Monday, July 01, 2002


Clooney's biggest hits available on CD

By Larry Nager
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Thousands of Rosemary Clooney's recordings are available on CD: the auditions made to land the teenage Clooney Sisters a job on WLW, her smash hits for Columbia in the early '50s, the sophisticated pop ballads she recorded with Nelson Riddle in the early '60s and the superb jazz albums she made for Concord Jazz, beginning in the late '70s and up until her death.

        The early years

        16 Biggest Hits (Sony Legacy; $11.98). All her early hits, including “Hey There,” “Tenderly,” “Come On-A My House” and “Half as Much.”

        Blue Rose (Sony Legacy, $16.98) One of her personal favorites, her album with the Duke Ellington Orchestra is a pop-jazz masterwork.

        Something to Remember Me By (Jasmine; $15.98). A collection of her '50s radio appearances including duets with Bing Crosby.

        Red Garters/Irving Berlin's White Christmas (Collectables; $15.98). This two-fer offers the songs from Rosie's biggest hit movie and worst flop (but with pretty good songs).

        Li'l Abner (1956 Original Broadway Cast) (Sony, $11.98 CD). Ms. Clooney wasn't in the show, but she did record “It's a Nuisance Having You Around,” a song that, though cut from the final version of the play, is included in this new reissue as a bonus track.

        The middle years

        In 1956, the rock 'n' roll era arrived, and Elvis' blue suede shoes stomped all over Rosie's patent-leather pumps. Her hits stopped, but the beautiful music didn't. After her Columbia contract ended, she recorded a straight-ahead jazz LP for Coral and signed with RCA, creating an eclectic body of work from country to spirituals to pop standards.

        Swing Around Rosie (Verve; $18.98). A reissue of her 1958 jazz album with the Buddy Cole Trio.

        Fancy Meeting You Here (RCA; $16.98). An easy-going duet album with longtime pal Bing Crosby of songs with an international theme.

        The Classic Rosemary Clooney, (RCA; $11.98). Great songs sung beautifully.

        Rosie Solves the Swingin' Riddle (Koch International; $12.98). A reissue of her 1960 RCA LP with the Nelson Riddle Orchestra.

        Bluebird's Best: The Girl Singer (RCA; $11.98). A nicely varied set of her RCA recordings that came out just last month.

        After RCA, her brief tenure with Frank Sinatra's Reprise label resulted in some fine recordings that, unfortunately, weren't what the public was buying at the time. Most have aged beautifully.

        Love (Warner Bros.; $15.98). Recorded with Mr. Riddle (at the end of their affair), it's a bittersweet collaboration. The CD release includes bonus tracks.
        Quiet, then comeback

        With the Beatles and the '60s rock at full volume, not much was heard from Rosie. In 1968, she suffered a nervous breakdown after the death of her friend Bobby Kennedy (a lifelong liberal Democrat, she was campaigning for him and was only yards away when he was assassinated). The music was stilled, seemingly forever.

        In the late '70s, with the help of old friend Crosby (and his drummer, Jake Hanna, an A&R man for Concord Jazz Records), she launched a comeback that landed her a contract with that label, then one of the only companies recording mainstream jazz, swing and classic pop. All are worthy additions to any CD collection of jazz or vocal pop. Some are essential.

        Everything's Coming Up Rosie (1977; $17.98). The album that started it all, with star turns by trumpeter Bill Berry and tenor saxophonist Scott Hamilton.

        Rosie Sings Bing (1978; $17.98) Cal Collins joins Rosie's all-star backup band.

        Here's to My Lady Tribute to Billie Holiday (1979; $17.98). If you get only one of Rosie's Concord Jazz sets, this is it, featuring Mr. Collins, Mr. Hamilton and the rest of the label's stellar house combo.

        Rosemary Clooney Sings Ira Gershwin (1980; $17.98). Great songs, great band, great singing.

        With Love (1981; $17.98).

        Rosemary Clooney Sings the Music of Cole Porter (1982; $17.98).

        Rosemary Clooney Sings the Music of Harold Arlen (1983; $17.98).

        My Buddy (1983) Her album with the Woody Herman Orchestra.

        Rosemary Clooney Sings the Music of Irving Berlin (1984; $17.98).

        Rosemary Clooney Sings Ballads (1985; $17.98). A particularly fine song selection, including her poignant, “Thanks For The Memory.''

        Rosemary Clooney Sings the Music of Jimmy Van Heusen (1986; $17.98).

        Rosemary Clooney Sings the Lyrics of Johnny Mercer (1987; $17.98).

        Show Tunes (1989; $17.98).

        The Music of Rodgers, Hart & Hammerstein (1990; $17.98).

        For the Duration (1991; $17.98). Her tribute to the Greatest Generation in songs of World War II.

        Girl Singer (1992; $17.98). A wide range of tunes, including “Sweet Kentucky Ham.”

        Do You Miss New York? (1993; $17.98).

        Still on the Road (1994; $17.98). A batch of songs with travel themes, plus a rare modern composition, Paul Simon's “Still Crazy After All These Years.”

        Demi-Centennial (1995; $17.98). A nostalgic set, including new versions of “White Christmas” and “Mambo Italiano.”

        Dedicated to Nelson (1996; $17.98). A heartfelt, virtuosic tribute to her old bandleader/lover.

        White Christmas (1996; $17.98) Her holiday album.

        Mothers & Daughters (1997; $17.98). An album of maternal-themed songs.

        At Long Last (1998; $17.98).

        Brazil (1999; $17.98). Rosie goes bossa nova, with help from her young disciples Diana Krall and John Pizzarelli.

        Songs From the Girl Singer A Musical Autobiography (1999; $25.99) This two-CD set is a great collection, an aural companion to her fine Girl Singer autobiography.

        Sentimental Journey (2001; $17.98). Rosie singing with the swing revival band Big Kahuna & the Copa Cat Pack.

        Box sets

        For completists for whom money is no object, there are three exhaustive box sets from Germany's Bear Family label.

        Come On-A My House (Bear Family; $219.98). A seven-CD box set that includes a 76-page hardcover book, that traces the earliest portion of her career, from the Clooney Sisters through her Columbia hits.

        Memories of You (Bear Family; $219.98) Another seven CDs, including her entire Blue Rose Ellington collaboration, all of her children's records and live recordings.

        Many a Wonderful Moment (Bear Family; $219.98) The third volume, tracing her recordings for various labels, including the Coral jazz album and the RCA records cited above. This one packs eight CDs, along with a hard-cover book.


Rosemary Clooney Remembered
Click through photo gallery
Maysville mourns its Rosie
Rosie's friends remember courageous, talented woman
Our critics pick their Clooney favorites
- Clooney's biggest hits available on CD
Clooney's movie roles
Through the years with Rosemary Clooney
Condolences and memorials
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