Various Artists

Heart Beats: Closer Than a Kiss: Crooner Classics

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The American Heritage Dictionary defines crooning as "a soft singing, humming, or murmuring" and adds, "to sing popular songs in a soft, sentimental manner." And so it is with that introduction that Rhino presents their romantic collection Closer Than a Kiss: Crooner Classics. The collection contains 16 of the smoothest, suavest, and sometimes corniest ballads of the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. A couple of the selections remain well-known to this day, including Frank Sinatra's "Night and Day" and Chet Baker's "My Funny Valentine." The disc is meant as an overview a genre lost among the din of rock, rap, and grunge. As a result, some of the songs and performers will be unknown to new fans. Tracks by Mel Torme ("My Shining Hour"), Bing Crosby ("Around the World"), and Sammy Davis, Jr. ("Speak Low") may sound familiar, but Jack Jones, Bill Henderson, and Vic Damone may be new discoveries for a lot of younger listeners. Closer Than a Kiss: Crooner Classics is a pleasant lounge album for the new cocktail set, especially one with mellow moods and deep conversations. None of the songs here have the up-tempo swing of some famous tracks by Sinatra, Dean Martin, or Louis Prima. But that is the point. Crooner classics are the soft sounds of tender vocals, ones that convey a powerful intimacy with or without lush orchestrations. The one corny exception is Bob Manning's "My Love Song to You" and its dated lyrics: "The garbage can goes clang, the radiator goes bang, and the vacuum makes a racket too. Put them all together and...that's my love song to you." For an overview collection, Closer Than a Kiss: Crooner Classics has some rare gems: John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman's heartbreaking "My One and Only Love" and Jack Jones' jazzy "You'd Better Love Me" are standouts. To use the title of two Jackie Gleason albums, this CD is music to make you misty and for lovers only.

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