Robert Mitchum: Calypso Is Like So... (180gram vinyl)
In 1956, at the height of the short-lived calypso craze that saw Harry Belafonte top the charts worldwide, Robert Mitchum filmed two movies in the British West Indies, 'Fire Down Below' and 'Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison'. Calypso originated in Trinidad, and Mitchum filmed 'Mr. Allison' in Trinidad's sister island, Tobago. As his co-star, Deborah Kerr, remembered, 'He possessed enormous musical knowledge and sense of rhythm. He'd mastered the West Indian songs with their complicated rhythms before a week was up in Tobago'. By the time they'd finished filming 'Fire Down Below', Mitchum was singing calypsos at local clubs, and he continued to do so after he returned to the United States. Someone from Capitol Records heard him sing at the Polo Lounge in Beverly Hills, and signed him up. Over the course of several nights in the Spring of 1957, Mitchum recorded his classic calypso LP, 'Calypso - Is Like So...' Using his droll sense of humor, he made up new calypsos from older numbers he'd heard in the islands. The result - A lounge classic. We've revisited that LP, complete with its fabulous 'white man gone to ruin in the tropics' cover.
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Robert Mitchum was a paradox. He was a man who professed indifference about his acting yet was highly respected by his peers. Deborah Kerr, who starred with him in 'Heaven Knows Mister Allison' and 'The Sundowners', said "as an actor he is superb. He is a fantastically sensitive, decent human being." Mitchum told interviewers he didn't care about anything except enjoying life yet he worked continuously throughout his long career as his enormous filmography indicates.
Although music wasn't the focal point of Mitchum's life it was always something he enjoyed and about which he was quite knowledgeable. Mitchum dabbled at writing music and poetry and on a few occasions he was talked into recording. His two albums, 'Calypso Is Like So' and 'That Man' along with his single record of The Ballad Of Thunder Road (which he cowrote), can be heard on 'That Man' (Bear Family BCD 15890 AH).
The songs on this CD can be described as the forgotten recordings. They weren't intended for release but, thankfully, are now seeing the light of day. The first six songs all come from the film 'Rachel And The Stranger'. Released in 1948, the film starred Mitchum, William Holden and Loretta Young. Holden plays a man pouring all his energies into building a homestead while taking his wife for granted. When a stranger, in the form of Robert Mitchum, appears, Holden begins realizing both how much he loves her and that he hasn't been paying her enough attention. Interspersed throughout the film are the six songs heard here. They are as relaxed and wistful as is Mitchum's portrayal of the stranger.
In 1969 Mitchum starred in the western 'Young Billy Young’ which also featured Angie Dickinson and Robert Walker. Loosely based on the supposed friendship between Wyatt Earp and Billy Clanton, Mitchum is a sheriff who takes Robert Walker under his wing. Mitchum sang the title song over the opening and ending credits of the film.
The most intriguing part of this album are the seven songs Robert Mitchum recorded as demos. The exact purpose for these recordings isn't entirely clear but the enjoyment they offer is readily apparent. Most of the songs are standards and Mitchum shows that he is just as comfortable with them as he is with the songs from his films.
Robert Mitchum was 79 when he died on July 1, 1997 at his home in Santa Barbara, California. To the end he was nonchalant about his career. "I think when producers have a part that's hard to cast they say, 'send for Mitchum, he'll do anything.'" On another occasion he was asked why he thought his career had lasted as long as it had. "I work cheap" was his self depreciating response. The real reason was his uniqueness, his professionalism and the depth of his talent.