Patti Page

In the Land of Hi Fi

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A better title for this album might have been Patti Page Tries to Pull a Sinatra, as she delves into swinging jazz, seemingly far removed from "Doggie in the Window" and much of her other pop material from this period. The original notes on In the Land of Hi-Fi tell the reader that Patti Page "has never been too far removed from jazz." That's not in dispute, since she came of age in a time -- the big-band era -- when the influence of jazz was at its peak. But she is fundamentally a pop singer, regardless of her influences or the rhythmic qualities of her phrasing. Page's persona as a singer is more dramatic than anything else, and even in those moments when she lightens up (as on some verses of "A Foggy Day"), she's still giving more of an emotional, almost theatrical performance than a musical performance. Some of the rest, including "Mountain Greenery," "My Kind of Love," and "I Didn't Know About You" work better, all more comfortable fits among singer, band, and song, but there's still not enough to make this record more than an offbeat curio in Page's career. For this album, she was joined by Pete Rugolo & His Orchestra, who sometimes seem rather ham-fisted, trying to punch home jazz and swing elements. Buddy Childers' trumpet on "Mountain Greenery" and the alto sax heard on "I've Got My Eyes on You" are enjoyable enough, and the band is sometimes more diverting than Page. On other occasions, as on "Love for Sale," the band is so busy behind Page's surprisingly tender and edgy singing that it's almost a distraction.

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