This compilation includes all of Noel Coward's classic songs, a scene from "Private Lives" with Gertrude Lawrence, excerpts from "Conversation Piece" with Yvonne Printemps, Coward's performances of standards by other composers such as Cole Porter and Jerome Kern, plus three previously unreleased tracks from his 1946 musical "Pacific 1860." Also includes a book with notes by Sheridan Morley.
This four-CD set is the ultimate Noel Coward resource, containing 79 of his releases on England's HMV Records label across 25 years, all assembled in the order of their recording -- not just his renditions of his own compositions, which would make this a doubly significant volume, but also his performances of songs by Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, Jerome Kern, and more, and one wartime speech done on behalf of British morale, to represent that side of his output. Considering that these were all originally released on 78s and that the latter scarcely ever showed up on LP reissues in the United States, this is the first and best opportunity that Americans will have to hear most of the songs here. Apart from the quality of the sound reproduction, which is excellent, the most striking element of this set must be the concentration of wit within its tracks. Coward was a dazzling wit, and that element of his work is undiminished by the passage of decades. It's almost impossible not to delight in the play and cleverness of Coward's words every bit as much as he did, where his own songs are concerned, or the personal touch that he adds to songs such as "Alexander's Ragtime Band" or "Everybody's Doing It Now." The accompanying booklet, which includes a complete Coward sessionography, supplies the background on the songs and the recordings (sometimes a bit sketchily), but even without the details filled in, the material stands on its own as a source of pleasure. It's also fascinating to hear the evolution of his work over time and the more personal and overtly romantic work that emerged from his pen after World War II. Ideally, this set would be the accompaniment to any documentary on Coward's life; for reasons best-known to themselves, however, EMI deleted it in 1999, but it can still be found second-hand, and is worth tracking down. ~ Bruce Eder
ReviewsThere are currently no reviews, be the first one!
- Noel and Cole (Various Artists)