Joni James

Something for the Boys

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The dozen tracks on this long-player are thematically linked to Joni James' undying support for American troops serving overseas in the early 1960s. In fact, Something For The Boys (1963) was initially conceived as a souvenir of sorts, recalling the literally hundreds of performances that she had given to the G.I.'s during her visits to Korea, Japan, and Germany. She had become the darling of the State Department for her willingness and enthusiasm to make the often-arduous tours of various military bases and posts all over the globe -- this, despite James' somewhat debilitating bouts of motion sickness. This disc contains a dozen sides which James personally selected from her most requested numbers. Even the album's opener -- a freewheelin' spin of Hank Williams' "Hey Good Lookin'" -- was specifically chosen as it was also her standard show opener. The remainder of the effort follows a similar pattern as the majority of her previous (and subsequent) albums, with a variety of tunes ranging from the folksy and lilting World War II era classic "Lili Marlene" to James' breezy take on more concurrent pop balladry such as "Venus," and the moody and dreamlike "Make Someone Happy." While Jimmie Haskell's instrumental arrangements range from the slightly Spanish-flavored "Never On A Sunday," to the introspective "What Kind Of Fool Am I," the modern listener may find the Jack Halloran Choir accompanying James dated. Their occasional verbosity, which is specifically noticeable during the introduction to "Love Letters In The Sand," all but negates James' comparatively sumptuous solo vocals. This isn't the case across the board as the ensemble lightly augments -- as well as provides effective co-leads -- on "Don't Cry Joe." Other highlights including a soaring interpretation of "Moon River" as well as "Auf Wiederseh'n Sweetheart," which bests Vera Lynn's 1952 hit version. In 2002 Collectors' Choice Music paired Something For The Boys with its feminine counterpart, I'm Your Girl (1963) on a two-fer CD.

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