1. Just A Gigolo/I Ain't Got Nobody
2. Body And Soul
3. Oh! Marie
4. Buona Sera
5. Jump, Jive an' Wail
6. (Nothing's Too Good) For My Baby
7. (I'll Be Glad When You're Dead) You Rascal You
8. Basin Street Blues/When It's Sleepy Time Down South
9. Night Train
10. The Lip
11. Whistle Stop
12. Five Months, Two Weeks, Two Days
13. Banana Split For My Baby
14. Be Mine (Little Baby)
15. When You're Smiling/The Sheik Of Araby
16. The Birth Of The Blues
17. Blow, Red, Blow
18. When The Saints Go Marching In
19. Sentimental Journey
20. Baby Won't You Please Come Home.
2. There'll Be No Next Time
3. The Closer To The Bone
4. I've Got The World On A String
5. Don't Let A Memory Break Your Heart
6. Pennies From Heaven
7. Autumn Leaves
8. The Pump Song
9. I Kiss Your Hand Madame
10. Ten Little Women
11. Love Charm
12. I Gotta Right To Sing The Blues
13. Angelina/Zooma Zooma
14. A Foggy Day
15. Don't Worry 'bout Me/I'm In The Mood For Love
16. Come Back To Sorrento
17. How High The Moon
18. On The Sunny Side Of The Street/Exactly Like You
19. Robin Hood/Oh Babe!
20. It's Better Than Nothing At All
1. Beep! Beep!
2. Good Gracious Baby
3. Embraceable You/I Got It Bad And That Ain't Good
4. Greenback Dollar Bill
5. Tiger Rag/Just Because
6. Should I?/I Can't Believe That You're In Love With Me
7. Love Of My Life (O Sole Mio)
8. The White Cliffs Of Dover
9. Too Marvellous For Words
10. Them There Eyes/Honeysuckle Rose
11. Holiday For Strings
12. Bim Bam
13. Handle With Care
14. Twinkle In Your Eye
15. Hey There
16. Love Is A Many Splendored Thing
17. If You Were The Only Girl
18. Bourbon Street Blues
19. Sing, Sing, Sing
20. That Old Black Magic.
1. Felica No Capicia
3. That's My Home
5. Gotta See Baby Tonight
6. Fee Fie Foo
8. Oh! Marie
9. Hey Boy, Hey Girl
10. Hey Boy, Hey Girl (reprise)
11. Lazy River
12. Nothing's Too Good For My Baby
13. French Poodle
14. I've Got You Under My Skin
15. Don't Take Your Love From Me
16. Chantilly Lace
17. Easy Rockin'
19. Kansas City
20. Skinny Minnie
Nowadays, if people know anything about Louis Prima, it will probably be that he supplied the voice for King Louis in Disney's The Jungle Book in 1967, singing I Wanna Be Like You. The role of King Louis was a perfect fit for Prima, who - like the regal Louis Armstrong - was a singing trumpeter who grew up in New Orleans and became a very popular entertainer. As with Armstrong, Louis Prima's showmanship could obscure the jazz elements of his performances.
However, this four-CD boxed set contains plenty of jazz alongside the showmanship. Just listen to the trombone solo on Body and Soul, which can challenge comparison with Coleman Hawkins' classic version. The jazz factor is augmented by tenor-saxist Sam Butera - like Prima, a musician of Sicilian parentage from New Orleans. Butera's playing was a cross between the forthright rhythm-and-blues style of King Curtis and the growl of Earl Bostic. In fact Butera only joined Louis Prima in 1954, which was 20 years after Prima moved to New York and began to make his name. Butera's contribution is underlined by the inclusion of several tracks by Sam Butera and the Witnesses, without Louis Prima.
The recordings in this set all come from the period between 1956 and 1959, so there is sadly no representation of Prima's early work. Yet this collection contains Louis' most famous hits - not only the title-track but also Oh! Marie, Angelina and Sing Sing Sing - this last creating a sensation when it was used as a feature for drummer Gene Krupa in Benny Goodman's 1938 Carnegie Hall concert. Prima had a hand in writing most of these tunes and many others in the compilation.
Oh! Marie is an example of Louis' infectious shuffle rhythm, while Buona Sera and Angelina are typical of many Prima recordings in drawing on his Italian heritage. Another popular feature was Prima's habit of putting a couple of songs together to make a mini-medley, as in the very first track of this set.
Louis Prima also had a habit of getting married, which he did five
times. His fourth wife was Kelly Smith, whose vocals are heard on
many of these tracks. Her gentle vocal manner made a perfect contrast
with Prima's extroversion. In many ways Prima resembled Cab Calloway
as a showman-singer, and he shared Cab's liking for scat singing and
call-and-response vocals with the members of his band.
With its strong off-beat and honking saxophone, Louis' music helped to pave the way for rock 'n' roll. But there was also lots of room for jazz ingredients. And this is essentially happy music - a track like Tiger Rag is as unashamedly cheerful as something by Spike Jones.