just 10 Desert Island discs, these three would be included. Even with
all the experience she'd gained from working with Louis before these recordings
were made, it's still surprising to think these were her real solo debut.
So much has been written about arrangers Nelson Riddle and Billy May that
there's no need to go on about them here, except to say Keely rose to
the occasion of working with them.
to do", we like to turn out all the lights and play When Day Is
Done at top volume. It's impossible to tell if it's a Nelson Riddle
song with vocals by Keely Smith or the other way around.
Wish You Love (1957)
Arranged & Conducted by Nelson Riddle
first solo album really was, as she puts it, "first class".
Great songs and beautiful arrangements by Nelson Riddle make for
a memorable disc. Personally, we like the song I Wish You Love
but the lyrics, a nice, but uninspired list of things the singer
wishes for her ex-lover, make it less than a classic. We can also
easily take a quick nap during Mr. Wonderful and Fools
Rush In (Where Angels Fear to Tread), but otherwise it's one
of her best. Riddle's Sinatra-esque arrangements for When Your
Lover Has Gone and When Day Is Done are pop music classics.
on I Wish You Love: "You know what
happened when we sat down to select the songs? In those days, I
didn't really talk to anyone but Louis. And we had a record producer
named Voyle Gilmore and he played a bunch of standards and he said,
"I want to play you a really pretty French song." He said, "I won't
mean nothing and you won't do it in the album but I just thought
I'd play it for you." And he played I Wish You Love. So,
at the end of him playing all these songs I looked at Louis, I said,
"Babe, I'll sing any 11 songs y'all want me to but I want to sing
I Wish You Love." Mr. Gilmore said, "That'll never be a hit!"
I wanted to sing I Wish You Love and Louis looked at the
man and he said. "She's gonna sing that song!" and that's how we
Nelson Riddle was given keys that I sang these songs in, and every
one of those arrangements is a Nelson Riddle arrangement. Now, that
is not a normal procedure for Louis Prima. Louis Prima used to write
all the arrangements for our group. He always had say-so over everything.
But I think because Nelson was Sinatra's arranger Louis decided
not to try to tell this man what to do, just to go ahead and write.
So that's why when people ask me about When Day is Done and
When Your Lover Has Gone and things like that that have those
up tempos, I always give Nelson the credit because those were his
ideas. They came from his head, not Louis'. "I Wish You Love
is really, truly Keely Smith. The others are a little step away
Arranged & Conducted by Billy May
three of Keely's Capitol albums are the reason we love her so much,
but if it's possible to have a favorite of the favorites, it would
be Politely, despite it's odd title. Arranger Billy May can
swing and be sensitive at the same time and Keely is the perfect
foil for his exuberance. There's not a bum song on the disc.
find her lyric for I Can't Get Started somewhat revealing.
Referring to her husband Louis Prima, she sings: I've been constructed
by Louie "P". Not instructed, but constructed.
on Politely: "Working
with Billy May was a lot different than working with Nelson because
Nelson is laid back and kind of quiet - until you cross him and
then he can let you know who's boss. But he was very kind and very
charming, and very tender with me - because I was so young - maybe
not in age, but in experience and recording, and so forth, that
he just, he kind of knew how to talk to me. And he knew I didn't
talk to anybody but Louis. And he really treated me wonderfully.
And Billy May, on the other hand, is sharp and smart and fast and
witty, and was wonderful to work with - don't misunderstand me.
He just scored my arrangements in the Sinatra album. And I love
Billy. But it was a different album. You know the songs were treated
differently. And it was a pleasure and a thrill to work with Billy
Arranged & Conducted by Nelson Riddle
so we have another favorite. This album swings a little harder than
her previous Nelson Riddle collaboration, I Wish You Love,
but it's just as sweet. There are many highlights but her There
Will Never Be Another You is textbook post-Big Band Swing.
on Swingin' Pretty: "You know what
we did in Swinging Pretty? We recorded in Chicago actually,
because we were working the Chez Paree, so Nelson came to Chicago.
And Louis included our small group into Nelson's big band."