ASTAIRE, Fred: Fascinating Rhythm

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Complete Recordings Volume 1, 1923-1930 withAdele Astaire

No performer evermade dancing look easier, or worked harder at it. Suave, elegant,sophisticated, dapper... to generations, Fred Astaire was "MrSmooth". He was also a fine dramatic actor, and the songs he introducedunfailingly became standards.

FrederickAusterlitz was born on l0th May, 1899 in Omaha, Nebraska When he was barely atoddler, he and his older sister Adele were enrolled in dancing school; beforehe turned seven, Mrs Austerlitz had moved the children to New York, where theywould soon become professional dancers in vaudeville, revues and Broadwayshows.

Their firstBroadway success was Over The Top, in1917, followed by The Passing Show of 1918,in which Fred was called "an agile youth, and apparently boneless".

More musicals led to stardom in ForGoodness' Sake in 1922; the Astaires stole the show and at the sametime began their life-long friendship with the Gershwin Brothers. Among themany musicals to feature Fred and Adele were two more Gershwin productions, Lady Be Good and Funny Face The Astaires' last Broadwayappearance together was The Bandwagon, in1931.

By this time, Fredand Adele had been the toast of Broadway and London for a decade. Though it wasFred who had been the perfectionist, pushing the team towards triumph aftertriumph, it was Adele who was generally considered to be the more talented one;and by 1931, on stage for twenty-five years, she wanted out. Adele accepted thehand of Lord Cavendish, and retired from performing. She died in 1981.

But Fred had neverworked as a solo act, and had misgivings about his future. He wasn't the"romantic" type being sought for movies. The results of his screentests included such comments as "enormous ears", "bad chinline", "balding", "can't sing", "can dance alittle". but what did come across, to the surprise of the movie moguls,was his undeniable charm.

Through the nextthree decades, Fred Astaire would be featured in such successes as Flying Down to Rio, Top Hat, Roberta, Swing Time,Damsel in Distress, You Were Never Lovelier, Easter Parade, Silk Stockings, theBand Wagon and Funny Face. Hispartners would include Ginger Rogers, Joan Fontaine, Rita Hayworth, JudyGarland, Cyd Charisse and Audrey Hepburn. Beginning in the fifties, Fred wouldreceive critical acclaim for his television specials, as well as for hisdramatic acting in On the Beach andThe Towering Inferno. Fred wasstill synonymous with grace and charm when he died 22ndJune, 1987.

This first volumeof the Astaire legacy consists of recordings made in London between 1923 and1930. The songs from the stage production StopFlirting (the English version of ForGoodness' Sake) were acoustically recorded for HMV, a single disc byFred and Adele with a theatre-style orchestra, a common practice on Englishoriginal cast recordings. The remaining discs are for Columbia, electricallyrecorded; six songs from Lady Be Good, withGeorge Gershwin at the piano on four of the sides (and providing vocal commentaryduring Fred's first recorded tap-dancing solo); six songs from Funny Face; and four classic Astaire solosfrom 1929 and 1930. To maintain the integrity of the original cast recordings,Adele's solos have been included, but those sides which features neither of theAstaires have not.

David Lennick

Disc: 1
Crazy Feet
1 The Whichness Of The Whatness
2 Oh Gee! Oh Gosh!
3 Hang On To Me
4 Fascinating Rhythm
5 The Half Of It Dearie Blues
6 I'd Rather Charleston
7 Swiss Maid (Yodel Song)
8 So Am I
9 Funny Face
10 The Babbitt And The Bromide
11 'S Wonderful
12 High Hat
13 He Loves And She Loves
14 My One And Only
15 Not My Girl
16 Louisiana
17 Puttin' On The Ritz
18 Crazy Feet
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