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Rosemary Clooney: A Seventieth Birthday Celebration

Robert Spencer By

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Rosemary Clooney's career spans the decades, and you can see it on this disc: from "It's Only a Paper Moon" and "Ol' Man River" to James Taylor's "Secret of Life." Other tracks include Rodgers and Hammerstein's "Oh, What a Beautiful Morning," Gershwin's "(Our) Love is Here to Stay" and "Long Ago and Far Away," Irving Berlin's "I Got Lost in His Arms," Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer's "Come Rain or Come Shine" and "One for My Baby," Ellington's "I'm Beginning to See the Light," Cole Porter's "Just One of Those Things" and "From This Moment On," Burke and Van Heusen's "But Beautiful," and more: "Thanks for the Memory," "(Have) I Stayed Too Long at the Fair," "Hey There," "Turn Around" (Harry Belafonte's, not Ornette Coleman's), the old Marlene Dietrich warhorse "Falling in Love Again," and "For All We Know."

This amounts to a catalogue of the riches of American show tunes, and Rosemary Clooney has a beautiful voice for this material. This anthology spans her Concord career and contains material dating as far back as 1977. Certainly she's lost a bit of her edge on the later recordings, but they glow with a worldly sophistication that carries the day.

The problem on this disc – and, since it is an anthology, on much of her voluminous work for Concord – is with the arrangements. Syrupy strings and Osmondian backup singers bring much of this material perilously close to kitschville. Rosemary Clooney deserves better, but on the other hand, she's been recording this way for a long while, so perhaps she has found her niche. And certainly the abundant charms of her voice are much in evidence. This is a fine introduction to an American institution.


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