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Baker's Dozen

The Right Things: David McAlmont's Favourite Albums
The Quietus , October 1st, 2015 13:22

As McAlmont And Butler mark the 20th anniversary of The Sound Of... with a deluxe reissue and a run of tour dates, David McAlmont pens us his own Baker's Dozen, moving through his 13 most formative albums


Perry Como - 40 Greatest Hits
My mother bought herself the 1973 single of Perry Como's cover of the Don McLean song, 'And I Love You So'. I heard 'American Pie' on the radio. I didn't know that there was a connection. 'And I Love You So' was just a song by a grey haired man that my mum liked. A year later when we moved to Norfolk she bought a double album by the same grey haired man.

I remember poring over the pictures of the grey haired man in his youth with people like Danny Kaye, Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney, etc. He had a nice face. I liked his voice. I was too young to have taste then; I value that now. This was an important record for me. When I listen to Perry now I hear how much he borrowed from Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra, but back then it was just a sumptuous trove of singalong songs. My sister and I loved it. We played it more than my mum did.

Perry was one of those singers who recorded anything. Some songs were romantic and reminded me of Walt Disney movies - 'Magic Moments', 'Catch A Falling Star', 'Moonglow' - and some were silly fun: 'Round And Round', 'Hot Diggity', 'Don't Let The Stars Get In Your Eyes', 'Delaware'. Some songs were grand and melodramatic, such as 'Prisoner Of Love', 'Temptation', 'Days Of Wine And Roses', 'Try To Remember', 'I Believe'; others wouldn't survive the coming of taste and adulthood - 'Seattle', 'Caterina', 'I Think Of You'. Even then, the line, "And suddenly my pillow is your face and my arms…" didn't seem quite right.

With reflection I see that it was a major introduction to some of the 20th century's finest songwriters - Burt Bacharach, Don McLean, Kris Kristofferson - but my later encounters with Nat, Frank, Ella, Dinah, Billie, Tony, etc. would overwhelm any regard I may have had for Perry in my youth. On the other hand, it was an album that I learned and sang along with all the time. I also wondered what it was about Dubya the first time I saw him: his resemblance to older Perry is uncanny.