tinpanalley

Al Bowlly, attempting a complete collection

9 posts in this topic

Don't know how much anyone here will be able to help me, but I don't know another forum with the same kind of knowledgable members.

I love several singers from Bowlly's era but his work, in particular, I enjoy a great deal. I'm trying to get myself a complete collection of all his recordings. It seems clear that nobody is ever going to bother creating a complete box of his work as you might find with other artists of the same era (Fletcher Henderson, Django Reinhardt, etc etc etc) because unfortunately, Bowlly isn't remembered enough despite being one of the pioneers of the whole crooner era. So, what I'm asking is whether anyone happens to already know of a set or a bunch of CDs that happen to create a complete discography when all put together. I have a three disc set that I thought was complete until I heard a few tracks that don't appear there. These aren't the tracks where he appears as an instrumentalist, just vocal recordings that I don't seem to have anywhere. I know how to dig up old recordings, CDs, etc but I thought I'd eliminate one giant variable by asking here first. If nobody can help then I guess I'll do the best I can by digging around online. Surely those 78s must appear on CD somewhere, be it on Bowlly CDs, Roy Fox CDs, Ray Noble CDs, or elsewhere.

Thank you for any and all input and help.

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Honestly, no idea about his current availabilty overall (crooners are pretty much off my radar in my pre-1945 jazz or "hot dance band" interests ;)) but his records used to be around for quite a long time. I remember when I was browsing the London record shops in my "collecting beginnings" in the second half of the 70s there used to be tons of Al Bowlly LP reissues in all the "oldies"/"nostalgia"/"swing" racks so at that that time he still must have been very much a national hero (much like Carlos Gardel in Spain - and Latin America).

Maybe a discography (accessible online for reference) would be a good starting point as some jazz collectors might be able to provide info on where the recorsdings by specific orchestras that he most often recorded with would be available in comprehensive reissues, therefore including the Al Bowlly vocals too)?

Have you tried the Vocalion website? Among more jazzier items, they reissue lots of British "nostalgia" music too.

 

Edited by Big Beat Steve

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I looked for the Ray Noble Victor recordings (with Bowlly) on cd for some time.  Best I could find finally was a 2-cd set on Take Two Records called "Love is the Sweetest Thing."  Bowlly did have a very sweet voice, very individual.  I always liked him.

 

gregmo

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Vocalion has released the most comprehensive and best-sounding British dance band CDs imo, many of which feature Bowlly. Collecting these is probably the best approach.

However the CDs are organised by band leader (Ray Noble, Roy Fox, etc) rather than singer and are not in strict date order. Also many are oop (although the early ones are being reissued).

A search on "bowlly" on the Vocation site brings up all the in-print CDs on which he appears. After that you'll need to piece together the oop ones via eBay or Marketplace sellers or wait for the reissues, which are gradually appearing. Even if you don't end up with a complete Bowlly collection this way, you'll certainly have almost all of them. 

BTW Bowlly is very well remembered in the UK, at least among people who give a damn (if you know what I mean), probably in part owing to Dennis Potter's TV series Pennies from Heaven, which gave his reputation a boost in the mid-Seventies.

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We need a spit-take smilie.

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Since Bowlly made 1600 recordings, a complete collection would likely take some time. Also, he recorded for a myriad of labels - HMV, RCA, Decca, Columbia and loads of small companies.

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