Tommy Sands, Dream With Me
– Who knew? Created as Capitol Records’ answer to Elvis Presley, this former child-hillbilly-singer grew on up to become second to only the King in terms of popularity for a short while. This double album containing both Tommy’s Dream With Me and his Thinking Of You is very good. Born in Chicago but raised by mom in Shreveport, LA, one would expect to hear at least a bit of his former twang sneak through on his later vocals, but you don’t. Tommy Sands voice is pure honey on all twenty-three tracks presented here. Both albums were recorded after his mid-to-late 50’s dip into a country-esque ‘ rock ‘n roll pool. These are cocktail albums, no doubt about it. I believe that Tommy was attempting to reinvent himself into a more night-clubby, sophisticated package and he very much succeeds here. This is soft, sentimental singing best listened to on rainy evenings with more intimate company. Not as schmaltzy as early Mathis or Debbie Reynolds, Tommy Sands has a true smoky lounge sensibility that deserves a spot on your turntable. He was married for a short while to Nancy Sinatra and rumor has it that her Father took it very personally when they divorced and made it a point to get Tommy black-balled in the industry. Just a rumor, mind you, but Tommy went nowhere fast after the split, which blows for us. I for one, would love a thick stack of Tommy Sands’ records to play during my cocktail hour. No finger-snappers on this disk, just heavy-orchestrated by Nelson Riddle, beautifully sung songs which will so take you back. Songs include Far Away Places, Dream, Fools Rush In, and more.
Tex Beneke and His Orchestra, ‘S Wonderful, Rare Recordings of the 1950’s – I love Tex Beneke’s voice on Glenn Millar albums. I know, I know, he blew a mean sax, but even more so, I adore his huckleberry way with a vocal. He’s a darn time-machine when you hear him sing on Chattanooga Choo-Choo so much that he easily transfers my mind-s eye to a 40’s train station and how it must have been. Tex sang with an “awww-shucks’ demeanor that really warms the heart. He was also a masterful bandleader and saxophonist. With this collection, you get all three hats. With Twenty-Seven Tracks, you really get your money’s worth with this disk. Eleven Beneke’ vocals are included, plus plenty of Big-Band stylized arrangements & sax. Vocalists Ray Eberle, Bill Raymond & Betsy Gay round out the singing on a few other tunes. If you like Big-Band and Glenn Millar albums, and are interested in seeing where Tex “went with it” before diving more into production. This is a wonderful musical trip. Songs include Blue Moon, You Blew Out The Flame, Danny’s Hideaway, and more.
Steve and Eydie, Cozy – They have their place, no doubt about it. On their solo albums, both Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme more than hold their own in terms of semi-sophisticated, cocktail party background … but when famously teamed-up, the couple often caught lightening in a bottle as this album clearly demonstrates. Cocktail music collectors should be more than reminded of their place with Cozy. This double album CD combines both their Cozy and Two on the Aisle records and, for me, it’s plenty of Steve & Eydie for a night’s entertainment. With this one you get both a nice, snappy collection of American Songbook tunes plus the best of Broadway showstoppers from the late 50’s, early 60’s era. They play off of each other throughout, capturing that free and easy style that a husband & wife team, with a few years under their belts only can. Eydie Gorme had a beautiful, up-beat voice that perfectly teams with the choice in material. Steve Lawrence has the perfect pop-pipes that accented her modern mood perfectly. Fun!. Songs include Make Someone Happy, A Fine Romance, and A Lot Of Livin’ To Do.
Connie Francis, Do The Twist – Connie’s something of an odd duck, in my opinion. She almost sells a song too strongly for me, yet she does have her place and, at one time, was a huge recording star with tons of fans and loads of radio play. This is a 1962 collection of dance songs intentionally recorded to get young adults off the sofa, away from the soda-pop and canapés and onto the living room floor for some swinging. She gives 110% with this try and while riding a wave of popularity at the time, almost tries to prove herself all over again with her rock ‘n roll interpretations. You’ll giggle at the over-the-top nostalgia of it all, but you’ll definitely have some fun too. Connie can more than carry a tune and this wacky collection will turn your patio cocktail gathering into quite an experience. With thirty diddies on this one, your guests will have more than enough time to digest the vibe and grow to “get it”. I blast my copy just to freak out the neighbors. Songs include Telephone Lover, Teach Me How To Twist, & the classic Hey Ring-A-Ding and more.
Al Martino, Makin’ Whoopee! – And he does just that on this collection of Al’s early 20th Century Fox recordings. Al 1950’s gets down on this one and you’ll be right there with him when you put this one on your hi-fi. Like slow love itself, Al Martino wines, dines then takes us up to his 16th floor apartment with his song-bird attention to detail and nuance. His voice is intentional, Italian and cool as blue smoke on this ode to late nights out on the town. You have to buy it at Collectors Choice Music but the albums more than worth a stroll on over. A shank-o-the-evening record if ever there was one, I’ll put Al Martino on when the coffee & liqueurs are broken out and you’re an hour away from looking at your watch a lot. Songs include I Can’t Get You Out Of My Heart, That Old Feeling, and It Had To Be You.