with ethnic exotica in "The Kashmiri Song" and Romberg's Bizet-inspired "Senorita"; or conjuring ominous militaristic imagery with the dramatic "Ride, Cossack, Ride!" and the rousing "Stout Hearted Men," a performance so moving that it was pressed onto thousands of 12" lightweight V-Disc records and widely distributed among U.S. Armed forces personnel during the Second World War. It's worth owning Through the Years just to have a good clean copy of "Stouthearted Men" during which Eddy holds one note for an almost alarmingly long duration, gradually increasing the volume until it seems he is ready to burst! Released in 2001, Living Era's other volume, The Old Refrain contains a slightly larger quantity of theatrical numbers such as patter songs from Gilbert & Sullivan and weird interpretations of airs by Stephen Foster. Together the two volumes paint an accurate portrait of this great American chortler.
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