British EMI repackages two Nelson Riddle albums on one CD, revealing the arranger, conductor, and (sometime) composer's evolution from his bouncy 1950s style to a more melodramatic approach in the early '60s. During the period covered by The Joy of Living (1959), Riddle was writing charts for Frank Sinatra, Nat "King" Cole, and others, and his work on the album had some of the smooth style of later Capitol Sinatra concept albums like Nice 'n' Easy. By the time of Love Is a Game of Poker (1962), Riddle, following on from Henry Mancini's Peter Gunn breakthrough, was writing music and arrangements for TV shows like The Untouchables and Route 66, and his work on the album was harder-edged and jazzier. Juxtaposed on the same CD, therefore, the music seems to perk up halfway through, though Riddle never loses his tasteful emphasis on melody.
AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann