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From Glasgow to Broadway

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Album Review

Ella Logan remains best-remembered as the star of the 1947 Broadway musical Finian's Rainbow, but the Scottish-born singer/actress, who spent her adult life in the U.S., had a lengthy recording career that ran across 25 years, and included stints with the major labels Decca, Columbia, and Capitol. Most of those recordings were released on 78s in the 1930s and '40s, with only the occasional track earning reissue on a various-artists LP or CD in the succeeding decades. But the 50-year copyright limit in Europe has expired, and has emboldened the U.K.'s Sepia Records to undertake a compilation drawn from the 78s of collectors. It should revise the general notion about Logan, which derives entirely from her brogue-laden singing of "How Are Things in Glocca Morra?" In fact, she started out as a jazz-baby band singer in the early 1930s, and the tracks that lead off this collection find her as a teenager fronting groups with names like the Rhythm Maniacs, who play hot, 1920s-style jazz, and society dance orchestra arrangements, as she sings in a distinctly American accent, even when the recordings originated in London. By the mid-'30s, she was in America, sharing a microphone with Bob Crosby and Hoagy Carmichael (including a hit 1938 version of the latter's "Two Sleepy People"). She finally begins to display her Celtic roots in the mid-1940s on the eight tracks that made up her self-financed album for Majestic Records when, backed by Frank DeVol and His Orchestra, she swings her way through "A Little Bit of Heaven (Shure They Called It Ireland)." The album closes with "How Are Things in Glocca Morra?" and "Old Devil Moon," borrowed from the Finian's Rainbow original Broadway cast recording. Actually, there's more where this came from, enough to fill a second disc. But given the dearth of Logan recordings in print on CD as of 2002, what is here should be more than welcome for fans of this nearly forgotten singer.

Biography

Born: 1912 in Glasgow, Scotland

Genre: Vocal

Years Active: '50s, '60s

Scottish-born actress/singer Ella Logan achieved her greatest renown playing an Irishwoman, Sharon McLonergan, and singing "How Are Things in Glocca Morra?" in the Broadway musical Finian's Rainbow in 1947. Before that, however, she had spent three...
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