Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: My question regards a piece of music from the late 1950s film "Houseboat," staring Cary Grant and Sophia Loren.

Throughout the movie, a beautiful song plays, instrumentally as well as a vocal version. Based on the vocal, I think the title is "I'm Almost in Your Arms," but I am not sure.

The singer sounds very much like Sam Cooke, but again, I am not certain. I can tell you that I have never found this song on any of Sam Cooke's recordings. Also, I have had no luck locating a soundtrack album for "Houseboat." Can you help?
—Nathan Dobs, Milwaukee

DEAR NATHAN: You have the title nearly perfect. It is "Almost in Your Arms (The Theme from 'Houseboat')."

You are also correct about the singer; it is Sam Cooke who's vocalizing you hear in the film. On record, Cooke's version did come out, but only as the B-side of his 1958 hit "Win Your Love for Me" (Keen 2006). "Almost in Your Arms (The Theme from 'Houseboat') peaked on the Top 100 at No. 76.

On the soundtrack LP, the track is titled "Love Song From 'Houseboat (Almost in Your Arms)," and is credited to Sophia Loren with Frank De Vol and His Orchestra. The soundtrack album does not have the Sam Cooke vocal .

However, it was Johnny Nash's "Almost in Your Arms" (ABC-Paramount 9960) that charted highest, peaking at No. 49.

The "Houseboat" soundtrack album also came out in 1958, and has recently been selling in the $25 to $50 range (Columbia CL-1222).

Interestingly, a five-CD, 65-track boxed set, titled "The Complete Keen Years (1957-1960)," is scheduled for release next month (January 24th).

Of course it includes "Almost in Your Arms (The Theme from 'Houseboat')."

The tune, written by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans, was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Music, Original Song.

"Houseboat" provided Paul Petersen his first motion picture role, that promptly turned into an eight year run for him on "The Donna Reed Show."

DEAR JERRY: A group discussion about music, in which I was a participant, tackled the subject of early stereo recordings.

Though most of us baby boomers recall seeing and buying stereo records — albums as well as singles — in the late '50s, some recent CD releases have turned up some true stereo tracks from as early as 1956 and '57. This led us to wondering what the earliest true stereo recording might be. —Since we all follow your column regularly, we'd like to pose this question to you. We'll be watching for your reply.
—Roger La Placa, New Haven, Conn.

DEAR ROGER: Since the CD reissue phenomenon began, record companies have paid more attention to dusting off their old masters than ever before. The results of these explorations are constant surprises for the consumers, such as the CD release that provides the answer to your question.

Jazz Classics issued "Charlie Parker - The Legendary Rockland Palace Concert, Vol. 1" (JZCL-6010), on which one track, "Lester Leaps In" is definitely in true stereo.

Amazingly, this concert was recorded September 26, 1952!

That certainly predates by several years other early stereo recordings that I have encountered.

Oh yes, the Lester in "Lester Leaps In" is tenor sax great, Lester Young.

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