“Dolores Gray: Heat Wave—The Decca Singles 1953-1955”
Review by Zander Opper
Any new release of a collection of songs sung by Dolores Gray is cause for celebration. This certainly applies to Stage Door Records’ recently released CD, “Dolores Gray: Heat Wave—The Decca Singles 1953-1955.” What this album includes are all of the Decca singles Gray recorded between 1953 and 1955. Paired with a previous release, “Spotlight on Dolores Gray,” put out by Sepia Records in 2003, these CDs are highly collectible, for they capture all of the singles this star recorded for Decca from the early to mid- 1950s. For show fans and completists, these two albums are a must. Still, even to listeners previously unfamiliar with Dolores Gray, Stage Door Records’ “Dolores Gray: Heat Wave—The Decca Singles 1953-1955” is a terrific introduction to this star, offering show tunes, film songs and cute pop selections. Running just a little over an hour, this new release is pretty much a joy from beginning to end.
Considering that Gray’s only Broadway cast albums are “Two on the Aisle” and “Destry Rides Again” and her London albums are limited to just selections from “Annie Get Your Gun” and to the 1987 “Follies” cast album, “Dolores Gray: Heat Wave” fills a major gap in Gray’s recording history. This CD is a combination of popular songs of the time and, most interesting for show fans, cover renditions she recorded of both Broadway tunes and songs from films. Such selections as “Kaw-Liga,” “Poppa Piccolino” and “Rock Love” are on the comic side, though Gray has the rare ability to make everything she sings sound great. When turning to love songs, Gray’s voice is like pure silk, lending a glow to the tunes “Say You’re Mine Again,” “Darling, the Moon is so Bright Tonight” and “That’s Love I Guess.” Still, probably the track that is most beautiful is Gray’s plaintive singing of “The Call of the Far Away Hills” from the movie, “Shane.”
Indeed, when Dolores gets to Broadway and film songs, she especially shines. Musical theater buffs will treasure her lively and amusing renditions of Mae Barnes’ two songs from the Shirley Booth musical, “By the Beautiful Sea.” And this singer practically purrs her way through numbers from “The Girl in Pink Tights,” including “In Paris and In Love” and “Lost in Loveliness.” Also of great interest is Dolores’ singing of “Without Love” from Cole Porter’s “Silk Stockings,” a show that she eventually did in summer stock. It must be mentioned that the “Dolores Gray: Heat Wave” CD includes entertaining and highly illuminating liner notes by George Dansker, which manage to cover this star’s entire career. (For instance, who knew that Gray performed “Pygmalion” in regional theater just a few years before Lerner and Loewe wrote “My Fair Lady”?)
As for songs from films, in addition to one she recorded from “Shane,” there is a lovely performance of “Face to Face” from the movie “Three Sailors and a Girl.” Even more valuable are songs Gray covered on the soundtrack of “There’s No Business Like Show Business.” To provide a little history, Marilyn Monroe appeared in the film, but her contract did not let her record her songs from “There’s No Business Like Show Business” for the Decca soundtrack, so these numbers were sung by Gray. She has a great deal of fun with “After You Get What You Want, You Don’t Want It” (my personal favorite track on the CD) and there is a steamy performance of “Heat Wave.” (As a brief side note, there actually was a third song from the film, the song “Lazy,” that Gray recorded for the soundtrack, but it was never issued as a Decca single).
Still, this is of minor consequence, faced with the wealth of material that is featured on “Dolores Gray: Heat Wave.” Stage Door Records deserves a big thank you and a round of applause for releasing this Dolores Gray CD, for it is unlikely that it would have been released, otherwise. As mentioned, “Dolores Gray: Heat Wave—The Decca Singles 1953-1955” can be paired with Sepia Records’ “Spotlight on Dolores Gray,” so a listener can hear every single Gray recorded for Decca from 1951 to 1955. Even taken alone, though, Star Door Records’ “Dolores Gray: Heat Wave” is really a gift for both longtime Gray fans, as well as those who are new to this fabulous star, and the entire album has been gorgeously remastered in sparkling sound. In her career, Dolores Gray conquered Broadway, London, Hollywood, and pop music. How glorious that one can now buy this CD, “Dolores Gray: Heat Wave–The Decca Singles 1953-1955,” from Stage Door Records to hear just exactly how irreplaceable and truly great a singer this star always was.