Tutto Cetra - "Un bacio a mezzanotte" by Quartetto Cetra (1941-1968)

This is a delightful, double disc anthology of famous Italian vocal quartet that worked mostly trough 1940s and 1950s. I knew them solely trough wonderful "I Ricordi Della Sera" but that was only one song, so I approached this CD very carefully, knowing that most of European post-WW2 pop music was very family oriented and sound erm, comical to modern ears. Sure, those were different, innocent times and music reflected it.

Disc one covers years 1941-1956, roughly fifteen years and just as I expected, it is vocal quartet (female lead) paying tribute to their American idols, Bing Crosby and all - there are quite a few covers ("Mr.Paganini") and some surprisingly cute little jazzy hits ("Ba-Ba-Baciami Piccina", "Un Bacio A Mezzanotte", "In Un Palco Della Scala") scattered amongst fairly tame pop of the time. If you can bear trough light family entertainment which was order of the day - but to our ears sound very much like Disney music - there is a lot to discover and enjoy here. As the disc progresses, focus is more on light swing and it actually sounds excellent.

Disc two spreads over 1950s and 1960s - quartet was very successful and covered a lot of different genres but they added light comical touch to everything they did (check hilarious version of "Aprite Le Finestre") and wherever it was "Rock Around The Clock" or "Casetta In Canadà" it seems they clowned a lot. With exception of lovely tribute to Grapelli/Reinhardt ("Gli appassionati dell'Hot Club") this is mostly firmly and squarely old-fashioned family entertainment, often comical, decidedly lighthearted. Somewhere near the end we encounter beautiful "I ricordi della sera" which might be quintessential Quartetto Cetra track, seriously beautiful, dreamy and bluesy ballad that stands head and shoulders above rest of this collection. It kind of leaves you with impression that group started as swinging quartet and somewhere along the way they changed the focus, turning to parodies, clowning and TV shows.

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