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Music Review: Heart & Soul – Celebrating the Unforgettable Songs of Frank Loesser

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Lovers of show tunes and vintage romantic music will enjoy Sony’s new release, Heart & Soul – Celebrating the Unforgettable Songs of Frank Loesser. From the classic “What Are You Doing New Years?” sung by Johnny Mathis to Michele Lee’s moving “I Believe in You,” it is crammed with 19 selections, most of which are remastered original recordings. Heart and Soul is available only as a digital download or burn-on-demand CD.

It would have been nice to hear Danny Kaye singing some of the songs from 1952’s Hans Christian Andersen, but that’s a small complaint. The Boston Pops, conducted by Arthur Fiedler, provide a suitable replacement with “Hans Christian Andersen Melody.” And, while Barry Manilow may be no Frank Sinatra or even Marlon Brando, his rendition of “Luck Be a Lady Tonight” from Guys and Dolls is well produced and delivered.

Album high points are Bea Wain with Larry Clinton and His Orchestra performing “Heart and Soul,” “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” sung by Pearl Bailey and Hot Lips Page, and Michele Lee’s recording of  “I Believe in You” from How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying. “Standing on The Corner,” performed by the Four Lads is sure to bring back memories of a much more innocent time when just looking was enough for some guys (was it really?).

Other standards range from the syrupy “I’ve Never Been in Love Before” (Doris Day), to the sentimental “I Don’t Want to Walk without You” (Helen Forrest with Harry James and His Orchestra), to the sophisticated “Can’t Get Out of this Mood” and “Spring Will Be a Little Late this Year” (both, Sarah Vaughn)—and, of course, the strangely patriotic “Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition” (Kay Kyser and His Orchestra) which couldn’t pass muster in these politically-correct-no-God-allowed times. Members of the greatest generation will find this compilation of familiar songs a collection they will enjoy time and again. Those of us from lesser generations can enjoy a style of music that has all but disappeared.

Additional artists included on Heart & Soul are Della Reese, Dinah Shore, Vaughn Monroe and His Orchestra, and the ever-reliable Vic Damone. Also included in this digital album is a booklet with Loesser history and photos.  Heart & Soul offers a pleasurable listening experience, though it might be more fun if it included more current covers (how about Me First and the Gimme Gimmes doing “Standing on the Corner”?). Those who love these classic old tunes will not be disappointed.

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