Album Review: Sepia Records Remembers Iconic DOROTHY LAMOUR & CO-STARS THE PARAMOUNT YEARS:1936-1952

Sarong And Thank You

By: Feb. 29, 2024
Album Review: Sepia Records Remembers Iconic DOROTHY LAMOUR & CO-STARS THE PARAMOUNT YEARS:1936-1952
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Album Review: Sepia Records Remembers Iconic DOROTHY LAMOUR & CO-STARS THE PARAMOUNT YEARS:1936-1952 Heigh Ho, dear lovely rainbow tribe, welcome back to Bobby’s CD sandbox where we offer our broken-down breakdowns of new music releases. So, strap in and get ready, as Bobby goes on the record ABOUT the record.

This week’s album entry in the BobbyFiles comes from the lovely children at SEPIA Records, as they salute the lady known as The Sarong Girl. What’s that I hear all my rainbow readers shouting? What’s a sarong and who is this girl? Well, my loves, this album from Sepia is titled Dorothy Lamour & CO-STARS THE PARAMOUNT YEARS:1936-1952 - and it was Lamour who, indeed, carried the moniker calling out the bit of Hawaiian material so closely associated with her. Born Mary Leta Dorothy Slaton on December 10, 1914, in New Orleans, Louisiana, Dottie (as she came to be known by her pals) brought home the Miss New Orleans crown in 1931 and then began to cut her performing teeth, once she and her mom moved to Chicago, where the young songstress performed in local clubs and talent shows around the city. It was in one of these talent shows that orchestra leader, Herbie Kay, heard the chick singer and invited her to go on the road with him for her first steady gig. Then came success in Vaudeville and radio, where, in 1935, NBC created a 15-minute weekly music program for her to helm. Hollywood success was not too far behind, of course, and in 1936, after features in a couple of shorts, she jumped the rope to star in the hit THE JUNGLE PRINCESS, where her star was polished by Edith Head, who put Dorothy in her first Sarong, and that was that ... no, not really, since that was merely the beginning of a major Hollywood career that not only included films, but an enormous recording career, where she introduced classics like MOON OF MANAKOORA, MOONLIGHT AND SHADOWS, MOONLIGHT BECOMES YOU, I REMEMBER YOU, PERSONALITY, and IT COULD HAPPEN TO YOU. Not too shabby, right my rainbow readers? Dorothy lived a long and work-filled life, almost to the end of her 81 years. Her last film was in 1987 and her final performing bow was in a 1990 production of Sondheim’s FOLLIES in LA, where she belted out the show stopper BROADWAY BABY. Through it all she had a terrific PERSONALITY…

Kicking off with the uber danceable PANAMANIA - from the Paramount feature, SWING HIGH, SWING LOW, starring Carole Lombard and Fred MacMurray - we hear a classic Big Band Era jump & jive number. Dottie bounces this one in her velvety voice with enough belt to tackle the blaring band, easily. Her speedy attack inspires our chair-dancing mojo for sure, despite the musical fact she rarely sang anything staccato. Her vocals flow like water up and down the alto range of the song with a real flair. Cut #14 on disc 1 is the hauntingly beautiful Loesser & Hollander ballad STRANGE ENCHANTMENT from MAN ABOUT TOWN (1939). Here, Lamour keeps it all rich, low, and slow without a hint of over-sweet syrup. This is a ballad of longing and her alto is well suited to the atmosphere of the song. Also, This number is a real standout of remastering by the SEPIA crew, who have mined sounds from 80+ years ago and polished them all, ever so subtly. The song was Dorothy’s personal best, hitting #5 on the charts for that year. Near the end of the first disc comes the song that this rainbow writer most associates with our Lady of the Moonlight, the love song from ROAD TO MORROCO - MOONLIGHT BECOMES YOU (Studio Disc). This cut of the song is an alternate offering from the film where Dottie is joined by her inevitable co-stars, Hope & Crosby. You see, after Bing was given the first crack at the song earlier in the film, it was reprised here and there for continuity sake, and SEPIA has selected a raw recording from a studio session where all three were on the mic together. One can hear the orchestra conductor counting the musicians in and the 3 long-time co-stars' vocals make a nice trio out of this solo love song.

A song completely unknown to little Bobby was discovered on Disc 2 #6 - WHISTLING IN THE LIGHT. At 2 minutes, this is just a short little solo from Dottie’s picture with Dick Powell, Riding High, but in an interesting move, SEPIA reprises the song on #7, with her other co-star, Cass Daley, joining her with some fun twittery whistles for accompaniment. This track is another one that comes from a live studio recording, as you will hear at the end when a rather stern executive-sounding voice warns that this record is property of Paramount and cannot be used commercially… Well, hardly a man is now alive to sue anybody today, so good for you, SEPIA! The collection wraps up with the beautiful MOONLIGHT AND SHADOWS from a radio appearance Lamour made on YOUR HIT PARADE at the height of World War II. Getting ready to kick off one of her famous and unbelievably successful war bond tours, this live recording is a time capsule of the era. Dorothy’s vocals are recorded live, and she is spot on. Her legato voice delivers this minor key melody beautifully, under conditions made for live radio - not the recording studio, and she hits it out of the park. This song was another big hit for the lady, making it to #10 on the charts and she, herself, was an even bigger hit with our boys overseas. She was virtually the Queen of the USO shows and her fundraising for the troops outstripped almost every other celeb in Tinsel Town. 

Everything in this collection is captured and remastered beautifully, spanning two discs with 28 songs on each, and that’s a treasure trove, for sure. Little Bobby’s little preview here is just that - a little lookie-loo in the hopes of tantalizing your earbuds into giving Dorothy a listen. In the end, the journey through these two discs was more than enjoyable. While her voice, by today’s standards, might seem a bit vanilla, her musicality was legendary and she was a terrific example of a professional singer from back in the day. Dorothy Lamour was a master vocalist and top movie star who appeared in a string of hit films from the 1930s through the early 50's, and that’s not nuthin, and remember my dearlings, this set covers that period in her career by highlighting some of her rarely heard recordings from radio, records, and film and are being heard here for the first time.

In all, Dorothy Lamour & CO-STARS THE PARAMOUNT YEARS:1936-1952 is a must for older nostalgia geeks (Like Little Bobby) and adventuresome young vintage fans who will find it, buy it, and enjoy a lady with a creamy, lilting voice and a first-rate catalog of songs, and so…

This one gets 4 ½  Out Of 5 Rainbows

You Can Order Dorothy Lamour & CO-STARS On The Sepia Webbysite: HERE


Jump In The Amazon & Pick Dottie Up: HERE

Album Review: Sepia Records Remembers Iconic DOROTHY LAMOUR & CO-STARS THE PARAMOUNT YEARS:1936-1952