Como Swings original album
Perry Como
COMO SWINGS ~ UK album notes
with Mitchell Ayres and His Orchestra
Barbershop quartets were prominent at the turn of the century and before as examples of close harmony singing in popular music, often performing a cappella and delighting their audiences with their mellow, unaccompanied harmonies. No evidence has come to light to date as to whether Pierino Ronald Como was ever a member of a barbershop quartet, but he certainly was a barber in his early days and he did try out his singing tones on his seated customers.
Italian by descent, Perry was born into a traditionally large family on May 18, 1912, in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, and is one of those much-discussed and highly rated candidates for life’s good fortune in being the seventh son of a seventh son. He had an inward motivation and zest to succeed that belies his now world-famous reputation for casual relaxation, and was helping after school in a local barbershop to earn pocket money when he was ten. Four years later, Perry reckoned he was ready to open his own hairdressing establishment, in line with his ambition to become the best barber in Canonsburg; but he complied with his father’s wishes that he should at least complete his high school education before paying full-time attention to other people’s heads on a professional basis.
By 1933, the year of his twenty-first birthday, Perry had been a barber for nearly four years, and was in sight of achieving his ambition of being the premier one in Canonsburg. He had also acquired the habit of singing softly to his customers whilst working on their hair or stubble, and they were unanimous in telling him he ought to take up singing professionally. This wasn’t a hopeful ploy to encourage him to stop and give his full attention to what he was doing with his scissors or razor; they really meant it. Perry was planning to get married in 1933, and realized that extra money earned by singing would prove very useful in facilitating his matrimonial aims.
He auditioned for Freddy Carlone, a popular local bandleader, and did so well that Carlone offered him a substantial salary to join on a full-time basis. Perry agreed with some reluctance, influenced by the money and figuring that he could always resign after the wedding and return to barbering. Fate dictated otherwise for the seventh son of a seventh son, however, and the next three years were spent touring the mid-west of the USA with the Carlone band in a hard, exacting but rewarding series of gigs that furnished the grounding and launching pad of the Como singing career.
In 1936, whilst singing with the Carlone band in a casino in Warren, Ohio, Perry was heard by Ted Weems, a nationally popular and successful bandleader, who invited him to join his organization. With typical self-effacing modesty, Perry later described the invitation as being due to the fact that Weems had just won a pile on the roulette table and had a vocal vacancy to fill anyway. Weems put the record straight by retorting that he had instantly liked what he had heard and so had the other paying customers, who had demanded six encores before they would let Perry leave the stage.
He stayed with Weems until 1942 when the bandleader went into the armed forces. Perry decided to go solo on the night club and theatre circuits, and steadily progressed, building upon the reputation he had established by appearing and broadcasting with the Weems band. In 1943, he signed a recording contract with RCA, with whom he has remained ever since, and in 1945 he reached the top rung of stardom with two million-selling hits, Till the End of Time (a pop adaptation of Chopin’s Polonaise in A flat), and a Rodgers and Hammerstein classic from "Carousel," If I Loved You.
The mellow, well-modulated Como voice with its smooth, even vibrato was an ideal vehicle for romantic ballads and more rhythmic numbers, and, whilst Perry freely acknowledges the influence of Bing Crosby on his own style, it is irrefutable that the Como tones are uniquely original and in a class of their own. So were his television shows between 1952 and 1957, which set new high standards in warm, polished small-screen entertainment, won virtually every award available, and establishes a pattern which appertains today. To cite one small example, Perry sat on a stool to sing to us long before Andy Williams and all the others did, and Val Doonican’s rocking chair was of direct descent.
This album is a very pleasant souvenir of those days with arrangements and accompaniment in the capable hands of the late Mitchell Ayres, who was Perry’s musical director on TV and elsewhere for many years. It was recorded in 1959, but, as always in Perry’s case, the date is immaterial because the projection of the songs is timeless. Whether they be Cole Porter classics such as I’ve Got You Under My Skin and Begin the Beguine; jazz standards like St. Louis Blues and Mood Indigo; Bobby Troup’s neat travelogue Route 66, or an inconsequential ditty such as Let a Smile Be Your Umbrella, the Como treatment makes a song memorable and a permanent pleasure. Canonsburg lost a good barber back in 1933, but the world gained a great singer who sounds as good now in 1976 as he did when he made this album.

Original RCA Victor Album

Como Swings original album 1959Como Swings original album

Composer Index
A Perry Como Discography 
& Digital Companion

RCA Victor Memorial| Site Links | All AlbumsAll Songs | The Recording Sessions |

First Edition Summer 1992
Second Edition Christmas 1993
Web Page Edition Christmas 1997
25th Anniversary Revision November, 2017
Digital Upgrade August, 2018
Easter 2023 Revised Edition
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Friday, April 07, 2023