CD Review: In Person Julie London at the Americana

Look they did too, and listened, forty years ago in
1964 when Julie London played at New York's Hotel Americana (on 7th Avenue). This was an evening of sultry saloon singing that kept New York City audiences wanting more. IN PERSON JULIE LONDON AT THE AMERICANA was recorded live and demonstrates why Miss London was one of the top female vocalists of the 1950's and early 60's. Her singing career sailed effortlessly beginning with her first album JULIE IS HER NAME in 1955. It contained her most well-known recording, "Cry Me A River."  The single spent over 13 weeks on Billboard's charts and the album 20. Miss London was one of the top female vocalists three years in a row (1955, 1956 and 1957). By the 1960's Miss London was appearing in films and by the early to-mid 70's a generation of pubescent boys knew her as Nurse Dixie McCall on the television series "Emergency."

At her engagement at the Hotel Americana, captured by this recording demonstrates, that although her voice was small she commanded her way around a song to smoothly seduce an audience. She was able to take a song apart with breathless ease and yet keep it together. Listen to "My Baby Just Cares For Me" and "Daddy." The evening of songs was arranged and conducted by Don Bagley who did a superb job of pacing. This was an evening of surprising arrangement even of well-known songs. Note for Streisand fans, the arrangements Miss London sings of "Cry Me A River" and "Gotta Move" are eerily similar to the now classic recordings of La Babs. Three Garland classics "The Trolley Song," "The Man That Got Away" and "By Myself" sound fresh and don't force any comparisons. 

This remaster of the original 1964 Liberty label recording is an excellent introduction to Miss London's unique singing style. Her style works in 2004 because it posses a universal timeless quality. She makes one believe that every female is easily alluring and can turn any man into putty just by singing. DRG is to be highly commended for the fine job of bringing Julie London back to New York City via this CD first time issue.

Julie London possessed the stylistic confidence to allow her sexuality into her voice in order to deliver a song in a way that made that song uniquely hers.  Elegant and precise phrasing was not her approach—she draped her voice around a song. Rebecca Luker has the sensual Julie London quality just under the surface with the added dimension of a stronger and superior voice. If such things were possible, seeing and hearing these two ladies live on stage together would make one exciting evening of song, and then some.

Tuesday - March 16, 2004