Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Love Walked in
Genres: Country, Jazz, Pop
Listen to Samples
Beauty King of Recorded Tenor Voices?
Curtis Crawford | Charlottesville, VA United States | 06/22/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"[UPDATE FEBRUARY 2009] -- After hearing this recording quite often since I first reviewed it in 2005, my praise for Baker's voice and singing has only increased. The only reason for giving it four rather than five stars in my initial review was the inferior recording technology of the 1930s-40s, which sometimes hurt the band, but couldn't prevent the beauty of Baker's singing from coming through. If the software permitted, I'd change my rating to 5 stars.]
Not according to Living Era, who produced this CD in 1998. Their program note describes (dismisses?) Kenny Baker as one of "a handsome clutch of singing film stars, crooners by definition but in the main generically classified as 'tenors', whose vocalising denoted an above-average depth of cord engagement."
Nor, as judged by the public response to the original recordings, made from 1938 to 1947, which were remastered for this CD. Although six of the songs reached No. 1 in the US charts, none of Baker's performances rose higher than No. 11, according to Living Era's statistics.
Nevertheless, let me pose a challenge. Over the years, I have heard and enjoyed the recorded singing of many fine tenors. Their voices were excellently trained, often to a wider range and to more difficult music. But note for note, their sound as recorded is not I think as sheerly beautiful as Kenny Baker's. A splendid, unspoiled, unstrained, natural gift, put to disciplined and tasteful use! His enunciation is remarkably clear, and his musical line, perfectly smooth. He makes each song a different story, as in the 24 selections on this CD.
My claim is easy to test. The CDs for sale on this website have excerpts for listening to the best tenors of the 20th century, including Enrico Caruso, John McCormack, Giovanni Martinelli, Beniamino Gigli, Tito Schipa, Richard Tauber, Richard Crooks, Jussi Bjoerling, Morton Downey, Mario Lanza, Giuseppe di Stefano, Nicolai Gedda, Jan Peerce, Leopold Simoneau, Fritz Wunderlich, Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras. Of course, the earlier the career, the greater the damage to the recorded voice from primitive technology. Heard live, who knows which voice was most beautiful? But at least we have what earlier centuries could only imagine: lasting copies of live performances. Judge for yourself whether Baker's is the most beautiful recorded tenor voice. Hear it on excerpts from this CD, and then compare.
Ths is Real Music
P. M. Koenig | Buffalo, NY | 03/24/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This CD contains the best of Kenny Baker's music. The sound is great. Anybody who has ever seen The Harvey Girls, and fell in love with this great voice, will be thrilled with this music. How great to hear the old songs sung with intros, the way they were written, will enjoy this. The man had such a clear tenor voice that it makes listening to music a real joy."
Old-Time Tenor DeLuxe
P. M. Koenig | 09/04/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Like Dennis Day, Kenny Baker was a tenor. Also like Dennis Day, he spent some time performing on the Jack Benny radio show [his stint was in the late 1930s] before going on to host his own program. He also starred in the Broadway musical One Touch Of Venus in 1943.
In the early summer of 1938, while with Decca, he took the title tune, Love Waked In from the movie Goldwyn Follies to # 14 with the backing of Harry Sosnik & His Orchestra, and in late 1939, now with Victor, scored with Two Blind Loves (# 15 with the backing of Nat Finston's Orchestra) from the film The Marx Brothers At The Circus. Still with Victor he two more hits in 1941/42, this time with Leonard Joy & His Orchestra, when There I Go reached # 20 in December 1940 and You Walk By topped out at # 12 in early 1941.
By 1942 he was back with Decca where, with Harry Sosnik again backing, Whisper That You Love Me reached # 21 in June, followed in July by Johnny Doughboy Found A Rose In Ireland (# 11), and in July with Always In My Heart (# 14). All but Two Blind Loves and Whisper That You Love Me are in this wonderfully re-produced album.
So too are his last two charted hits which came in 1947 for Decca, billed to Kenny Baker and Russ Morgan & His Orchestra. His version of The Old Lamp-Lighter made it to # 11, while My Adobe Hacienda was a # 16 hit.
Solo male tenors, while always popular on radio, with some Big Bands, and in Broadway shows, never found that much success with the record-buying public. In fact, outside of Day and Danny O'Neil [and not counting opera tenors Jan Peerce and Mario Lanza] I'm hard-pressed to think of any others.
If you're curious about that style of singing from the late 1930s/early 1940s, this is as good as any you're apt to find. On the other hand, if you are a completist collector of hit singles [as I am] this 4-star compilation gives you all but two of his hits.