Sunday, 16 June 2013

Retro Vinyl: Al Bowlly - The Big Swoon Of The Thirties (Music For Pleasure, 1967)

The launch of EMI's budget label Music For Pleasure in the mid-60s allowed the label to plummet a wealth of material from bygone eras for subject matter for their albums, an approach that kept them in good stead well into the 1990s.

The Big Swoon Of The Thirties is an early example of the label providing a compilation featuring one of the first ever "pop" stars Al Bowlly (before Bowlly the stars were merely the band leaders).

Mozambique born Bowlly was a popular singer/bandleader of the 1930s who met an untimely death in London during 1941 when his flat was hit by a Luftwaffe parachute bomb.

This album revisits 12 of Bowlly's most popular songs including Love Is The Sweetest Thing and Goodnight Sweetheart, both which have since very much became standards.

I actually enjoyed listening to Bowlly's singing on this album finding his voice both dramatic and passionate while gentle.

Its easy to see why he was so popular in the thirties and a shame to learn he died so young.

As well as the wonderful music there is also great packaging, including a tiled art inspired cover which is almost Victoriana meets pop art, wonderfully retro and certainly in keeping with the albums original 60s release.

There are also detailed sleeve notes by Roger St Pierre and an attempt to date most of the original recordings. Interestingly, the album label carries the title So Many Memories rather than the title The Big Swoon Of The Thirties.

Al Bowlly: The Big Swoon Of The Thirties
(Music For Pleasure, Mono, MFP 1178)


Side 1
  1. Love Is The Sweetest Thing
  2. Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen
  3. Marie
  4. In My Little Red Book
  5. Something To Sing About
  6. Goodnight Sweetheart
Side 2
  1. Blow Blow Thou Winter Wind
  2. It Was A Lover And His Lass
  3. Have You Ever Been Lonely?
  4. You're A Sweetheart
  5. I'll String Along With You
  6. Only For Ever
This track listing has been adopted and adapted for subsequent Al Bowlly releases over the years.

A further compilation from 1983 on EMI's Golden Age label entitled The Golden Age Of Al Bowlly  rejigs the track list with the addition of two further tracks, and featuring a revised writing of Roger St Pierre's sleeve notes.

Al Bowlly: The Golden Age Of Al Bowlly,
(Golden Age, Mono, GX2512)


Side 1
  1. Love Is The Sweetest Thing
  2. Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen (Means That You're Grand)
  3. Marie
  4. In My Little Red Book
  5. Something To Sing About
  6. Walkin' Thru Mockingbird Hill
  7. My Melancholy Baby
Side 2
  1. Blow Blow Thou Winter Wind
  2. It Was A Lover And His Lass
  3. Have You Ever Been Lonely?
  4. You're A Sweetheart
  5. I'll String Along With You
  6. Only For Ever
  7. Goodnight Sweetheart
Both The Big Swoon Of The Thirties and The Golden Age Of Al Bowlly  are currently available as MP3 downloads from Amazon.

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