Perry-go-round
 
Perry Como ~ Mr. Saturday Night!
Previously unreleased television performances
with Dinah Shore & Brenda Lee
 
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Legend has it that the seventh son of a seventh son is possessed of magical powers. Well, whether or not that is true, there is no doubt that seventh son of a seventh son Perry Como charmed his listeners for many years with his own special brand of magic. The son of Italian immigrants, he was the first of their thirteen children to be born an American citizen ~ which birth took place on 18th May, 1912 in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania. Keeping faith with their own national roots, his parents Pietro and Lucia named him Pierino, so the name Perry was a logical diminutive.
 
His beginnings were not auspicious as regards a career in show business, for his eleventh birthday saw him already apprenticed to a local barber. His talent and his love of music came through, however, and in 1933 he relinquished his scissors and razor to take up an offer to sing with the band of local musician Freddy Carlone. In 1936 he left Carlone to join Ted Weems, staying with the band until it broke up in 1942. During his time with Weems, he cut a few sides in the recording studios and also appeared on the "Beat The Band" radio show. So it was that he came to the notice of the talent-spotters and as a result got his own radio on CBS and, in 1943, a recording contract with RCA Victor. The rest is musical history: over the years he has had a string of hits, including such numbers as "Dig You Later", "Prisoner of Love", "All Through the Day", "I Surrender", "Chi-Baba Chi-Baba", "A - You're Adorable", "Don't Let The Stars Get In Your Eyes", "Round and Round", "Magic Moments" and a host of others.
 
Although he scored his share of triumphs in the Forties, it was in the Fifties that his name truly became a household word. Having tried the movies without success, with the sponsorship of several companies he fronted a television show which became one of the most successful on the small screen, running from 1955 to 1963. Following the last series of the show he retreated somewhat from the limelight but re-emerged in the seventies to give his career a new lease of life with several more big-selling singles.
 
He was still singing in the late eighties. Hardly surprising, for his voice, never strained, and relaxed to the point of being the butt of kindly-meant jokes, barely changed over the many years of his long career. Where other, more dynamic singers came on the scene, produced their vocal fireworks and were quickly burnt out and back in obscurity, he kept to his quiet, laid-back style and so preserved his voice and the admiration of his record buyers and fans. His easy style apart, though, it was a good voice, always melodic, and always on the note, as the tracks on this compilation will demonstrate.
 
The songs in this collection were taken from television and radio broadcasts, and cover a period of something less than two years. The programme begins with one of his big hits, "Juke Box Baby", followed by the old classic, "You Made Me Love You". Another of his hits follows, "Round and Round ". This recording was taken from a radio show of February 1957 , when he and Dinah Shore were voted best male and female vocalist by the Disc Jockeys of America.
Perry and Dinah!
Dinah Shore's guest appearance doing a solo spot in this collection is included for several reasons. One reason is that their chat is so easy-going and natural, and is a pleasure to hear. At the point when this particular show was transmitted, Dinah's own television career was growing increasingly successful, but unlike that of her host, Perry Como, it was still limited to the fifteen-minute format. Their jokes about the limitations imposed are almost certain to bring a smile, so we decided to keep Dinah's solo number in tact ~ not that anyone really needs an excuse to take the chance of including her talent on a compilation. The song she performs after Perry's somewhat muddled intro is "Come Rain or Come Shine", a Johnny Mercer ~ Harold Arlen composition that she sang many times during her own long career. After her solo she and Perry go straight into a duet of "You're Getting to Be a Habit With Me", the lyrics rewritten to take cognizance of their respective television shows.
 
A regular spot on the Perry Como show was a medley of songs, chosen as the result of the hundreds of letters of request that arrived at the studios every week. The medley would be introduced by his backing singers with a little verse beginning: "Letters, we get letters, we get stacks and stacks of letters . . ." So the next track offers one such medley, comprising "Somebody Loves Me", then, following "Remember Me?" sung by his vocal group, a solo of "Lover, Come Back to Me".
 
Brenda Lee ~ or as she became known: Little Miss Dynamite ~ was just starting to make a name for herself in the fifties, and here she appears as a guest on Perry's show, singing with him the old favourite, "Life Is Just a Bowl of Cherries". They are backed by an organ accompaniment from a very talented youngster, Glenn Derringer.
 
After one of Como's big hits, "Don't Let the Stars Get In Your Eyes", he sings the beautiful Cole Porter standard, "I Concentrate On You". This performance came not from one of his own TV shows, but from one of Dinah Shore's when, switching roles, he appeared as her guest on her very successful Chevy show. "I'm Following You" is a duet from the pair, and where the laid-back Como usually performed his songs with the minimum of physical effort, during this number he dances with his hostess ~ actually going so far as to lift her. 'Wow,' she says with a wry comment on her weight, 'you're strong!'
 
"All At Once You Love Her" is a Rodgers and Hammerstein song that came from their Broadway show "Pipe Dream". An unlikely subject for a musical, the story was an adaptation of John Steinbeck's novel "Cannery Row", a tale of no-hopers, tarts, dreamers and drop-outs. The show was not a success, but a few really good songs came out of it. This is perhaps the best. It's a beautiful composition, and as sung here, with a gentle Latin beat, it suits Como down to the ground. It is followed by "There's No Place Like Home for the Holidays", complete with a rousing square-dance.
 
"Cindy, Oh Cindy!" ~ delivered in typical Como style ~ is followed by another duet with Dinah Shore: "You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby". After it comes another medley, this time comprising "I Love You Truly", and "When Your Hair Has Turned to Silver". "When You're Away" is a fine song, and Como treats it in just the right way. Unfortunately, a little electrical interference briefly occurs on the master of this recording, but we felt it was better to have the track with the minor flaw than not to have it at all. We hope the listener will agree.
 
The "Partners" medley, with guest Dinah Shore duetting again, is a truly fine piece of just that ~ partnership. Over such songs as "Partners", "You Were Meant for Me":, "Pretty Baby", "Jealous" and "For Me and My Gal" they blend so well, and are so in tune in every possible way, that one wonders why they never made a studio recording together. After all, they were both under contract to the same record company. A lost opportunity, one might say.
 
"No Other Love" , another Rodgers and Hammerstein composition, and one of Como's big hits, is followed by "My One and Only Heart". The final track is "Bless this House", a song wonderfully suited to his soft mellow tones.
 
But Perry Como had other qualities apart from excellent pitch, a heartfelt approach to a lyric and a smooth and easy style. In all his work he also comes over as sincere, a genuine good fellow. And by all accounts he was exactly that.
 
Bernard Taylor
 
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Perry-go-round

Composer Index
A Perry Como Discography 
& Digital Companion

RCA Victor Memorial| Site Links | All Albums All Songs | The Recording Sessions | Digital Companion |

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Monday, January 18, 2021

2021