MCA RECORDS MCL-1805
It seems as though Perry Como has always been around, a fixed planet amongst the shooting stars of show business. Well, 40 plus years may be nothing in real stellar terms, but it’s an awfully long time when you talk of human stars, and our boy became a star way back around 1942, when Ted Weems disbanded his orchestra to join the merchant marine and Perry, who had been singing with them since 1936, started his solo career.
Perry was a barber in his home town, Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, where he was born on 18th May 1912 — doing pretty well too, owned his own barber-shop. But he wanted to be a singer, and singing to his customers just wasn’t enough, so when local bandleader Freddy Carlone offered him a job, one day in 1933, he said goodbye to cutting hair and went off on the road, touring the Pennsylvania coal towns. After some three years of learning his trade he was ready for better things and his big break came when he got the chance to join Ted Weems’ nationally known orchestra. Weems had a knack for finding vocal talent. There was Parker Gibbs, the band’s fine tenor sax, who also handled novelty and rhythm numbers with style; Red Ingle, another sax player, who was quite a cut-up and later became famous with Spike Jones and his City Slickers; Elmo Tanner a reliable singer and a real star whistler; tuba playing Country Washburne who aided and abetted Ingle with the comedy numbers and wrote some of them e.g. "Oh Mo’nah". For a while in the late ‘20s future Western movie star Al Jarrett sang the ballads, but when he departed in 1931 it left the band without anyone who could really handle the more romantic numbers and in an era when Bing Crosby, Russ Columbo and Rude Vallee were the tops every band needed a crooner. Handsome Perry Como fitted the bill to perfection. The smooth baritone voice and relaxed style with, in those early days, something of a resemblance to Bing, soon had the lady listeners entranced and when Weems added a pretty blonde called Marvel Maxwell (later to become film star Marilyn Maxwell) to his roster of singers the gentlemen listeners were spellbound too and the band’s popularity took a big upsurge. There were records (Perry’s first, "Lazy Weather" is included in this album) and there were top radio shows, like "Fibber McGee and Molly" and "Beat the Band" and by the time Perry Como was ready to make his big try for solo stardom he was already a well-known name. One of his early solo successes was a new version of an old, old number that he had previously featured with Weems, "I Wonder Who’s Kissing Her Now". Many more record hits followed as did a handful of films, lots of radio and eventually, television. But, those are later chapters in the Como story. This album is Chapter-One.ALBUM COMPILED BY CHRIS ELLIS. SLEEVE NOTES BY CHRIS ELLIS This compilation 1984 MCA Records Inc. MCA RECORDS 72/74 Brewer Street, London W1R 3PH
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