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Jazz - Released September 12, 2002 | Naxos

Booklets
Even as Noël Coward's plays are still staged on a regular basis, he is also remembered as an endearing vocalist and composer of pleasantly romantic songs and satirical ditties. Born in Teddington, Middlesex in December 1899, Coward cited Lewis Carroll, Edward Lear, and Beatrix Potter as his primary influences; he also claimed to have been motivated at first by a youthful desire to improve upon the formal patterns of the traditional English nursery rhyme. Noël Coward's whimsicality and wit invite comparison with W.S. Gilbert and Oscar Wilde. At times his skill as a pop composer and lyricist nearly matched that of Cole Porter and Lorenz Hart; certain parallels could also be drawn with Dorothy Parker or even Ogden Nash. Coward's influence is clearly detectable in the works of Michael Flanders and Donald Swann; his lightning-quick wit and unflinching honesty also inspired the best of Joe Orton and Eric Idle. The opening measures of Coward's "Half-Caste Woman" even cropped up during "Nick Danger -- Third Eye" on the Firesign Theatre's second album, How Can You Be in Two Places at Once When You're Not Anywhere at All (1968). Since the early '90s, a sort of Cowardly renaissance has developed as various reissue labels brought out detailed retrospectives; if Angel/EMI's HMV Recordings was comprehensive, Naxos has delved even further by sifting through the historical evidence to unearth all sorts of obscure treasures. Issued in 2005, Mad About the Boy is Castle Pulse's triple-CD tribute album. Two discs are devoted to what could be regarded as emblematic Noël Coward performances; disc three adds another dimension by illustrating Coward's influence upon some of the most important British dance bands of the '30s, including Carroll Gibbons & the Savoy Orpheans, Ray Noble & His New Mayfair Orchestra, Ray Starita and his Ambassadors, and the orchestras of Bert Ambrose, Jack Payne and Jack Jackson. What begins as a survey of Noël Coward's best recordings of his own songs blossoms into a superb mini-anthology of historical performances that characterize the cultural environment where those songs first thrived and became popular. ~ arwulf arwulf
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Pop - Released August 1, 2014 | Harbinger Records

Booklet
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Miscellaneous - Released February 11, 2013 | The Digital Gramophone

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Pop - Released October 9, 2009 | Parlophone UK

A follow-up to 1989's successful compilation The Compact Coward, 1991's More Compact Coward provides what the unimaginative title suggests: a further set of offerings from the cabaret star's golden era, 1928 to 1943 (with a pair of minor tunes from 1951, including the self-referential "Don't Make Fun of the Festival" thrown in as well). Nicely balanced between orchestral takes and simple piano and vocal tunes (always Coward's best showcase and therefore the majority of these 20 tracks), More Compact Coward is an intriguing exploration of some of Coward's lesser-known tunes. These include early hits like "A Room With a View" and 1929's "I'll See You Again," which the composer always rated as one of his own favorites, and satirical jibes like "The Stately Homes of England" and "Don't Let's Be Beastly to the Germans," a World War II-era number that was misinterpreted and subsequently banned by the BBC. Intriguingly, the CD also includes audio transcriptions of two of nine brief one-act musical plays Coward wrote and performed with singer and actress Gertrude Lawrence, collectively known as "Tonight at 8:30." Both are filled with the sly wit that was Noel Coward's trademark, and they're among the best work on this fine collection. As with The Compact Coward, the sound quality is sometimes a bit lacking (these compilations could certainly stand a thorough remastering) but the quality of the material is inarguable. ~ Stewart Mason
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Jazz - Released September 14, 2001 | Naxos

Booklet
£9.59

Jazz - Released September 18, 2003 | Naxos

£6.39

Lounge - Released October 31, 2011 | FourMatt Music

Noel Coward at Las Vegas, the live chronicle of Coward's engagement at the Desert Inn in the summer of 1955, was a chart LP for Columbia Masterworks, and this studio recording is pitched as its complement, to the point that the record label has taken the cover photograph of the singer, posed in a tuxedo with a cup of tea, standing in the desert, and substituted a New York skyline background to suggest that the same musical approach is being taken. And so it is, minus the applause. Once again, Peter Matz serves as pianist/arranger/conductor, updating some of Coward's old songs to more contemporary backgrounds, while the two also add some more recently written numbers, such as "Louisa" and "Time and Again." (Listeners will recognize "What's Going to Happen to the Tots," an old song with new lyrics, from Together with Music, Coward's 1955 TV special with Mary Martin). In general, these are newer songs, including ones from the 1950 British musical Ace of Clubs ("I Like America," "Sail Away"), although there are selections that date back to the early '30s ("Half-Caste Woman" from Cochran's 1931 Revue). Once again, there is a medley, and once again it is regrettable that such good songs are tossed off in brief choruses. In fact, it's even more regrettable than it was on the live album. While medleys are really more for the benefit of bored performers who don't want to relive their hits than for audiences who would much rather hear the songs in full, at least in a live show there is the excuse that you can't squeeze them all into a one-hour set otherwise. On a studio album, there's really no excuse for them. That aside, In New York is very much the equal of At Las Vegas, another collection of Coward's sophisticated (which is to say, witty, erudite, and, in some cases, very adult) reflections on life and love, tossed off in his deliberately excessive upper class English accent. ~ William Ruhlmann
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Pop - Released February 4, 2014 | The Digital Gramophone

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International Pop - Released September 12, 2017 | Editions Audiovisuel Beulah

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Miscellaneous - Released February 13, 2013 | The Digital Gramophone

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Miscellaneous - Released March 28, 2014 | Jasnet Records

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Pop - Released February 28, 2003 | Parlophone UK

The first CD ever issued on Noel Coward's work is, understandably, a bit sketchy, containing 70 minutes of music dating between April of 1928 and December of 1951, thus bridging a 23-year arc in Coward's life and career. "Medley, Pt. 1," which opens the collection, comes from 1951, when Coward was embarking on the performing career in cabaret that would sustain his reputation and lifestyle into the 1960s -- the voice and the wit are still there, perhaps less playful and more wry than what listeners hear on his classic material. All of the rest of this collection save one track dates from the '20s to the mid-'40s, when Coward occupied the center of popular culture in the English-speaking world as no author since Oscar Wilde had done. The mixture of style, wit, romance, and satire, wrapped in an astonishing, off-handed simplicity, is all the more dazzling because it still rings through 70 years later; "Mad Dogs and Englishmen," "Mary Make Believe," "Mrs. Worthington," and "Parisian Pierrot" are still among the funniest, cleverest songs and performances ever recorded. There are also two tracks, an excerpt from "Private Lives" (including "Someday I'll Find You") and an excerpt from "Red Peppers," that feature Coward and his longtime leading lady, Gertrude Lawrence, together. There are also a few cuts dating from the World War II period, and it might be instructive for listeners in the early part of the 21st century to recall how much wit and humor the Allies held onto, on their side, during that war -- "Could You Please Oblige Us With a Bren Gun" ("If you can't oblige us with a Bren gun, the home guard might as well go home") simply has no equivalent in any modern wartime era. On the negative side, there is minimal annotation, and the CD was done so early in the digital era that the material sounds substandard even for '30s-era recordings, technology having improved significantly since 1989. ~ Bruce Eder
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Pop - Released January 1, 2000 | Perennial

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Pop - Released January 1, 2000 | Leverage

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Pop - Released January 1, 2000 | Leverage

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Pop - Released January 1, 2000 | Leverage

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Pop - Released January 1, 2000 | Leverage

£7.99

Pop - Released January 1, 2000 | Leverage

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Pop - Released January 1, 2000 | Leverage

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Pop - Released April 5, 2010 | Penny