Various Artists - Ski Jump [Bear Family Records - 2022]
Ski Jump is a thirty-one-track compilation that as its title suggests has a skiing & snowy slop focus. Sonically we move between easy listening, light jazz, big band music, light novelty song fare, and even some R&B and mellow country. The tracks date from between the early 1950s and the mid-1980s, and we get a wonderfully quirky and varied selection of sonic fare- making for an entertaining and charming collection.
The CD appears on Germany's Bear Family Records- which have a good history of releasing balanced and rewarding compilations. And once again this is a nicely thought out and presented compilation. It features a colourful twenty-three-page inlay booklet, this takes in good, at points fairly lengthy write-up about each one of the thirty-one tracks, as well as artist's pictures and cover artwork. Really this is how all retro compilations should be presented!
The CD features a good mix of known/ recognisable artists and singers, and the more quirky and obscure- with a good blend of the two. I’d say I enjoy most of the thirty-one tracks here, and the running order is well-realized and effective. But a few of my personal stand out moments come in the form of Spade Cooley & His Dance Band's “Snow Deer Stomp” which brings together jaunting ‘n’ jiving strings and orchestration with soothingly twanging Hawaiian guitar tones. We have the sassy horn edged, layered backing vocals, and jingling keys late 50’s doo-whoop of The Del Viking's “Snowbound”. There’s the swooning easy listening 60’s female pop of The Kim Sisters' “Roses in The Snow”.
In the latter half of the album, we have the mellowly swirling and lightly darting “Midnight Sun” by Bobby Christian and his Orchestra- which brings together smooth and melodic orchestration, with reverberation/ stabbing key tones. There’s the chugging blues guitar and simmer harmonica of Lightning Slim’s “Wintertime Blues”. There’s the slightly Spanish flavoured mellow country tick-tocking groove of Jim Reeve’s “The Blizzard” which also features whooshing and wailing wind sounds. With the album playing out jingling 'n' jangling acoustic guitar country and rousing-yet-lonesome male singing of “Faded Roses And Winter Roses” by Hank Williams and His Guitar.
So, in finishing Ski Jump is another fine compilation from the folks at Bear Family Records. Really bringing together a nice, at points surprisingly, shift in genres over its thirty-one tracks unfold- with some real gems on offer here.Roger Batty