Cocktail Hour

by: Mario Lanza

There aren't any frills on the volume in Allegro's Cocktail Hour series dedicated to Mario Lanza. The complete lack of recording information isn't a tragedy though, since this album was obviously produced for beginners who don't need to know where all the performances originated. The lack of any essay or notes on Lanza's life is more of a disappointment, since novices could use at least a few words about what made him one of the greatest popular tenors of the century. What sinks this collection, apart from the leadoff track (the original version of his best-known classic "Be My Love,") is the fact that virtually every other song here was taken from live appearances (with the audience noise clipped at the end). The songs and Lanza's performances aren't bad by any means, but for the kind of people this compilation is targeted at, it's a terrible move and smacks of a sham, pure and simple. Also, "Be My Love" appears not once but twice, in a "reprise" version inserted at the end of disc two. Even though there aren't many good Lanza collections on the market, it's all but impossible to recommend an album that attempts to cheat listeners. ~ John Bush

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