Our first two releases of 2014 couldn’t be more different, but both are equally fascinating.
Thoughtfully scheduled to be in stores ahead of Valentine’s Day, Starry-Eyed Serenaders is packed full of dreamy doo wop, romantic R&B and passionate pop. But it doesn’t require a special date on the calendar to justify acquiring Stuart Colman’s terrific 50-track 2CD selection. In a 4-star review, Record Collector describes this as “a genuine collector’s delight” and observes that “the whole is programmed excellently, and it’s highly likely that even the most hardened vocal-group collector will find gems here”, which is pretty much the verdict of the equally enthusiastic review in Now Dig This. Rarities by The Lions, The Turks, and The Lavenders sit alongside nuggets from better-known artists like The Harptones, The Velours and The Duprees, while even the selections for The Flamingos, Neil Sedaka, The Drifters and Bo Diddley are far from obvious.
One of the most gratifying successes in the Fantastic Voyage catalogue is the Echoes series, in which BBC Merseyside presenter and pop historian Spencer Leigh celebrates the popular music of European countries. The first two in the series explored France and Italy, and Spencer now brings you Echoes Of France Vol. 2, in which some of the artists from the first volume (Juliette Gréco, Django Reinhardt, Jacques Brel, Edith Piaf, Petula Clark, Serge Gainsbourg) reappear, alongside new names including Françoise Hardy, Johnny Hallyday, Claude François and Les Chausettes Noires. Again the recipient of a 4-star review in Record Collector, this is a deeply satisfying and wide-ranging survey of French popular music from the 1930s to the early 1960s, which as you will have spotted already, is not afraid to include a few French-language performances by non-natives. Watch out for Echoes Of Germany next month!