Wild Is Love

Nat King Cole

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Wild Is Love Review

by William Ruhlmann

In his extended sleeve note, Nat King Cole writes of his desire as an artist to find "something else," by which he seems to mean something other than yet another album of rearranged pop standards, and he claims to have found it in the work of songwriters Ray Rasch and Dotty Wayne, who fashioned the song cycle contained on this LP. More than a concept album of similarly themed songs, it is a unified, if simple, story of the search for love (complete with connective narration) in songs fashioned for Cole that allow him to delve into swing-era jazz styles and blues (all courtesy of Nelson Riddle's orchestrations), along with more characteristic ballads. The result is what Cole calls "the biggest thrill of my recording career," which may be a stretch, although it seems to have been meant sincerely. Certainly, Cole throws himself into these songs and into his spoken parts, clichéd as they sometimes are. Rasch and Wayne seem to be attempting something like a book musical here, but as rendered in 14 tracks on a 36-minute disc, the plot remains sketchy and generic. At best, it can serve only as a suggestion of what a staged version would be like, and since all the songs seem to have been crafted to Cole himself rather than for possible characters, it's not clear how the work could be developed. That said, there are some good songs here, and Cole and Riddle have given them some enthusiastic treatments.

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