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Marlene Dietrich – Love Songs

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.

additional:
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.

About Anna Creech

  • Eric Olsen

    thanks Anna, my security is increased by the fact that she is dead

  • http://www.eclecticlibrarian.net/blog/ Anna

    One can still pine for a ghost. ;)

  • Eric Olsen

    very nice compact review, BTW – my only question would be, do you have a favorite song or two from it? Or are any of the songs particularly well known? that might help place her for some people (since she’s long since dead and all, as we discussed).

  • http://www.eclecticlibrarian.net/blog/ Anna

    Your wish is my command, o fearless leader.

  • Eric Olsen

    thanks! “Falling In Love Again” is the one I hear in my mind when I think of her

  • http://wisdomandmurder.blogspot.com Distorted Angel

    Dietrich, for me, conjures up “See What the Boys in the Back Room Will Have”, from the 1939 movie “Destry Rides Again”, with James Stewart. She certainly had quite a delivery. She does not, however, make me want to switch teams.

  • Eric Olsen

    especially cause she’s dead and all, I bet

  • http://wisdomandmurder.blogspot.com Distorted Angel

    Yeah, that’s just what I was thinking of, Eric. Eeew…

  • Eric Olsen

    it’s also very interesting how perceptions of sexual attractiveness change over time – I wonder if she would be viewed as this paragon of smolering sexuality today. I find her to be more of a curiosity than a hot tamale

  • godoggo

    The Blue Angel, from whence “Falling in Love Again” (in German) came, is one of my all-time favorite movies, notwithstanding my early trauma of benchsitting for a soccer team named after the movie by our extremely Austrian coach who insisted that we cheer “Tzicka tzacka tzicka tzacka hoy hoy hoy.”

    Marriane Faithful did a beautiful version of the song, too, on one of my favorite albums of hers or anybody’s, 20th Century Blues.

  • http://www.templestark.com/blog Temple Stark

    Anna,

    I didn’t even know the woman sang. I just thought she was an actress.

    I have posted your grand review to Advance.net, which collectively is read by hundreds of thousands per week. The link there is just to the Cleveland site.

    Thank you for the post. Temple Stark

  • Ryan

    For any info wanted on Marlene, feel free to write.