Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Cleo, Shakespeare & all that jazz

400 years today since Shakespeare died (aged 52 in 1616) - lots of celebrations here in the UK, including an all-star marathon on The Bard on BBC tonight, while the BFI is mounting a two-part retrospective. I am sure my 6 different HAMLETs and 4 MACBETHs will get an airing too, then there's Orson's CHIMES AT MIDNIGHT ...

One Shakespeare artefact which may be overlooked now is this 1964 album by Cleo Laine. I had it at the time when I was just a teenager, so it was great to download the tracks again a while back (the album itself or the CD had not been available for a long time)\. Cleo has always been one of our favourite vocalists - her concerts with husband Johnny Dankworth were always great value as they certainly delivered and exceeded expectations. We saw them several times in the '70s and '80s, and I loved several of her other albums, particularly WOMAN TALK, another '60s classic. 

Cleo wraps her delicious tones and immaculate phrasing around those timeless words from the plays and sonnets - she swings, she hits the high and low notes as only she can. An Amazon review puts it: "A perfect marriage of words set to music, melody and jazz invention. Singing and playing of the very highest calibre. This recording has greatly improved my life". 

This is the track listing: 
1. If Music Be The Food Of Love / 2. O Mistress Mine  / 3. Duet Of Sonnets / 4. Winter / 5. My Love Is As A Fever / 6. It Was A Lover And His Lass / 7. Dunsinane Blues / 8. Take All My Loves / 9. Blow, Blow Thou Winter Wind / 10. Shall I Compare Thee / 11. Witches, Fair And Foul / 12. Fear No More /  13. Sigh No More, Ladies / 14. The Compleat Works. 

In the wake of so many obituaries lately, that first verse of "Fear No More" is so apt:
"Fear no more the heat o' the sun
Nor the furious winter's rages.
Thou thy worldly task hast done,
Home art gone, and ta'en thy wages.
Golden lads and lasses all must,
As chimney sweepers, come to dust."


  1. Love Cleo. I saw her perform 3 times and I love her work on the sonnets.

  2. Nice to see she is still going in her 80s, though more or less retired now.

  3. You might be qualified to get a $1,000 Amazon Gift Card.