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Friday, October 8, 2021

How Did He Look? - Joan Merrill


My Old Flame

How Did He Look?
Joan Merrill
With Vocal and Instrumental Group
Arrangements by Marty Gold and Billy Mure
Photo by Lester Krauss
Westminster WP 6086

From the back cover: Joan Merrill has been starred in many of America's most famous night spots – the Copacabana in New York, the Thunderbird Hotel in Las Vegas, Chez Paree in Chicago, the Blue Room in the Hotel Roosevelt in New Orleans, the Golden Shores in Miami Beach, and dozens of others. For a year she was featured vocalist on the Edgar Bergen-Charlie McCarthy radio show, she has played in vaudeville in such great theaters as the Paramount in New York and the Chicago Theater in Chicago, and has appeared in movies for 20th Century Fox, Columbia, and RKO-Radio. On TV Miss Merrill has been featured several times on the Ed Sullivan Show and she has appeared as guest artist on many other television shows.

Columnists, critics, and public have acclaimed Joan Merrill as America's foremost song stylist. Walter Winchell, writing about torch singing, said: "And what about the best of them all at that sort of thing – Joan Merrill's heartbreaking torchanting of How Did He Look?"

Also from the back cover: "We want Joan, we want Joan!" That was the cry at a hometown affair which I attended a few years ago. As a new resident of the community at the time, I asked: "Joan who?" "Why Joan Merrill, of course; she sings you know," was the reply I got.

Did I know she sang? After many a long year of being a Joan Merrill fan, I finally met her that night. And since that time we've become good friends. So much so, that in cahoots with Joan's everlovin' – Tex Seeger – we began a campaign to convince Joan that she should record an album; that her voice is richer, fuller, and mellower than ever; that she's singing with more feeling and heart than ever before; and that there is a market today for quality songs and artists who can sing them.

Well, Joan's husband, Tex, is a mighty persuasive attorney and I have a little background in salesmanship; so we finally convinced Joan that she should make this album. Then began the long months of searching for the right material – Joan is as careful and meticulous in the selection of songs as milady is in finding a dress that will be different, individually suited, and just right for the occasion – months of rehearsal; months of finding such top-flight arranges as Billy Mure and Marty Gold, who would be capable of adapting the carefully chosen evergreens to Joan's style and the mood of the album; and finally choosing the right Merrill Mood. Quite obviously all is not just grabbing a handful of sheet music and viola – an album.

After months and months, and with Westminster convinced that here was a blend of everything worthy of their reputation and of what the public expects of them, it was time for recording. I attended one of the sessions, as I have many others by other artists, and it was a joy and a revelation to see and hear a true artist at work. It was a thrill to hear cold-hearted, hard-boiled musicians come up to Joan after the sessions and say: "MAN, that was the greatest, the most"; especially since Joan Merrill is quite a WOMAN!

 – Jerry Marshal - WMGM Record Room

From Billboard - May 19, 1958: Miss Merrill (remembered for her hit of several years ago, "How Did He Look") sings a group of poignant standards in feelingful style. Lush backing by Marty Gold and Billy Mure. Selections include the title tune, "My Old Flame," "Am I Blue," etc. Jocks with hause frau audiences dig the canary. With exposure – this might be a sleeper.

Sentimental Journey
How Did He Look?
Me And My Shadow
They Can't Take That Away From Me
Don't Worry 'Bout Me
Am I Blue?
My Old Flame
These Foolish Things 
Mis You
You're Driving Me Crazy!
I'm Thru With Love
All Alone

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