Cuttin' Capers

by: Doris Day/Frank DeVol & His Orchestra

Doris Day was nearing her peak as a box-office star in 1958 and had just scored a Top Ten hit with the up-tempo "Everybody Loves a Lover," but her album sales had fallen off with the dreamy ballad collection Day by Night. So, when she came to cut a new LP in November, she teamed with conductor Frank DeVol and made a deliberately livelier record. As usual, nearly every song was chosen from the past, ranging from the 1925 copyright "I'm Sitting on Top of the World" (which Day had sung before in the 1955 film Love Me or Leave Me and its soundtrack album) to 1948's "Steppin' out With My Baby," an Irving Berlin composition introduced by Fred Astaire in Easter Parade. The exception was the newly written title song, which set the mood of light frolic and danceable tempos. The always-cheery Day was right at home with such material, especially "Why Don't We Do This More Often," into which she got some of the wholesome sexuality she was expressing in her movie roles. While not quite novelty material, however, this was not in general the best songwriting she had ever encountered, even though the songwriting credits included Berlin, Frank Loesser, Ira Gershwin, and Cole Porter. A second retread was "Makin' Whoopee," a song Day had sung with Danny Thomas in I'll See You in My Dreams and on the album of the film's songs she cut. Earlier she had sung the original lyrics; this time they were bowdlerized. It may seem unfair to note that an album intended to be lighthearted is also lightweight, but Cuttin' Capers ended up being slight despite the singer's usual high spirits. And it did not restore her to commercial success as an album-seller. ~ William Ruhlmann

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