REVIEW POTPOURRI: Baritone: Emilio de Gogorza; Author: Edward Garnett

Peter Catesby  Peter Cates

Emilio de Gogorza

The Holy City
Victor- 74041, one-sided, 12-inch 78, recorded 1906.

Emilio de Gogorza

The baritone Emilio de Gogorza (1872-1949) recorded more discs for Victor than has been documented accurately. Despite this number and his success as a concert artist, he never appeared in any opera on stage due to terrible near-sightednss.

The Holy City has been recorded many umpteens of times since the cylinder days. My favorite records of this are the Richard Crooks 1935 Victor 78 and the 1950 Decca ep 45 but Gigorza performed it with intelligence, sensitivitivity and a very polished voice- qualities that have been consistently noted by his fans.

He was married for 25 years to the famed soprano Emma Eames (1865-1952), who grew up in Bath and whose house is still standing!

Letters from Joseph Conrad

Edward Garnett, ed.; The Bobbs-Merrill-Company, 1928, 302 pages.

Joseph Conrad (1857-1924) did not master English fluently until his 20s. Later the Polish-born merchant marine seaman would leave his oceanic livelihood to devote his energy full time to becoming one of a tiny handful of the greatest 20th century writers and a vibrant, multi-faceted individual to those fortunate enough to have met him.

Edward Garnett

I have read and deeply enjoyed Heart of Darkness (the basis for the late ‘70s film classic Apocalypse Now), Lord Jim, the short story “Typhoon”, “Under Western Skies”, and, a huge favorite of mine, “Victory”. Searchers for truth abound in his stories with their exotic and frequently hostile locales in the darker corners of Europe, Czarist Russia, and Africa, and on board the ships travelling the dangerously wide open seas.

This book of correspondence has an insightful introduction and notes by Conrad’s longtime younger friend and editor, Edward Garnett (1868-1937), who was most helpful in motivating the often insecure writer to keep working during their mutually edifying friendship- starting in 1895, just when Conrad began his writing career, to 1924, when the author suffered a fatal heart attack. However, only Conrad’s letters to Garnett make up the bulk of this fascinating volume.

I offer select comments from Conrad to provide a sense of his larger than life personality:

His ability to put pain in its rightful place with an unexpected twist while carrying on about petty matters- “Why am I fooling thusly while there is a pain in my back to which a jab with a carving-knife would be a soothing application?”

His impatience with people – “Don’t you know my dear Edward how stupid people are! They take delight in merest twaddle, they look out for and welcome the obvious. And they understand hardly anything which is not either one or the other.”

His praise of Garnett’s uncanny ability at helping him write his best work – “You are a dear good old critic – you are! You’ve a way of saying things that would make an old sign-post take to writing. You put soul and spunk into me – you, so to speak, bamboozle me into going on – and going on and going on. You can detect the shape of a mangled idea and the shadow of an intention in the worst of one’s work – and you make the best of it. You would almost persuade me that I exist. Almost!”

Reading him at first can be difficult but patience, as I know from my own experience, yields rewards of great worth. I recommend Heart of Darkness for the beginner.

REVIEW POTPOURRI, Week of April 27, 2017

Peter Catesby  Peter Cates

Whether in an urban or rural area, very devoted, if not compulsive, record collectors patrol the Goodwills and other such venues looking for that particular record, whether rare or not, that strikes their fancy and often buy just a few more that just happen to have been put out that day. This week, I am doing little summaries of 78s that might tweak some interest, whenever and wherever they might be found:

  1. John Charles Thomas – Smiling Eyes; Roses of Picardy, Brunswick 10274, recorded 1924.
    The genial John Charles Thomas (1895-1961) sang with much gusto and sincerity, whether opera or, as on this disk, favorite songs of the day; his records were consistently enjoyable, this one a really choice example. He appeared a few times on Groucho Marx’s TV show, You Bet Your Life, which can be viewed on YouTube.
  2. Roy Rogers and the Sons of the Pioneers – Blue Shadows on the Trail; Pecos Bill, RCA Victor 20-2780, recorded December 1, 1947.
    The Sons of the Pioneers blended nicely with their former King of the Cowboys (1911-1998) colleague in these two songs from Walt Disney’s 1947 animated feature, Melody of Love.
  3. Eddy Howard – Someone Like You; When the Angelus Is Ringing, Mercury 5254, recorded 5/49.
    A few years ago, I was going to tell my brother, who is a blues fan, with such favorites as B.B. King, Albert King and John Lee Hooker, about my favorite white blues singer, when he interrupted me with “Eddy Howard!” And, yes, I was dumb-founded. But this singer/bandleader (1914-1963) had a gift for turning the above pop novelties into delectable vocal miniatures, unlike any other of his generation, but was tragically taken from us at the horribly young age of 49.
  4. Les Brown – Robin Hood; Sleigh Ride in July, Columbia 36763, recorded 11/18/44.
    Whatever Les Brown (1912-2001) may have lacked in imagination or taste, he made up for with solid musical leadership. Robin Hood is a funny swing number with lyrics by Louis Prima while Sleigh Ride in July, a classy Burke/Van Heusen ballad, has some very lovely woodwind/brass sonorities.
  5. Julia Lee – A Porter’s Love Song; Since I’ve Been With You, Capitol 40008, recorded 8/9/46.
    A blues singer/pianist from 1927, when she made her first 78, Julia Lee (1902-1958) recorded 78s for the then trail-blazing Capitol Records from 1944 until her hits dried up in 1949. For the rest of her life, she was popular locally in Kansas City until her death from a heart attack. These two songs are feisty crowd pleasers, while her backup, labelled as her Boy Friends, includes Benny Carter, Nappy LaMarre, Vic Dickensen, Red Norvo, Red Nichols, etc.
  6. Perry Como – If You Were My Girl; I Cross My Fingers, RCA Victor 20-3846, recorded 1950.
    I have already proclaimed Perry Como (1912-2001) as one of my top five or six favorite male singers. I agree with a local church choir director who felt that Como had a set of pipes during his prime that were unsurpassed in her experience for the sweet, sincere beauty of sound, phrasing, projection and charisma, which I amen whole-heartedly. Unfortunately the two songs were clunkers – they went in and out my ears with no effect, emotional or otherwise. And Como’s long term conductor and arranger, Mitchell Ayres, despite his best efforts, could do nothing to breathe any life into them !!
  7. Chuck Foster – Dardanella; Who Put that Dream in Your Eyes, Mercury 5125, recorded 12/47.

Dance bandleader Chuck Foster (1912-2001) experienced several peak years of popularity when his very well-liked group was constantly in demand, mainly during the World War II years through to the early ‘50s, and it recorded a few sides for Mercury from the mid- to late ‘40s.

Meanwhile, singer Tommy Ryan (1921-2007), who had spent most of the war years as one of Sammy Kaye’s leading vocalists, would join Foster and his ensemble at least for the above two sides. The results were pleasant without being particularly moving.
Ryan pretty much ended his showbiz career in the mid-’50s, during which he began pursuing other careers and hobbies with abundant success. However, he remained the entertainer to his family, friends and some fortunate customers and, according to his son, had a beautiful voice up to his eighties, singing at Bar Mitzvahs and other similar social events.

Foster continued leading dance bands until the early ‘80s but his recording career would end after the release of one LP in 1959 for the Phillips International label.

REVIEWS: Conductor: Walter Susskind; Orchestra: Melachrino Strings; Film: Charley Varrick


by  Peter Cates

Handel’s Messiah

Walter Susskind conducting the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus; Musical Heritage Society MHS 582/ 583/ 584, three LP set, recorded September 22-24,1958.

Walter Susskind

Being in the Easter spirit, I offer comments on this Messiah set since the music is appropriate to both Christmas and this week’s observances. Con­duc­tor Walter Susskind (1913-1980) delivered a performance of superb quality with a crackerjack quartet of singers – my special favorite being the late contralto Helen Watts (1927-2009), whose rendition of He Shall Feed His Flock gives me the thickest goosebumps every time I hear it. Harpsichordist George Malcolm (1917-1997) did beyond superb playing with the orchestra and revealed especially exquisite details in certain sections such as the Pastoral Symphony.

My first Messiah record was a 99-cent highlights disk from this same performance. A CD edition of this recording is priced starting at 2 or 3 bucks by various Amazon vendors.

Melachrino Strings

April in Paris
RCA Victor LSP-2739, recorded 1963, stereo dynagroove LP.

The Melachrino Strings were the creation of English-born George Melachrino (1909-1965), an all-around musician skilled at playing violin, viola, clarinet, oboe, etc., and composer of movie soundtracks. This orchestra landed a contract with RCA Victor in the very early fifties, sold easy listening records by the millions and were the biggest rival to Mantovani. The albums had such titles as Music for Relaxing, To Sleep By, For Dining and To Study By; and ones devoted to the songs of Rodgers and Hammerstein, Irving Berlin, and, one special favorite, Jerome Kern. To me, their arrangements were tasteful, very pleasant and, as a rule, less sugary than those of Mantovani.

April in Paris also has a group of three accordionists, the Trio de Musette, which provides charming instrumental contrasts to the larger orchestra within each selection. The program consists of French-styled pop classics such as C’est Si Bon, I Love Paris, the Bobby Darin hit Beyond the Sea, Song from Moulin Rouge, Autumn Leaves, the title song, etc. The LP shows up often on Amazon sites and in various thrift stores along with other Melachrino titles.

Charley Varrick

starring Walter Matthau, Andy Robinson, Joe Don Baker, John Vernon, Sheree North, etc.; 1972.

Walter Matthau

A mostly forgotten film of possible interest.

With respect to bank heist flicks, this movie remains one of the best ones I have ever seen. Matthau plays the title character who is thrown unwittingly into one nasty situation after he and his friends pull off the typically every day bank robbery. Their proceeds are not the common ten or, if lucky, $20,000 for their well-planned hard day’s work but a roaring six digits when

Sheree North

the gang coerces the employees into handing over certain cloth bags seen behind the counter. They have obviously hit a money laundering outfit. And become the target of some individuals, portrayed with captivating aura by Joe Don Baker and John Vernon, who pursue them with scorched earth determination. Quite fun and delightfully unpredictable at moments!

Joe Don Baker

Film Review: Human Desire; Composer: Bizet; Singer: Nelson Eddy


by  Peter Cates

Human Desire

starring Glen Ford, Gloria Grahame, Broderick Crawford, etc.; directed by Fritz Lang; Columbia Pictures, 1954, 91 minutes.

Human Desire was directed by the German-born Fritz Lang (1890-1976), whose fame in his homeland with a few classics, examples – M and Metro­polis, preceded his highly successful career in the U.S.

Gloria Grahame

This gritty, gripping thriller deals with a romantic triangle that becomes as ugly and deadly as one can get. Broderick Crawford (1911-1986) plays, with formidable authority, a railroad yard supervisor, Carl, who has lost his job. However, his very young, pretty and spoiled wife, Vicki, portrayed with vampish swagger by Gloria Graham (1923-1981), used to be the boss’s secretary and thus is asked by Carl to intervene on his behalf. Carl gets his job back but Vicki sleeps with the boss to seal the deal.

Carl, of course, loses it and kills the man, forcing Vicki to help; unfortunately, a fellow employee, Jeff, (who is rendered with professional presence by Glen Ford, 1916-2006) stumbles into the situation, impulsively becomes attracted to Vicki and exacerbates the perilous nature of this chain of events for everyone.

The footage of early ‘50s trains adds much to the suspense of the film, a tribute to Lang’s imaginative cinematography.

Columbia Pictures was run by, arguably, the nastiest, meanest studio boss, Harry Cohn (1891-1958), in a business where such individuals frequently thrive. When he died, crowds attended his funeral – a possibly apt confirmation of Cohn’s own observation that when one gives the public what it wants, it will turn up.


Symphony in C
Roland Douatte conducting the Radio Symphony Orchestra of Luxemborg; Musidisc 30 RC 628, 12-inch disc, release unknown.


I know little of conductor Douatte but do own an LP of him performing Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, it being a very fine performance of a work with at least 100 recordings available.

That philosopher of darkness, Friedrich Nietzsche, called Bizet’s music, especially the opera Carmen, “a return to nature, health, gaiety and youth.” Bizet supposedly had his black moods, but his symphony, which lay unheard until 1935, 60 years after this composer’s death in 1875, is a joyful, positive piece, one very listenable.

This recording is both hard to find and out of print but many other good ones exist and are available for ordering in most music venues.

Nelson Eddy

By Request
with Robert Armbruster conducting; Columbia 2037, ten-inch vinyl LP, released, 1949.

Nelson Eddy

Nelson Eddy (1901-1967) started out as a news reporter in Philadelphia before his love of singing led to training and work on stage and radio and in the movies, all of which led to huge success.

The LP contains his sincere effusive singing, best listened to one track at a time, applied to various old favorites like Danny Boy, Without a Song, I Love You and Because.

REVIEW POTPOURRI: Composer: Dvorak; Film: Cry, Danger


Peter Catesby  Peter Cates


Symphonies 4, 5, and 6; Overtures
In Nature’s Realm, My Country and Carnival; Istvan Kertasz conducting the London Symphony Orchestra; Vox Box SVBX 5138, three 12-inch LPs, recorded 1967.

Back in my early classical record collecting days during the ’63-’64 years, a peak listening experience was the 9th Symphony, better known as “From the New World;” followed within three years, as I could afford the records on my dollar a week budget, by the uniquely sweet goose-bumpish beauties of Symphonies 8, 7, and 6 and the Cello Concerto. My records of these were pretty torn up, mainly from the tone arm of my 32 dollar RCA Victor manually operated three- speed player. But, even with such crude reproduction, this music stood the test of time and still does with much better home reproduction and a variety of different recordings of each piece.

The above set features Symphonies 4, 5, and 6, via recordings leased from the Decca/London label of the late, exceptionally gifted conductor, Istvan Kertesz (1929-1973), one Maestro from whom I have not heard a single record that was never less than very good. During the spring of 1973, he was appointed music director of both the Cologne, Germany, Orchestra and Opera, the kind of challenge that Kertesz relished and, in the opinion of many, would have made a very good fit. Unfortunately, within two or three weeks while on a much-needed vacation to Israel with his wife and two children, he was caught by an undertow while swimming in the Red Sea.

The three symphonies and companion overtures are, in typical Dvorak style, a feast of dramatic excitement and charming melody, and performed in a superb manner. A highly recommended trio of LPs !

Cry, Danger

starring Dick Powell, Rhonda Fleming, Regis Toomey, William Conrad, etc.; directed by Robert Parrish; RKO Radio Films, released February 3, 1951, 79 minutes.

Dick Powell

Dick Powell (1904-1963) portrays, with commendable presence, Rocky Mulloy, a man freshly released from prison after serving five years of a life term for a robbery and murder he didn’t commit and then exonerated by a man who comes forward suddenly with a much-needed alibi for Mulloy’s whereabouts the day of the crime. The justly popular, alluring siren of fifties melodrama, Rhonda Fleming (1923-), is Nancy Morgan, Mulloy’s ex-girlfriend and now wife of his good friend Danny, who is still imprisoned unjustly for the same crime. Regis Toomey (1898-1991) weighs in as Lt. Gus Cobb, an investigator who’s still convinced Mulloy is not only guilty but knows where the unrecovered loot is; but he is also fair with people under investigation and keeps an open mind, just the type of role Toomey did so well in The Big Sleep with Humphrey Bogart.

Finally, William Conrad (1920-1994), best known as a radio actor, a narrator, a director of numerous episodes for various TV shows and star of the ‘70s hit series, Cannon, is Louis Castro – a bookie, another suspect for Mulloy’s crimes yet untouchable, and a leader of his own formidable gang, a character he deploys with commendable professionalism.

Rhonda Fleming

The story has its share of false leads, double crosses and violence but the events contribute to a pretty decent climax as Mulloy’s life is finally relieved of one bad monkey on his back. And 1951 Los Angeles is revealed in all of its pulsating ambiance – the train station and tunnel; the sleazy and semi-sleazy bars; a quaint yet sinister trailer park with year-round balmy weather; the majestic thoroughfares glutted with now-vintage automobiles, trucks and city buses; and the old hotel/apartment buildings with tobacco shops and newsstands. One solid 79 minute piece of newly-remastered black and white entertainment in its DVD incarnation.

REVIEW POTPOURRI: Film: Cover Up; Singer: Henry Allen; Composer: Rachmaninoff

Cover Up

starring Dennis O’Keefe, William Bendix, Barbara Britton, etc.; directed by Alfred E. Green; released by United Artists, 1949, 83 minutes.

William Bendix

As obvious from the title, Cover Up is from the film noir tradition of ‘40s and ‘50s black and white movies, imbued with suspense, evil, violence, etc. I have been wanting to see the film for over 15 years since reading about it in one of the Scheuer movie guides and trying unsuccessfully to order the videocassette, now out of print.

Dennis O’Keefe

Then I forgot about it during subsequent years until I spotted it on YouTube recently. It stars Dennis O’Keefe (1908-1968), William Bendix (1906-1964), and Barbara Britton (1919-1980), three stalwarts from this cinematic era with the most well known being Bendix.

An insurance investigator (O’Keefe) is investigating a suicide in a small midwestern town. Clues increasingly point towards murder, which would mean a huge double indemnity payout. However, what is even more disturbing is the lack of cooperation and hostility of the townspeople, including the sheriff, very powerfully portrayed by Bendix. There is also a most attractive single woman (Britton) who distracts the agent for reasons unrelated to the case until she, too, becomes a person of interest there.

Barbara Britton

The otherwise compelling plot is unfortunately marred by the tepid love story, but, all in all, is a good 83 minutes of entertainment.

Henry “Red” Allen

Ride, Red, Ride in Hi-Fi; RCA Victor EPA 2-1509, seven inch vinyl 45, recorded 1957.

Red Allen

Like Satchmo, Henry “Red” Allen (1908-1967) was born in New Orleans. He was praised by many as technically and musically Satch’s equal; some professional competition may have resulted, including a few tacky moments on the part of either of the two. They did work together and, more often, with the same sidemen.

The EP contains only two selections – Sweet Lorraine and Love Is Just Around the Corner — and features a few extraordinary sidemen — trombonist J.C. Higgin­botham, tenor saxist Coleman Hawkins, drummer Cozy Cole, pianist Marty Napoleon, and clarinettist Buster Bailey – delivering rambunctious, swinging renditions. Worth seeking out.

Red Allen died in 1967, at 59, of pancreatic cancer.


Concerto No. 2; Tchaikovsky Concerto No. 1

Felicja Blumental, pianist; Michael Gielen conducting the Vienna Musikgesellschaft Orchestra- Allegro ACS 8020, cassette, 1980 reissue based on a 1959 release.


The 2nd Piano Concerto of Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943) and the 1st Piano Concerto of Petr Ilyich Tchaikovsky are, arguably, the two most popular Piano Concertos of the last 150 years, each having generated enough recordings to fill a good-sized room – As I have stated in past columns, I love duplicates and own several of each, representing pianists of different styles.

Felicja Blumenthal (1908-1991), was a highly accomplished virtuoso with a spontaneous, sometimes splashly style of playing that suited both pieces, while Michael Gielen led his Vien­nese musicians in very enthusiastic orchestral accompaniments. For those beginning to know these Concertos, this cassette is a good starter and always cheap at most music outlets and thrift stores – it is also available in CD and priced similarly.

Recording artist: Duke Ellington; Composer: Johann S. Bach; Marching Band: The Band of His Majesty’s Irish Guards


by  Peter Cates

Duke Ellington
                    Blue Light

Columbia CL 663, 12- inch vinyl mono LP, released 1955. From nine Brunswick 78 sides recorded between 1934-1939.

Duke Ellington

Duke Ellington

Blue Light gathers several lovely disks of the quieter jazz of which the Duke was a master. One number, Reminiscing in Tempo, not only stood out for several years after its composition and first recording in 1935 as having the longest performance time, but also as a moving commemoration of his mother who had died the same year.

The personnel during these years stood out for their musicianship, discipline, compatibility and relaxed teamwork. They included Cootie Williams, Juan Tizol, Barney Bigard, Johnny Hodges, Harry Carney, etc., and included a few who would stay for two or three decades.

The LP is available with another one, Ellington Uptown, on a single cd and can be ordered through Bull Moose and various Internet sources.

Two Concertos for Three Harpsichords and Harpsichord Concerto No. 8

Gustav Leonhardt, harpsichordist, and conducting the Leonhardt Consort; Das Alte Werk SAWT 9458, twelve inch vinyl lp, recorded October, 1963.

Johann Bach

Johann Bach

Along with sheer beauty, J.S. Bach’s Harpsichord Concertos are a source of melody, fascinating harmonies and very stately but alive rhythms. And this LP, with the late Gustav Leonhardt’s exceptional playing and conducting, is reasonably priced, in both vinyl and CD formats, and available through the Amazon vendors and local Bull Moose and Barnes and Noble outlets for special ordering.

The Band of His Majesty’s Irish Guards
On Parade

London LPB 16, 10- inch vinyl LP, recorded 1949.

As a rule, marching band concerts and recordings bore me, but this ancient LP may be an exception to the rule. Its players display an unusual flair for nuance while performing in a captivating manner.

There are a couple of Sousa marches; Fucik’s Entry of the Gladiators – better known in its heyday as the theme for Bozo the Clown; Colonel Bogey – a late ‘50s hit for Mitch Miller, the movie theme for Bridge Over the River Kwai, and a most well timed inclusion in the 1961 Disney edition of The Parent Trap; and other less well known musical chestnuts from the British Isles. For interested parties, it is worth the search!

The Band of His Majestry’s Irish Guards

The Band of His Majestry’s Irish Guards

Composers: Prokofiev & Bartok; Country singer: Lynn Anderson


by  Peter Cates

Prokofiev and Bartok

                          3rd Piano Concertos
Boris Krajny, piano, with Jiri Belohlavek conducting the Czech Philharmonic; Stradivari- SCD-6068, CD, released 1989.

Bela Bartok

Bela Bartok

Boris Krajny (1945-) is a Czech-born pianist who has performed in this country a few times while still being better known in Eastern Europe; also his list of recordings is quite small and in­clude this long out of print and rarely seen gem from the late ‘80s, which – and I mean this in the truest sense of the word – miraculously appeared one day out of the blue at Waterville’s Bull Moose.

Sergei Prokofiev

Sergei Prokofiev

The 3rd Concertos of both Bela Bartok (1881-1945) and Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953) are two very good introductions to 20th century piano music, along with the 2nd and 3rd Concertos of Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943) .

All four have a most engaging combination of melody, rhythm and deep, sincere emotion that give pleasure on the first hearing, especially with a great performance and very good recorded sound.

The great conductor, Jiri Belohlavek (1946-), and world class Czech Philharmonic rise to the challenge, giving very satisfying performances; Stradivari’s engineers deliver superb sound.

Unfortunately, since the CD is hard to find, I recommend the very reasonably priced classic DG recording of Geza Anda, with Ferenc Fricsay conducting for a two-CD package containing all three Bartok Concertos and a cheap Sony single CD presenting Gary Graffman and the arch- perfectionist, George Szell, in Prokofiev’s 1 and 3.

Lynn Anderson

Flower Of Love
Pickwick SPC-3267, 12-inch stereo vinyl LP, released during the 1970s as a re-issue of singles from the Chart record label.

Lynn Anderson

Lynn Anderson

Flower of Love brought together 10 of Lynn Anderson’s (1947-2015) singles from Chart records, for whom she recorded between 1966 and 1970 before her move to Columbia records. They include such hits as Joe South’s Games People Play, Merle Haggard’s Okie From Muskogee and Tammy Wynette’s Stand by Your Man, all of whom are sung with spirit and personality, the very traits which rightfully endeared her to many listeners during her more than 40 years of performing.

She was also the daughter of the very talented singer/songwriter, Liz Anderson (1927-2011), who had already been signed also to Chart records in 1965, one year before her daughter, with one of her songs being a megahit for Merle Haggard, namely All My Friends Are Gonna Be Strangers.

Unfortunately, daughter Lynn’s private life was a horror show of difficulties with alcohol and the legal system – blatantly cursing her children in court, DWIs, and punching an arresting cop; one can read more details in her wiki bio.

In 2015, Lynn Anderson died of complications brought on by pneumonia and a heart attack.

Film: Hangmen Also Die; Rock group: The Crystals


Peter Catesby  Peter Cates

Hangmen Also Die

starring Brian Donlevy, Walter Brennan, Anna Lee, Gene Lockhart, etc.; directed by Fritz Lang; United Artists; 1943; 135 minutes.

Brian Donlevy

Brian Donlevy

Hangmen Also Die was produced to depict the June, 1942, assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, the Nazi Protector of Czecho­slo­vakia, a major architect of the Final Solution and, in general, a rather loathsome villain of the World War II years.

Walter Brennan

Walter Brennan

Due to the timing of its completion, the production team did not have available the full story of the actual assassins and the reprisals carried out against the village of Lidice; instead it tacked a fictitious hero for the main thrust of the story in that Brian Donlevy portrays a Czech doctor who is Heydrich’s assassin and working with an underground resistance of good citizens, most of whom will be betrayed, arrested and shot by the end of the film. Meanwhile, the doctor and a few good friends set up a treacherous Nazi informer in a spider web of intrigue.

Even though I watched the entire movie through Youtube with cheap headphones, I was riveted – by the ominous black and white sets, the stark cinematography, Hans Eisler’s atmospheric soundtrack and director Lang’s astute pacing and phenomenal ability to draw out one great ensemble performance from the actors/actresses, right down to the bit parts. Highly recommended film noir!

Gene Lockhart

Gene Lockhart

Anna Lee

Anna Lee

The Crystals

He’s Sure the Boy I Love; Walkin’ Along (La La La)
Philles Records 109; seven-inch vinyl 45 record; recorded 1962.

Even though this record was produced under Phil Spector’s supervision, the women are not the same group that was releasing hit 45s for him between 1960 and ’62. In one of his more devious moments, he hired Darlene Love and the Blossoms to replace the original group while using their name. Whatever the ethics of his switch, this is a very good example of the symphonic Wall of Sound he had been utilizing in recording sessions since the mid-’50s, quite often with unprecedented commercial and artistic success.

He’s Sure the Boy I Love is a charmer by the Barry Mann/Cynthia Weil team, who has written more top quality songs than one can possibly count; a couple of examples – We Gotta Get Out of this Place and Somewhere Out There. The inspiring combination of the ladies’ heartfelt singing and the roaring Wall arrangement are, of, course, top notch, while the more sparingly arranged instrumental has a guitar solo worth careful discerning listening.

The Crystals

The Crystals

Since 2009, the 77-year-old Spector has been serving an 18-year prison sentence for second degree murder and his health has been deteriorating since a 2015 hospital stay.

REVIEW POTPOURRI: Composer: Sir Edward Elgar; Singing group: The Mills Brothers; Pianist: Frank Froeba

Peter Catesby  Peter Cates


String Quartet
played by Aeolian String Quartet; Violin Sonata, played by violinist Alan Loveday and pianist Leonard Cassini – Dover Publications HCR-ST-7011, 12-inch stereo vinyl LP, recorded early ‘60s.

Sir Edward Elgar

Sir Edward Elgar

Sir Edward Elgar (1857-1934) was perhaps best known as the composer of Land of Hope and Glory, a very much sung World War I anthem, itself based on the First Pomp and Circumstance March, whose tune is still heard at graduation ceremonies and band concerts.

Starting in 1917 when the composer was 60 and at the height of his powers, Elgar wrote three works for chamber forces, which he had never attempted before. Two of them are contained on this LP – the Violin Sonata and the String Quartet, both of them having a quiet thoughtful reserve of both dignity and yet an intimacy of feeling, along with a special beauty.

The performances are superlative. Finally, there are 14 copies of the vinyl LP still available from Amazon vendors, starting at $7, along with other more recent recordings on CD.

The Mills Brothers

Great Hits
Dot DLP 25157, stereo vinyl LP, released 1958.

The Mills Brothers

The Mills Brothers

The Mills Brothers, consisting of Dad and two sons, began performing in 1922 and recorded a slew of best selling hits for Decca during the 78 era, later re-recording them for Dot records from the ‘50s into the ‘60s with greater success, not to mention the superior stereo sound; this 1958 LP has some of their classics – Paper Doll, Up a Lazy River, Glow Worm, the sweetly poignant You Always Hurt the One You Love, etc., performed with that utterly unassuming style of theirs that was endearing while concealing the years of careful rehearsing and discipline.

About Glow Worm – its composer, Johnny Mercer, recorded it, but with minimal sales. Within five years, the Mills did their own record and made millions.

Frank Froeba

Jazz Piano and Orchestra
Royale 1826; 10-inch vinyl LP, released 1954.

Frank Froeba

Frank Froeba

The jazz pianist and bandleader, Frank Froeba (1907-1981), founded his own group in the 1930s, which employed the likes of Bobby Hackett and Bunny Berrigan, and waxed a number of 78s for the Decca and Columbia labels. This LP contains such familiar tunes as The One I Love Belongs to Somebody Else, A Lover’s Lullaby, My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean and Where Has My Little Dog Gone?, the first two selections are admittedly incompatible as to style and content with the last two; it also has the aptly titled Bee Boogie, which is a boogieish reworking of Rimsky-Korsakoff’s Flight of the Bumble Bee. The entire program is very professionally and enthusiastically performed and makes for very pleasant listening.

Royale was one of several very cheaply priced labels which proliferated from the late ‘40s into the ‘50s and drew its material from both legitimate and questionable sources, often engaging in flagrant bootlegging. However, my copy of the above LP is in wonderful condition and has good sound. Highly recommended for interested listeners and still available on Ebay at a reasonable price under $15.