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Posted October 1, 2010
The greatest balladeer of all time
With a running time of over 5 hours, sleeve notes by nostalgia expert Geoff Milne, fully annotated with recording dates, matrix numbers where known and orchestral backings this is a major collection. For many Dick Haymes collectors this will be a much-awaited gem of a box set. As with any project of this size the overall sound quality has to be a major consideration and this is consistently excellent throughout the 4 discs. In fact it was difficult to detect any surface noise even on the oldest of the recordings. There are examples of Dick’s earliest work with Harry James I’ll Get By, (1941) and those blockbusters hits such as You’ll never Know & It can’t be wrong (1943) with The Song Spinners. Put together, quite wisely, in chronological sequence the listener can hear just how Dick’s voice developed from that of a big band vocalist to a major solo artist. Included are his biggest hits, Stella by starlight, Laura, Till the end of time, It had to be you with Helen Forrest etc and there are memories too of many of his film musicals including, Let the rest of the world go by (Irish Eyes are Smiling, 1944), It might as well be Spring (State Fair, 1945), The more I see you (Diamond Horseshoe, 1945), Mi Vida, (Carnival in Costa Rica, 1947) etc. Naturally, with any collection of this size there are going to be the obvious duplications (the chart hits) with other CDs but the inclusion of rarer material, radio performances, two lovely duets with Helen Forrest, Two sleepy people, People will say we’re in love and some world transcriptions, which have previously only had a limited release, makes the 101 selections an absolute must for the collector and a wonderful set for the curious first time buyer. The collection has 12 songs with the Andrews Sisters or Patty Andrews, 9 tracks with Helen Forrest including 2 rare radio show duets, 6 Irving Berlin tracks with Carmen Cavallaro to highlight but a few of the songs. Picking just a couple of my own favourites was difficult but I had to select his brother Bob Haymes song, Hush, little darlin’, which is a lovely but rarely heard cowboy style ballad and the atmospheric Don’t be afraid, with its haunting Victor Young arrangement. It is also thrilling to have on CD at long last, Too late Now from Royal Wedding a song which Dick gives a definitive performance and finally my all time Haymes favourite It Could Happen to You, which captures all the power and glory of his wonderful baritone. There are just so many top performances here that one is simply spoilt for choice. This is the first time that any label has put together such a comprehensive collection, which represents the best of his output from 1941 to 1952 a period during which Dick was a major recording star.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.