Al Bowlly and Ray Noble

My father was a great fan of music of the 1930's, an appreciation buoyed by a great collection of vinyls, as well as old 78's and as a result I grew up listening to music by the greats, such as Fats Waller, The Mills Brothers, Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie and Duke Ellington. With unfailing regularity, every saturday, morning Dad would rustle through his collection and dance around the lounge room floor to the music of his choice, always uplifted by the melodies. Many a saturday morning I would awake bleary-eyed to the cheerful, sometimes too cheerful, strains of George Gershwin's Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries.

Ray Noble
One of my favourites from this vintage musical treasure trove was  singer and jazz guitarist Al Bowlly. Bowlly was a prodigious artist, making more than 1,000 recordings between 1927 and 1941 and his sweet, warm but nonetheless strong voice appealed to a wide range of listeners. In the 1930 he teamed up very successfully with fellow Englishman, (another of my favourites), Ray Noble and his Ray Noble Orchestra and it proved to be a great boon to both careers.

The Songs
Love is the sweetest thing, The Very Thought of You, You're So Desirable, The Touch of Your Lips, Goodnight Sweetheart, Isle of Capri are just some of the songs British bandleader Ray Noble has left to the world. Noble too, was immensely popular in his day and his beautiful tunes are still used in various productions, more than seventy years after their inception; notably in a cat food advertisement, as the theme for a British television series and in the films of Woody Allen, a fellow 30's music fan.

Perhaps the most striking feature of a Ray Noble song, besides its warmth and simplicity, is its 'humanness'.  Bowlly and Noble seem to have been able to tap into something basic and uncomplicated about human love and extract the essence, which is perhaps why they are still enjoyed, despite, or perhaps because of, the fact that the peculiarly sweet innocence of the lyrics jars with the more aggressive tendencies of modern song. There is nothing convoluted or pretentious about a  Noble song; his lyrics are timeless, evocative and utterly relatable. These songs, enhanced by the sweet vocals of Al Bowlly, have been a consistent thread in my life and a musical backdrop to many old memories of childhood. They always add a little Springtime to my heart....