Reviewed by Raoul Hernandez, Fri., Oct. 25, 2002
Jimmy ScottFalling in Love Is Wonderful (Rhino) Nearly 40 years after it vanished, one of music history's Maltese falcons has resurfaced. A limited pressing of 7,500, available only through Rhino's Internet imprint (www.rhinohandmade.com), Falling in Love Is Wonderful comes free of its legal bundling to claim its place as the crown jewel of Jimmy Scott's unsung catalog. The maiden, 1963 release from Ray Charles' Tangerine label, Wonderful was heralded as a sure thing for its diminutive balladeer, Scott's lugubrious wail like a diva's courtesy of a hormonal condition. Then came the recall -- twice; the same thing happened to Atlantic's The Source in 1969, reissued last year on its producer Joel Dorn's Label M. Whereas the Civil Rights overtones and jazz-centric production on The Source justifies recognition as Scott's ultimate recording, it is not, in fact, bested by its string-strangled predecessor. Like the majority of Scott's output for Savoy, whose owner Herman Lubinsky put the kibosh on all the singer's extracurricular musical projects, Falling in Love Is Wonderful is shrill with orchestral schmaltz. The opening title song is the perfect vehicle for Scott, yet the Johnny Hartman/John Coltrane rendition erases its memory before the tune is over. "I'm Getting Sentimental Over You" enjoys a clinch by the fireplace, but "Someone to Watch Over Me" couldn't possibly compare to the reading Scott's said to have given it at Doc Pomus' funeral in '91. Closer "Sunday, Monday or Always" works, but Scott's unique phrasing isn't nearly what it became on The Source. Even Charles' piano accompaniment plays second fiddle to the strings, too far down in the mix to matter. Boutique packaging would have been nice. Under the thick, black lacquer, Falling in Love Is Wonderful is lead, yes, but then again, no self-respecting Jimmy Scott fan would be caught dead without it.