Nat King Cole’s collaborations with Gordon Jenkins rank among the finest from either artist or arranger. Love Is the Thing (1957) — Cole’s first stereophonic long player — topped the album charts for eight weeks and remains the epitome of the pair’s undeniable compatibility. The opener “When I Fall in Love” is considered by many to be nothing short of definitive. Modern listeners might recall the 1996 Grammy winning remake featuring an electronically created duet with the senior Cole crooning beside his daughter Natalie Cole. On the original, the restrained orchestration perfectly adapts to the singer’s verdant vocals. Similarly, “Stardust” sparkles as a flawless musical alliance is formed with Cole’s warm and inviting narrative weaving over Jenkins’ intimate score. Simply stated, both songs are unmitigated masterworks — and we’re only two cuts into the dozen-song LP. Another key to the project’s success is Jenkins ability to rein in just enough instrumentation to support Cole’s uniformly restrained leads. Examples abound throughout, with “Stay as Sweet as You Are,” “At Last,” and the rural sophistication of “When Sunny Gets Blue.” The heartfelt “Love Letters” and even the comparatively light “Ain’t Misbehavin'” incorporate a sonic synergy as the airy string section glides between Cole’s line by line phrasing. Also worth mentioning is the Jenkins original “I Thought About Marie,” as it sits comfortably beside some of the most time-honored tunes in 20th century popular music.
01 – When I Fall in Love
02 – Stardust
03 – Stay as Sweet as You Are
04 – Where Can I Go Without You?
05 – Maybe it’s Because I Love You Too Much (mono)
06 – Love Letters (mono)
07 – Ain’t Misbehavin’
08 – I Thought About Marie
09 – At Last
10 – It’s All in the Game
11 – When Sunny Gets Blue
12 – Love is the Thing
13 – When I Fall in Love (mono)
14 – Stardust (mono)
15 – Stay as Sweet as You Are (mono)
16 – Where Can I Go Without You? (mono)
17 – Maybe It’s Because I Love You Too Much (mono)
18 – Love Letters (mono)
19 – Ain’t Misbehavin’ (mono)
20 – I Thought About Marie (mono)
21 – At Last (mono)
22 – It’s All in the Game (mono)
23 – When Sunny Gets Blue (mono)
24 – Love is the Thing (mono)
Nat “King” Cole – vocals, with orchestra; arranged & conducted by Gordon Jenkins.
Originally released in 1957 on Capitol Records, LLC, as SW-824.
Quality: eac, flac, cue, log, artwork