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Rosemary Clooney: Rosie Solves The Swingin' Riddle

David Rickert By

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Rosemary Clooney declared her love affair with Nelson Riddle "the best blending of my job and my personal life that I've ever had." While it ended their respective marriages, it also resulted in some excellent music.

Riddle will be familiar to most as the guy who orchestrated the great Sinatra records for Capitol; that is, if he's familiar at all. Suffice it to say that he was one of the greatest arrangers of all time, creating backgrounds for several different artists that all managed to present that particular person in the best light. Rosie Solves The Swingin' Riddle , from 1961, is no different. Riddle has a large arsenal of musicians at his disposal who are able to create all kinds of textures, from the resonant bells of "Get Me To The Church On Time" to the brassy swagger of "I Ain't Got Nobody." But Riddle was also capable of straddling the line between bombast and beauty, and "I Get Along Without You Very Well" features the same bouncy, ocean bottom groove that anchored Sinatra's "I've Got You Under My Skin." The orchestration never overwhelms Clooney, since Riddle expertly creates backing that gives support rather than shelter.

Clooney is in fine form as well, investing the songs with the bold innocence that figured on her previous releases. She's capable of delivering the youthful gaiety of "Get Me To The Church On Time" as well as the wounded independence of "By Myself." Of course the song selection is part of the trick, and there's a nice balance between familiar songs and lesser known, yet catchy melodies. Riddle and Clooney are even capable of a few surprises; "April In Paris" features a strong Latin groove that takes a while for the brain to organize into a discernable pattern.

If the riddle was, "How can you create a great vocal album that will stand up forty years later?" Rosie and Riddle did indeed solve it. Bluebird released a Rosemary Clooney compilation a few years ago that was only mediocre; they should have released this album instead. Rosie Solves the Swingin' Riddle is a terrific collaboration, and a classic vocal album. When Rosie's singing isn't grabbing you, it's a sure bet the orchestrations will.

Track Listing: 1. Get Me To the Church On Time 2. Angry 3. I Get Along Without You Very Well 4. How Am I To Know? 5. You Took Advantage Of Me 6. April In Paris 7. I Ain't Got Nobody 8. Some Of These Days 9. By Myself 10. Shine On Harvest Moon 11. Cabin In the Sky 12. Limehouse Blues 13. Without Love 14. Theme From "Peyton Place."

Personnel: Rosemary Clooney--vocals; arranged and conducted by Nelson Riddle.

Title: Rosie Solves The Swingin' Riddle | Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: Bluebird

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