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Original 1939-49 mono recordings
Transfers by Peter Dempsey

NAXOS NOSTALGIA 8.120599 [53.23]



Crotchet Budget price


1) Some Enchanted Evening
2) I Wonder Whoís Kissing Her Now
3) I Dream of You
4) Iím Confessiní
5) Surrender
6) Iíve Got a Feeling Iím Falling
7) Girl of My Dreams
8) Blue Skies
9) When You Were Sweet Sixteen
10) You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby
11) If You Were The Only Girl In The World
12) Temptation
13) Two Loves Have I
14) Give Me Your Hand
15) Please Believe Me
16) Bali Haíi
17) Chi-Baba, Chi-Baba

Luck can play such an important part in peopleís lives. All the riches in the world are useless without it and it must have played a part in the life of Perry Como even though he had great talent. He started out with nothing. He was born Pierino Roland Como in Canonsburg, Philadelphia 1912, the seventh of thirteen children. His parents were immigrant Italians, his father a badly paid steel worker. From the age of eleven Pierino worked as a barberís assistant. By fourteen he was a skilled barber who serenaded his clients for amusement. He subsequently built up his own hairdressing business but went on singing. That same year he won an amateur contest and at twenty-one auditioned for Freddy Carloneís touring band. He didnít enjoy touring because it took him away from his family, but as "Nick Perido" he stuck to his new career and toured with Carlone until 1936 when, as luck would have it, he was heard singing in an Ohio casino by bandleader Ted Weems who fronted a band in Chicago. Weems took his novice under his wing and featured him as a soloist on radio until the band broke up in 1942 when Ted joined the armed forces. Their 1939 recording of "I Wonder Whoís Kissing Her Now" became a hit in 1947 and Perry held his own from then on among the top singers of post-war America. He became known as "the man who invented casual", renowned for his amiable, relaxed delivery, crooning melodiously from success to success, always paying special attention on the lyrics of his songs. Dark and handsome, he had strong and determined features and was once star of his own TV series and was "Crooning King of the Christmas Special".

After "I Wonder Whoís Kissing Her Now" came "I Dream Of You" made in 1944. I must say that I wasnít really impressed with this, even though itís a pleasant song and one sang in Perryís usual casual way. But I still donít feel it does him justice. The same applies to the next song "Iím Confessing (That I Love You)". The next is the ever-popular "Temptation" recorded in March 1945. I have heard this in many versions and Perry makes it sound just as it should. This is followed by Irving Berlinís "Blue Skies", a great song and also much more suited to Perryís style. "Girl Of My Dreams", recorded at the same time and with the same Orchestra, is a real romantic serenade. perfectly suited to the Como style. How beautifully he croons this and you can imagine him singing this softly to someone as they dance cheek to cheek. If Perry sang in that way and that song to a girl she would fall at his feet, surely.

After this comes "If You Were The Only Girl In The World" from March 1946. I have heard this old song so many times and in so many ways, but this is the only time I have heard it sung in this very romantic and tender way. At the same session he recorded "You Must Have Been A Beautiful Baby" where he slightly emphasises the lyrics but still keeps that charming tone he has by now made his own.

I would need to go back a long time to remember the first time I heard "When You Were Sweet Sixteen" made in 1947. I wondered how it would sound with the Perry Comoís treatment and was not disappointed. Itís a lovely old song, of course, and not having heard it for a long time I can only think no one would sing it like Perry Como has. "Chi-Baba,Chi-Baba" is a strange title, and in fact is an Italian lullaby. I had never heard this before and wondered how Perry would sound. He sings it well and you hear his voice change every now and again as though he is really singing a lullaby to a baby, sweetly and lovingly as you would expect. In October of that year he recorded "Iíve Got A Feeling Iím Falling". If it hadnít been for the backing group harmonising at the end I would have thought this was definitely not one of Perryís best numbers. I felt much the same about the next recording from the same time also. This is "Two Loves Have I". Although Perry sings it in his usual way I had the impression of coldness which is unusual for Perry. But perhaps it is the number itself thatís a little boring.

The next four songs were all recorded in 1949. First is "Some Enchanted Evening" from "South Pacific". Perry extracts all he can from this, and you hear how beautifully every note that he sings seems to have a different sound to it. He is on top form here. Also from "South Pacific" is "Bali Ha'i" . This needs someone with a voice like Comoís and the song certainly benefits. Next is "Give Me Your Hand", a simple, cosy love song. Perry has the voice, and the ability to know how to use it, and this is one of those songs which he can sing straight and with no embellishment. The last of these four songs is "Please Believe Me". Not perhaps everyoneís choice, but I liked it very much. Itís Perry singing one of his tender romantic love songs where he is pleading with someone to believe him.

This last song so typifies Perry Comoís art as represented on this disc. Itís amazing how his voice can change so easily from one type of number to another. That is the kind of magic his crooning, sleepy voice has all of the time and this is why you can well understand what made him so popular for so many years. I like his voice and itís my opinion he is as good as any of the other well known crooners who had in their different ways become popular figures.

For admirers of Perry Como and admirers of good romantic singing. The transfers are all excellent.

Joan Duggan

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