Must-Have Albums for Swing Dancers – Part 1

The process of collecting music for DJing purposes can be extremely hit-and-miss. There’s a whole bunch of criteria that I use to pick songs that I want to use – and I plan to go into these at some point in the not-too-distant future, but one of the sad facts is that it’s extremely rare I buy an album which has a lot of songs I’ll end up using. Albums generally aren’t made with swing dancers in mind – they’re made to listen to – so an album may have nothing but amazing music, but still not be all that great for dancing. C’est la vie.

There are, of course, exceptions to this, and I thought it might be fun to start a series on albums that do have – at the very least – a high proportion of music that’s great for dancing.
So how better to kick off than with Gordon Webster’s Live in Philadelphia – a live album that was not only put together with dancers in mind, but was actually recorded at a Lindy event. Gordon Webster is well known in the Lindy and Blues scenes – a remarkable pianist who loves playing for dancers, and he’s put together a lineup who together form the best live band I have ever danced to.

This album is pure magic. Highlights for me include:
Joshua – I love this song, and have many different versions, but this one has fast become my favourite.
Route 66 – Not usually a favourite, but this version lacks vocals, swings like crazy, and I can’t get enough of it
Sister Kate – A great, but EVIL version, which gradually speeds up during the last 45 seconds or so from 158 beats per minute to around 220.
When I Get Low – slow, but almost impossible not to dance to.
C Jam Blues – great version of a classic track.

If I have any criticism of the album, it’s simply that I’m not so sold on Jesse Selengut’s vocals. He has a very harsh voice, and while it suits tracks like When I Get Low , I’m not so keen on how it works with the likes of Bei Mir Bist Du Shoen, or Honeysuckle Rose. That’s probably just me though, and it isn’t enough to spoil my enjoyment of the album, or to stop me playing those tracks.

In conclusion, if you don’t have it, you’d be doing yourself a huge favour by getting this album. Available from Gordon Webster’s website, where you can also listen to clips to your heart’s content.

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