Doris Day

Day by Day

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By the winter of 1956-1957, Doris Day had become a respectable, even spectacular record seller, as long as her recordings were tied into her film projects. Her soundtrack album of songs from her film Love Me or Leave Me, a biopic about Ruth Etting, had been the longest-running number one hit of 1955 and "Whatever Will Be, Will Be (Que Sera, Sera)," the theme from the Alfred Hitchcock thriller The Man Who Knew Too Much, in which she starred, was a gold-selling Top Five hit in 1956. But Day's non-film recordings were less assured of a commercial reception. Day by Day, an LP without a movie tie-in, was her attempt to change that, and it was largely successful. Frank Sinatra had demonstrated the possibilities of the concept album, in which a single mood was sustained throughout an entire LP, and Day and her conductor, Paul Weston, tried out the idea on Day by Day, assembling a group of love songs mostly from the 1930s and '40s (the only exception being "Autumn Leaves") and giving them all intimate, small-band arrangements. Day's convincing, conversational tone was perfect for the approach, at least to the extent that she conveyed warmth and understanding of the lyrics. Unlike, say, Sinatra, however, she did not take the opportunity to plumb the depths of those words; when she sang Gershwin & Gershwin's "But Not for Me," for example, she stayed on the surface, never exploring the heartbreak that the song wittily detailed. That was the way a band singer of the '40s would do it, and Day was a band singer of the '40s. So was Sinatra, but he had found reason to change, while Day had not. Nevertheless, Day by Day made the Top Ten, demonstrating that Day could sell records without a cinematic association.

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