The Ultra Lounge series returns with Cocktails With Cole Porter, a collection of '50s and '60s renditions of songs Porter wrote in the '20s and '30s. For the most part, these songs made the transition into lounge territory intact; Nat King Cole's "Just One of Those Things," Ella Fitzgerald's "It's De-Lovely," Julie London's "My Heart Belongs to Daddy," Nancy Wilson's "You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To," and Peggy Lee's "Ridin' High" are some of the best examples of Porter songs refurbished for the lounge-pop era. Occasionally, schmaltzy producton overpowers both the singers and the songs themselves -- Dean Martin's sappy "True Love" and Judy Garland's overblown "I Happen to Like New York" are neither the best performances of these songs nor the best performances from these vocalists. Sammy Davis, Jr.'s "Easy to Love" and Steve Lawrence's "Night and Day" better incorporate the razzle-dazzle of '50s and '60s lounge music with Porter's timeless words and melodies, even if these interpretations seem more than a little glib compared to their subject matter. On the other hand, Louis Armstrong's radical revision of "High Society," "High Society Calypso," is a delightful blend of Armstrong and Porter's respective wittiness and the '50s passion for calypso music. Similarly, Peggy Lee and George Shearing's "Always True to You in My Fashion" adapts the song to the era's fascination with Latin rhythms with a playful grace. Ella Fitzgerald and the Duke Ellington Orchestra's "Let's Do It (Let's Fall in Love)" and Sarah Vaughan's "Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye" close the collection with a breezy elegance that still sounds contemporary. Even though Cocktails With Cole Porter has its share of less-than-great moments, overall the album celebrates both nostalgia for the lounge-pop era and the timelessness of Porter's work.
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AllMusic Review by Heather Phares