Smith - Exquisite - Alone (In My Room) and more
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A quote from the original liner notes says that, "(Alone) In My Room is the first of many emotion packed albums destined to catapult exquisite Verdelle Smith to the heights of entertainment fame and distinction." Perhaps that did not come true but the key word here is "exquisite". That is why we chose it for the title of this collection. Another key word comes from the name of one of the tracks on the original album, "Sexy". Aside from the exquisiteness, there is something else that comes through in each song that Verdelle sings whether it is heart breaking, uplifting or anywhere in between and that is sexiness. Not the va-va-voom kind of sexiness that is usually associated with the word "sexy" but a sensuality that has an appeal beyond the domain of the physical. Though one might be tempted to compare Verdelle Smith's voice to a sort of hybrid combination of part Dusty, part Dionne and part Mary Wells with bits of Ketty Lester and Mitty Collier tossed in, these comparisons might be better discouraged. Verdelle Smith has a sound all her own. She possesses heightened sensitivity that makes one feel as though they might disappear if one were touched too aggressively after listening to her.
Without really knowing what went on in the real world when the exemplary songwriting/producing team of Paul Vance and Lee Pockriss met up with Verdelle Smith one can perhaps project, the hope was that Miss Smith would become to Vance and Pockriss what Dionne Warwick(e) had become to Bacharach and David. The loss is ours that this did not chance to happen. This collection begins with the entire original Capitol album "(Alone) In My Room" and is followed by what we have ascertained to be all of Verdelle's other recordings.
The album is a mix of contemporary songs co-authored by Vance and Pockriss and standards, most of which are imaginatively reinvented, particularly the bossa nova section of "Autumn Leaves" and the cha-cha version of "Don't Get Around Much Anymore". Also covered is Vance and Pockriss' own standard, "Catch A Falling Star". The blow-you-a-kiss-in-the-wind version of "Toot, Toot, Tootsie" is an enchanting and unexpected surprise akin to something Eartha Kitt might have done. "A Piece Of The Sky" and "Walk Tall" are perhaps the most top 40-esque songs. The former has an "Uptown"/"Down In The Boondocks" sort of vibe though the message of the song has environmental rather than socioeconomic love concerns. It was on the flip side of Verdelle's second single, "Tar And Cement" which was not on the album. The mod beat "Walk Tall" (the flip side of "Alone (In My Room)") was brilliantly covered by the duo 2 of Clubs becoming their only Hot 100 single and was also covered by Sandra Dee in the film "Doctor, You've Got To Be Kidding". And no, we're not kidding.
of "Juanito/Life Goes On" had been released on Columbia in 1965.
There was an additional Columbia promo with "Juanito" on both
sides that was released in April of 1966, shortly after the single of
"(Alone) In My Room" (on Capitol) had reached #62 on Billboard's
Hot 100. This re-release was obviously Columbia's attempt to cash in on
Verdelle's rising star but it wouldn't pay off.
next Capitol single, "Tar And Cement" had been an Italian song,
"Il Ragazzo Della Via Gluck". After Vance and Pockriss did their
magic on it by creating an English language version, it would become Verdelle's
biggest hit. The song is all about finding loneliness and disillusionment
in the big city and returning to home and nature only to find it paved
over. Perhaps Joni Mitchell's humorous take on the same subject "Big
Yellow Taxi" was inspired by the sentiment in this song - all of
which continues to come to pass. The song reached #38 on Billboard's Hot
100 and was a #1 smash in Australia and a hit in many other countries
around the world though, oddly enough, not in England. These records came
out back in the day when if a single was making waves, an album was quickly
packaged and released so frequently, the A side of a follow up single
was not on the album which probably explains the absence of "Tar
And Cement" from the album.
Here is the final quote from the original liner notes that will ring true no matter how old these recordings become, "…here it is, an inviting collection of golden oldies and contemporary hits, all made intriguingly current by the dynamically sensitive voice of Miss Verdelle Smith."
- Sun PK
- 11 are from the Capitol LP "(Alone) In My Room" released in
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