My first introduction to Marlene Dietrich occurred a few weeks ago when I picked up a copy of the movie Witness for the Prosecution. As an Agatha Christie fan, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see yet one more dramatized version of her writing. I had heard of Dietrich before watching the movie, but it wasn’t until I saw her that I began to understand the attraction so many had (and still have) for her. Needless to say, I was eager to give the new Sony Legacy release Love Songs a spin.
The CD is a collection of songs recorded by Dietrich mainly in the 1950s, with the first three tracks recorded in 1930 and 1931. A handful of the tracks are available on other recordings, but many have been languishing in vaults or private record collections until Sony picked up the masters and dusted them off.
The sound quality is most impressive. Harry Coster did the digital sound restoration, and did it so well that one can hardly tell that the originals were 78s. The three tracks recorded in the ’30s do have that canned sound of recordings from the time, but without much of the hiss and pops of the old records. The rest of the recordings are fuller and warmer, a tribute to not only the re-mastering, but also the improvements in recording technology in the intervening 20 years.
Dietrich’s vocal technique is less than perfect, but her alto voice drips with a seductive quality that makes up for whatever may be lacking. As the liner notes state, when she sings, she transforms “strong men into masochists and beautiful women into groveling slaves worshipping at the alter [sic] of Sappho.” The CD will be released just in time for lovers shopping for Valentine’s Day gifts, but only those who are confident that their sweethearts would not dump them for this chanteuse should consider picking up a copy.
Eric (see comments below) requested that I mention a song or two that I liked. I liked the recording as a whole, which is why I didn’t mention any one title in the review. However….
“Falling In Love Again” is one that stands out, and was chosen as the title of a 1980′s biography of Dietrich. It’s a catchy ballad that I think will forever be burned in my mind with her voice singing it. Moving towards sassy cabaret, “Guy What Takes His Time” is another favorite. “Taking a Chance on Love (In German)” stands out simply because the German words flow out of her mouth so beautifully.
Hope this whets your appetite for this CD a little more.