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THE COMPLETE EMI SESSIONS 1928 - 1939

£18.99

Product description

This seven-disc set is the most comprehensive account of Paul Robeson's art that we're ever likely to see -- the only other significant bodies of his work held by single recording entities are his post-blacklist Vanguard sides, which have made it out on CD in a couple of not-quite-comprehensive compilations, and his 1930s and early-'40s Columbia sides which have been compiled in part by Sony Music. Robeson was American-born but, like a relative handful of distinctive African American performers (including actress Josephine Baker, singer Adelaide Hall, and choreographer Buddy Bradley), he found it easier to pursue his career in Europe in the early to mid-'30s, and much of his work in music and film emanated from England until the advent of the Second World War. This collection assembles all 170 sides that he recorded for EMI across 11 years, ranging from stage-generated compositions such as "Ol' Man River" from Show Boat (which featured Robeson in its London cast) to classical, pop, folk, and gospel material. Some of the selection may seem bizarre and even demeaning in a 21st century context, but one must remember that Robeson was aiming to entertain and raise audiences' consciousness with his performances and recordings and -- within strictly proscribed limits determined by his own judgment -- he was willing to cater to public sensibilities of the period; thus, there are pieces here that use words such as "darkie" or "piccaninny" in their texts or titles; he always retained a degree of dignity and often these performances led audiences to question the basis for their own sensibilities; he also gradually altered the words of "Ol' Man River" to embrace a growing sense of dignity and irony in the piece, as his own consciousness evolved. There are also topical songs of the period, and pieces that reflect his fascination with the songs and folk traditions of various European nations (most notably Russia) in whose music he found parallels with African song. And there are songs that represent fragments of notions and projects that were never otherwise realized, such as the goal -- on the part of composer George Gershwin and at least one London producer -- of getting Robeson in the role of Porgy in the opera Porgy and Bess. And there are places here where we see Robeson's talent crossing paths with other African American figures, most notably Duke Ellington on a couple of compositions and actor/composer Clarence Muse (on "When It's Sleepy Time Down South"). The quality of the digital transfers is extraordinary, given the age of most of the material represented, though it also speaks volumes about the power of Robeson's voice as well. The whole box is a rich sonic feast, crossing a multitude of genres and history, accompanied by a well-annotated booklet. And the only complaint that one might reasonably have after listening to all seven CDs is that there couldn't have been more. ~ Bruce Eder

Item details

Band/artist(s):
Paul Robeson, artist
Condition:
Used
Genre:
Compilations
Label:
EMI Classics
Tracks:
170

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About this item

This seven-disc set is the most comprehensive account of Paul Robeson's art that we're ever likely to see -- the only other significant bodies of his work held by single recording entities are his post-blacklist Vanguard sides, which have made it out on CD in a couple of not-quite-comprehensive compilations, and his 1930s and early-'40s Columbia sides which have been compiled in part by Sony Music. Robeson was American-born but, like a relative handful of distinctive African American performers (including actress Josephine Baker, singer Adelaide Hall, and choreographer Buddy Bradley), he found it easier to pursue his career in Europe in the early to mid-'30s, and much of his work in music and film emanated from England until the advent of the Second World War. This collection assembles all 170 sides that he recorded for EMI across 11 years, ranging from stage-generated compositions such as "Ol' Man River" from Show Boat (which featured Robeson in its London cast) to classical, pop, folk, and gospel material. Some of the selection may seem bizarre and even demeaning in a 21st century context, but one must remember that Robeson was aiming to entertain and raise audiences' consciousness with his performances and recordings and -- within strictly proscribed limits determined by his own judgment -- he was willing to cater to public sensibilities of the period; thus, there are pieces here that use words such as "darkie" or "piccaninny" in their texts or titles; he always retained a degree of dignity and often these performances led audiences to question the basis for their own sensibilities; he also gradually altered the words of "Ol' Man River" to embrace a growing sense of dignity and irony in the piece, as his own consciousness evolved. There are also topical songs of the period, and pieces that reflect his fascination with the songs and folk traditions of various European nations (most notably Russia) in whose music he found parallels with African song. And there are songs that represent fragments of notions and projects that were never otherwise realized, such as the goal -- on the part of composer George Gershwin and at least one London producer -- of getting Robeson in the role of Porgy in the opera Porgy and Bess. And there are places here where we see Robeson's talent crossing paths with other African American figures, most notably Duke Ellington on a couple of compositions and actor/composer Clarence Muse (on "When It's Sleepy Time Down South"). The quality of the digital transfers is extraordinary, given the age of most of the material represented, though it also speaks volumes about the power of Robeson's voice as well. The whole box is a rich sonic feast, crossing a multitude of genres and history, accompanied by a well-annotated booklet. And the only complaint that one might reasonably have after listening to all seven CDs is that there couldn't have been more. ~ Bruce Eder

Band/artist(s):
Paul Robeson, artist
Condition:
Used
Genre:
Compilations
Label:
EMI Classics
Tracks:
170

Delivery & returns

This item will be dispatched to UK addresses via second class post within 2 working days of receipt of your order. Standard UK delivery is £3.95 per order, so you're only charged once no matter how many items you have in your basket. Any additional courier charges will be applied at checkout as they vary depending on delivery address.

This item will be dispatched to UK addresses via second class post within 2 working days of receipt of your order. Standard UK delivery is currently free, no matter how many items you have in your basket. Any additional courier charges will be applied at checkout as they vary depending on delivery address.

You can find out more about delivery and returns in our help section.

We offer a no quibble returns policy as follows:

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This item is also available for international delivery by airmail, carrying a mandatory delivery charge of:

Europe: £4.80

Outside Europe: £7.00

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