So Smooth from 1955 and We Get Letters from 1957 were Perry Como's first two albums to be recorded for the 12" LP format, so Collectables Records' pairing of the two on a single CD is appropriate. At the time, the album market was viewed as being entirely different from the singles market, so these recordings do not feature Como's hit singles of the period. In fact, their contents are a far cry from "Hot Diggity (Dog Ziggity Boom)" and the other novelties the singer was being required to turn out for the teenage singles market. Rather, the albums are carefully considered collections of classic pop songs. The 12 tracks that make up So Smooth somewhat belie the title, since Como is so animated on selections like the opener, Peggy Lee's "It's a Good Day," "I've Got the World on a String," and "I Gotta Right to Sing the Blues." He is more restrained on ballads such as "As Time Goes By" and "My Funny Valentine," but his pleasure at getting to perform the works of Harold Arlen, Cole Porter, and Rodgers & Hart is palpable. Though the entire Mitchell Ayres Orchestra and, on three tracks, the Ray Charles Singers are employed, some selections, notably "You Do Something to Me," feature just Como with a rhythm section, and We Get Letters follows that pattern even further, using only a subset of the orchestra to allow the singer a far more personal approach to songs like George Gershwin's "They Can't Take That Away From Me" and "Somebody Loves Me." On these albums, Como bid to join competitors Frank Sinatra and Nat "King" Cole in the emerging album market. He never gave enough attention to LPs, but these releases demonstrate that he could have made a string of classic albums if he'd tried.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann