Jazz critic Will Friedwald has stated that Julie London's records were so popular in the 1950s mainly because she looked so drop-dead gorgeous on the album covers. The marketing hook behind Calendar Girl may just be the main example for those critical of London's musical career, since its sleeve has made it a prized collector's item. The famous wraparound cover depicts cheesecake shots of London posed for every month of the year, while original issues of the album included a more-than-suggestive insert photo of the singer stretched out in bed. While Friedwald's correct about London's physical beauty, he's wrong in suggesting that the vocalist didn't have the talent to go along with her looks. Like Chet Baker, Julie London had an extremely limited vocal range but she did the most with what she had, possessing a special knack for torch songs that cast her in the role of a woman constantly being destroyed by love in general and by men in particular. The cover concept of Calendar Girl is carried over from the concept album, which features a narrative of romance lost and found for each month of the year before ending with one final tune called "The Thirteenth Month" (which is illustrated by that insert picture of London in bed). Since there aren't quality standards for every month of the year, one of Calendar Girl's pleasures can be found in the numbers written especially for the album, particularly those penned by Bobby Troup, London's husband. The jazz-oriented Troup hit pay dirt with such fine compositions as "Route 66," "Daddy," and "The Meaning of the Blues," but too few of his smart, witty songs have been widely recorded. Calendar Girl is a fun, if often bittersweet, ride and a must-have for fans of classic vocal pop and lounge music. Thankfully, EMI has reissued this album on CD in a two-fer package with the more traditional London session Your Number Please.., which, oddly enough, also features a very suggestive photo of London in bed.
Calendar Girl Review
by Nick Dedina