Jerry Vale

Till

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Toward the end of the '60s, old-school crooners from the '50s saw no other choice than to begin tackling contemporary pop. If they didn't take that action, they would still have some performing engagements, but they wouldn't sell records or get on the radio. Jerry Vale was no exception to the rule. Like such contemporaries as Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett, he tentatively began singing covers of recent pop hits and rock oldies, throwing interpretations of lesser-known recent songs and almost-hits for good measure. Producer Wally Gold and arranger/conductor Joe Gardner were instrumental to this change in direction -- they were the ones who developed the lush, layered adult contemporary pop sound that characterized his late-'60s and early-'70s albums. Recorded in November 1968, Till was the first Vale album to completely embrace this commercial sound and material. As a pop artifact, it's priceless, simply because its sweeping strings, syrupy choirs and light folky guitars capture how directionless mainstream adult pop was at the turn of the decade. As a Vale record, it isn't bad, but it's clear from his quavering voice and laissez-faire delivery that he either doesn't care for the songs or isn't quite sure how to sing them. Still, for some listeners, that's part of the charm of Till -- apart from the title track, he's struggling to find the right tone throughout the record, and the resulting soft-rock mishmash is actually quite entertaining.

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