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Hans Christian Andersen

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Album Review

The folks at British budget label Prism Leisure keep a close watch on the calendar, waiting for popular recordings to reach the European copyright limit of 50 years and fall into the public domain so they can print up their own versions without bothering to get permission or pay any other company a licensing fee. (Copyrights last much longer in the U.S., but that doesn't seem to keep European companies from selling their goods stateside.) With the stroke of midnight on January 1, 2003, one of those recordings was Danny Kaye's 1952 album of songs from his film Hans Christian Andersen, originally released on Decca Records and a 17-week number one hit in the Billboard charts of 1953. Not knowing or perhaps not caring that the tracks are recording-studio recreations of the film songs, Prism bills the eight songs as "The Original Film Recordings," which of course they are not. Four more Kaye recordings of numbers he performed in his films of the 1940s are added as bonus tracks, similarly billed erroneously as soundtrack recordings. But no matter. The Hans Christian Andersen songs, written by Frank Loesser, remain charming for both children and grownups, and Kaye's alternately bravura and sweet renditions only add to that charm. This is one album that hasn't aged much in 50 years, and since the duplicators at Prism no doubt were copying a more recent issue than the original 10" LP, the sound quality is good.


Born: 18 January 1913 in Brooklyn, NY

Genre: Vocal

Years Active: '20s, '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s

A gifted mimic and peerless physical comedian, Danny Kaye ranked among America's most popular entertainers in the years during and following World War II. Rubber-faced and manic, he rose to stardom in film and in television, on record and on Broadway, easily adapting from outrageous novelty songs to tender ballads; for all of his success as a performer, however, his greatest legacy remains his tireless humanitarian work -- so close were his ties to the United Nations International Children's Emergency...
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Hans Christian Andersen, Danny Kaye
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