Albums

£9.49

International Pop - Released January 13, 2012 | Capitol Records

The Wonderful World of Julie London is a pop album without the jazz underpinnings of "Cry Me a River" and most of her best work. The LP was produced by Snuff Garrett and arranged by Ernie Freeman, but the music isn't pop/rock -- it's a neat foreshadowing of the easy listening sound of the mid- to late '60s, and a perfect example of the kind of music that necessitated the adult contemporary label. Breezy and modern without borrowing from rock, The Wonderful World of Julie London delivers snappy performances of Cole Porter songs alongside contemporary numbers by Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman in London's distinctive sultry voice. This was London's final charting album and is still an agreeable listen, but isn't as timeless and appealing as her traditional pop recordings. ~ Greg Adams
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International Pop - Released January 13, 2012 | Capitol Records

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International Pop - Released January 9, 2012 | Capitol Records

One of the more unique Julie London recordings, Send for Me finds the ultra-lounge chanteuse mixing it up on 12 blues-based swingers. Far afield of the guitar and bass minimalism of the deservedly famous Julie Is Her Name recordings, Send for Me goes widescreen with full band and chorus charts by pianist Jimmy Rowles. While certainly no Dinah Washington, London manages well enough on these bluesy swingers with her mix of "come hither" sultriness and "he's done me wrong" swagger. For his part, Rowles provides top-drawer arrangements featuring equal parts of after-hours smokiness and big-band sophistication. Some may find the blues and gleeful choir combination a bit much, but Send for Me still succeeds with especially strong cuts like "Tain't What You Do," "Baby Come Home," "Evenin'," and "Cheatin' on Me." Another in a long line of fine albums London made for Liberty between the mid-'50s and early '60s. ~ Stephen Cook
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International Pop - Released January 6, 2012 | Capitol Records

Exotic and Latin albums were big deals in the 1950s and early '60s, and singers as diverse as Dean Martin, Lena Horne, and Peggy Lee were recording with castanets and bongo drums. Peggy Lee was so successful at the style that she cut two albums of light pseudo-Latin jazz in 1960. Like Peggy Lee, Julie London combined a restrained vocal approach with jazz phrasing and a cool attitude with icy sex appeal. But while London had Lee's stripped-down musical approach, she just didn't share her unrelenting rhythmic vocal drive or her innate feeling for exotic rhythms. It doesn't help that London is paired with arranger Ernie Freeman, who was usually better at crafting Nashville and soft rock style charts than Latin jazz arrangements. This isn't a bad album -- London sounds casual and confident throughout -- but it is a rather bland one, and isn't blandness what these types of exotica albums are supposed to be fighting against? Latin in a Satin Mood ends up sounding exactly like what it was intended to be -- an aid to put a little vanilla Latin sparkle in suburban American bedrooms. If you want your London in the Latin style, then try her excellent Getz/Gilberto-style tribute to Cole Porter, All Through the Night. Julie London's affinity for West Coast jazz and her melancholy emotional pull were much better suited to bossa nova than to Caribbean Latin music. ~ Nick Dedina
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International Pop - Released January 6, 2012 | Capitol Records

"Sophisticated" is the right word to describe Julie London's cool vocal approach; it can be shoved into the background, but if you listen closely there's a lot of turmoil going on under its seemingly calm surface. Similar to Chet Baker's unruffled way with a lyric, London's self-described "thimble full of a voice" ends up describing how pain hasn't quite iced over all her emotions rather than proving how unfeeling she is. Also like Baker, so many of her best recordings are steeped in the style and mood of laid-back West Coast jazz. Sophisticated Lady is one of a string of records London cut in the early '60s with less of a jazz feel than most of her sessions from the '50s, but it's still a worthy album. If it's not exactly an essential session, it is a good one, and the backing orchestra is to blame for the album's shortcomings -- not the vocalist. The charts balance a mellow -- very mellow -- kind of 1940s-era swing feeling (think of Tommy Dorsey or Glenn Miller doing a slow-dance number) with heavy string statements and semi-classical passages. They aren't particularly obtrusive or bad charts, but they are undistinguished, and the arranger for the date doesn't even get a credit on the album sleeve. It's these arrangements, not London's vocal performance, that make this a mediocre, but still worthy, album. (To hear how this approach is done correctly, just listen to Nelson Riddle's beautiful and more jazz-flavored work on Frank Sinatra's exquisite Nice 'N' Easy album.) That's not to say it's not a good disc, though, and standout tracks include Cole Porter's witty "booze as a cure for heartache" number "Make It Another Old-Fashioned Please" and three songs by writers associated with cool jazz. The Wolf/Landesman cut "Spring Can Really Hang You up the Most" has deservedly earned its status as a standard, but the neglected "Absent Minded Me" by Bob Merrill and Bobby Troup's "Where Am I to Go" deserve to be rediscovered and more widely recorded. ~ Nick Dedina
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International Pop - Released January 6, 2012 | Capitol Records

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International Pop - Released January 6, 2012 | Capitol Records

Julie London was equally famous for her cool vocal style and her rather cold beauty. She normally specialized in torch songs, singing bleak songs of lost love, but on Whatever Julie Wants, London plays the part of a vampish sexpot who treats love as a commodity to trade with wealthy men. Sure, it's a sexist album that's more famous for its cheesecake sleeve photo of London naked under fur, diamonds, money, and a strategically placed champagne bottle, but it is a fun album and one that can be enjoyed for its individual songs or its narrative thrust. While most concept albums featuring popular standards don't really follow a strict story line, Whatever Julie Wants does. It begins with the protagonist uttering an innocent lover's plea before mistreatment turns her into a jaded gold digger ("Daddy" and a host of other tracks), then a prostitute ("Love for Sale"), and a step up to kept woman ("Always True to You in My Fashion"). Just as things are looking bad, London finally realizes that you can live without a man and his money with "There'll Be Some Changes Made," because the onetime temptress is just too darn "Tired." This may not be Julie London's finest musical hour, but the album is undeniably entertaining and it offers a Technicolor sex comedy break from her usual world of shadowy film noir. ~ Nick Dedina
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International Pop - Released January 6, 2012 | Capitol Records

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International Pop - Released December 26, 2011 | Capitol Records

Everyone seems to have forgotten that rock & roll wasn't doing so hot with white audiences at the tail end of the 1950s until the Beatles hit the scene and had everyone going electric again. Instead of rockabilly, folk music and Dixieland jazz were huge in 1959 and young audiences were getting into old-time songs that their parents and grandparents knew. Swing Me an Old Song was Julie London's Dixieland-spiced folk revival effort. If it doesn't actually play to her strengths to be cast as a sexed-up version of Burl Ives, it takes some kind of real talent to be able to coo such hoary chestnuts as "Camptown Races" and "Row, Row, Row, Your Boat" without embarrassing yourself too much. Thankfully, the song selection on most of the album is better than these two egregious examples of stale singalongs that should never have made it outside of summer camp. Tracks like "Cuddle up a Little Closer" and "Darktown Strutters Ball" fit London like a satin glove, as does her downbeat take on "Bill Bailey, Won't You Please Come Home" (though she would cut an even better version of this on her 1966 release For the Night People). During the same year as Swing Me an Old Song, London also cut the cool jazz album Julie...at Home (which may just be her single finest work) and Your Number Please..., a swank orchestral set of standards. People often mention Julie London's limited vocal range, but it's surprising how far that her talent could stretch. ~ Nick Dedina
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Crooners - Released December 23, 2011 | Capitol Records

On only his third full-length, 12-inch LP recorded as such, Dean Martin finally found a way to construct an album in the style of pal and rival Frank Sinatra's highly successful concept LPs: Bring Sinatra in as the conductor. (The arrangements are by Pete King.) Repose was Sinatra's chosen theme, and he selected a set of songs well-suited to Martin's bedroom voice, from Johnny Mercer's "Dream" and "Hit the Road to Dreamland" to "Let's Put Out the Lights (And Go to Sleep)" and "Dream a Little Dream of Me." Just as on a Sinatra theme album, the title track was written to order, in this case by Lew Spence with lyrics by Marilyn Keith and her husband-to-be, Alan Bergman. Martin brought more attention to the sessions than usual, and the sympathetic string arrangements supported his romantic vocals, making this one of his best album releases. ~ William Ruhlmann
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International Pop - Released December 23, 2011 | Capitol Records

Julie London's concise and melodic versions of standards were quite popular during the latter half of the 1950s. Her subtle sensuality and lightly swinging style made for a potent combination. This album (which has not yet reappeared on CD) matches London's voice with an orchestra arranged by Russ Garcia on standards and a couple of newer tunes, including Bobby Troup's "It's Good to Want You Bad." Among the more memorable selections are "If I Could Be With You," "Alone Together," "I Wanna Be Loved" and "You're My Thrill." ~ Scott Yanow
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International Pop - Released December 23, 2011 | Capitol Records

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Crooners - Released November 11, 2011 | Capitol Records

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Crooners - Released November 11, 2011 | Capitol Records

After his death, Frank Sinatra's children decided they wanted to stem the tide of bootlegged live material that was flooding the market by putting out legitimate versions of the same material. The bad news is how expensive these legitimate releases are. The good news is that they are easy to find, are beautifully remastered, and feature extensive liner notes that give you inside information on the shows themselves. This disc offers up an entire show from 1957, and along with a yet to be legitimately released live date with Quincy Jones' big band, it stands up as the best Sinatra date of the 1950s. Sinatra is in excellent (if uneven) voice and obviously having as good of a time as the audience and the musicians. Highlights include amazing versions of "The Lady Is a Tramp," "I Get a Kick Out of You," and "I Won't Dance," which are even more jazz-fueled than the studio recordings, and a sumptuous reading of "My Funny Valentine." It's even fun to hear Sinatra bungle the lyrics on a small-group jazz trip through "The Tender Trap" and show his disdain for the kiddy-rock "Hey! Jealous Lover," which, much to his chagrin, was a much bigger hit at the time than such classic singles as "Witchcraft" and "I've Got the World on a String." The concert captures Sinatra at his creative prime, and this disc is a must for fans. ~ Nick Dedina
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Crooners - Released September 20, 2011 | Capitol Records