I Love You, Cole Porter: The Pop Side of the Master Songwriter
El Records/Cherry Red
In the concluding paragraph to the liner notes for El Records’ I Love You, Cole Porter: The Pop Side of the Master Songwriter, Brendan Gill states that the list of Cole Porter songs “is so long that it threatens to become simply a list, and therefore strike us as less fantastic than it really is.”
How true, that statement! Listen to any jazz or easy listening radio station and there’s a good chance that you’ll hear at least one Cole Porter song every hour. His works have become standards of American popular song, and continue to shine as bright as they did when he wrote them—many of them nearly a hundred years ago. i Love You, Cole Porter proves the point, offering up forty-nine interpretations of classic Cole Porter songs from all corners of the music world. Save for the introductory cover of “Night and Day” by Everything But The Girl (their debut single, released in 1982, was a cornerstone release of parent label, Cherry Red) and a rare recording of Porter himself, performing “You’re The Top,” all of the material featured here was recorded between 1950 and 1962.
To highlight the diversity of these multiple versions, the compilers wisely chose to pair almost every vocal version with a corresponding instrumental take, in order to show the breadth of the songs appeal across genres. For instance, Ann-Margret’s take of “Begin the Beguine” is followed by the genteel, countrified guitar picking of Chet Atkins, while Mel Torme’s jaunty live version of “It’s De-Lovely” is preceded by a soft, soothing piano take by Vince Guaraldi. In one instance—Julie London’s “I Love You”—features the guitar work of Barney Kessel, who immediately follows her with his own version. If there’s one bum note, it’s that of Dirk Bogarde, whose singing leaves much to be desired, and provides the only blemish on an otherwise excellent compilation.
I Love You, Cole Porter not only serves as an excellent introduction to his music, but also to the jazz and pop music world of the late fifties and early sixties. If, at 49 songs, it feels a bit much, it shouldn’t; after all, this is a mere molecule drop in the ocean that is the catalogue of Cole Porter songs and covers. A finer introduction, you won’t find.