Personnel includes: Fred Astaire (vocals); Ginger Rogers (vocals).
This British box set -- made in Germany, with an error-filled booklet in English, French, German, and Spanish -- contains audio excerpts taken directly from the soundtracks of six of the ten films made by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. European copyright law apparently puts this material in the public domain, since there is no credit made to the original owners. The sound quality is good, however, and one can hear Astaire and Rogers singing the songs of Irving Berlin, George and Ira Gershwin, Jerome Kern and Dorothy Fields, Cole Porter, and others in the films The Gay Divorcée, Top Hat, Follow the Fleet, Swing Time, Shall We Dance, and Carefree. These are the couple's second, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth movies. It's not clear why their third, Roberta, is missing. The liner notes say "it somewhat lacked form," whatever that means; probably the compilers just couldn't get their hands on a copy to copy. Assorted co-stars turn up also, among them Betty Grable ("Let's K-Nock K-Nees") and Harriet Hilliard (later Harriet Nelson of Ozzie and Harriet fame; "But Where Are You"). Since these are soundtrack performances and not studio recordings designed for the audio medium, much is lost in not seeing Astaire and Rogers perform. The most obvious missing element is, of course, their dancing, though one hears quite a lot of tapping feet as the vocal portions of the numbers give way to extended orchestral passages during which the principals are gliding across the floor. There are also cuts performed entirely by the orchestra. Bits of dialogue are included that don't make much sense out of the context of the films, and the sound mix can be odd on occasion. But the point here, of course, is the music and the singing, particularly Astaire's, and that's wonderful. ~ William Ruhlmann