CD Review – Bert Kaempfert – Wonderland By Night Greatest Hits 1958-1962
CD Review – Bert Kaempfert
Wonderland By Night
Greatest Hits 1958-1962
Jasmine JASMCD2655 [78:54]
Releases like this are almost akin to hens' teeth these days. Ten years ago, in the last published issue of the Robert Farnon Society magazine Journal Into Melody, at least a dozen easy listening orchestral albums were reviewed. So well done to the label for resurrecting this selection of no less than 28 Kaempfert 45rpm singles.
Hamburg-born Berthold Heinrich Kaempfert (1923-80) was a composer, orchestra leader, arranger, producer (having a part in the rise of the Beatles) and musician, playing piano, clarinet, saxophone and accordion. During the war he served as a bandsman in the German Navy and finished it as a prisoner-of-war in Denmark. He formed his own big band in 1947.
Many of his songs and instrumentals became world famous, the latter with their trademark use of electric bass and solo trumpet against sustained strings. In 1961 Wonderland by Night was his first really big hit, being an American Billboard No.1 for three weeks and selling several million copies. Five years later Frank Sinatra was in the same position with the Kaempfert composed Strangers in the Night (originally Fremde in der Nacht).
On this album Happy Trumpeter, A Swingin' Safari, Mexican Road, Echo In The Night, Africaan Beat, Now And Forever, Dreaming The Blues and Wooden Heart are among a number of Kaempfert compositions. Other tracks include the title tune Wunderland Bei Nacht, Mitternachts-Blues, his first hit that made the West German Top 10 in 1958, Perez Prado's Patricia, April in Portugal, Shorty Roger's Cerveza, Leiber & Stoller's Cha! Bull!, Gipsy’s Cha-Cha (Zigeuner’s Cha-Cha), Morgen (One More Sunrise), Nur Du, Du, Du Allein (To Know Him Is To Love Him), Tenderly, La Vie En Rose and That Happy Feeling.
The last-named could have been the album's title. With some wonderfully imaginative arrangements it has been a treat to listen to – a real blast from the past – and I am hoping that good sales might encourage Jasmine to bring back more of 'our kind of music'.
Kaempfert once wrote: "I want to make music for everyone. It's meant to give people pleasure. If it doesn't, it's failed in its purpose". Reader, you can be assured there’s no failure here.
© Peter Burt 2023