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1 hour
First broadcast:
Sunday 28 June 2009

Every Sunday Russell Davies presents the history of popular song, spotlighting its greatest exponents.

He focuses on top songwriters and composers like the Gershwins, Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, Jerome Kern and Johnny Mercer, as well as some lesser-known names such as Roy Turk and Fred Ahlert; Ted Koehler, Walter Donaldson, Jack Lawrence and Peter Tinturin.

Russell features the artists who gave their songs wings: Fred Astaire, Ella, Bing, Peggy Lee, Sinatra, Julie London, The Mills Brothers, Boswell Sisters and many more. He pays birthday and centennial tributes, marks important deaths, and finds topical items that illuminate the subject in a variety of entertaining ways, with the occasional star interview.

Music Played

14 items
  • Image for Peggy Lee

    Peggy Lee In The Name Of Love

    In Love Again/In The Name Of Love, EMI/Capitol, 7243 5 21096 2 3

  • Image for The Ink Spots

    The Ink Spots The Sweetest Dream

    The Golden Age Of The Ink Spots, Jasmine, JASBOX 6-4

  • Image for Randy Newman

    Randy Newman Kingfish

    Good Old Boys, Reprise, 927 214-2

  • Image for The Singers Unlimited

    The Singers Unlimited Lullaby Of The Leaves

    The Singers Unlimited – Magic Voices, MPS, 539 136-2

  • Image for Lew Stone & His Band

    Lew Stone & His Band Annie Doesn't Live Here Anymore

    The Essential Collection – British Dance Bands, Avid, AVC 869

  • Image for Count Basie and Tony Bennett

    Count Basie and Tony Bennett Count Basie and Tony Bennett - Life Is A Song

    Together At Last – A Perfect Combination, Jasmine, JASCD 482

  • Image for Jean Sablon Avec Accompagnement D’orchestre

    Jean Sablon Avec Accompagnement D’orchestre Cette Chanson Est Pour Vous, Madame

    Jazz Á La Gitane Vol 4: Cherchez La Femme!, Saga, 983 977-2

  • Image for Johnny Hodges and His Orchestra

    Johnny Hodges and His Orchestra In A Shanty In Old Shanty Town

    “Big Bands Of The Swingin’ Years, Legacy, 1102965

  • Image for Rebecca Kilgore

    Rebecca Kilgore I'm Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter

    Becky Kilgore’s ‘Remembrance Of Maxine Sullivan’, Audiophile, ACD 308

  • Image for Mel Tormé

    Mel Tormé You're A Heavely Thing

    Mel Tormé – Jazz & Velvet, Proper, PROPERBOX 73

  • Image for Barbara Rosene

    Barbara Rosene Oo-Oo-Ooh! Honey What You Do To Me/Ooh! That Kiss

    ‘It Was Only A Sun Shower’ B.R. & Her New Yorkers, Stomp Off, STOMP OFF CD 1422

  • Image for Janis Carnes

    Janis Carnes Ooh! What You Said

    Hoagy ‘N’ Me: Janis Carnes Sings Hoagy Carmichael, Peer Southern Productions, 658489128120

  • Image for Charioteers

    Charioteers Ooh! Look-A There, Ain't She Pretty

    Hot Harmony Groups 1932-1951: Viddle De Vop Vol 2., Acrobat, ACRCD 205

  • Image for Billie Holiday

    Billie Holiday What A Little Moonlight Can Do

    The Essential Collection: Billie Holiday, Avid, AVC 911

  • This Week's Show

    The Joe Young investigations produced a lot of interest, we thought – and like the work of so many of the ‘lesser ranked’ writers, it could have furnished much more than just the handful of songs we had time for. We purposely avoided the work Joe did with his regular collaborator, Sam Lewis on this occasion but will re-visit them at some future date. Coincidentally, we received an email, before the programme went out, from a listener asking about the ‘20s song “Sweet Hortense” which he recalled being plagued with while doing his national service. Well, that proved to be a Joe Young-Sam Lewis work, with Walter Donaldson writing the music.

    Returning to matters arising from an earlier show, we’re grateful to author and Crosbyphile Ken Crossland for pointing out what we should have realised – that the derivation of the name of Perry Como’s vocal group “The Satisfiers” was from the US radio show for which they were created: The Chesterfield Supper Club. Chesterfield claimed that theirs was the “cigarette that satisfies”. Ken informs us that the biography of Perry that he and Malcolm MacFarlane have written is due to be published in US shortly. We look forward to that, a good companion, we’re sure, to Ken’s earlier biography of Michael Holliday – “The Man Who Would Be Bing”.

    Much of the career of the late Kenny Rankin who’s “In The Name Of Love” opened the show, is beyond our boundaries but you can discover much more from a website (see above) devoted to his work and life.

  • Played in this week's show: Tony Bennett

    Played in this week's show: Tony Bennett

  • Recommendations

    It’s a while since we turned the spotlight on Magic Voices – a 7 CD box containing almost all the work that superb vocal quartet Singers Unlimited recorded for MPS & we make to apologies for re-visiting it. By our reckoning its as important as the Sinatra Capitols and the Ella songbooks and one of the most satisfying popular music documents of the 20th century. Under the leadership of Gene Puerling they give us extraordinarily imaginative stylings and harmonisations of a wide range of the choicest songs – 141 in total – many multi-tracked in the most complex yet musical way, some A Capella, others with the benefit of the finest orchestral backings from Robert Farnon, Rob McConnell, Clare Fischer, Patrick Williams etc. and yet others using small groups led by the likes of Oscar Peterson, Art Van Damme & Roger Kellaway. And needless to add, sensationally recorded by the MPS engineers. It comes with a fully detailed, fully illustrated book and for students of the art of arranged singing it’s a must. Number is MPS 539 130-2

    Just enough space to commend Barbara Rosene’s album “It Was Only A Sun Shower”, if you’re a lover of ‘20s music. On this album Barbara is in ‘Annette Hanshaw mode’, many of the numbers having first been sung by Annette. However, she drops the Hanshaw daintiness for numbers like ‘The right Key But The Wrong Keyhole’! The musicians assembled behind her (her ‘New Yorkers’) are all past-masters at the re-creation business. It’s on the Stomp Off label: CD 1422.


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