How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
What can I say about Rosemary Clooney that I’ve not said hundreds of times before — that she is one of the most charming and intelligent interpreters of popular song that it has ever been my pleasure to hear and appreciate. These fourteen examples of Rosie’s uncommon artistry, recorded between 1949 and ’56, include four from her own favorite album from that era, on which she is accompanied by the marvelous Duke Ellington Orchestra. The earliest selection, “Oh, You Beautiful Doll” (with Hugo Winterhalter’s orchestra and chorus), dates from 1949 when Rosie was barely out of her teens and a scant two years before she recorded the breakthrough hits “Half as Much” and “Tenderly” (with Percy Faith’s orchestra). While she’s had more than her share of ups and downs since then, the pipes are in grade–A shape and she remains in her seventies one of the finest singers on the scene. But that is now, and this was then. Besides the songs already mentioned, Rosie sings three (“When You Wish Upon a Star,” “In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening,” “You’ll Never Know”) with trumpeter Harry James’ orchestra, two (“I’ve Grown Accustomed to Your Face,” “Too Young”) with Paul Weston, one (“You Make Me Feel So Young”) with Norman Leyden and a second (“Blues in the Night”) with Faith’s orchestra. Most are string–laden and saccharine, but Rosie shines through no matter how prosaic the setting. The exceptions are the numbers with Ellington, which swing easily and include some brief but persuasive solos by trumpeter Clark Terry. Clooney’s fans should be quite familiar with these early snapshots of her unrivaled artistry; others should hear for themselves why she’s generally thought of as one of the best “girl singers” popular music has ever known.
Contact:North Star Records, 22 London St., East Greenwich, RI 02818.
Track Listing: I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart; Tenderly; I Got It Bad (And That Ain
Personnel: Rosemary Clooney, vocals, with orchestras conducted by Duke Ellington, Percy Faith, Hugo Winterhalter, Harry James, Paul Weston, Norman Leyden.