The mid-1950s were a fruitful time for a Californian vocalist born Julie Peck. Known by her professional name of Julie London, she had been appearing in films since she was a teenager, her debut screen role occurring as long ago as 1944. But now London had a successful singing career to complement her acting achievements.
Late in 1955, she entered the American charts with one of the great ballads of that or any era, ‘Cry Me A River,’ which climbed to No. 9 in the US and became a top 30 hit in the UK. An album, Julie Is Her Name, was swiftly released in its wake, and climbed to No. 2 in America.
London had two more chart albums in 1956 to display her distinctively smoky, jazzy vocal tones, Lonely Girl and Calendar Girl. Both of them reached the top 20, as did 1957’s About The Blues. On 1 August 1958, Liberty Records revisited the title of her debut LP, as it released Julie Is Her Name, Volume Two. The disc was produced by Bobby Troup, forever known as the man who wrote ‘(Get Your Kicks On) Route 66.’ The couple were married in 1959.
The new album didn’t make the US chart, and indeed it would be five more years before any of London’s releases did. But Julie Is Her Name, Volume Two stands as a typically classy example of the vocal sophistication she offered as a contrast to the helter-skelter rock ‘n’ roll of the day.
The LP opened with a sparse version of Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart’s ‘Blue Moon,’ with Julie accompanied chiefly here and throughout only by the stylish guitar work of Howard Roberts and bassist Red Mitchell. The trio setting was one that the first volume had established, and had been widely imitated since; Roberts now capably took the place of Barney Kessel, who played on the earlier album.
Purposefully addressing 12 songs in only 26 minutes, the album also included Cole Porter’s ‘What Is This Thing Called Love,’ George and Ira Gershwin’s ‘How Long Has This Been Going On’ and lesser-known copyrights by Clay Boland, Walter Donaldson and others. It ended with Irving Berlin’s ‘I Got Lost In His Arms,’ and even if the record didn’t sell in the quantities of its predecessor, those that listened to it no doubt felt that little bit more cosmopolitan as a result.
Julie Is Her Name, Volume Two can be bought here.