Love Swings Import
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The current vogue of taking songs from the American songbook, which has served Tony Bennett, Rod Stewart and Barry Manilow so well in recent years, is nothing new; Bobby Darin was doing it back in 1961. Love Swings tells the story of a relationship via 12 classic tracks, with the first six (which would have made up the original first side of the album) concerning the joys of being in a relationship and the second six detailing the downside. It is has been described as the most sophisticated album of Bobby Darin's career and it is hard to disagree. Hallmark.
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Anyone expecting a bunch of hard-swinging tracks is misled by the title. While many of the songs are uptempo numbers, particularly the ones depicting the early stages of love, there are also beautifully sung ballads such as Isham Jones's "There Is No Greater Love" and Jerome Kern and Leo Robin's often-overlooked "In Love in Vain." In general the uptempo numbers ("Long Ago and Far Away," "I Didn't Know What Time It Was," "How About You," "The More I See You," "It Had to Be You") appear in the first part of the album, coinciding with the excitement brought about by love, while the more pensive tunes ("Something to Remember You By," "Skylark," "Spring Is Here") surface on side B, as the relationship slowly begins to take a downturn. But by this time Darin had learned Sinatra's lesson from the classic 'Songs for Swinging Lovers' that there is no reason why a sad song shouldn't swing, and so we find here a nice uptempo reading of the Russ Columbo-associated "Just Friends," which Chet Baker had also recorded as a fast-paced number for Pacific a few years earlier. The album closes appropriately with a mid-tempo rendition of the self-mocking, hopeful "I Guess I'll Have to Change My Plan."
The twelve charts are arranged by Torrie Zito, and while he doesn't come anywhere near Nelson Riddle, Billy May, or Gordon Jenkins, who wrote such fine albums for the Capitol Sinatra, he does stay out of Darin's way on the swinging tracks and actually shows some flair at arranging the ballads. Darin sounds very comfortable and occasionally takes liberties with the lyrics, particularly on "How About You," where he finds a way to fit "a TV set," "fish and chips," and "rock'n'roll" into the lyrics and proclaims that Mrs. Darin's looks "kinda" give him a thrill! Unfortunately this is one of Hallmark's typical budget releases with very little information, but at least the sound is good, and being one of Darin's most artistically successful concept albums, it really is well worth picking up at such an affordable price. Why this collection failed to capture the public's imagination (and spending money) when it was first released remains a mystery to me. I only wish that Darin had recorded many more discs like this one...