This album could easily be sub-titled 'Como Sings the Great Songwriters'. Just look at some of the names - Richard Rodgers, Henry Mancini, Victor Young, George Gershwin, Ray Noble, Vincent Youmans - these are just some of the long established ones, whilst in the contemporary field there are Stevie Wonder, Paul Williams, Marvin Hamlisch, Burt Bacharach, and George Harrison.
Each song is a choice example of their craftsmanship at its best, and Perry's voice lays warm and mellow on every line of every song as only his voice can. Certainly many of the world's great standards are here, such as Moon River, When I fall in Love, The Very Thought Of You, The Way We Were, If, and so many more, but also a few that we don't hear too much of these days. Sleepy Time Gal for instance, given a lazily swinging treatment that sounds so right.
Bob Haggart, who had a minor claim to fame when he whistled on the recording of his song Big Noise From Winnetka - a hit from the swing era - composed What's New originally as a trumpet solo for Billy Butterfield. Written by a jazzman and recorded over the years by countless other jazz musicians and singers, the song still retains those influences in the natural, slightly poignant way Perry interprets Johnny Burke's appropriately cool and classy lyric. He is aided first by some exquisite guitar work then later by an elegantly muted trumpet against satin strings.
Once Upon a Time, composed by Charles Strouse with lyrics by Lee Adams, was one of the more enduring aspects of 'All American', which despite having a book by Mel Brooks, being directed by Joshua Logan, and starring Ray Bolger, only managed 80 performances at New York's Winter Garden Theatre in 1962. Rodgers & Hammerstein's 'Me & Juliet', from which comes No Other Love, fared rather better, running for 358. Rodgers however originally composed this tune for an episode of the Television series 'Victory at Sea'. It drew a significant response from the public, which prompted Rodgers to extend its use, and perhaps include in in a new show score. Oscar Hammerstein II did the rest.
Listening to The Very Thought of You is a reminder that the great British band leader Ray Nobel was composing this classic standard at around the time another band leader, Freddy Carlone, was giving Perry Como his professional break. As with so many popular singers who have stayed the course, those early ears of hard slog with the bands proved to be a most valuable foundation for career building. Some ten years later though, with the break up of the Ted Weems band, with whom he'd been singing, a return to the barber shop business was under serious consideration when, as so often happens, came the big turning point. An offer of his own radio show and an RCA Victor recording contract. Two years into the contract and still no hit; then, the spectacular breakthrough. Till The End Of Time and If I Loved You were the songs which, in 1945 gave him two million-selling records. The following year saw him achieve even bigger sales volume. That was the beginning; many more hits were to follow. And through them all, and through any changes of style or fashion that were going on around him, he maintained his total individuality.
This compilation has tried to deliberately steer clear of his hit recordings, concentrating instead on marvelous songs, many of which have stood every conceivable test of time. Nor are they all exclusively ballads. Deed I Do, They Can't Take That Away From Me, Swingin' Down The Lane ( with a beautifully tight, soft jazz small group accompanying ) all suggest that when he wants to Perry can do his share of swinging. Warm and Mellow, that's the overall feeling. Good songs, good musicians. And Perry Como. A magical combination.
Gordon Gray 1979
Telephone: (902) 542-5226