In 1954, Capitol Records released the 10" LP collection Eight Top Pops, compiling eight songs that had appeared on singles by Nat King Cole during 1952. The first two, "Somewhere Along the Way" and "Walkin' My Baby Back Home," were the biggest hits, both reaching number eight in Billboard. "Because You're Mine," Cole's cover of the Mario Lanza movie song (done in a far more relaxed style than Lanza's, of course), was also a major hit, reaching number 16. "Faith Can Move Mountains" and "The Ruby and the Pearl" were somewhat less successful, but still lodged in the Top 30, as did the B-sides "Funny (Not Much)" and "I'm Never Satisfied." The only one of the eight songs not to earn a chart placing was "A Weaver of Dreams," the B-side of the single "Wine, Women and Song." In 1963, Capitol expanded Eight Top Pops into the 12" LP Top Pops by adding two tracks at the end of either side of the original release. These four songs all came from an EP recorded by Cole in 1954, on which he covered hits by other performers, including Doris Day's "If I Give My Heart to You," the De Castro Singers' "Teach Me Tonight," and Perry Como's "Papa Loves Mambo".
…Kunzel's Ruslan and Ludmilla overture is suitably festive, even if it doesn't quite achieve the breathless intensity exhibited by Bernstein or Pletnev. But then, being "definitive" isn't the point of this album–enjoyable music-making is, and in that respect it's a triumph. Especially so as the Cincinnati Pops plays masterfully and with great enthusiasm throughout the program. (Listen to the bold trombones in Mussorgsky's Polonaise or to the singing strings in Spartacus.) Telarc captures it all in its signature vivid, high-impact sound. Yes, I know you already have a couple of Russian favorites discs in your collection, but this new Telarc release is special enough that you'll want to make room for it.