1. Love is the Sweetest Thing - Al Bowlly
2. Let's Fall in Love - Annette Henshaw
3. Do I Love You, Do I? - Hutch
4. I've Got my Love to Keep Me Warm - Billie Holiday
5. I Love You (Here the Answer Lies) - Bing Crosby
6. I Love You - Jo Stafford
7. Prisoner of Love - Perry Como
8. Love Letters - Dick Haymes
9. So in Love - Dinah Shore
10. Te Amo (I Love You) - Frankie Laine
11. I'm Confessin' that I Love You - Doris Day
12. My One and Only Love - Frank Sinatra
13. No Other Love - Jo Stafford
14. Marrying for Love - Perry Como
15. Would I Love You, Love You, Love You? - Patti Page
16. Love is a Many-Splendoured Thing - Nat "King" Cole
17. Lover - Peggy Lee
18. That's Amore (That's Love) - Dean Martin
19. No Other Love - Ronnie Hilton
20. Secret Love - Doris Day
21. True Love - Bing Crosby & Grace Kelly
22. Friendly Persuasion (Thee I Love) - Pat Boone
23. Easy to Love - Ella Fitzgerald
24. When I Fall in Love - Nat "King" Cole
25. My Funny Valentine - Frank Sinatra
The excellent sleeve-note by Ray Valentine Crick (yes, that's his real name) says that this compilation offers "20 of the greatest crooners singing 25 of the finest evergreen love songs". The word "crooner" suggests how many singers were influenced by the first great crooner, Bing Crosby, who is represented here by True Love (from the film High Society) and the little-known song I Love You (Here the Answer Lies), which is actually an adaptation of a melody by Grieg for the operetta Song of Norway. Crosby's intimate style (assisted by the arrival of microphones) influenced many of the vocalists on this album.
Yet Bing was also a singer with an interest in jazz, so that his phrasing often had a hint of jazz improvisation. And that quality can be heard in many of the singers, starting with Annette Henshaw, a neglected singer whose 1934 recording of Let's Fall in Love uses a jazz group including Jack Teagarden and Joe Venuti as her accompanists.
The importance of jazz is clearly heard in Billie Holiday's I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm, recorded in 1937 with a band led by pianist Teddy Wilson, including a neat tenor sax solo by Ben Webster. Ella Fitzgerald was another undoubted jazz singer, as she proves in Cole Porter's Easy to Love (complete with its rarely-heard verse). The jazz effect can also be heard in the contributions from Jo Stafford, Dinah Shore, Frank Sinatra and Nat "King" Cole. Peggy Lee was another jazz-influenced singer and her classic performance of Lover turns a Rodgers & Hart waltz into a hustling up-tempo performance, inflamed by Latin-American percussion.
Many of the other singers here achieved popularity because of their special tone or delivery. For example, Hutch (Leslie Hutchinson) had an irresistible warmth to his voice, while Perry Como, Dick Haymes and Dean Martin had relaxed approaches which allured listeners and delivered songs with sincerity. Frankie Laine, on the other hand, usually had a powerfully direct style, although he sings with more delicacy in Te Amo (I Love You), punctuated tenderly by Bobby Hackett's lyrical trumpet.
Of course, a singer is nothing without a song - and many of these songs come from the Great American Songbook. The names of such composers as Irving Berlin, Richard Rodgers and Victor Young occur more than once, but Cole Porter beats them all, having composed five songs in this collection.
The front cover indicates that these recordings date from 1932 to 1956. However, few of them sound dated more than 50 years later. Classic songs and their interpreters have eternal appeal. This is the ideal Valentine gift for your loved one on 14 February - or any time.