Perry Como’s Christmas Album, Live in Concert 1993, is one of those comeback albums for people who remember when a singer was young and wonderful. Anyone who is a diehard fan of Perry Como should own this, but otherwise, you probably will want to skip this.
Perry Como is one of the most-beloved television entertainers of the 20th Century. He began singing with Freddy Carlone and his orchestra in 1933, and soon moved to radio with Ted Weems. In 1948 he had his first television appearance, which soon became his own show, which ran weekly until 1967. Annual Christmas specials followed for a few years.
Como’s style was easy and laid back. The man defined “casual, ” in addition to being a really great entertainer. He kept his personal life private, and was married to his wife, Roselle, for 65 years. She died in 1998 and Perry followed in 2001. He was known for having great integrity and humility on and off the stage.
This album has a lot of off-key, and gravely-voice moments, and yet there are also moments where the silky, soaring Como of the best years comes through loud and clear.
Most of the songs are not sung in their entirety, but are excerpts. This album is about Como, not about the songs.
There are some liner notes about Perry Como's career, but no additional info about the songs.
Total playing time is 63 minutes
A Little Bit of Ireland- This is just a snippit of the song which is used as an introduction. The concert was recorded in Dublin, Ireland at the Point Theater, so there is a heavy Irish component to the concert, although it’s not out of place. Although Como was Italian, he often sang Irish songs, for which his smooth tenor voice was well-suited.
If I Could Read Your Mind- This is a song/monologue mix which is one of the most endearing tracks on the album. Perry pokes fun at himself in his quiet way, telling the audience that he knows they are all wondering if he’s gotten fat, how old he looks, did he dye his hair, etc.
Happy Holidays/ We Need a Little Christmas- A quick tempo tribute to the holidays.
Medley- It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, Bells of St. Mary’s, Bless this House- This is sung with a chorus. You begin to get hints of how the concert is going to go. Como joins in and drops out, solos on some lines, and has trouble finding the notes in places.
Little Drummer Boy- The close harmonies of this song don’t work well unless the singer is absolutely on key, and Como struggles with it.
Sing to Me Mr. C- this is just a short reprise of the song he used as an introduction to a request segment on his TV show, sung by the chorus with some commentary by Como, where he jokes about the difficulties of singing as you age. It’s a lead in to the recap of his great hits that follow.
Record Medley- And I Love You So, Catch a Falling Star, Round and Round, Hot Diggity, Don’t Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes- this collection features segments of some of Como’s greatest hits. Sadly, he’s not up to some of the vocal range any more, and the best you can say is that it really reminds you of the good years.
Toora Loora Loora- a duet by Perry Como and Adele King (Twink). This is sung as a lullaby to a baby who was apparently on stage with them at the live concert.
Father of Girls- a wistful song- somewhat like “Sunrise, Sunset” from Fiddler on the Roof, but with a twist about watching over them as they grow up. Nicely sung.
Christ is Born- with the Boys of the Glasnevin Musical Society- The boys’ choir is the main attraction. Perry just comes in at the end.
Medley- If the Irish Come Into the Parlour, When Irish Eyes are Smiling- another duet with Twink- This song picks up the pace again. Twink sings the entire first song, and she is great. Irish Eyes is sung with an invitation for the audience to join in. You can almost hear how much the audience loved Como by the way they sing.
Medley- Sing Along with Me, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, White Christmas, Jingle Bells- Como’s voice is showing the strain of a long, live concert by this point. He’s getting hoarse. But Twink and the back-up singers fill in well. Nice upbeat combo with a competition between the men and women on Jingle Bells.
Wind Beneath My Wings- This is one of my favorite songs, but Como isn’t quite up to it this late in the concert. Surprisingly the lower sections are hoarse and strained, but he soars on the high sections with memories of the young Como’s glory.
Medley- Little Town of Bethlehem, Hark the Herald Angels Sing, Silent Night, O Come All Ye Faithful- this is another duet with Twink, and they do sound really good together.
Toyland- This starts on a high note, and Como hits it right on, but then wavers a bit, and ends badly.
I Wish It Could be Christmas Forever, We Wish You a Merry Christmas- This medly is short and peppy, and not too bad.
Ave Maria- This is Como’s signature song. He digs deep and does a good rendition, even at the end of the long concert.
If you just want some good memories of the 1900's, and a great entertainer, you may enjoy this. On the other hand, it’s painful to “see” how much someone so good has aged. Of course, he died in 2001, but the album is still available on Amazon.