Various: Happy Days Are Here Again

724

Covering the Great Depression years of the 30s, this wide-ranging selection consists of British and American “cheer up” recordings of songs garnered from the great shows and films of the day (1928-1941).

The opening title track says it all, really, in a well-arranged and crisply executed performance from the top-drawer Ambrose Orchestra (featuring trombonist Ted Heath). Most of the early tracks which follow hold little interest for the dedicated jazz listener – apart, perhaps, for a few upbeat, hot-dance-band style numbers, such as Sunny Side Up, Great Day, Get Happy, Smile, Darn Ya, Smile and a very lively and jazzier There’s A New Day Coming from Harry Roy, with more free solo work.

The Roy track ushers in a higher percentage of recordings by top jazz and swing artists in the later sessions of the CD. Fats is at his most heartwarming and devil-may-care. Other high spots include Billie’s When You’re Smiling (with outstanding solo input from Buck and Lester), and Peggy Lee with the Goodman sextet.

Quite a mixed bag, then, of vintage songs of varying calibre and style, but all recommending carefree optimism. Cheering people up still remains serious big business. You have to smile at Flanagan And Allen’s UK no.4 hit in 1940, in the bleakest, darkest days of WW2. They recorded Are You Having Any Fun? Those were the days! …If scarcely happy.

Full discographical details are included in the booklet notes. This is a cheerful and very enjoyable nostalgia-themed album from Ray Crick and the commendable Retrospective label.

Discography
(1) Happy Days Are Here Again; (2) Spread A Little Happiness; (3) Sunshine, (4) Painting The Clouds With Sunshine; (5) Singing In The Rain; (6) Life Is Just A Bowl Of Cherries; (7) Sunny Side Up; (8) Looking On The Bright Side Of Life; (9) Great Day!; (10) The Clouds Will Soon Roll By; (11) Get Happy; (12) Letting In The Sunshine; (13) Smile, Darn Ya, Smile!; (14) When You’ve Got A Little Springtime In Your Heart; (15) There’s A New Day Coming; (16) Pennies From Heaven; (17) Don’t Let It Bother You; (18) Things Are Looking Up; (20) With A Smile And A Song; (21) When You’re Smiling; (22) Are You Having Any Fun?; (23) It’s A Hap-Hap Happy Day; (24) On The Sunny Side Of The Street; (25) The Best Things In Life Are Free; (27) Look For The Silver Lining (78.07)
(1) Ambrose And His Orch. Chelsea, London, 29 January 1930.
(2) Binnie Hale with Al Starita And His Novelty Orch. London, 9 March 1929.
(3) Whispering Jack Smith, with Bert Ambrose And The Whispering Orch. Hayes, Middx, 2 March 1928.
(4) Nick Lucas with the ARC – Brunswick Studio Orch. Los Angeles, 9 May 1929.
(5) Cliff  “Ukelele Ike” Edwards, with orch. Los Angeles, 28 May 1929.
(6) Layton And Johnstone. London, 26 November 1931.
(7) Johnny Hamp And His Kentucky Serenaders. Chicago, 13 September 1929.
(8) Gracie Fields With Ray Noble and his Orch. London, 27 July 1932.
(9) Paul Whiteman (featuring Bing Crosby). New York, 19 October 1929.
(10) Elsie Carlisle with small group. London, 19 September 1932.
(11) Nat Shilkret with The Victor Orch. Camden, New Jersey, 4 June 1930.
(12) Sam Browne with orch. London, 12 June 1933.
(13) Billy Cotton and his Band. London, 4 September 1931.
(14) Al Bowlly with the Ray Noble Orch. London, 2 July 1934.
(15) Harry Roy  and his Orch. London, 14 July 1933.
(16) Frances Langford, Louis Armstrong, Bing Crosby with Jimmy Dorsey and his Orch. 17 August 1936.
(17) Fats Waller And His Rhythm. New York, 17 August 1934.
(18) Fred Astaire with Ray Noble and his Orch. Los Angeles, 17 October 1937.
(19) Benny Goodman and his Orch. with Helen Ward (v). New York, 19 February 1935.
(20) Teddy Wilson Orch. with Sally Gooding (v). New York, 17 December 1937.
(21) Billie Holiday with Teddy Wilson and his Orch. New York, 6 January 1938.
(22) Flanagan and Allen with orch. London, issued January 1940.
(23) Dick Todd with Leonard Joy and his Orch. New York, 24 October 1939.
(24) Peggy Lee with Benny Goodman Sextet. New York, 1941.
(25) Hutch (Leslie Hutchinson). London, 7 January 1941.
(26) Connie Boswell with Victor Young and his Orch. Los Angeles, 8 July 1941.
Retrospective RTR4359