For his debut LP (after a few years of cutting singles), Jerry Vale released I Remember Buddy, a tribute to singer Buddy Clark, in January 1958. The album got into the charts, which inspired Columbia Records and producer Mitch Miller to bring Vale back into the studio for a second tribute album, this time to singer Russ Columbo. The choice may have seemed a bit macabre, since Clark had died in a plane crash, while Columbo had been killed in a freak accident, but the immediate difference was that, though Vale certainly did remember Clark, who had been popular in the post-World War II era when he was coming up, he didn't actually remember Columbo, who had died when he was two in 1934. He no doubt did remember the successful cover versions of Columbo's songs, particularly "Prisoner of Love," which Perry Como took to number one in 1946, and "You Call It Madness (But I Call It Love)," a Top Ten hit for Nat "King" Cole the same year. And those revivals really set the tone for the collection, on which arranger/conductor Glenn Osser returned to provide another set of string-filled charts that smoothed out the songs' idiosyncrasies. For I Remember Buddy, Vale, Miller, and Osser actually had steered clear of many of Clark's biggest hits, merely using the association with Clark to put together a collection of standards that he happened to have recorded, even if he was not closely associated with them. Choosing from the much smaller collection of recordings made by Columbo (who was only active as a recording artist for a few years), they were more limited, and more than half the album actually consisted of songs Columbo had popularized, not just recorded. Still, there were ringers like "All of Me" and "I've Got a Feeling I'm Falling" that were standards but not particularly identified with the singer being memorialized, while Columbo hits like "As You Desire Me" and "Good Night, Sweetheart" were missing. There was a greater stylistic unity to this material, most of which dated from 1931-1932, than there had been on the earlier album, the songs from which ranged across three decades. Vale, for his part, just applied his usual smooth, ringing sound to every song with little variance in mood, an effect echoed in Osser's arrangements, so that the overwrought "Prisoner of Love" and the playful "You Try Somebody Else, and I'll Try Somebody Else (We'll Be Back Together Again)" both came off as '50s romantic ballads of a similar tone. Though the singer was less familiar with the material and the man, I Remember Russ was a worthy follow-up to I Remember Buddy.
AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann