Park Engineering

 John Park, 32 the Loaning, Motherwell, North Lanarkshire, Strathclyde, Scotland, U.K. ML1 3HE

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Crooner Kings Weekly news July 2014

 Their voices are so big and velvety, they can be heard over a full orchestra, while merely breathing the words -- the crooners rule! There are all kinds of singers, and we all have different tastes, but in the history of music, there's never been anything to match those suave gents with voices to make the earth move and bring a tear to your eye.   The word Crooner was first used in the USA, to donate a singer usually doing jazz standards, from the great American Songbook, in a sentimental style, and sitting right up close to the microphone. Today, everybody from Rod Stewart to Robbie Williams has attempted songs first made classics by the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Sarah Vaughn and others.  But, with one modern exception, we reckon the best crooners of all time were the guys who made it famous in the first place. So here, to celebrate those wonderful singers who made every word seem important, who could break you're heart or make you smile with the slightest vocal quiver, are our top 10 crooners of all time. 

1 Frank Sinatra 

It's all been said about this guy, who started every trend in music, for many years, had gents across the globe copying his style fashion style and dames swooning at his feet. Ol' Blue eyes alleged Mafia links, somehow, just added to his glamour, and he could take any song and make it seem like his own.  In the heartbroken, ones from albums like Sings for only the lonely of Wee small hours, you can hear every shot of Bourbon, each bitter cigarette, in that stunning voice. Our favourite is, It Was a very good new year -- forget My Way and the countless classics, Sinatra's way with words on that one was remarkable.

2 Perry Como 

Another Italian American, another true great. The seventh--born of 13 brothers and sisters, he had to make himself heard in the house, but as a singing superstar, he made his point with a quieter, super smooth vocal delivery.  All the more surprising as he only spoke Italian until he went to school, but perhaps that exotic edge to his accent helped him along the road to stardom?  Childhood saw him play trombone in a brass band, guitar at weddings and organ in church -- but nobody asked if he could sing. When fame arrived, fans would often ask if it was true he'd stood on a box as a kid and helped at his dad's barber shop. Perry always had hairdressing tools with him, and would prove it by cutting his fans' hair!.  On his own TV show, he had Kirk Douglas as a guest one week -- fresh from his film role as Vincent Van Gough, Kirk still sported his beard, which Como shaved off while interviewing him.

3 Bing Crosby                       

White Christmas, in the most famous bass-baritone voice ever, remains one of Bing's pinnacles -- but he sold other records , too, you know half a million to be precise!. They reckon that's more, in fact, in fact, than Sinatra sold overall, and Crosby was as well known for his films as his singing. Almost uniquely in this lot, his parents had no Italian roots, with England and Ireland his main family tree.   Only Clarke Gable ang John Wayne sold more cinema tickets than Bing, but that ultra deep voice just continues to fascinate people around the planet.

4 Andy Williams

It's a strange thing about this guy, that he got cooler the longer he lived. Andy started off with an impossibly--shiny smile, lovely sensible outfits and easy listening music. Towards the end of his career, in his tux and shades, doing versions of modern pop hits, he was the coolest guy guy around, and a whole new generation fell in love with his voice. It was unmistakeable like Sinatra, you could never hear Andy Williams and mistake him for anyone else, especially if it's his haunting Moon River. At one time Williams had more gold records, with vast sales, than Elvis, O'l blue eyes or Johnny Mathis another great crooner who could have made our list. He also showed that cool side when the US tried to chuck John Lennon out and they reckon it was Andy's help that kept the former Beatle in the States.

 

5 Dean Martin

We all like a song when we're tipsy, and it definitely makes us think we sound better than we do.   in many a Dean hit, you can almost hear him hiccup, but he was actually a fantastic crooner, right up near the top. With pals like his in the Rat Pack, of course, he had some really gifted singing buddies to learn from --- but Dean had the witty one--liners and relaxed stage presence that they could learn from, too.  We got all the proof we needed that crooning was the ideal style for Dean when he toured in the 1980's with his old mate Sinatra.

6 Al Martino

That mix of Italian and American has always lent itself to crooning, and this fellow was so good at it, he even popped up as a crooner in the Godfather Movies. Like other crooners, Martino also dabbled in easy listening and swing as well as out-and-out pop.   But it was when he got up real close to that microphone, and sang like his life depended on it, that millions headed straight to the record store to buy his latest release. All very different from his early days as a humble bricklayer, which ended when he saw his mate change his name to Mario Lanza and get famous. Al did likewise!.

7 Charles Aznavour

 We often think of passionate Frenchman bawling his lungs out, usually over some some dame who's broken his heart. But Aznavour was adored by the best American crooners for his style when he got all calm and let his emotions out a bit more gently. He's 90 now, still with us, and has been doing his bit to help not France, but Armenia, where his real roots lie. Unlike most crooners, he's written a lot of songs, as in over a thousand.  Jack Jones, another brilliant croon king, did a whole album of Charles' songs, but it's when he sings himself that female hearts break.  And to think he's only 5' 3" hair thinning and hardly Mr. Universe -- thankfully Charles has often poked fun at his physical appearance, but his voice is certainly man sized.

8 Tony Bennett

Another American with an Italian background, Tony's still around at 87 and can still make a microphone shiver. When he was signed to Columbia Records, their boss told him not to simply imitate Mr Sinatra, so Tony did his own thing and it suited many listeners better.  Nobody was more effortlessly stylish, tossing the microphone from one hand to the other, cracking jokes, and just looking like he ran the place. He used his real name, Anthony Benedetto, when he painted, and was no mean artist, either. "I never sing a song that's badly written," he's warned budding song writers. "Cole Porter, Johnny Mercer and others just wrote the best songs ever written." With writers like those behind him, and a stage presence to put Mick Jagger, Freddie Mercury and David Bowie to shame, Tony's success should have surprised nobody.

9 Brian Ferry

Yes, we thought we'd spring a surprise!. First heard with outrageous Roxy Music in the 1970's, Ferry never tried to conceal his real crooner roots. Like Sinatra, Brian's always shown great taste debonair suits and sharp ties, with a deep husky voice that got ladies of a new generation swooning, and ladies copying his style. His first solo album featured These Foolish Things, a song covered much earlier by some of the men above. Since then Ferry's done wonderful versions of Miss Otis Regrets, Just One of Those Things, Smoke Gets In Your Eyes, You Go to My Head and other classics from a bygone age. He would have fitted right in with the Rat Pack, no mistakes, and he's helped keep this music alive.

10 Matt Munro

Known simply as the man with the golden voice. Matt started out driving a bus, the 27 from  from Highgate to Teddington. He got a BBC singing job after they heard him singing on the bus, but it was at the cinema that the world really sat up and listened --- he sang Born Free as the title song of the hit movie, and things were looking up. In the early 60's, the USA bought My Kind of Girl and Walk Away in huge numbers, and Matt had broken into the most important pop[ charts on earth. Tragically he passed away at just 54, but Matt Munro still has countless fans out there. My dad often has Matt's deep voice ringing out of our old record player, and it's a voice that you never forget. Like all of these amazing croon kings.