by Peter Cates
Guy Lombardo: Enjoy Yourself; MCA, MCAD-11501, CD, recorded between late 1930s and mid ‘50s.
Guy Lombardo (1902-1977) led a band that consisted of talented musicians whose professionalism was at the highest spit-polished level. They recorded for four major labels that, for better or worse, dominated the industry for several decades – Columbia, RCA Victor, Decca and Capitol, achieving sales of over 300 million records.
This CD has 16 of their most well known hits from the group’s Decca catalog, MCA having bought the label during the late ‘60′. Examples – Red Sails in the Sunset, Stars Fell on Alabama, Seems Like Old Times, The Third Man Theme and, of course, the title song invoking the urgency of having fun now before you are “six feet underground.”
Much of the credit should be given to their very popular lead singer Kenny Gardner, a perfectly smooth baritone who was married to one of Lombardo’s sisters.
The arrangements were heavily criticized for (to some ears) a certain corniness and sameness but one of the band’s biggest and most loyal fans was the immortal Satchmo.
As a sideline interest, Lombardo was an accomplished hydroplane speedboat racer and won several prizes; however, he was testing one boat, fitted with a jet engine enabling speeds of 250 miles per hour. The boat exploded and he decided to call it quits.
For those who like 78s, as opposed to other formats, the original Deccas are very easy to find in thrift stores, yard sales, etc. Otherwise this CD was very well mastered with clean, clear fidelity. One could check local outlets but Amazon prices begin at a penny yet range as high as 63 bucks.
Joan Sansom: The Auctioneer; novel, 1976.
This book deals with a small New Hampshire village, mainly agricultural, and a nice quiet place for families. An auctioneer, Perley Dinsmore moves into town and holds an auction to raise much-needed funds for the police department. And he builds some good will among the citizens.
Soon, however, ominous events occur. He, with the help of the police, begins soliciting belongings, valuables and money, even deeded property, with the police providing pickup service, and folks lack the will to say no, those few with any backbone suffering mysterious accidents. Events spiral out of control as just about everybody is stripped of everything while Dinsmore profits extensively.
The story was an extremely compelling reading experience but readers who like the traditional ending should be forewarned.
The author Sansom died of cancer at 39 in 1976 shortly after the novel was published.
Carl Nielsen: Symphony No. 5; Paul Kletzki conducting the Suisse Romande Orchestra; London, CS 6699, stereo lp, recorded 1971.
Right at this moment in time, this Symphony by the Danish composer Carl Nielsen (1865-1931) is the one I return to the most for listening both in the car and at home. Like Mahler’s 5th, it too has power, intense beauty and a joyous, life-enriching optimism. Some have considered it Nielsen finest work; others have considered it the finest Symphony of the 20th century; while a few have called it the greatest Symphony since those of Beethoven. I have seen several music lovers, even those outside the classical fold, become engrossed when hearing a recording of it on a decent stereo system or in concert.
Paul Kletzki (1900-1973) conducted a beautiful performance. Unfortunately, a CD re-issue from 25 years ago is no longer in print and only two copies of this LP are available from vendors at $40 for one and $80 for the other. However, I have heard a number of other recordings, each of which are good, and would recommend any of those listed on Amazon and elsewhere because this work has consistently inspired the best efforts of those who have chosen to record it.
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