We Can Do It! Album Review February 06 2013, 0 Comments

This newly released album from ALTISSIMO commemorates the magnificent contribution of Women in WWII, with a re-creation of BIG Band music and the songs of the era 1939-1945 by United States Service bands.. Adorning the cover of the album is a poster which absolutely characterizes the spirit of women during this threatening and devastating period. The portrayal of a rolled up sleeves and a clenched fist with hair wrapped in a bandanna reflects the fundamental and steadfast mind-set of women.

“We can Do It” was not merely words or a motto but an unfeigned desire to work in livelihoods never before ever considered. More than 60,000 Army nurses (all military nurses were women at the time) served stateside and overseas during World War II. The Army established the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) in 1942. WAACs served overseas in North Africa in 1942.  The WAAC was converted to the Women's Army Corps (WAC) in 1943, and recognized as an official part of the regular army. More than 150,000 women served as WACs during the war, and thousands were sent to the European and Pacific theatres. By the end of the World War I, twenty-four percent of workers in aviation plants, mainly located along the coasts of the United States were women, and yet this percentage was easily surpassed by the beginning of the World War II.

Mary Anderson, director of the Women’s Bureau, reported in January 1942 that about 2,800,000 women “are now engaged in war work, and that their numbers are expected to double by the end of this year.” Although at first, most Americans were reluctant to allow women into traditional male jobs, women proved that they could not only do the job but in some instances they did it better than their male counterparts. For example, women in general paid more attention to detail as the foreman of California Consolidated Aircraft once told the Saturday Evening Post “Nothing Gets by them unless it is right”. Thus a new era dawned in America with women joining the sharp end.

Along with this phenomenon came a popular culture which quickly shifted to war-themed entertainment. Including song hits like the Andrew Sisters “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” which is one of the foundations of this album. There are more than 20 impressive hit tunes on this album with two fantastic medleys including the Top of the 40’s medley and Songs of World War II Medley. There are numerous re- mastered and digitized Big band recordings in existence on the market purporting to be creative but never before have had I heard the styling of the great band leaders in their unique and exact melodic, harmonic versions utilizing modern technology. One of the most thrilling the songs on the album is the quintessential tune of the era “I’ll be Seeing You” which perfectly captured the mood of the times. Tommy Dorsey made this famous with Frank Sinatra but this version is in the style of the singer Tamara Drasin, whom had sung it first in the failed Broadway show Right this Way. The representation of all three American service bands on this album fully demonstrates the super abilities of the musicians and the care that has been taken to restore exact versions of these classics.  There's a wealth of genius spread over this entire album, and it provides an enormous salute to “the Women who helped win the war”.

- Jack Kopstein