Born Luigi Francisco Varlaro in 1919, Don Cornell was one of the most successful of the crooners who commanded so much attention from the media during the 1950s. His warm and often sentiment-tinged tones put him in league with Frank Sinatra, Perry Como, Dean Martin, Ed Ames, Eddie Fisher, Al Martino, Vic Damone, Robert Goulet, and Steve Lawrence. Within months of his passing in 2004, ASV/Living Era released what amounts to the best all-purpose Don Cornell collection ever assembled. 26 charmingly dated selections map the singer's career from 1947 to 1953, touching upon recordings he made with the Sammy Kaye band (often backed by the harmonizing Kaydets) and following a trail of hits with tidy or lush accompaniments by the tightly arranged or even string-laden orchestras of Henri René, Hugo Winterhalter, Norman Leyden, and Jerry Carr. Cornell is heard in duet with Laura Leslie on "Baby It's Cold Outside," with Teresa Brewer on "You'll Never Get Away" and in rigidly masculine trio harmony with Alan Dale and Johnny Desmond on "The Gang That Sang 'Heart of My Heart'." The title track is not the well-known ballad by Johnny Green and Yip Harburg (immortalized by Billie Holiday in 1944) but a more syrupy preparation written by one Robert Mellin. Similarly, "Hold My Hand" is a sugar pop tune credited to Clara Edwards, Jack Lawrence and Richard "Nappy" Myers rather than the bouncy, optimistic love song penned by Thomas Waller and J.C. Johnson and recorded by Fats Waller's big band in 1938. Cornell does a credible job of covering Waller's hit recording of Paul Denniker and Andy Razaf's "S'posin'," and handles a small quantity of tunes commonly associated with the art of jazz balladry, but for the most part this is straight-edged, clean-cut Truman and Eisenhower Era pop music with hardly any discernible ties to African-American culture, even during the age of rhythm & blues and the rise of rock & roll.
AllMusic Review by arwulf arwulf
feat: Jerry Carr