Saturday Night with Mr. C.

by: Perry Como

The conceit behind Perry Como's spring 1958 LP Saturday Night With Mr. C. was that it might have been the audio portion of an episode of The Perry Como Show, his one-hour variety series that ran on NBC between eight and nine on Saturday nights, that is, if Como himself were the program's only performer. Backed by the Mitchell Ayres Orchestra and the Ray Charles Singers, as he was on TV, Como opened with his opening theme, "Dream Along With Me," and closed with his closing theme, "You Are Never Far Away." In between, he delivered a miscellaneous series of popular songs dating from the 1910s to the 1950s, with several on each side bunched together as medleys after a performance of the "Letters Theme" that each week introduced audience requests. Jack Andrews and Joe Lipman divided up the arranging chores, regularly coming up with gimmicky, ear-catching orchestrations that made a contrast with Como's sonorous, slightly nasal baritone, which bore through each song agreeably, rendering them all equal. Como was as likely to borrow from his chief influence, Bing Crosby ("Accentuate the Positive"), or another predecessor, Rudy Vallée ("Whiffenpoof Song"), as he was to draw from Broadway ("Almost Like Being in Love") or the hit parade of the early 1950s ("Vaya Con Dios"). The point was that any sort of song could be subjected to the Como treatment and become an expression of his disembodied style. At 49 minutes, the album ran as long as the show minus commercials, but a bit long for an LP, and RCA reissued it a year later (LPM-1971) having deleted "Come Rain or Come Shine," a song with a bluesy fervor that was beyond Como's ken, anyway. ~ William Ruhlmann

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