Rosemary Clooney: Songs from the Girl Singer: A Musical Autobiography

Jack Bowers By

Sign in to view read count
The debate goes on. What is a “Jazz singer”? Does Rosemary Clooney qualify? I’m afraid I have no answer for that. To me, there are two kinds of singers — those I like, and those I don’t. Rosemary Clooney is among the former and always has been, since I first heard her back in the ’50s putting her stamp on inane novelty songs (“Come On–a My House,” “Mambo Italiano”) or lovely ballads like “Hey There” and “Tenderly.” Those tunes and a whole lot more are included on this two–disc “musical autobiography” which serves as a companion piece to Rosie’s recently published life story, Girl Singer, co–written with Joan Barthel who also supplied the liner notes for the neatly packaged set. Disc 1 opens with “Sooner or Later” (1946), from the unjustly maligned Disney film Song of the South, on which a more “generic” Rosie duets with her employer, bandleader Tony Pastor, and continues with her first solo recording, “Bargain Day” (1949). I didn’t know that Clooney once sang with Frank Sinatra but she does so on Track 3, “Peach Tree Street” (1950), a delightful fox trot with support from George Siravo’s orchestra. By 1951 Rosie was singing with Mitch Miller and it was he who insisted that she sing “Come On–a My House,” which she didn’t want to do (Rosie preferred ballads). But she had no choice, and the pseudo–folk gimcrack quickly climbed to the top of the charts and made Clooney a star. It opened the doors to Hollywood too, and Rosie was soon singing with Bing Crosby (“On a Slow Boat to China”), Bob Hope (“Ya Got Class”) and then–husband José Ferrer (“You’re Just in Love”). In the film White Christmas, Bing Crosby sang Irving Berlin’s “Count Your Blessings” to Rosie, and here she sings it in a studio setting with Nelson Riddle’s orchestra. The same film saw Rosie and Vera–Ellen (or Mitzi Gaynor? I never could tell them apart) singing “Sisters.” Well, she had a real–life sister, Betty, who also sang (as schoolgirls in Kentucky their act was billed as “The Clooney Sisters”) and she joins Rosie for a studio rendition of that one. Betty reappears on Disc 2 in a minute–long snippet from “Straighten Up and Fly Right,” which the Clooney sisters used as an audition tape for Cincinnati’s WLW Radio in March 1945. Completing Disc 1 are a second recording with Nelson Riddle (“How Will I Remember You”) and an early venture into Jazzier waters (“Blue Rose,” 1956) with Duke Ellington’s orchestra. Disc 2 is contemporary Clooney (1977–98), previously issued on some of her many Concord albums (except for “Fools Rush In,” from the soundtrack of Clint Eastwood’s film Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil ). Included are updated versions of “Mambo Italiano” from the album Demi–Centennial and Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas” (from the album of that name). Most of the songs are standards but there are a few pleasurable departures — Dave Frishberg’s “Do You Miss New York?,” James Taylor’s “Secret of Life,” “Turn Around” (with Keith Carradine), “The Promise,” “The Coffee Song” (with Cathi Campo) and from the World War II era, “The White Cliffs of Dover.” Rosemary Clooney has been one of America’s most admired entertainers for more than half a century, with a style so warmly personal and readily identifiable that there’s nothing one can advance that hasn’t already been written. So I’ll simply say again that Clooney is one of the finest “girl singers” in the business, and that this all–too–brief backward glance at her career is thoroughly enjoyable. If you’re a fan, as I am, you’ll undoubtedly agree. About the only shortcoming is that with playing times of 41:00 and 59:29, there’s room for a lot more Rosie on these discs.

Track listing: Disc 1 — Sooner or Later; Bargain Day; Peach Tree Street; Beautiful Brown Eyes; Come On–a My House; Tenderly; Count Your Blessings; Hey There; You’re Just in Love; Sisters; Blue Rose; On a Slow Boat to China; Ya Got Class; How Will I Remember You (41:00). Disc 2 As Time Goes By; God Bless the Child; Our Love Is Here to Stay; The White Cliffs of Dover; Straighten Up and Fly Right; Do You Miss New York?; Route 66; Mambo Italiano; The Promise; Come Rain or Come Shine; White Christmas; Turn Around; Fools Rush In; The Coffee Song; Secret of Life (59:29).


Rosemary Clooney, vocals, with various orchestras including Tony Pastor, Percy Faith, Nelson Riddle, Buddy Cole, Mitch Miller, Paul Weston, Duke Ellington; other vocalists including Frank Sinatra, Jos

| Record Label: Concord Music Group | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


More Articles

Read The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture CD/LP/Track Review The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Coldest Second Yesterday CD/LP/Track Review Coldest Second Yesterday
by John Sharpe
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Follow Your Heart CD/LP/Track Review Follow Your Heart
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 25, 2017
Read The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door CD/LP/Track Review The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Chicago II CD/LP/Track Review Chicago II
by Doug Collette
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Over the Rainbow CD/LP/Track Review Over the Rainbow
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 24, 2017
Read "Live in Japan" CD/LP/Track Review Live in Japan
by Mark Sullivan
Published: August 5, 2016
Read "Euro Swing Vol. 2" CD/LP/Track Review Euro Swing Vol. 2
by Mark Corroto
Published: July 24, 2016
Read "From Here to There" CD/LP/Track Review From Here to There
by Mark F. Turner
Published: September 11, 2016
Read "The Motorman's Son" CD/LP/Track Review The Motorman's Son
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 18, 2017
Read "Beloved" CD/LP/Track Review Beloved
by Mark Corroto
Published: June 14, 2016
Read "Songs Of Bacharach And Manzanero" CD/LP/Track Review Songs Of Bacharach And Manzanero
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 12, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!