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Perfect Love Songs


The latest in our Love Songs collection, featuring Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Doris Day, Nat King Cole, Peggy Lee...highly recommended.

Ella Fitzgerald: I've Got A Feeling I'm Falling << long sound clip
Frank Sinatra: Stella By Starlight
Jo Stafford: Ev'ry Day I Love You (Just A Little Bit More)
Bing Crosby & The Andrews Sisters: Have I Told You Lately That I Love You?
Peggy Lee: Linger In My Arms A Little Longer, Baby
Lena Horne: 'deed I Do
Perry Como: Please Believe Me
Dinah Shore: Love That Boy << long sound clip
Doris Day: It's Magic
Nat King Cole Trio: I Don't Know Why
Ella Fitzgerald & The Mills Brothers: Dedicated To You
Jo Stafford: I Remember You
Mel Torme: You're Getting To Be A Habit with Me
Kay Starr: If I Could Be with You (One Hour Tonight)
Dick Haymes: How Deep Is The Ocean?
Beryl Davis: Don't Blame Me
Perry Como: 'A' You're Adorable
Billie Holiday: I'm Yours
Frank Sinatra: My Love For You << long sound clip
Maxine Sullivan: Come Rain Or Come Shine
Dick Haymes: How Many Times Do I Have To Tell You?
Doris Day: Again
Bing Crosby: I Can't Believe That You're In Love with Me
Jo Stafford: September Song
Perry Como: It Only Happens When I Dance with You
Peggy Lee: Hold Me

This collection of love songs by some of the world’s greatest singing stars covers mans aspects of that most potent of emotions. The emphasis is on dreamy and laid-back ballads, though there is a sprinkling of more up-tempo numbers too; all for your listening pleasure.

The late, great Ella Fitzgerald contributes two numbers to this compilation, recorded ten years apart. Her warm, caressing tones are well in evidence on the stylishly arranged 1929 evergreen I’ve Got A Feeling I’m Falling, recorded some years before she became an international headliner (from the mid- 1950s) under the astute management of Norman Granz. From 1937, we have Ella in the company of The Mills Brothers in Dedicated To You, made at a time when she was the girl singer with Chick Webb’s band. But performances like this don’t date; the poise and professionalism were already there in spades.

When the definitive history of popular music of the whole twentieth century is written, it is odds on that it will be Frank Sinatra (1915-1998) who will emerge as the top favourite. As ever, opinions will differ of course, but even Bing Crosby was heard to remark that “A talent like that comes along once in a lifetime. Why in my lifetime?” To those more familiar with Sinatra’s later, predominantly swinging and sometimes brash output from the 1950s onwards, the lush Axel Stordahl-arranged ballads from the 1940s may come as something of a surprise. Sinatra’s apprenticeship with the bands of Harry James and particularly Tommy Dorsey gained him invaluable experience, well in evidence on his recordings here of Ste/la By Starlight and My Love For You.

Another who worked with Tommy Dorsey was one of the most technically proficient and accomplished of popular singers, Jo Stafford. Although she recorded a few solo sides with Dorsey, it was as the lead singer in the Pied Pipers vocal group that Jo concentrated on in her formative years. From 1943, she began to strike out on her own, recording for Johnny Mercer’s recently formed Capitol label, usually under the guidance of musical director Paul Weston (whom she married in 1952). We are proud to present Jo’s artistry on three selections, Ev’,y Day I Love You (Just A Little Bit More), I Remember You and September Song.

Between 1939 and 1952 BIng Crosby joined forces with The Andrews Sisters (Maxene, Patti and LaVerne) on a number of occasions in the recording studios. As they recorded for the same label (American Decca), this was a comparatively simple exercise and also a lucrative one. Have I Told You Lately That I Love You? had been associated with singing cowboys like Gene Autry and Tex Ritter in the mid 1940s, but it was the later recordings like this one and those by Elvis Presley and Ricky Nelson which helped establish it as the standard we know today. Bing breezes through his other contribution, a typically re rendition of a popular song from 1927, I Can’t Believe That You’re In Love With Me.

“I learned more about music from the men I worked with in bands than I’ve learned anywhere else. They taught me discipline and the value of rehearsing and how to train.” So recoIlected premier songbird Peggy Lee, who first gained national stardom whilst a singer with Benny Goodman’s band in 1941. Peggy later married Goodman’s guitarist Dave Barbour (who had joined the band in 1942) and together they struck out on their own, writing some quality songs and recording for Capitol. It’s two from their Capitol years that we have here, Linger In My Arms A Little Longer, Baby and Hold Me. Although the marriage and the association with Dave Barbour didn’t endure, Peggy continued to entertain and delight her large worldwide following into the 1990s.

Sultry songstress Lena Home gained employment at sixteen as a chorus girl in Harlem's famous Cotton Club. From there she joined Noble Sissle’s band as a vocalist, moving on to Charlie Barnet’s all-white band three years later. In the early 1940s Hollywood beckoned, and Lena became famous after starring in the film musicals ‘Cabin In The Sky’ and ‘Stormy Weather’. Listen as she injects new blood into the lively 1926 classic ‘Deed I Do.

After six years as vocalist with the Ted Weems Orchestra, Perry Como turned solo in 1942 - and never looked back. His idol was Bing Crosby, and by his own admission he copied ‘the old groaner’s’ singing style and supremely relaxed approach. Indeed he earned the epithet of ‘the world’s most casual singer’, but don’t be fooled; he was certainly not casual in the sense of being superficial. Like Crosby, his was the ‘art that conceals art.’ Witness his treatment of Please Believe Me, his number one hit from 1949 ‘A’ You’re Adorable' and the Irving Berlin song from the Hollywood musical ‘Easter Parade’, It Only Happens When / Dance With You.

It was through radio and records that the late Dinah Shore became known to millions early 1940s. During the war, she gained the admiration of countless servicemen by her selfless personal appearances at camps in the United States and Europe. A consummate singer, Dinah appeared in a few films, but never felt entirely at home in that medium. It was on television that she scored; she was ideally suited to the small and intimate home screen and continued to attract viewers into the early 1990s. Enjoy her on Love That Boy.

Unlike Dinah Shore, Doris Day took to movies like a duck to water, and as a result became established as a top star. As a singer, she honed her craft as a vocalist with Les Brown’s band (on and off during the years 1940 to 1946). Doris’s primary influence was Ella Fitzgerald, in her days as vocalist with Chick Webb’s band. Blessed with perfect pitch, aside from a great natural talent, we can admire her in It’s Magic, a million seller and the title song from her film (known as ‘Romance On The High Seas’ in the USA). Again was originally introduce Ida Lupino in the film ‘Road House’, but was recorded by many leading singing stars including Vic Damone and Mel Tormé in addition to Doris. Today, long retired, she is one of the leading campaigners for animal rights and heads two large animal welfare charities.

Nat King Cole with his warm and intimate vocal style really found his métier when he signed up his Trio to Capitol Records in 1943. They enjoyed an early hit with ‘Straighten Up And Fly Right’, recorded at their first recording session for the fledgling label. On this recording, as with I Don’t Know Why from 1946, Nat’s trio comprised himself on piano and vocal, Oscar Moore on guitar and Johnny Miller on double bass. Although a great jazz pianist, Capitol sides predominantly featured him in ballad mode, which as we now know proved the making of him in terms of commercial success.

‘The Velvet Fog’ Mel Tormé (1925-1999) was multi-talented; he composed (remember 'The Christmas Song’?), played drums, wrote books, arranged and lead a vocal group called the Mel-Tones. With the exception of a few recording dates, the brilliant and harmonically ahead-of-its-time Mel-Tones were disbanded in November 1946, leaving Mel clear to pursue a solo career. His contract with Musicraft Records expired in 1948 and he signed up with the prestigious Capitol label for a four year stint. Hear him breathe new life into Sonny Burke's arrangement of You’re Getting To Be A Habit With Me.

It’s the piano of Nat King Cole which opens Kay Starr’s track If I Could Be With You One Hour Tonight, and following her first vocal chorus we’re treated to short but distinctive solos from jazz greats Benny Carter on alto saxophone, Bill Coleman on trumpet and Coleman Hawkins on tenor saxophone. Blessed with a large, jazz-inflected voice, Kay was still a few years off from her first million seller, ‘Wheel Of Fortune’ (1952). Like so many of the singers in this collection, Kay had staying power and was still singing as well as ever when she undertook a tour of the UK with Pat Boone in the 1990s.

For a few years in the 1940s and 1950s, Dick Haymes (1916-1980) was a serious rival to Crosby and Frank Sinatra. In fact he replaced Sinatra as vocalist in the bands of Harry James and Tommy Dorsey, leaving the latter to turn solo in 1943. His voice was deep, resonant and beguiling, as evident on the Irving Berlin standard How Deep Is The Ocean? (surely one of the archetypal love songs) and How Many Times Do I Have To Tell You? which Haymes introduced in a 1944 movie musical ‘Four Jills In A Jeep’.

Beryl Davis was born in Britain but has been domiciled in the United States since the 1940s. The daughter of Harry Davis (who co-led the Oscar Rabin band), Beryl began singing with the band as a schoolgirl in the 1930s and recorded with Stephane Grappelli and Django Reinhardt with the Quintet of the Hot Club of France when they visited the UK. In the USA. Beryl recorded regularly for RCA Victor and Don’t Blame Me is one of these fine sides, enhanced with a small group backing that includes Mundell Lowe on guitar. In 1999 Beryl recorded a brand new CD and paid a return visit to her home country.

I’m Yours gives us Billie Holiday (‘Lady Day’) in the company of a star-studded ensemble led by pianist Eddie Heywood. An all-time great jazz vocalist, Billie lagged behind the beat and imprinted her own special mark on each song she sang. Frank Sinatra, no less, cited her as a prime influence on his style.

Maxine Sullivan (1911-1987), despite two periods of retirement from the music scene, continued to perform and record until she died. Remarkably, her voice didn’t age at all. Here she is, in a delightfully understated performance of Come Rain Or Come Shine.

Hugh Palmer

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