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The Very Best of 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.

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The Very Best of Hans Christian Andersen, Michael Redgrave
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