It would seem from reading this tale of the oldest of eight children from Chicago's Little Italy that Frankie Laine (ne Francesco Paolo LoVecchio) truly is lucky. The singer puts a positive spin on every happening in his life, from his days as a dance-marathon participant to his worldwide success and renown. The things that it would seem impossible to paint as happy circumstances he glosses over, such as the bloody death of his grandfather and a period spent sleeping in New York's Central Park. Although his cheerful attitude is initially charming, the bouncy voice and bad puns (Laine calls his command performance for the queen of England a ``crowning achievement'') soon wear thin because they reveal so little. Laine seems oblivious to those around him as he perfunctorily compliments his wife, describes recording sessions and relates his adventures with a toupee, but he is never more out of touch than when he insists that calling Sammy Davis Jr. ``Sambo'' in public was ``just a play on the name,'' and that he couldn't possibly be racist since he once appeared on Nat Cole's television show for free. Photos not seen by PW. (Jan.)
Laine, who will be 80 years old in 1993, looks back on his Catholic-Italian boyhood in Chicago, his youthful work winning and singing at dance marathons across the country, his early club work, and his later recording career success. He claims to be ``the first of the so-called blue-eyed soul singers,'' though that may surprise readers who remember him for a cowboy song called ``Mule Train.'' His book is unreflective and self-congratulatory, but it may find a place in libraries collecting heavily in popular culture. Others can rely on the 1956 Current Biography article about Laine, done at the peak of his popularity, or on popular music encyclopedias.-- Bonnie Jo Dopp, formerly with Dist . of Columbia P.L.
Chicago-born singer-songwriter Frankie Laine, now 80, has been a "lucky old son" all right, but hard work and talent really make long, long careers. Abroad, Laine has been enormously popular, earning 21 gold records and a royal command performance. In the U.S., Laine may be best remembered for such hits as "Rawhide," "Mule Train," and "Jezebel." Laine's songwriting collaborations with Hoagey Carmichael, Mel Torme, Duke Ellington, and Carl Fischer produced some memorable oldies, including "We'll Be Together Again." In this plainspoken autobiography, Laine shares his long, hard quest for his "place in time." As he tells his story, he also tells the story of the evolution of popular music in America. Laine "rubbed shoulders with a few giants"--names like Crosby, Sinatra, and Jolsen frequently crop up. A wonderful, simply related retrospective that will satisfy fans and American pop music aficionados.