Cherry Red’s él imprint had a busy 2016, most recently with a number of titles from Anita Kerr including We Dig Anita! and box sets dedicated to her recordings with The Anita Kerr Singers and The San Sebastian Strings. We’ve already filled you in on most of the imprint’s titles from last year, but here are some nice things you might have missed from the él catalogue, many of which have been drawn from the vaults of Ember Records.
This 35-track anthology celebrates the early work of Academy Award-winning composer John Barry, centering on the original Ember Records compilation featuring twelve tracks drawn from Barry’s first James Bond score (From Russia with Love) as well as the 1963 television soundtrack album Elizabeth Taylor in London for which he supplied the score, pop instrumentals by The John Barry Seven, and his renditions of themes by other composers. The Ember set is rounded out by a number of bonus tracks including three versions of Monty Norman’s James Bond theme as famously transformed by Barry into the piece of music known the world over; further music from the Ember releases of Elizabeth Taylor in London and Barry’s Zulu soundtrack; and numerous 1960-1964 cuts performed and/or arranged by Barry. It adds up to a solid introduction to the youthful oeuvre of one of cinema’s most stylish and inimitable composers.
London-born, New York-raised jazz singer Annie Ross, had a career unlike any other. By the age of seven, she was appearing in MGM musicals in Hollywood; by fourteen, she’d had a song (“Let’s Fly”) recorded by Johnny Mercer and The Pied Pipers. In her early twenties, she wrote what would become a standard of vocalese (“Twisted”) and soon formed Lambert, Hendricks, and Ross. In 1963, she was back in Europe, and recording an album for Ember Records with the label’s producer and A&R man – John Barry. That album, A Handful of Songs, opens él’s slipcased 2-CD collection dedicated to Ross. CD 1 also features Ross’ 1959 World Pacific release A Gasser! (on which she’s joined by Zoot Sims, Jim Hall and Russ Freeman) as well as “Let’s Fly.” The second disc of this set has the London Cast Recording of the revue Cranks, in which Ross starred alongside Anthony Newley, and nine tracks from the Lambert, Hendricks and Ross songbook. Having conquered numerous personal demons, Annie Ross still performs weekly in New York City as of early 2017, bringing the same passion – plus the wisdom of experience – as she does on this Handful of Songs.
In the United States, Bob Merrill’s hit novelty song “How Much is That Doggie in the Window?” belongs to Patti Page. But in the U.K., it’s indisputably the property of LIta Roza (1926-2008), the Liverpool-born singer of Spanish descent who became the first British solo vocalist to top the U.K. Singles Chart with her 1953 rendition. Lita wasn’t too happy about that (“I said I would sing it once and only once, and then I would never sing it again, and I haven’t”) but the hit record did give her entrée to record the kind of music she preferred. Me on a Carousel brings together Roza’s 1958 Pye debut Me on a Carousel (featuring classic songs by Irving Berlin, Johnny Burke, Johnny Mercer and Cole Porter) along with a handful of her sides for Ember Records drawn from the album Love Songs for Night People; and more singles from 1954-1959 to paint a fuller portrait of this period of the brassy, big-voiced, and versatile singer’s career. Lita’s recording career came to an end before the 1960s were out, but listening to this disc, it’s easy to see why she remains beloved.
This slipcased 2-CD set offers a diverse look at early-1960s Profumo Affair-ers Britain with a variety of recordings reflecting the entertainment of the day. The set is anchored by two cast recordings. Fool Britannia starred Anthony Newley, his wife Joan Collins, Peter Sellers, Daniel Massey and composer-lyricist Leslie Bricusse in front of an invitation-only audience in August 1963, New York City. The revue skewering the Profumo Affair (a scandal involving a government official and a showgirl) was written by Newley and Bricusse, and recorded by John Barry for the Ember label. Bricusse and Newley were already on top of the showbiz world by then as authors (and Newley as star) of their musical Stop the World – I Want to Get Off, which had opened on Broadway in October 1962 following its successful London run. This collection has the original 1961 London cast recording starring Newley and Anna Quayle. Supporting these two cast recordings are a number of other related tracks including the pop hits which appeared on the soundtrack to the 1989 film about the Affair, Scandal, and selections from This Was The Week That Was, the BBC’s television satire presented by David Frost and created by Ned Sherrin. Millicent Martin and David Kernan, both of whom would go on to star in Side by Side by Sondheim on the West End, were among the cast members.
On the cusp of his international breakthrough with the dramatic reinvention of The Doors’ “Light My Fire,” José Montserrate Feliciano García – a.k.a. José Feliciano – recorded these two Spanish-language recordings for RCA Victor, joined together by él on one CD. 1967’s pair of El Fantastico! and Sombras…Una Voz, Una Guitarra were recorded in Argentina, Venezuela, and the United States, and feature Feliciano’s gentle, distinctive vocals and guitar style in an acoustic setting. Both albums feature accompaniment from supporting musicians, including Argentine composer-pianist and fellow RCA Victor artist José Finkel on Sombras. Feliciano would go onto enormous international success with “Light My Fire,” not to mention his own composition “Feliz Navidad.” He would place thirteen hits on the U.S. Hot 100 between 1968 and 1998, and also impact the R&B, AC, Latin, and even Country charts. Following his tenure at RCA, Feliciano moved onto labels including Motown, where he did more fine work, but these two albums reissued by él showcase the young artist at his most pure.
Each one of these él titles has a booklet with new liner notes. These releases are all available now!