So... we have the usual budget-label Jabberwocky of artist credits--on the cover, "Featuring Great Hollywood Vocalists and Orchestras," which is definitely not the case. Then we have "Lew Raymond Orchestra" on the labels, as if to suggest that Lew is on every track (he isn't). And we have the name of a singer or singing group for each number. So... what to make of this?
Not to worry. I looked up the original singles and retrieved the orchestra credits and the recording years, and I put this information on the mp3 tags--the recording date after each credit, and the LP's release year of 1957 in the Year field. Bottom line (inept artist-crediting aside), we have Tops sound-alike singles from 1953 to 1956 in outstanding fidelity, with all but one track (Ruby) quite well performed.
I guess I was expecting less than sterling audio, given the so-so transfer quality of this label's 12 Top Hits LPs. Of course, those are rock'n'roll-era tracks which, often as not, were "gimmicked" up, perhaps to give them an AM-radio or jukebox sound. These tracks sound natural and undoctored.
Lew Raymond's orchestra rocks on his three instrumentals: 1954's The High and the Mighty, 1956's Moonglow and Theme from "Picnic," and 1954's Dragnet (from the 1954 film based on the show), and the Les Anthony Orchestra does a fine The Man With the Golden Arm (1956). The Les Morgan Orchestra's 1953 Ruby is... not quite so good. In fact, it's almost bad enough to qualify as an Eli Oberstein misfire of the "Who cares if anyone's in tune?" variety. I suspect the musicians were under-rehearsed, as they sure sound it.
The rest of the tracks are fine, with good singers: Ronnie Deauville, Mimi Martel, Bud Roman, and Gayle Larson. Very nice to hear them on finely-mastered LP tracks. I've had this LP for a while, with no idea what a treasure trove it is. I'll have to check out Tops L1514, All-Time Favorites (1957), to hear if the engineering is as fine as here.
(And a spot-listen reveals that the reissued singles on that LP--Charmaine, Blue Tango, Poor People of Paris--are indeed beautifully transferred, though there are filler tracks that aren't so hot. To post or not to post?)
DOWNLOAD: Themes From the Movies (Tops L1519; 1957)
Love Is a Many Splendored Thing--The Toppers With Bill Cornell and Orch., 1955
The High and the Mighty--Lew Raymond and His Orch., 1954
Stranger in Paradise--Bud Roman With Lew Raymond Orch., 1954
Moonglow and Theme From "Picnic"--Lew Raymond Orch., 1956
3 Coins in the Fountain--Ronnie Deauville, Lew Raymond Orch., 1954
Secret Love--Gayle Larson With Lew Raymond Orch., 1954
The Man With the Golden Arm--Les Anthony Orch., 1956
Song From "Moulin Rouge"--Mimi Martel, The Ray Baxter Orch., 1953
It's a Woman's World--The Rhythmaires, Lew Raymond and Orch., 1954
Young at Heart--Ronnie Deauville, Lew Raymond Orch., 1956
Ruby--The Les Morgan Orch., 1953
Dragnet--Lew Raymond Orch., 1954