Stars in the Night
Lee Armstrong | Winterville, NC United States | 03/28/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Johnny Desmond played with Gene Krupa. He was "discovered" by Glenn Miller and played with him in the Air Force Band. His smooth vocal style has caused comparison to Dean Martin and earned the nickname "the creamer." He was born in 1920, recorded from the 1940's to 1960's, passing away in 1985. This set was recorded in January 1958 with an 18-piece band, originally on the Tops label. The Dean Martin comparison is evident with what I describe as a way of singing "over the lyric," as on Cole Porter's "All of You." His phrasing is unusual as he pauses, "I'd like to gain (pause) complete control of you." A similar vocal aloofness was evident on Gershwin's "I Can't Get Started" where the lyric "I've settled revolutions in Spain" contains none of the coy wit in the lyric. Kern & Hammerstein's "The Last Time I Saw Paris" has some great horn flourishes in the arrangement and the lyric, "I dodged the same old taxi cabs that I have dodged for years; The chorus of their squeaky horns was music to my ears." Gershwin's "You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To" has a hint of darkness in the melody with the sunny lyric, "You'd be so nice; you'd be Paradise." Another Gershwin track, "It Ain't Necessarily So," is one of the strongest tracks with Desmond slinking in a sexy 1950s manner, "Little Moses was found in a stream until old Pharoah's daughter fished him from that stream" and then breaks into the chorus with the title. I found the slow song "Tenderly" to be a bit of a clinker with Desmond's vocals reading almost 50 years later a bit bombastic and his voice not totally comfortable in the lower range. The uptempo Rodgers & Hart tune "This Can't Be Love" works well. "That Old Devil Moon" has some subtle sax at the opening and a great big brass arrangement along with some creative percussion, "The stars in the night can't hold a candle to your razzle dazzle." Rodgers & Hart's "There's A Small Hotel" is another performance where Desmond doesn't get into the lyric, but sings with a Dean Martin-like swagger, "There's a bridal suite, one room bright & neat, complete for us to share together." Johnny Desmond's "Swings" is a somewhat obscure blast from the past. With resurgent interest in this era, he's one that you may wish to discover or recall. Enjoy!"