Perry Como

So Smooth

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The month that Perry Como moved up to a one-hour TV variety show, he also released his first 12" LP, So Smooth. Like such peers as Frank Sinatra and Nat "King" Cole, Como viewed the LP format differently from the singles market, eschewing the kind of novelties he was recording for 45/78 release in favor of collections devoted to well-known standards dating back to the 1930s. Sinatra is remembered for pioneering such concept albums, but Como had preceded Sinatra's 1954 10" sets Songs for Young Lovers and Swing Easy with his own TV Favorites disc in 1952. Here, he dipped into songs that would become Sinatra signature numbers, such as "I've Got the World on a String" and "One for My Baby (And One More for the Road)," as well as favorites like "My Funny Valentine" and "As Time Goes By." The Mitchell Ayres Orchestra, which featured plenty of strings, was augmented by the perky Ray Charles Singers, who made themselves intrusively obvious on "For Me and My Gal" among other tracks. Arrangers Joe Lipman, Joe Reisman, and Jack Andrews lacked the flair of Capitol orchestrators like Nelson Riddle and Billy May, but then Como was not interested in digging into the material the way Sinatra was. "One for My Baby" (Andrews' sole chart) might later turn into a paean to loneliness and alcoholism for Sinatra, but Como and company heard it more the way it came across when Fred Astaire introduced it in The Sky's the Limit in 1943, as a stylized evocation of barroom heartbreak rather than a real one. Como may have been more convincing on upbeat material like the opener, Peggy Lee's "It's a Good Day," but his sense of reassurance brought out the hopefulness in otherwise downcast ballads like "It's the Talk of the Town."

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