Perry Como

By Request

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As he launched his eighth and final season hosting his own weekly variety show on television (with regular radio and TV hosting dating back 18 years), Perry Como signaled a change in his approach to recording with his album By Request. The title made it sound like a number of his earlier LPs, again with the implication that the song choices were made by his audience rather than himself. But where previous records like We Get Letters and Sing to Me, Mr. C. consisted of old songs in contrast to the new compositions that made up his single releases, By Request was, for the most part, a collection of recent material. In many cases, Como was borrowing songs associated with his competitors: Jack Jones had just scored a hit with "Lollipops and Roses"; Como's RCA labelmate Elvis Presley had done the same with "Can't Help Falling in Love" from his film Blue Hawaii; Tony Bennett was already popularizing the wistful "Once Upon a Time" from the Broadway musical All American; and Andy Williams had claimed the year's Oscar winner, "Moon River." No matter. Como made them his own, along with "Maria," newly popular due to the movie version of West Side Story, Rodgers and Hammerstein's "My Favorite Things" from the 1959 musical The Sound of Music, and "The Sweetest Sounds" from Richard Rodgers' new, solely composed show No Strings. The material suited Como, and with his singles career in decline, it gave him a new direction as a singer, anticipating the period when his albums would not be mere adjuncts to his television program. The public welcomed the change -- By Request was Como's most successful non-holiday LP release in three years.

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