Vera Lynn: Her Greatest From Abbey Road

review vera x1 cong

Dame Vera comes from a different age, when there was less choice in entertainment and people wanted nice songs they could sing to in the front room (while watering the aspidistra) or down the pub.

She’s had a long and successful career — she began performing at seven, her first radio broadcast was with the Joe Loss Orchestra and she featured on records released by dance bands including those of Loss and Charlie Kunz — and became best-known for her 1939 hit We’ll Meet Again.

It was the Daily Express, now about as reliable as Beano as far as news goes, that asked servicemen to name their favourite performers: Lynn came out on top and thus was “The forces’ sweetheart”.

She was basically a crooner with a nice voice and added sincerity, crooning being the singing of sentimental songs into a microphone (the latter allowing soft singing to be amplified). While she was a good egg and won the Burma Star for entertaining British troops in Japanese-occupied Burma, her wartime radio show Sincerely Yours was criticised because some — including BBC governors — felt it was bad for morale and undermined troops’ masculinity and willingness to fight (it stayed on air as BBC governors noted it was “deplored, but popularity noted”).

So, this collection of songs by Dame Vera, who is 100 this year, is probably full of standards that will appeal to a certain audience. The tunes her fans would want are on here, including A Nightingale Sang In Berkley Square, We’ll Meet Again and (There’ll be Bluebirds over) The White Cliffs of Dover (the bluebirds being RAF pilots not the birds, which you don’t get in this country).

She also covers other tunes, including a typically sentimental take on Where Have All The Flowers Gone, Pete Seeger’s song about war.

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