Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Stephen Reddy | Brisbane | 05/07/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Nat King Cole recorded three albums of songs sung in Spanish, Cole Español (1958), A Mis Amigos (1959), and More Cole Español (1962). In 1987, Capitol Records reissued this material on two collections confusingly called Cole Español and More, Vol. 1 and Cole Español and More, Vol. 2. This first volume begins with nine of the 11 tracks from the Cole Español LP, excluding "Arrivederci Roma," which, although sung in Spanish, is actually an Italian song, and "Tú, Me Delirio," an instrumental. The next six selections (Tracks 10-15) are drawn from A Mis Amigos; they are six of the first seven tracks on that LP, excluding the fifth one, "Caboclo Do Rio." (This song was sung in Portuguese, not Spanish, which might explain the decision to delete it, except that so was "Suas Maos," which is included.) Although Cole did not speak Spanish, he learned the song lyrics phonetically. Seven of the nine selections from Cole Español have backing tracks recorded by conductor Armando Romeu, Jr., in Havana, Cuba, in February 1958, with Cole adding his vocals in Hollywood in June. The other two, "Cachito" and "Noche de Ronda," were cut with Hispanic musicians in Hollywood under the direction of Capitol Records' Dave Cavanaugh. The tunes are a mixed bag of Latin standards including Mexican mariachi music ("Adelita"), and Cole's vocals are augmented by the Rivero Quartet and other uncredited singers. While that no doubt was intended to shore up his tentative performances, it actually shows him up, as the native Spanish singers offer a painful contrast to his own pedestrian readings of words he does not understand and pronounces with no flair. Cole's singing voice is as smooth and attractive as ever, though. The six songs from A Mis Amigos, recorded ten months later while Cole was on tour in Brazil, represent slightly better performances. Cole's phonetic singing still doesn't have much feeling, but at least he is recording with the orchestra and backup chorus in the studio, and some of the material is more familiar to him, notably "Aquellos Ojos Verdes," better known in the U.S. as the Jimmy Dorsey hit "Green Eyes," and "Fantastico," a specially written number brought in by American songwriters Jack Keller and Noel Sherman."