COMO, Perry: Some Enchanted Evening

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\Some EnchantedEvening" Original1939-1949 Recordings

Rankingamong the top pop singers of the 1940s and 1950s, Perry Como held his ownthroughout his 60-year career against a phalanx of rivals headed by FrankSinatra. The 'man who invented casual' crooned melodiously until well into hiseighties by which time he had sold an estimated 60 million records. Renownedfor his especially amiable, relaxed (some even said somnambulant) delivery,like Sinatra Perry focused, at least in his earlier years, special attention onthe lyrics of his songs. The one-time star of his own $25 million TV series and"Crooning King of the Christmas Special", he died with an impressive collectionof Emmys and Grammys to his credit.

PierinoRoland Como was born in Third Street (now Perry Como Avenue), Canonsburg,Philadelphia on 18th May, 1912, the seventh of thirteen children offirst-generation immigrant Italians Pietro and Lucia Como. His father, a steelmill-worker, was not especially well paid, and to supplement the family'smeagre income, from the age of eleven Pierino worked as a barber's assistant.

Having quickly learned his trade, however, at fourteen he was already a skilledbarber who serenaded his clients for amusement. Subsequently, he built up hisown hairdressing business, and was equally interested in barbershop singingwhen, in 1933, he married his childhood sweetheart, Roselle Bellini.

That sameyear Perry won an amateur singing contest and, reputedly at Roselle'sinstigation (and certainly with her blessing), the 21-year-old croonersuccessfully auditioned for Freddy Carlone's touring band. He always maintainedhe never enjoyed touring because it took him away from his family but, as 'NickPerido', he nonetheless stuck to his new career and toured the Midwest withCarlone until 1936, when he was heard singing in an Ohio casino by bandleaderTed Weems (1901-1963). Born Wilfred Theodore Weymes in Pitcairn, Philadelphia,Weems, who had formed his first band in a Philadelphia cafe as far back as1922, for many years fronted a popular band in Chicago. He took his latest'novice' under his wing and featured him as a soloist on radio until the bandbroke up in 1942, when Ted entered the US Armed Forces. Their 1939 recording ofthe 1909 ballad "I Wonder Who's Kissing Her Now" became a US No.2 hit in1947 when it was revived as the title-song of the 20th Century Fox Joseph E.

Howard biopic.

In 1942Perry signed with the General Amusement Corporation and thereafter pursued acoast-to-coast solo career in night-clubs and theatres. In 1943 he signed arecording contract with RCA-Victor (with whom he would remain for the next 50years) and that same year began a seven-year contract with 20th Century-Fox -he partnered former night-club singer Vivian Blaine in the musicals SomethingFor The Boys (1944), Doll Face (1945) and If I'm Lucky (1946).

After being released at his own request from the Fox contract in 1947, he madeone last brave attempt to become a movie star in the MGM Rodgers & Hartbiopic Words And Music (1948).

His firstUS charted hit recordings (1943-1944) were followed in 1945 by MarjorieGoetschius and Edna Osser's "I Dream Of You" (at No. 10) and a revival of the1930 Doc Dougherty-Ellis Reynolds standard "I'm Confessin'" (at No.12). Hisfirst No.1 "Till The End Of Time" (a parody on Chopin's A flat polonaise,featured in the film A Song To Remember) and the No.3 "If I Loved You"became his first million-selling discs during the same week of 1946.

Perry'sother hits of 1946 included Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed's "Temptation"

(a No.21 revival of a hit first aired by Bing Crosby in the 1933 film GoingHollywood), "If You Were The Only Girl In The World" (at No.14, thiswas a revival of a Nat D. Ayer-Joseph Meyer standard originally featured in theshow Bing Boys Are Here, in 1915) and "I'm Always Chasing Rainbows"(another Chopin adaptation - and Golden Disc - at No.5) in addition to two moreNo.1s (the first a million-selling revival of the 1931 Russ Columbo standard"Prisoner Of Love", the other Bennie Benjamin and George Weiss's "Surrender").

And in 1947 the ever-growing list continued with, among several others, "TwoLoves Have I" (reviving a 1931-vintage number in translation by VincentScotto, at No.21), "When You Were Sweet Sixteen" (a new version of the 1898James Thornton classic, at No.2) and, at No.1, the Mack David-Al Hoffman-JerryLivingston pidgin-Italian lullaby "Chi-Baba, Chi-Baba".

The1948-1949 Como hit-list offered No.4 versions of "Because" and "Far AwayPlaces" plus a richer seam which included "Give Me Your Hand" at No.23,"Bali Ha'I" at No.5, "Forever And Ever" (at No.2) No.1s with " 'A' -You're Adorable" and "Some Enchanted Evening", a hit-song of the RichardRodgers' stage musical South Pacific. Between 1944 and the late 1960s, PerryComo clocked up more than 40 US Top Ten hits, including 20 Golden Discs, anachievement matched only by Bing Crosby; in the UK charts he had 26 Top 40entries between 1953 and 1974. Dubbed "the world's most casual singer", by 1950Perry was hosting a popular, thrice-weekly CBS variety show which would evolveinto The Perry Como Show and between 1952 and 1957 net him variousawards. In 1951, he recorded a million-selling revival of "If", in 1952 his"Don't Let The Stars Get In Your Eyes" proved to be one of the all-time biggestC & W-style hits and in 1954 he had two more Golden Disc hits with "PapaLoves Mambo" and "Wanted."

In 1958,Perry's hit album Catch A Falling Star won him a Grammy and in the late'50s he also had American No.1 singles with "Ko Ko Mo", "Hot Diggity" and"Round And Round." In 1960 "Magic Moments" (a US No.4) became a British No.1hit. In 1970, "It's Impossible" became his twentieth Golden Disc and inspiredan Indian summer of activity marked by a highly successful series of worldtours and further hits, notably "For The Good Times", in 1973. During 1973 healso made a rare TV appearance in the presentation Cole Porter In Paris.

A rare visitor to Great Britain (he visited for the first time in 1975, duringhis sell-out first overseas tour) his Greatest Hits album nonethelesssold a million copies there, whereas in the United States his Christmas TVshows, which had long been a national institution, ran every year until 1992.

Although he never officially quit show-business, Perry spent most of his lastdecade walking, fishing and playing golf. He died peacefully at his home inJupiter, Florida, on 12th May, 2001, aged 88 years.

PeterDempsey, 2001

1. SOMEENCHANTED EVENING (Rodgers-Hammerstein II, from South Pacific)

WithMitchell Ayres' Orchestra

(VictorD9-VB-233) Recorded March 1949 3:32


With TedWeems' Orchestra

(Decca66725) Recorded October 1939 3:16

3. IDREAM OF YOU (Goetschius-Osser)

With TedSteele's Orchestra

(Victor D4-VB-468)Recorded December 1944 3:31

4. I'MCONFESSIN' (THAT I LOVE YOU) (Neiburg-Dougherty-Reynolds)

With TedSteele's Orchestra

(VictorD4-VB-470-2) Recorded December 1944 2:48


SURRENDER (Benjamin-Weiss)

With RussCase's Orchestra

Disc: 1
Chi-Baba, Chi-Baba
1 Some Enchanted Evening
2 I Wonder Who's Kissing her Now
3 I Dream Of You
4 I'm Confessin'
5 Surrender
6 I've Got A Feeling I'm Falling
7 Girl Of My Dreams
8 Blue Skies
9 When You Were Sweet Sixteen
10 You Must Have Been A Beautiful Baby
11 If You Were The Only Girl In The World
12 Temptation
13 Two Loves Have I
14 Give me Your Hand
15 Please Believe Me
16 Bali Hai
17 Chi-Baba, Chi-Baba
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