tue 21/05/2024

CD: Vera Lynn - Vera Lynn 100 | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Vera Lynn - Vera Lynn 100

CD: Vera Lynn - Vera Lynn 100

New versions of old tunes from the World War Two songbird as she reaches her century

She hasn’t sung a note in a year or too and her regular appearances at veteran reunions have come to an end. In 2015 Dame Vera Lynn wasn’t well enough to attend the 70th anniversary celebration of VE Day. But she is still among us and on 20 March she qualifies for a telegram from Her Majesty.

To celebrate, her original label Decca have dusted off some of the old tunes from the war and subjected them to a spot of spit and polish.

The reboot is a kind of nuptial union of past and present, featuring something old (Vera Lynn’s vocals), something new (freshly recorded big band orchestrations and choral backing), something borrowed (guest duettists). As for something blue? Those well-known birds appear over the white cliffs in the company of Alexander Armstrong’s slightly boring baritone. Alfie Boe makes a more handsome duet partner in “We’ll Meet Again” and yes that’s Aled Jones supplying close harmonies on “As Time Goes By”, in which Lynn’s ineffably English take on an American classic can be heard in every clipped vowel. 

Not everything hails from the 1940s. In 1952 Lynn became the first British artist to top the US charts with “Auf Wiederseh’n, Sweetheart”. West Ham United fans should head directly to her version of “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles”, first sung in America in 1918, to hear a proper rendition. Most of the songs have a drowsy romantic languor, but there’s a dainty pep to “A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square” and “Wish Me Luck As You Wave Me Goodbye” breaks into a brisk trot. Digital technology has spruced up Lynn’s vocals a treat, though some sound fittingly distant in retro mono. You can probably give her recently rediscovered version of “Sailing” a wide berth. If you like this sort of dreamy nostalgia, you know who you are and what to do.

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