Cocktails for Two, The Songs of Sam Coslow (ASV AJA 5645)
Item# PE0110
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Cocktails for Two, The Songs of Sam Coslow (ASV AJA 5645)
PE0110. COCKTAILS FOR TWO, The Songs of Sam Coslow, incl 25 celebrated recordings by Carl Brisson, Bing Crosby, Hutch, The Revelers, Ethel Waters, Maurice Chevalier, Valaida Snow, Duke Ellington, Ivie Anderson, Connee Boswell, Annette Hanshaw, The Mills Brothers, Mildred Bailey, Frances Langford, Adelaide Hall, Mitchell Ayres, Mary Ann Mercer, Dick Haymes, Noël Coward & Sam Coslow. (England) ASV AJA 5645, recorded 1928-47. Long out-of-print, final copy! - 743625564525


“In 2007, ASV Living Era released a 25-track anthology stocked with vintage recordings of songs written or co-composed by self-described Tin Pan Alley Renaissance Man Sam Coslow (1902-1982). Its title track, ‘Cocktails for Two’, is the most famous number in the entire Coslow catalog. Originally premiered by Carl Brisson and Kitty Carlisle in MURDER AT THE VANITIES, this romantic ode to legalized liquor became immensely popular when it materialized after the repeal of the 18th Amendment in 1933. Over the years it inspired several parodies, including the notoriously goofy treatment by Spike Jones & His City Slickers, an immaculately off-key reading from 1960 by Jo Stafford and Paul Weston (as Jonathan & Darlene Edwards), and a masterful send-up by the Charles Mingus Quintet in 1965. Two other songs from MuRDER AT THE VANITIES (neither seems to have made it onto this collection) are ‘Live and Love Tonight’ (best interpreted by both Count Basie and Duke Ellington) and ‘Marijuana’ which was revived in the '80s by Bette Midler. While Coslow was primarily a lyricist, he also devised his share of pretty melodies and recorded for Victor, Columbia, and Decca as both bandleader and vocalist. As is often the case with songwriting teams (i.e. Rodgers & Hart or Waller & Razaf), Coslow the lyricist had artistic sensibilities that helped to shape the tonal contours of the tunes. On this excellent collection, his old-fashioned waltz ‘Was It a Dream?’ is conjured by the Revelers, a vocal harmony group best remembered for their 1928 recording of ‘In a Little Spanish Town’. Annette Hanshaw handles the ‘Moon Song’ with characteristic charm, and Connee Boswell sings ‘True Confession’ (title song from a film starring Carole Lombard, written in one afternoon in collaboration with Freddy Hollander) as well as ‘In the Middle of a Kiss’, which Coslow composed in 35 minutes flat before a circle of friends at a party in response to a dare that he couldn't write a usable song in one hour. ‘True Blue Lou’ is performed by Ethel Waters, whereas Ivie Anderson, backed by Duke Ellington's Orchestra, sings ‘Troubled Waters’ and ‘My Old Flame’, which was written expressly for Mae West. ‘Make-Believe Island’ is performed by Mitchell Ayers & His Fashions in Music, and the Mills Brothers manage to reel off ‘If You Can't Sing It, You'll Have to Swing It (Mr. Paganini)’. This mouthful was delivered by Martha Raye in Bing Crosby's first western musical, RHYTHM ON THE RANGE. Coslow claimed to have ‘tailored it especially for her offbeat personality’. Other superb vocalists heard on this album are Valaida Snow, Adelaide Hall, Mildred Bailey, Margaret Whiting, Maurice Chevalier, Frances Langford, Noël Coward, Carl Brisson, Leslie Hutchinson, (also known as Hutch); Dick Haymes, Bing Crosby, and Coslow himself, who sings ‘Lay Your Head on My Shoulder, Dear’. Unfortunately, the folks at ASV did not include Coslow's earliest worthwhile compositions, such as ‘Heart Sickness Blues’, recorded in 1918 by the Louisiana Five, ‘The Great White Way Blues’, committed to wax in 1922 by the Original Memphis Five, or Coswell's first hit tune, ‘Grieving for You’. Other missing links are ‘Lonely Melody’, famously recorded in 1928 by the Paul Whiteman Orchestra with a solo by Bix Beiderbecke; ‘Hello, Swanee Hello’, popularized by Al Jolson and recorded by George Olsen & His Music, and ‘Black Moonlight’, sung by Kitty Kelly in the motion picture TOO MUCH HARMONY and popularized on records by her co-star Bing Crosby. Coslow's delightfully biased autobiography (COCKTAILS FOR TWO: THE MANY LIVES OF GIANT SONGWRITER SAM COSLOW) is a valuable resource containing eye-and-ear-witness accounts of Tin Pan Alley in its heyday and hectic Hollywood in the '30s. It is also bursting with incidental references to his weirder and lesser-known titles including ‘Bebe (Bebe Bebe Be Mine)’ (which Eddie Cantor used to introduce as ‘the song of the seven Bs’); the jocular ‘She's Still My Baby’ (sung a cappella by the Four Aristocrats in 1926); the silly ‘I'm Just Wild About Animal Crackers’ immortalized by banjoist Harry Reser & the Seven Wild Men; ‘Dumb Dora (You're the Only Baloney for Me)’; ’How Would a Howard Suit Suit You?’; ‘Radio Lady O'Mine’; ‘I Want ‘Em Wild, Weak, Warm and Willing (Or Else I Don't Want ‘Em At All)’, and ‘When It's Onion Time in Bermuda (I'll Breathe My Love to You)’. A really comprehensive overview of this man's prolific career would require a boxed set of generous proportions.

As it stands, there aren't a whole lot of Sam Coslow compilations to choose from, and ASV's COCKTAILS FOR TWO certainly covers enough ground to convey the essence of who he was and what he accomplished.”

- arwulf arwulf