Nat King Cole

Cole Español/More Cole Español

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Despite the similarity in titles, More Cole Español (1962) was not the immediate successor to Cole Español (1958), although both are albums on which Nat King Cole sang songs in Spanish. There is also a third album of Cole's Spanish work, A Mis Amigos (1959), and chronologically it comes in between. In 1987, early in the CD era, Capitol Records put material from all three LPs together on two compilations confusingly titled Cole Español & More, Vol. 1 and Cole Español & More, Vol. 2, presenting the tracks in chronological order by splitting the A Mis Amigos tracks, half at the end of the first disc and half at the start of the second. Mail-order firm Collectors' Choice Music, in its 2007 Cole reissue series, takes a different tack, presenting A Mis Amigos separately (with bonus tracks) and combining the first and third Spanish albums on this two-fer. These discographical details are worth pointing out because the differences between the two albums (Cole Español and More Cole Español, that is) are great. Although Cole did not speak Spanish, he learned the song lyrics for Cole Español phonetically. Nine of the 11 selections had backing tracks recorded by conductor Armando Romeu, Jr., in Havana, Cuba, in February 1958, with Cole adding his vocals in Hollywood in June. The other two, "Cachito" and "Noche de Ronda," were cut with Hispanic musicians in Hollywood under the direction of Capitol Records' Dave Cavanaugh. The tunes were a mixed bag of Latin standards including Mexican mariachi music ("Adelita") and even the Italian "Arrivederci Roma" (sung in Spanish), and Cole's vocals were augmented by the Rivero Quartet and other uncredited singers. While that no doubt was intended to shore up his tentative performances, it actually showed him up, as the native Spanish singers offered a painful contrast to his own pedestrian readings of words he did not understand and pronounced with no flair. (On one track, "Tú, Mi Delirio," he abandoned the microphone for the piano to delightful effect.) Cole's singing voice was as smooth and attractive as ever, which must have helped, though, and the album's sales -- it reached the Top 20 in the U.S. and was a big hit internationally -- indicated that Spanish-speaking audiences were flattered that an American singer would try so hard to communicate with them in their own language. Four years later, More Cole Español was recorded in Mexico City with Mexican singers and musicians, but arranged and conducted by Ralph Carmichael. This collection (tracks 12-23) demonstrated that Cole had made significant advances as a singer in Spanish. He still didn't sound like he always knew what he was singing, and he still seemed to be working on his pronunciation, but on More Cole Español he was clearly having a lot more fun. In part, this had to be because the arrangements were more rhythmic and up-tempo, and Cole must have been taking enthusiasm from the Mexican musicians who accompanied him. And he must have been more familiar with material that included crossover hits like "Vaya con Dios." Whatever the reasons, More Cole Español was his most successful effort at making music for fans south of the border.

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