Doris Day - Topic

Doris Day's Sentimental Journey Play

Probably nobody knew when Columbia Records released Doris Day's Sentimental Journey in 1965 that it would be her last album of new material (not counting The Love Album, which she recorded in 1967 but which went unreleased until 1995). The singer was only in her early forties, after all, and if she hadn't sold many records lately, she remained a big movie star and her record contract had a while to run. Nevertheless, if she had to have a swan song, this was the right one. Day began her career as a big band singer with Les Brown in the 1940s, and this collection brought her full circle, presenting 11 songs copyrighted between 1940 and 1945 that were hits either for Brown or his competitors. Day, of course, knew the material backwards and forwards, and she sang it with complete assurance, as well as with a mature sensibility that savored the dreamy sentiments and the long-lined melodies. She seemed to take particular pleasure in claiming songs associated with other female singers of the era, making her own such standards as "I Had the Craziest Dream," "I Don't Want to Walk Without You," and "I Remember You" (all of which were hits for Harry James as sung by Helen Forrest), as well as "I'm Beginning to See the Light" and "It's Been a Long, Long Time" (James hits sung by Kitty Kallen) and "It Could Happen to You" (a hit for Jo Stafford). No doubt she had occasion to perform many of these songs on the Brown bandstand. The proceedings ended appropriately with her big Brown hit, "Sentimental Journey," the song that really launched her career and that, here, essentially closed out one aspect of it. ~ William Ruhlmann, Rovi

Latin for Lovers Play

In the wake of the Stan Getz albums Jazz Samba (1962) and especially Getz/Gilberto (1964), Brazilian bossa nova was all the rage with the jazz-pop set of the early and mid-'60s, and many pop singers took the opportunity to record albums full of songs by Antonio Carlos Jobim. Doris Day might not come to mind immediately as someone well-suited to the lightly rhythmic style, but she had always had a feel for mid-tempo material that provided a showcase for her warm, rich voice. Still, you might have thought of her as a bit lightweight for the easygoing, yet intricate Brazilian sound. But by her early forties, the eternally ingenuous singer finally was showing signs of maturity. She had taken a distinctly different tack on Love Him!, the 1964 album produced by her son, Terry Melcher, and here she sang the lyrics like a grown-up woman, her voice even betraying an attractive huskiness here and there. As a former band singer, she knew how to work with the beat, and so the rhythms didn't throw her at all. The result was a surprisingly satisfying change of pace for her. Unfortunately, rather than marking a new beginning in her recording career, it happened to come at the end. Latin for Lovers was the last new Doris Day album to be recorded (though it was released ahead of Doris Day's Sentimental Journey, which was actually recorded a couple of months earlier); all that followed were a few singles in 1966-1967 and a "lost" 1967 LP session, The Love Album, which languished unreleased in the Columbia vaults until Melcher found it in 1995. ~ William Ruhlmann, Rovi

Love Him! Play

Except for a single release of the title song from her film Move Over, Darling, Doris Day stayed away from the record racks for most of 1963, possibly dissatisfied with Columbia Records' efforts to record and promote her with outdated concept albums of old standards at the same time that she was the reigning queen of Hollywood. But in the winter of 1963-1964, she returned with her first new LP in more than a year, Love Him!, and it represented a whole new approach. The producer was her 21-year-old son, Terry Melcher, and he attempted to bring his mother's musical style up to date by banishing the silly concepts and carefully choosing contemporary material he thought would suit her. He got Brill Building pop songwriters Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil to pen the title song, a bolero in which a woman gives another woman advice on the man she has lost to her. And the rest of the material dated either from the last few years or had recently been revived. Thus, for example, "Since I Fell for You" might be a 1948 copyright, but it had been a hit for Lenny Welch in 1963. There were also songs associated with Elvis Presley and appropriations from the country and R&B charts. Melcher seemed to want to demonstrate that Day could sing a broader range of material than Columbia had been giving her, and she responded by throwing herself into performances of songs that had greater depth than those she usually sang. The approach didn't always work, but Day sounded much more engaged than she had on previous albums. The disc made the charts, but sales were difficult to estimate; in Billboard it just missed the Top 100, while in Cash Box it climbed into the Top 40, a significant commercial comeback. ~ William Ruhlmann, Rovi

The Doris Day Christmas Album Play

Christmas can perhaps be considered the most romantic holiday of the year (celebrants woo it weeks in advance, whereas Valentine's Day is more of a romantic interruption), and listening to The Doris Day Christmas Album, it sure feels that way. Some may find her voice unseasonably sultry but, at their core, many Christmas songs are really love songs (both love of hearth and that other kind). After all, "Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!" isn't really about snow at all; Day sets listeners straight on that subject with a smoldering version that ranks among the most honest interpretations of the song's real intent. Likewise, she doesn't gloss over the intrinsic sadness of many Yuletide songs; "I'll Be Home for Christmas" paints the picture of home and hearth so vividly that you begin to understand that, as sad as missing Christmas with family might be, the person singing really can conjure up the surroundings by memory in a pinch. Perhaps the album's saddest moment occurs with "Toyland," as Day sings in a dreamy, faraway voice of a magical land that invites a self-assessment of what is lost in becoming "grown up." It's not a depressing record by any means, but it is more of an "adult" Christmas album. Her versions of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" and "Silver Bells" are very good, aided throughout by excellent arrangements (no cheesy cut-rate band orchestras here; these guys are the real McCoy). If "The Christmas Song" and "White Christmas" aren't showstoppers, they're pleasant all the same. The extended introduction to "Winter Wonderland" is a nice touch, and Day's version of the little-known "Christmas Present" is a timely reminder that a person's presence is more important than their presents. While Doris Day isn't a singer as closely associated with Christmas as Nat "King" Cole, Perry Como, or Bing Crosby, The Doris Day Christmas Album is a good addition to any Yuletide collection. Like an extra log on the fire, putting this on will heat up your holidays nicely. ~ Dave Connolly, Rovi

Duet Play

Recorded late in 1961, this album is a milestone in Doris Day's career -- despite having generated no hits -- as her best long-player (and, by extension, her best CD), and her purest jazz solo album. Cut as a duet with André Previn (with Previn Trio bassist Red Mitchell and drummer Frank Capp providing occasional support), the album presents Day in the most intimate musical setting of her career. Her trademark style of singing works twice as well here as it did on her swing-era and early solo recordings. The repertory includes "Fools Rush In," and Alec Wilder's "Give Me Time," "Falling in Love Again," and a few Previn-authored pieces that hold up magnificently in this company. The CD reissue includes three previously unreleased outtakes, among them even more upbeat renditions of "Fools Rush In" and "Close Your Eyes." And the notes by Will Friedwald are also a treat. Worth tracking down; if you own only one Doris Day non-hits/non-swing-era CD, this is the one. ~ Bruce Eder, Rovi

I Have Dreamed Play

"The mood of these songs is dreamy," writes annotator Pete Martin, thus defining the theme of Doris Day's second LP of 1961. As usual, someone -- Day herself, her conductor, a Columbia Records A&R person -- had chosen a theme for her album and picked a group of songs, most of them interwar standards that derived from stage musicals or movies. Dreaminess was a concept familiar to any band singer of the 1940s, and Day was such a singer, so she certainly knew her way around "I'll Buy That Dream," even if the hit versions of the 1945 song were by such competitors as Helen Forrest (with Dick Haymes) and Kitty Kallen (as vocalist with Harry James' band). Her vocal style, warm, but never actually sensual, had always conformed to the unruffled approach of the '40s band singers, and she was right at home exploring sedate nighttime fantasy. Actually, though, the concept was a bit threadbare by now; Day had already recorded "Dream a Little Dream of Me" and "Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams (And Dream Your Troubles Away)" on her 1958 album Day by Night, and obvious choices such as "Dream," "I Had the Craziest Dream," and "Darn That Dream" were eschewed in favor of a handful of unknown songs. Day did well by such unusual theater choices as "My Ship" from Lady in the Dark and "Someday I'll Find You" from Private Lives, and orchestra director Jim Harbert (who contributed his own "I Believe in Dreams") swathed everything in blankets of strings. But the album was not all it could have been, and the use of second-rate material and a second-rate conductor suggested that Columbia was losing faith in Day as a recording artist after years of poor sales. Ironically, it became her first new album to chart since 1957. ~ William Ruhlmann, Rovi

What Every Girl Should Know Play

When Doris Day entered the recording studio to make her annual LP in December 1959, she was arguably at her peak as a movie star, having seen the release two months earlier of Pillow Talk, the first of the frothy comedies she would make in the late '50s and early '60s. But as a recording artist, she seemed to be in trouble. Since 1957, when both Day by Day and the soundtrack to The Pajama Game, in which she starred, made the Top Ten, she had not cracked the album charts, failing with Day by Night (1958) and Cuttin' Capers (1959). Unfortunately, What Every Girl Should Know was not the album to reverse this pattern. The concept, as expressed in Robert Wells and David Holt's 1954 title song, was the offering of advice to females, much of it, as it happened, written by men. The heart of the album was three Rodgers & Hammerstein classics: "A Fellow Needs a Girl" from Allegro, "What's the Use of Wond'rin'" from Carousel, and "Something Wonderful" from The King and I. All counseled patience and fidelity in the face of male failings. Elsewhere, things alternated between the dire (Duke Ellington's "Mood Indigo") and the cheery ("When You're Smiling"). Day brought her usual measured conviction and precise phrasing to every song, whether it was a classic or, especially toward the end of the disc, a mediocre obscurity. As the acceptable roles of women changed over the years, the album dated to the point of being embarrassing, but audiences didn't respond to it at first, either. It was another commercial failure from an artist audiences were more than happy to watch on the big screen, but increasingly indifferent toward on the hi-fi. ~ William Ruhlmann, Rovi

Hooray for Hollywood, Vol. 2 Play

An acceptable followup to the first volume. ~ Bruce Eder, Rovi

Hooray for Hollywood, Vol. 1 Play

Soft, pop-oriented material that is well known but not her most inspired repertoire. ~ Bruce Eder, Rovi

Day by Night Play

Doris Day had considerable success for a non-film project with Day by Day, an album of interwar ballads conducted by Paul Weston, in 1957. Naturally enough, she re-teamed with Weston for the following year's Day by Night, another thematic album, this one a "program of night songs," as the liner notes put it. Day and Weston were mostly concerned with night as it was discussed in the lyrics of the 1930s, when nine of the 12 songs were copyrighted. Instead of the small-band arrangements that had characterized Day by Day, Weston this time used horns and reeds for a big band accompaniment, as in the 1932 hit "Close Your Eyes," or more often employed a full string section. The focus always remained on Day, however, and she turned in typically knowing, conversational performances. The dreamy theme was just right for a singer who had come up in the warm-but-not-too-warm style of 1940s band singing; Day was able to bring these songs a sense of familiarity that never threatened to break through to real feeling. She was just right for "The Night We Called It a Day," a song introduced by the young Frank Sinatra in 1942 long before he turned serious, and she also made a good distaff alternative to the nonchalance of Bing Crosby on "Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams (And Dream Your Troubles Away)." Unfortunately, her chaste approach may have been out of step for the album market of the late '50s; while her movie career continued to go great guns and she even scored a Top Ten single with the near-rock of "Everybody Loves a Lover," Day by Night did not sell well enough to reach the charts. ~ William Ruhlmann, Rovi

Day Dreams Play

Doris Day's career has gone through so many stages that the starlet's movie fans might be surprised to discover her many jazz and pop sides at the local record shop. Not really a jazz singer in the Sarah Vaughn and Ella Fitzgerald sense, Day made her vocalizing name as a perpetually fresh-scrubbed singer of intimate ballads and pep rally swingers -- not to mention a good share of marginalia. Her flexibility and command always came through, though, whether her voice was awash in a slow, sentimental string arrangements or buoyed along by lively horn charts. After hitting the big time singing with Les Brown's orchestra and starting a successful acting career in the '40s, Day spent most of the '50s releasing novelty sides and standards collections like this one. Featuring mostly strings and some vocal backdrops, Day Dreams goes heavy on the hazy balladry and "girl alone" fare Day excelled at. Highlights include "You're My Thrill," "Bewitched," and "Imagination." ~ Stephen Cook, Rovi
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