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Julie London

Cry Me A River; her 62 Finest, 1955-62

RETROSPECTIVE RTS 4300 [78:56 + 79:14]




A twofer of Julie London’s 1955-62 recordings can never be a bad thing even though there are compilations galore of her memorable, languorous, sexy singing. All of her first LP Julie is her Name is here, and there are examples taken from Calendar Girl, with Pete King and his Orchestra, the stripped back Lonely Girl with guitarist Al Viola, a brace from About the Blues, and a handful from Make Love To Me, both presided over by Russ Garcia. And that’s not yet the end of the first CD. The delights just keep coming.

Her métier was the slow ballad, tinged with romantic or erotic longing and disappointment; the promise and the fallout. Her first album established the template, obviously with Cry Me A River but also with her approach to things like I Should Care and Say It Isn’t So . The Al Viola album is interesting. The lower strings on Viola’s guitar seem to distort from time to time, possibly because he seems to be trying to evoke the sound of guitar and bass. She essays a daringly slow tempo onWhere or When and there’s trademark breathy melancholy on The Meaning of the Blues, taken from the film in which she appeared, The Great Man. Aloofly sassy in Blues in the Night, she is superb in Lover Man – and so different to the anguished Billie Holiday – and sultry in For You. Some of these performances enjoy interesting orchestration with roles for solo violin and flute inter alia.

It’s quite unusual to hear her in peppy up-tempo form, though she is all that and more in What is This Thing Called Love? backed just by Howard Roberts’s guitar and Red Mitchell’s bass. There’s a yearning cello in Something I Dreamed Last Night – a beautiful song beautifully arranged. André Previn accompanied her with his orchestra in a 1959 Liberty LP. Previn’s orchestration is supple and vivid and even Rachmaninovian in places, especially in One for My Baby – a strong hint of the great Rachmaninov conductor that he was to become.

One of the few jazzy environments here comes in the album Julie…At Home where a group anchored by pianist Jimmy Rowles – and again with Al Viola – creates a small ensemble for her and she responds with conviction on You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To. A more unwieldy beast is Around Midnight, excerpts from which LP with bandleader Dick Reynolds can certainly be luscious but also a bit over-ripe. Felix Slatkin, the great string player, brings a more idiomatic sheen in Whatever Julie Wants but by the early 60s she’s moving into Rosemary Clooney-Peggy Lee territory and sounding less like herself. It’s no surprise that the album Love Letters has an anonymous orchestra backing her. Gone were the days of luxury ensembles.

Still while it lasted – and it was, in truth, to last quite a bit longer than 1962 – Julie London left behind some inimitable and caressingly intimate albums full of a deliberate restriction in range and style that, ironically, only seemed to make her the more alluring.

Jonathan Woolf

Cry Me a River

I Should Care

I'm in the Mood for Love

I'm Glad There Is You

Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man

I Love You

Say It Isn't So

It Never Entered My Mind

East Street

'S Wonderful

No Moon at All


Gone with the Wind

February Brings the Rain

I'll Remember April

Memphis in June

September in the Rain

Lonely Girl

It's the Talk of the Town

What'll I Do

Where or When

The Meaning of the Blues

Blues in the Night

If I Could Be with You One Hour Tonight

I Wanna Be Loved

Lover Man

Body and Soul

Somebody Loves Me


Midnight Sun

For You

Blue Moon

What Is This Thing Called Love?

How Long Has This Been Going On?

Little White Lies

I Guess I'll Have to Change My Plan

In the Middle of a Kiss

Just the Way I Am

Something I Dreamed Last Night

That Old Feeling

Cuddle up a Little Closer

Bill Bailey, Won't You Please Come Home?

It Could Happen to You

When I Fall in Love

One for My Baby and One More for the Road

The More I See You

You'd Be so Nice to Come Home To

The Thrill Is Gone

Sentimental Journey

You Stepped out of a Dream

'Round Midnight

Black Coffee

In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning

Don't Smoke in Bed

My Heart Belongs to My Daddy

Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend

Love for Sale

Sophisticated Lady

Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered

I Loves You, Porgy

Come On-A My House

Broken-Hearted Melody

Julie London (vocals) with various orchestra and instrumentalists

Recorded 1955-62

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