Revue and War Years 1928-1952
JSP Records' 2009 four-CD box set The Revue and War Years 1928-1952 is virtually an unlicensed reissue of the 1992 Angel Records four-CD box set The Masters' Voice -- Noel Coward: His HMV Recordings 1928 to 1953. (There are some minor differences between the two collections, but they share almost all of the same tracks in the same chronological order.) Those studio recordings made by Coward had fallen into the public domain in Europe by the early 21st century, allowing any record company to put out its own version of them in any form it liked. Coward periodically recorded songs he had written for his musicals; independent songs he had written, such as "London Pride" (heard here in both master and alternate takes); excerpts from his plays featuring such co-stars as Gertrude Lawrence; and occasional covers of the songs of others, such as Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II's "The Last Time I Saw Paris." (He was also fond of organizing his material into medleys, and there are several examples here, too.) It all adds up to 73 tracks running nearly four and a half hours and including such standards as "A Room with a View," "Zigeuner," "World Weary," "Someday I'll Find You," "Mad Dogs and Englishmen," "I'll Follow My Secret Heart," "Mrs. Worthington," "Parisian Pierrot," "Poor Little Rich Girl," "Matelot," "Nina," and "Sail Away," all sung in Coward's slight but imperious tenor, a voice without much range, but with plenty of authority. Coward did not stop recording after leaving HMV Records in 1952, but this collection does mark the end of a phase of his work; hereafter, he would concentrate on whole LPs, not just 78-rpm singles. The work of the 1950s and '60s is worthy of its own box set.