SHELTON, Anne: Fools Rush In

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ANNE SHELTON The Early Years

Original 1940-1941 Recordings with Bert Ambrose’s Orchestra

Gifted with a voice that impressed not solely by its distinctive contralto timbre but also by its clear diction, Anne Shelton held a special place in the hearts of Second World War radio listeners. The archetypal "girl-next-door" was a morale-booster on a par with her peer Vera Lynn and became a symbol of solidarity among the war-torn listening population. In the words of Dame Vera herself :

"… she became the Forces’ Favourite, an inseparable part of the memories of that era for thousands of servicemen, and especially for the RAF… Anne Shelton was the British Lili Marlene girl for thousands of Desert Rats".

— (Daily Mail obituary tribute, 1 August, 1994)

Anne Shelton started life as Patricia Sibley in Dulwich, South London, on 10 November, 1923. One of four siblings (two sisters and a brother) born to Lamatana and William Sibley, as a girl she attended the local convent school in Forest Hill. She started her singing career at twelve and made her first recording, of the Sigler—Goodhart—Hoffman novelty "Moanin’ Minnie", with Jack Hylton’s Orchestra in January 1936. In 1940, aged 17, she auditioned for Bert Ambrose, leader of the premier London band of the day based at the Mayfair Hotel. Bert instantly recognised her talent (he was at that time looking for a replacement for his resident vocalist Vera Lynn, who was about to tour with her show Apple Sauce) and signed her on the spot. Anne took Vera’s place and made her first radio broadcast on the BBC programme Monday Night At Eight.

Anne’s association with Ambrose, both on and off disc, lasted for the next six years. She sang and broadcast with the Ambrose band throughout the war years and Bert became her mentor. A regular broadcaster to troops based overseas, by 1942 she was touring Army, Navy and Air Force bases throughout Great Britain. The BBC, quickly realising her potential, gave her her own radio show Introducing Anne, a British propaganda link with home for soldiers serving in the North African desert. And that same year a special programme entitled Calling Malta was initiated during Malta’s aerial bombardment. Co-presented by Anne, the show ran for five years and was Britain’s sole link with the besieged island.

The earliest, and for many the most endearing of Anne’s records, are those she made with the Ambrose band during the first part of the war and these as one might expect present a cross-section of new material from shows and films, plus a few resurrections. We begin with A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square (hit-song from the 1940 London musical New Faces, with music by the American Manning Sherwin (1902-1974) and lyrics by the English Eric Maschwitz, 1901-1969). Premièred in the show by Leslie Hutchinson, it was variously recorded, most notably by Vera Lynn. Outstanding among other perennials are Johnny Mercer’s "occasional" with Rube Bloom, Fools Rush In, and the since oft-revived Blueberry Hill, both of which, in these versions by Anne, have the distinction of being the first British solo recordings. Maybe, a standard by Allan Flynn and Frank Madden dates from 1935, while Sammy Mysels’ We Three was a 1940 No.1 hit in the USA for The Ink Spots.

Anne presents British cover-versions of various American favourites. As it were "straight from the movies" come Only Forever, the Academy Award nomination from the 1940 Bing Crosby—Mary Martin movie Rhythm On The River, followed by Our Love Affair, the Arthur Freed—Roger Edens Academy Award nomination originated by Judy Garland in the 1940 MGM musical Strike Up The Band (in the States this was also a No.8 hit for Glenn Miller) and this likewise receives a classic rendition from the seventeen-year-old Anne. Then, by way of Something To Remember You By (originally Arthur Schwartz’s contribution to the 1930 Broadway show Three’s A Crowd, this song revived on both sides of the Atlantic for its appropriate sentiment in wartime scored No.18 in a US pop chart hit version by Dinah Shore) we arrive at St. Louis Blues, a full-length ballad version of the 1914 classic by W. C. Handy.

Among many other contemporary numbers two other songs, both of above average longevity and again in the nature of British "covers", proved sure-fire successes when delivered in Anne’s unfussy, forthright manner. The first, I Know Why (a Harry Warren-Mack Gordon standard included in Glenn Miller’s 1942 Twentieth Century Fox release Sun Valley Serenade) provided a No.8 pop chart hit in the States for the American bandleader and Kiss The Boys Goodbye (signalling the departure of US troops after the attack on Pearl Harbour, this Frank Loesser song was the title-song of the 1941 Paramount musical) is a fine example of Anne’s vocalising to a group from within the Ambrose band led by pianist-arranger Stanley Black (1913-2002).

Peter Dempsey, 2003

The Naxos Historical labels aim to make available the greatest recordings of the history of recorded music, in the best and truest sound that contemporary technology can provide. To achieve this aim, Naxos has engaged a number of respected restorers who have the dedication, skill and experience to produce restorations that have set new standards in the field of historical recordings.

Peter Dempsey

A tenor singer of wide range and performing experience, Peter Dempsey specialises in Victorian and Edwardian genre ballads and art-song, and has recorded various CDs, including Love’s Garden Of Roses for Moidart. Quite apart from his personal enthusiasm for music in the broadest sense, through his assiduous collecting and study of 78s over many years, Peter has acquired not only a wide knowledge of recorded musical performance but also a heartfelt awareness of the need to conserve so many "great masters" who — were it not for CD — might now be lost for future generations. A recognised authority on old recordings, Peter now regularly researches and produces CD albums from 78s.

Disc: 1
Goodnight Again
1 A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square
2 Fools Rush In
3 Maybe
4 Blueberry Hill
5 We Three (My Echo, My Shadow And Me)
6 Only Forever
7 Our Love Affair
8 Something To Remember You By
9 St. Louis Blues
10 Moonlight In Mexico
11 The Boogie-Woogly Piggy
12 I Don't Want To Set The World On Fire
13 It's A Small World
14 You're In My Arms
15 I Know Why (And So Do You)
16 Wrap Yourself In Cotton Wool
17 Kiss The Boys Goodbye
18 When Night Is Thru
19 Goodnight Again
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