|It seems too incredible to believe, but it's true. Perry
Como has been singing successfully for almost forty
1933 was the beginning. He was a twenty-one-year-old barber with his own shop and strop, and the fat for that time, $125 a week. But the barber liked to sing, and the traveling musicians who played Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, told him he was good. He believed he was good too. And so, when an offer came to sing with a dance band, he gave up the lather and the moustache cups for a new life and $28 a week.
It worked out. The $28 was increased to $50 in 1936 when bandleader Ted Weems heard him in a gambling casino in Warren, Ohio. Perry Como joined the famous band which included the whistling of Elmo "Heartaches" Tanner and the warbling of Marvell "Marilyn" Maxwell. And Perry Como got better and better. He later said that those years of band singing were great years of fantastic experience. During this time he developed the "Como style," which was partly the straight-forward non-dramatic band singer tradition of the day, but very much more, it was the subtle personal approach to shading and accent that was Como and no one else. The trick at that time was to sound like yourself while singing like someone else. Perry Como did it. Easily.
In 1942 when big bands were disbanding, an era ended for Ted Weems and a new one began for his young vocalist. Radio gave him a small fifteen-minute show, just a fill-in, with no sponsor and $100 a week. It was a time for ballad singers and pretty songs with the emphasis on the singer as "star" and the band de-emphasized to accompaniment only. Frank Sinatra and Dick Haymes came into prominence. And so did Perry Como and "The Chesterfield Supper Club" . . . "Smoke dreams from smo-oke rings, while a Chesterfield burns."
RCA invited Como to cut some records. He made a few resulting in such giant hits as Till the End of Time, Prisoner of Love, A Hubba Hubba Hubba ( Dig You Later ), Temptation, Because, Catch a Falling Star, Magic Moments, Don't Let the Stars Get In Your Eyes.
Perry Como was elevated to "super star" in the forties during the war years. It was a time of great urgency, great problems. And the Como voice was easy to take. It's dreamy quality belonged. After the war it was a time of relief, of getting back to living the good life, and the Como sound belonged even more.
In the early fifties radio shows tried to make it in the new fangled TV business. A lot of them didn't for a number of reasons; they didn't look right, they didn't work when you added a set and brought imagination into reality. In radio stars pretended. On TV a star had to be real. But "The Chesterfield Supper Club" moved along from radio to television without missing a beat, mainly because of Perry Como. His now famous casual, low-key, nice-guy approach was an instant success in the new medium. He looked great. He sounded great. He was real. There was a shyness about him. He was "nice." America loved him and so did NBC. They gave him his own Saturday night hour. They gave him Goodman Ace of "Easy Aces" to write it, Frank Gallop to announce it, Mitchell Ayres to conduct it, the Ray Charles Singers to back it, and the greatest names in the world to guest it. And Como was the biggest name in television. Dream Along with Me became the most successful personal theme in the business. In the last year in the fifties Perry Como signed a twenty-five million dollar contract to star on TV's "Kraft Music Hall" which he did through the late sixties.
The thirties. The forties. The sixties. And now the seventies and Como is, as always, a "super star." Into his forth decade in a business that is often ruthless, Perry Como sails along as easily as ever. After twenty-seven years away from supper clubs, early in the seventies, he stood before an audience at Las Vegas' International Hotel and sang better than anyone could ever remember. And he was immediately re-signed for an encore performance. RCA Records recorded the show. And the resulting album became a best seller. Then Como recorded a beautiful little ballad called It's Impossible. The arrangement was perfect, and though it didn't rock like some of the top ten singles of the day, it didn't have to. It just worked the Como magic all over again and made it's own spot in the top ten on it's own terms, in it's own way. Soon after, another hit, I Think of You, landed on the charts, and so it goes.
In this extraordinary two record set you'll hear eighteen of Perry Como's finest performances from RCA's Camden series. You'll hear the early Como, the "letters-we-get-letters" Como from those weekly television song-a-logs, and the warm, personal Perry Como sound of the present. You'll find an up-tempo Como with a rhythm backing on Sleepy Time Gal and a quiet, thoughtful Como on his popular Love Letters and I Concentrate On You. You'll hear the famous theme Dream Along with Me and the inspiring When You Come to the End of the Day. And more. All Perry Como. Different Comos and yet all the same.
The quality that he started with in 1933 is still there. The "nice guy" but "super star" from television is still there. The million-selling sound still goes on stronger than ever. Perry Como yesterday and Perry Como today are the same. He was a success in the 1930's and he's a success now in the 1970's. Maybe it just proves that sincerity, honesty and ability are never out of style.
Jim Aylward ( 1971 )
| 1985 Pair Records | Large View | Panoramic View |
Telephone: (902) 542-5226