There never was a singing duo act quite like that of Steve and Eydie who shared their personal and professional lives for over fifty years and on stage, in cabaret, or on US late-night and variety television shows, their playful husband-and-wife banter was always humorous as they scored points over one another. I’m sure they would not have wanted their careers to have been any other way but listening to their prolific solo albums, it’s clear both were undervalued as singers in their own right.
Vocally Steve was up there with Jack Jones, Vic Damone, Tony Bennett and even his friend Sinatra, but was invariably overlooked when such talent was discussed. Listening to this excellent combination of two albums, I was struck how great Steve could swing, turn a Latin lilt or purely emote a tender ballad. Originally released by United Artists Records, LAWRENCE GOES LATIN (1961), with Don Costa as arranger/conductor, allowed Steve to reinvent a dozen popular Broadway showstoppers from near and far with a Latin beat. THE SOUND OF MUSIC, JUST IN TIME, SMALL WORLD, EVERYTHING’S COMIN’ UP ROSES and TONIGHT reflect songs from late Fifties hits; reaching back to the Forties for PEOPLE WILL SAY WE’RE IN LOVE and BEWITCHED, BOTHERED AND BEWILDERED and heading back to the early Fifties for OUT OF THIS WORLD and TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT. By doing so, the choices are a satisfying survey of Broadway’s best-loved numbers ideally suited to Steve’s style, with the Latin arrangements ensuring the singer’s fresh approach in his inimitable way.
There are eight included tracks from STEVE LAWRENCE CONQUERS BROADWAY (1962) a compilation of songs from his various United Artists albums and to avoid duplication four songs originally extracted from LAWRENCE GOES LATIN have been replaced by six reaching back to Steve’s Coral tenure and BEGIN THE BEGUINE, SO IN LOVE and THE SONG IS YOU are among excellent choices. Inadvertently, the album’s title predicted Steve’s success two years later in his first Broadway musical, WHAT MAKES SAMMY RUN? for which he received a Tony nomination.
Sepia’s excellent remastering applies with presentation including original album covers and liner notes. The CD availability of these Steve Lawrence albums is very welcome.