Perry Como was one of the superstars of American music during the 1940s and first half of the 1950s. His television variety program ran from 1949-1967 and his Christmas specials were broadcast for years. While the rock era eventually eroded his popularity, he remained active on stage and in the recording studio until near his death in 2012.
While Como’s career spanned nearly seven decades, one of his lesser known periods was his time recording in Nashville with producer Chet Atkins. Those sessions resulted in three of his more popular albums, The Scene Changes (1965), And I Love You So (1973), and Just Out Of Reach (1975).
Real Gone Music in conjunction with RCA has now released 23 tracks from those sessions including his entire Just Out Of Reach album. In addition to the complete album there are outtakes from both of his 1970s albums and a number of non-album singles releases. The missing pieces are the And I Love You So, which was the strongest of the three releases and The Scene Changes album.
Como may have been in Nashville and country legend Chet Atkins may have been his producer but he was far from a country artist. He was a laid back crooner who was able to adapt just about any type of song to his style. John Loudermilk’s “Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye,” the Lennon/McCartney tune “Here There And Everywhere,” and Kris Kristofferson’s “Loving You Was Easier (Than Anything I’ll Ever Do Again)” are all examples of his easy listening style no matter what the song.
The six outtakes are all being released for the first time. Sometimes unreleased tracks were unreleased for good reasons. While such songs as “It Was Such A Good Day,” “Yellow Beach Umbrella,” “Take A Look At Me,” and “Take Me Home” may be a pleasant for his fans, they pale next to his better material.
The highlight of the album is the non-album single releases. “Love Don’t Care (Where It Grows),” “Walk Right Back,” and “Wonderful Baby” may not be among his better known hit songs but they are Como at his understated best. His Spanish recording of “And I Love You So” makes one wish for the original version.
The common denominator is producer Cher Atkins. Otherwise, it is a disjointed compilation made up of one average album and some bits and pieces. Just Out of Reach: Rarities From Nashville Produced By Chet Atkins is not a starting point for exploring the Perry Como legacy. It is a release mainly for his fans.