Tormé displays a grasp of a certain agreeable absurdity in this 1962 release's concept--songs with the word moon in their titles or settings--when, at the end of the album's self-penned namesake cut, he begins babbling ref... more »erences to the rest of the tunes in a prophecy of Bill Murray's lounge-singer character. Fortunately, this reissue has more to recommend it than an amusing datedness--not least Tormé's own aplomb and a small big band that includes players like altoist Bud Shank and drummer Mel Lewis. --Rickey Wright« less
Tormé displays a grasp of a certain agreeable absurdity in this 1962 release's concept--songs with the word moon in their titles or settings--when, at the end of the album's self-penned namesake cut, he begins babbling references to the rest of the tunes in a prophecy of Bill Murray's lounge-singer character. Fortunately, this reissue has more to recommend it than an amusing datedness--not least Tormé's own aplomb and a small big band that includes players like altoist Bud Shank and drummer Mel Lewis. --Rickey Wright
"Having been for some time already familiar with and very taken with Sinatra's 1966 collection, MOONLIGHT SINATRA (which I very much prefer to THAT'S LIFE of the same year), this album by the great Mel Torme intrigued me. What also intrigued me was the credit to Russell Garcia, composer of the scores to two George Pal films, ATLANTIS: THE LOST CONTINENT and THE TIME MACHINE.
I almost didn't pick this up. Some of the other reviews emphasize the whimsy of a couple of these tunes above all else, such that one might think that the whole thing is a toss-off, not serious, but that wouldn't be the story here. To my ears, Torme's an artist, not a cut-up, and quite earnest. He's in a zone with each and every number, and his voice is, as one should expect, clear, "Mel"-lifluous, and intonated perfectly.
I MUST mention Torme's take on "Blue Moon", because in it, the conventional late-in-the-song half-step rise is given a unique twist. It's begun during the first measure AFTER the verse commences rather than from the outset as is customary, and then, of all things, doesn't "take". The pitch falls right back to where it had been and then the melody modulates elsewhere!!! I have never heard this before. Absolutely phenomenal. The best "Blue Moon" ever!
This is a tremendous effort, and surprisingly inventive - a great recording. Nothing in it is ordinary or customary. Get it!
A true Retro-Rocket!
Mark Savary | Seattle, WA | 01/08/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"An early Space Age atomic oddity, this Torme tuneage will make you feel right at home, whether you're vacationing on the Moon or Mars. All of the songs are Moon-themed, which makes the album a fun project for Torme to make, and a fun album for the listener to hear. The whole thing is also an interesting artifact from the early days of the Space Race, when all of America was revelling in "Go-Fever", and everything in pop culture had a touch of rocketships and ray guns. You especially get this sense of the retro-rocket era when listening to the first two cuts. In the title track, Mel talks to his sweetheart about living in a crater, where they can "make [their] own satellite," and she can tell her mom that "her feller has gone inter-steller." And when describing the ingredients in "A Moonlight Cocktail", he makes it clear that the "number of kisses is up to you."The packaging is nice, the processing clear as a viewport, and instead of being spaced out, the song selection glitters like stardust. Torme is having a great time, and you can tell on every cut. So put the platter in your player, let Mel hit the launch button, and get ready for blast-off. This disc has just the right amount of thrust to put you into orbit!"
Mel vs. Frank: No Lunar Eclipse
Samuel Chell | Kenosha,, WI United States | 09/14/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Mel Tormé was so outrageously talented that even the fans of his "velvet fog" timbre under-estimate him--undoubtedly the one singer who approaches Lady Ella in terms of his commanding musicianship, his voice and all that he could do with it. He had definitely reached his prime by 1960, and this Sinatra-type "concept album," an idea stolen from Frank, pre-dates by five years the album ("Moonlight Sinatra") Ole Blue devoted to moon songs. Either way you can't go wrong.
Sinatra wisely avoids "Blue Moon," and one wishes Mel had done the same with "Oh, You Crazy Moon," which Sinatra literally owns--that kind of Basie groove that the Chairman could really settle into and swing the daylights out of. Sinatra also has the edge on "I Wished on the Moon," but "Moonlight Cocktail," with its intricate, lacy, virtually "art song" melody is a number few singers besides Tormé could pull off. He also gets more mileage out of "Moonlight in Vermont" and even contributes a hip moon song of his own. And both singers are smart enough to know we won't be upset by the omission of "Moon River" and "Shine On, Harvest Moon."
The comparison is pretty much a draw. If there's an unfair advantage, it's Sinatra's exclusive rights to Nelson Riddle. But to be fair, pick up both albums and enjoy a full moon.
(Whoops! Nice to get a reader, but I regret offending a member of the cathedral of sacred opinion. Apparently, I was supposed to praise Mel at the expense of Frank. Doggone it. They are both just so good that I'm going to stand by this review--even though I usually try to fix them to please, especially when all that's at stake is a difference in "taste." As for quibbling about the difference between the "concept" album and the "thematic" album, that seems to be a dead end. The point is that before Sinatra, artist-entertainers felt that they had to use the long-playing record to program as much variety as possible. Whether the "concept" is a theme (aging and loss) or a word (moon), it's still the same creative use that Sinatra made of the format--an approach that defies the current attempts to fragment all popular music into helter-skelter digital files. Sinatra produced not "songs," merely, but suites, tone poems, organically whole artistic masterpieces. Remove a track, or rearrange it in the sequence, only if you would do the same for a Mozart symphony. And no slight intended to Russ Garcia, but I think that Friedwald and other critics have a point when they write that if the 20th-century produced one musical collaboration made in heaven, it was the magical combination of Sinatra and Riddle.)"
Perfect for the turntable at midnight
John D. North | 01/13/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"OK, the CD player is acceptable as well. I bought this album on a whim years ago and was immediately knocked out by it. Some may dismiss it as lightweight because of a couple of the goofy moon-space songs. But trust me, there is terrific musicianship on this album. Mel's singing is so great - he shows off all of his wonderful phrasing and soulfulness. Don't miss "How High the Moon," "I Wished on the Moon," and "No Moon At All." The brass are brilliant on several songs. I've found myself playing this record over and over, and I never get tired of it. Remember - play it late at night, preferably under a full moon."
A Blast!! To The Moon!!
Richard Falgione | U S A | 06/30/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Mel swings with skillful arrangements and talented musicians backing him! Great music, great Mel, great recording, great remastering, great fun!"