Various Artists

Dancing in the Dark [ASV/Living Era]

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Arthur Schwartz (1900-1984) wrote songs both romantic and humorous, primarily for performance on-stage and screen. Living Era's salute to Schwartz rightly bears the title of his most beautiful melody: "Dancing in the Dark." His other masterpiece "Then I'll Be Tired of You" (immortalized in 1934 by Fats Waller His Rhythm) is unfortunately absent from this compilation of predominately pop performances recorded between 1930 and 1948. Although Schwartz's impact upon the art of jazz balladry seems to warrant more actual jazz than is to be found here, (Artie Shaw and Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey barely cover that base), the real focus was obviously intended to be upon vocalists. Bing Crosby was a cold choice for the title track; a much better version of this lovely song was recorded in 1931 by Fred Waring's Pennsylvanians. Fred Astaire is heard backed by Leo Reisman's orchestra and in duet with his sister Adele Astaire; there are several examples performed by English entertainers like Beatrice Lillie, Al Bowlly, Percival Mackay and Hutch; by sweet bands like Ray Noble, Richard Himber and Roy Fox; and by popular U.S. vocalists Helen Forrest, Dinah Shore, Margaret Whiting, Perry Como and Johnny Mercer. Perhaps the liveliest moments occur during "Got a Bran' New Suit" (another fine tune best interpreted by Fats Waller and Louis Armstrong), here sung by Eleanor Powell, who doesn't bother to change the gender references in the lyrics and therefore sounds for all the world like a well-adjusted dyke donning her best butch threads for a night on the town. ~ arwulf arwulf, Rovi

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