Yes, there is overlap between this CD and the previous two which I reviewed together. In fact, eleven of these twenty tracks either appeared on “20 Golden Greats” or “Greatest Love Songs” but the nine that remain are good enough for this CD to be worthy of your consideration. It appeared in 1990 on the budget Music For Pleasure label but here “budget” certainly does not imply any concessions in quality as this is a very good compilation with good sound and original recordings.
Amongst the tracks we’ve covered before there’s my Dad’s favourite “Stardust” (Click here for my review of this) together with a number of hits and tracks associated with Cole- but for this review I’m going to focus on those tracks which do not appear on the other compilations. On the whole they reflect a more jazzier side to Cole. “Just One Of Those Things” has a bright, brassy introduction and the whole thing hustles along behind Nat’s vocal. It’s almost as if two tempos (tempi?) are taking place within the whole song, there’s probably a technical term for this which I don’t know but it all works a treat. Nat’s version of this Cole Porter song was the title track from his 1957 album. It’s a song mentioned by JD Salinger in “Catcher In The Rye” as a song Holden Caulfield was fond of. I’m sure Caulfield would have approved of Cole’s slightly edgy version.
The title track “Let’s Fall In Love” has a more sedate tempo. It is a sensitive plea “to make a go of it”. It’s a calm, gentle reassuring song. It was written in 1933 by Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler and other versions I have heard (Ella Fitzgerald, Diana Krall, Frank Sinatra) take the main song at a faster tempo and have an introductory verse which Cole doesn’t use. I think it works well at this slower pace. The tempo is upped again for the next track “Almost Like Being In Love” (daughter Natalie does a lovely version of this song on her “Unforgettable- With Love” album) . There’s a snatch of Nat on the piano, which is always a good thing. It’s a Lerner-Loewe song from “Brigadoon”. Wikapedia gets scientific in its analysis of its song stating ; “Cole’s version, in the key of G major like the original, features a ii–V–I turnaround (2-5-1) in G, a pair of similar 2-5-1 sequences in E major and D major for the bridge, after which it raises the refrain a half-step with a 2-5-1 in A flat major. “ Now that doesn’t mean a great deal to me, but it must be significant enough to need mentioning and may just explain why this song works well!
There is a muted bluesy feel to “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore”, a touching tale of lost love.
“Missed the Saturday Dance/ Heard they crowded the floor/Couldn’t bear it without you/Don’t Get Around Much Anymore”
This is classic Cole with that lovely vocal phrasing, a man in total control of the melody. There’s an explosive instrumental mid-section with a real uplift to the brass which is quite magical, but Cole is having none of this jollity even though his “mind is more at ease”. This track was originally a Duke Ellington instrumental but in 1942 Bob Russell added lyrics and it was retitled. Ellington had a big hit with it. This was another track from Cole’s 1957 album “Just One Of Those Things”.
The introduction to “Once In A While” does sound a little like the last track. This isn’t one of my favourites on this album. There’s not enough here to make it any more than a listenable album track. It was also the last song recorded by Bing Crosby, just a couple of days before he died. Things for me brighten up a little with the purposeful “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter”, which pre-dates the affirmations advocated by self-help books by several decades , even if Cole is going to “make believe that it came from you.” There’s an interesting instrumental phrase in the middle of the line in this song, where Cole doesn’t sing to the end of the line which singers often do live but don’t tend to do so much on record. It gives it a cool edge and of course Nat King Cole is the epitome of cool. The most famous version of this song is perhaps by Fats Waller who gives it a real honky-tonk feel. One of the most recent notable versions was by Paul McCartney who included it on his 2012 covers album. This song also of course contains the double entendre which gets the child in me sniggering when Nat croons;
“A lot of kisses on the bottom. I’ll be glad I got them” (!)
For me one of the highlights on this CD is “This Can’t Be Love” with Nat questioning why he doesn’t have any of the traditional falling in love symptons “but still I love to look in your eyes”. There has a lovely, lengthy instrumental section which is just joyful. Nat’s version of this Rodgers & Hart standard was recorded in 1954.
“A Cottage For Sale” is quite a poignant tale of the end of the relationship reflected in the now rundown house which has been put on the market – “The lawn we were proud of is waving in hay, our beautiful garden has withered away”. It’s actually an older song than I thought it was –the early Fifties were a time of extended metaphors in popular songs but this dates from 1929. Cole does a good, solid version of this song.
The CD ends with “Ain’t Misbehaving”, a song which has been recorded by just about everybody. It is a song closely associated with its writer Fats Waller but there have been versions by Johnnie Ray, Billie Holiday, Eartha Kitt etc. Where this song works best is where you believe they probably are misbehaving (like Eartha & Waller- although it is unlikely Waller was misbehaving at the time he composed this as he reputedly wrote it in prison). Nat’s version does come across as a little bit too sincere, missing out the slightly subversive layer to the song which makes it a little sugary.
Nine quality songs together with the eleven featured on the previous compilations makes this an essential CD for your collection. This is Nat King Cole’s third and final appearance on my list but I am not straying too far from the gene pool with my next recommended purchase.
At time of writing this CD can be purchased from Amazon.co.uk for £2.69 new and used from £0.01. American listeners can buy new from $9.92 and used from $0.01.