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Keep the Home Fires Burning

Keep the Home Fires Burning

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Some Corner of a Foreign Field

Ref: CDG1276

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Songs from The First World War
Original recordings from the period

Humour, irony and superb musicianship abound in these lovingly restored recordings from a century ago. Iconic artists such as John McCormac and Al Jolson keep the home fires burning in both England and the United States. Many of the songs are well-known to this day and in these restored originals they can speak to us again as they must have done 100 years ago.

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1.It's A Long Way To Tipperary John McCormack with Orchestra and Chorus 1914
2.Belgium Put The Kibosh On The Kaiser Mark Sheridan 1915
3. Susie's Sewing Shirts For Soldiers Al Jolson 1915
4. Keep the Home Fires Burning ('Till the Boys Come Home) Frederick Wheeler 1915
5. I Didn't Raise My Boy To Be A Soldier Morton Harvey 1915
6. Pack Up Your Troubles In Your Old Kit Bag Murray Johnson 1916
7. When Alexander Takes His Ragtime Band To France Marion Harris 1916
8. Send Me Away With a Smile John McCormack 1917
9. America Answers The Call Lee Whiten 1917
10. A Baby's Prayer At Twilight (For Her Daddy Over There) Henry Burr 1917
11. The Star-Spangled Banner John McCormack 1917
12. Oh! It's A Lovely War Courtland and Jeffries 1918
13. "Hello Central, Give Me No Man's Land " Al Jolson 1918
14. "Goodbye Broadway, Hello France" American Quartet 1918
15. K-K-K-Katy (Stammering Song) Billy Murray 1918
16. How 'Ya Gonna Keep 'Em Down on the Farm? (After They've Seen Paree) Nora Bayes 1918
17. "Au Revoir, But Not Good Bye Soldier Boy" The Peerless Quartet 1918
18. Tell That To the Marines
Al Jolson 1918
19. Good-Bye-ee Courtland and Jeffries 1918

Cover image: Oxo magazine advert WWI The Advertising Archives
This compilation P and C 2014 Classical Communications Ltd
Made in Great Britain

Keep the Home Fires Burning
Songs from The First World War
Original recordings from the period

Europe in the early 20th century was foaming and seething with tension. The assassination of the Hungarian Emperor Franz Ferdinand triggered a war: 'the war to end all wars'. In fact the war was the outcome of decades of uncertainty and this assassination was the last straw. It was a new type of war, which for the first time brought the horrors of fighting closer than they had ever been before to the population in general. The romance of war was over and the grim reality of the slaughter and apparently pointless deaths has a new and real meaning to people in each country involved. Lord Kitchener's famous poster 'your country needs you' became a symbol of the huge number of men required for the seemingly endless death toll and misery. Life in the trenches seemed impossibly hard as each side advanced and fell back a yard at a time.

The war produced an amazing flowering of poetry in England (listen to CCL CDG1082 Some Corner of a Foreign Field): poetry of dignity, tragedy and loss. Musicians saw their role a little differently and produced a large number of songs with an ostensibly light-hearted feel. Pathos and irony abounded in these songs, although in typically British 'stiff upper lip' style these things were suppressed behind a veneer of humour and even fun.

The recordings on this album date from the years of the war which makes them around 100 years old as well. In those days recording was still in its infancy. In the modern age we're used to digital sound and editing facilities and very high quality microphones. 100 years ago people stood round a single microphone and the only way to control what was recorded was to move nearer or further away from it, a far cry from today's sophisticated techniques. There was only one chance to get it right and it is as a tribute to the singers and instrumentalists we can hear that what they achieved was so remarkable. No chance for them for retakes, which could then be left on the cutting room floor! The sound quality of these early recordings is quite wonderful. They have been restored of course using modern methods but their original purity shows through. They form a remarkable collection.

Many of these songs are still familiar to us today including 'it's a long way to Tipperary', 'Oh, It's a lovely War' and 'Goodbye-ee' and many of the singers have iconic status even now. John McCormack was born in Ireland towards the close of the 19th century. You can hear an Irishman singing on the first track on the album although his Irish accent is less prominent in the tracks, which are not about Ireland specifically. Al Jolson was another amazing figure in the world of music. He brought a tremendous personality to everything he did and was particularly well-known in the United States. Where McCormack was serious and dignified Jolson was witty and humorous moving his audience through his tremendous rapport and personality. Many other singers can be heard here too. All of them were clearly great artists in their own right, which is clearly to be heard in these remarkable recordings.

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