Three Hit Albums from the U.S. Military Bands
This double-disc anthology gathers three of the four U.S. Armed Forces Band long-players originally issued by RCA Victor in 1963. The project was unprecedented as the U.S. Department of Defense commissioned each military branch to record approximately a half-hour of their best-known and most beloved marches and patriotic melodies to raise funds for the National Cultural Center in Washington, D.C. Shortly after these platters were released, the venue was rechristened the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in honor of the President's passing in November of 1963. The United States Marine Band's full ensemble commences with "Marine's Hymn," which is often referred to by the opening lines "From the halls of Montezuma/To the shores of Tripoli." Additional selections of note are "Semper Fidelis" -- a John Philip Sousa adaptation from the Marine Corp motto "Always Faithful" -- "Stars and Stripes Forever," "America the Beautiful," "March of the Women Marines," "Chimes of Liberty," and "American Patrol." The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Presents the United States Navy Band spotlights not only the instrumentalists, but also the Sea Chanters chorus on both the moving "Pledge of Allegiance"/"Star Spangled Banner" medley and "Anchors Aweigh." Among the almost obligatory Sousa inclusions are "King Cotton March," "The Thunderer," and "El Capitan." Notably, "National Cultural Center March" aka "John F. Kennedy Center March" was penned by none other than the combo's director, Lieutenant Commander Anthony Mitchell. A further zenith is Richard Rodgers' "Allies on the March" from the soundtrack to Victory at Sea (1952). Finally, The National Cultural Center Presents the United States Air Force Band contains contributions from the Singing Sergeants on "U.S. Air Force" (aka "Off We Go, Into the Wild Blue Yonder"), "Oh, Men Who Fly," "U.S. Air Force Blue," and an emphatic "Seventy Six Trombones" from Meredith Wilson's Music Man (1957). The Sousa marches on this volume are "Fairest of the Fair," "Bullets and Bayonets," as well as "Liberty Bell" -- the latter may be familiar as the "theme" to Monty Python's Flying Circus, although the reading here is not the one used on the television show. Similarly, football enthusiasts will undoubtedly recognize "Falcons' Victory March." Of the three "Star Spangled Banner"s within this collection, the Air Force rendering is arguably the most profound as it embraces the vigor and inherent pride of the composition.