Julie London: Five Classic Albums

London thought she had but a 'thimbleful of a voice', perhaps underestimating the impact of her intimate, understated delivery


Julie London’s Lonely Girl was the follow-up to her hugely popular Julie Is Her Name, which featured her classic Cry Me A River. The glamorous picture on the LP cover was said to have “launched a million dreams”, and that could apply to any one of her 29 album covers over the years. Bob Hope was right on the money when she appeared on his 1956 NBC television show. Holding her Calendar Girl gatefold he said “You don’t need a turntable to play it. You just look at the picture and your eyeballs revolve.”

All the qualities revealed on Julie Is Her Name are very much apparent on Lonely Girl, which was one of her favourite albums. Her crystal-clear diction and perfect intonation recall Jo Stafford and intimate torch-songs like Fools Rush In, Moments Like This, I Lost My Sugar In Salt Lake City and Where Or When are perfect vehicles for her intimate, understated delivery.

Incidentally, Bobby Troup’s Lonely Girl had been introduced by Sarah Vaughan in 1949 and it was the first of more than 30 of Troup’s compositions recorded by Julie London. They married in 1959.

The album benefits from Al Viola’s sensitive accompaniment. He was working with the Page Cavanaugh trio at the time and went on to work extensively with Frank Sinatra. After the sparse backgrounds heard on her first two releases, Calendar Girl features Pete King’s big band complete with strings and vocal backgrounds. A themed-album devoted to the months of the year, it has London is at her best on standards like June In January, I’ll Remember April, Memphis In June and September In The Rain. Her friend Arthur Hamilton, who wrote Cry Me A River, contributed Time For August and The Thirteenth Month.

Jimmy Rowles arranged Julie, which uses an uncredited band of Los Angeles star performers. I’m pretty sure the alto on Somebody Loves Me is Benny Carter; the tenor on Bye Bye Blackbird is probably Georgie Auld. The vocalist clearly delights in jazz-oriented material like Midnight Sun, Don’cha Go ’Way Mad and Indiana. She also revisits Daddy, which had been a hit for Troup in 1941.

Julie London felt she only had a “thimbleful of a voice” but luckily the critics at Billboard did not agree. They voted her Most Popular Female Vocalist in 1955, 1956 and 1957. Her recording of Cry Me A River was inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 2001.

CD1: (1) [Lonely Girl] Lonely Girl; Fools Rush In; Moments Like This; I Lost My Sugar In Salt Lake City; It’s The Talk Of The Town; What’ll I Do; When Your Love Has Gone; Where Or When; All Alone; Mean To Me; Remember; (2) [Calendar Girl] June In January; February Brings The Rain; Melancholy March; I’ll Remember April; People Who Are Born In May; Memphis In June; Sleigh Ride In July; Time For August; September In The Rain; This October; November Twilight; Warm December; The Thirteenth Month; (3) [Julie] Somebody Loves Me; Dream Of You; Daddy; Bye Bye Blackbird; Free And Easy; All My Life (74.05)
CD2: When The Red, Red Robin Comes Bob, Bob, Bobbin’ Along; Midnight Sun; You’re Getting To Be A Habit With Me; Don’cha Go ’Way Mad; Indiana; For You; (4) [London By Night] Well, Sir; That’s For Me; Mad About The Boy; In The Middle Of A Kiss; Just The Way I Am; My Man’s Gone Now; Something I Dreamed Last Night; Pousse Cafe; Nobody’s Heart; The Exciting Life; That Old Feeling; Cloudy Morning; (5) [Send For Me] Evenin’; What’s Your Story Morning Glory; Get On The Right Track; I Must Have That Man; ’Tain’t What You Do; Baby Come Home; Everyday I Have The Blues; Yes Indeed; Gee Baby Ain’t I Good To You; Cheatin’ On Me; Trav’lin Light; Send For Me (75.22)
London (v) with:
(1) Al Viola (elg). Hollywood, April 1955.
(2) Pete King & His Orchestra. Los Angeles, May 1956.
(3) Jimmy Rowles & His Orchestra. Los Angeles, May 1957.
(4) Pete King & His Orchestra. Los Angeles, May 1959.
(5) Jimmy Rowles & His Orchestra. Hollywood, 1960.
Avid Jazz AMSC1424