Maureen O’Hara‘s passing has to be marked by ST33, as she was my favourite of the golden age screen women. And as with many other Hollywood Stars, record labels attempted to cash in on her film success by putting her into a recording studio. Maureen’s first album was a jazzy, easy listening offering, Love Letters From… issued in 1959. I’ve never found this album, which seems to have been a US only release. dustygroove.com have had a listen: “Dreamy vocals from Maureen O’Hara – a singer who definitely shows her Irish a bit in this rare set of work for RCA. Backings are by Bob Thompson, who’s a bit more subtle here than in his own work – and he nicely supports Maureen’s trilling approach with some lightly jazzy instrumentation – all in a way that puts the singer right up front in the mix, and preserves a personal, up-close atmosphere on many numbers.”
A couple of years later in 1962 Maureen had another go and played it safe by going back to her Irish heritage on what was a bigger selling album, Maureen O’Hara Sings Her Favorite Irish Songs, on CBS. This was also issued in Europe and does turn up more readily in second hand shops in the UK. It is what you might expect, but she does make a good job of the material.
The covers to both albums are great, Love Letters a carefully (albeit uncredited) posed image, heavily retouched, with Maureen in a low cut dress which reflects her bosom-heaving persona in some of the lively swashbuckling films she starred in. The titles are nicely hand-drawn and being on RCA the cover carries their OTT Living Stereo logo across the top. Film buffs might be interested in the back sleeve notes, which are by director John Ford.
The Irish Songs sleeve is a little less overt, and she wears what for Hollywood probably passed for an Irish peasant top. The label also gave Maureen the most immaculate make-up job of just about any album sleeve ever. The image had to make room for a large panel listing all the tracks, quite why they needed that I’m not sure! And yes, the colours on the scan here really are accurate.