When you attach the title ‘I’ve Got The World On A String’ to Louis Armstrong’s name, you might be forgiven for thinking first of the dynamic song of 1933, recorded with Teddy Wilson on piano. But Armstrong’s later version of the Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler classic was the title track of a 1957 album produced by Norman Granz and was recorded at Capitol’s Hollywood Studio on the same day as Louis Under The Stars.
Both albums made that day were produced by Russ Garcia, whose rich arrangements provide a mellow setting for Armstrong’s tender singing on ‘We’ll Be Together Again’, a song with lyrics by the popular actor and crooner Frankie Laine. Subtle piano accompaniment is provided by Paul Smith, a musician whose sensitive touch was behind many of Ella Fitzgerald’s most celebrated performances.
Even in the pressure cooker of such a demanding session, Armstrong was able to bring something different – and the essence of himself – to a variety of tracks. The Satchmo style shines through on compositions such as Duke Ellington’s ‘Do Nothing Till You Hear from Me’, sung with gravel-voiced charm. One of the highlights is a version of the 19th-century slave spiritual ‘Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen’, a favourite of Armstrong’s, who regularly performed it live and recorded several different versions over the years.
Songs from musicals were an important part of a musician’s repertoire in the 50s, and Armstrong sounds full of joie de vivre on his version of ‘You’re The Top’, a song Cole Porter wrote for the 1934 theatre production of Anything Goes. Armstrong also covers musical songs ‘Little Girl Blue’ (Rogers and Hart), and ‘I Gotta Right To Sing The Blues’ a song penned by Harold Arlen for the 1932 Broadway show Vanities.
The album was hailed as “prime wax” for radio disc jockeys in the Billboard review. The splendid album artwork was by the acclaimed avant-garde painter John Altoon.
Under The Stars Track Listing:
1. Top Hat, White Tie and Tails 4:14
2. Have You Met Miss Jones? 4:41
3. I Only Have Eyes for You 4:16
4. Stormy Weather 4:19
5. Home 5:52
6. East of the Sun, West of the Moon 3:17
7. You’re Blase 5:01
8. Body and Soul 4:55
Recorded: November 1958
Studio: Capitol Studios (Hollywood, CA)
Producer: Norman Granz
Arranger: Russell Garcia