50 years ago, singer Vince Hill had a most unexpected hit when his rendition of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Edelweiss,” from The Sound of Music, rose to the No. 2 slot on the U.K. Singles Chart, remaining on the survey for an impressive seventeen weeks. The success of “Edelweiss” sent the same-titled LP up to a top 25 berth on the Albums chart, establishing the big-voiced vocalist as a top draw on stage and on records. Cherry Red’s Strike Force Entertainment label has begun a series of reissues of Hill’s classic sixties and seventies albums with a two-fer of 1967’s Edelweiss and 1971’s Look Around.
Hill first rose to prominence at the dawn of the 1960s as a member of The Raindrops alongside such other talents as Jackie Lee and Johnny Worth. By late 1961, Hill had departed the group. In mid-1962, he scored his first chart hit on Piccadilly Records with “The River’s Run Dry,” penned by his old friend Worth under his pen name of Les Vandyke. In 1965, Hill signed to EMI and was placed on the U.K. Columbia imprint, and soon he was notching further hits including “Take Me to Your Heart Again,” “Heartaches” and “Merci, Cherie.” The surprise hit of “Edelweiss” – some years removed from the song’s prominence in the original 1959 musical and the 1964 internationally successful film – became Hill’s biggest hit and signature song.
Edelweiss, the album, relied heavily on standards and showtunes, including faithful and passionate renditions of the title song to The Sound of Music, “Maria” and “One Hand, One Heart” from West Side Story, “I Have Dreamed” from The King and I, and “Stranger in Paradise” from Kismet. Hill delivered all of these in his strong, resonant voice, ably supported by the clean production of Bob Barratt and the only slightly-modernized orchestrations of Arthur Greenslade, Tony Osborne, and others. Among the standards and classic showtunes, Hill also included Roger Cook and Roger Greenaway’s ballad “Janie,” also recorded by David Brooks.
1971’s Look Around (And You’ll Find Me There) showcased a more contemporary side of the romantic crooner. Much in the manner of U.S. contemporaries like Andy Williams, Johnny Mathis, or Jack Jones, Hill immersed himself in modern repertoire such as “A Time for Us (Love Theme from Romeo and Juliet),” “(Where Do I Begin) Love Story,” and Michel Legrand’s “What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life” and “I Will Wait for You.” The title track, “Look Around (And You’ll Find Me There),” was based on an instrumental theme from Francis Lai’s score to Love Story, while “My Own True Love” is Mack David’s lyric version of Max Steiner’s “Tara’s Theme” from Gone with the Wind.
He also tackled a pair of modern standards by Burt Bacharach and Hal David- “A House is Not a Home” and “(They Long to Be) Close to You,” the latter in an arrangement inspired by the Carpenters’ definitive reading. (Hill was among the first artists to record the lesser-known Bacharach and David composition “Living Without Love” in 1965.) Classic standards like “Where or When” and “All the Things You Are” were also featured on the set. Producer Norman Newell and arranger-conductor Alyn Ainsworth lent a polished, classy feel to the proceedings. SFE’s reissue adds one bonus track, Hill’s 1970 single of Leonard Cohen’s “Hey, That’s No Way to Say Goodbye,” as well as liner notes by Hill himself. (There is no remastering credit or indication of sources on this reissue, licensed from Parlophone Records.)
Following his stint at EMI, Hill subsequently recorded for labels including CBS, K-Tel, Celebrity, and Pickwick, and appeared as a popular television presenter. He also appeared as an actor on stage, television and radio. Vince Hill’s performing career has continued into the 21st century despite his semi-retirement. Among his most recent recordings is a 2003 set celebrating the music of Diane Warren. This two-fer makes for a nostalgic pop journey with a timeless voice. You can order Edelweiss/Look Around at the links below!
- The Sound of Music
- One Hand, One Heart
- I Love You, Samantha
- Till The End of Time
- I Have Dreamed
- Stranger in Paradise
- Forgotten Dreams
- Take Me Back Again
- All The Things You Are
- What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?
- My Own True Love
- (Where Do I Begin) Love Story
- I Will Wait For You
- If You Love Me (I Won’t Care)
- Look Around (And You’ll Find Me There)
- Where or When
- A House is Not a Home
- Somewhere My Love
- (They Long to Be) Close to You
- A Time for Us
- Hey, That’s No Way to Say Goodbye
Tracks 1-12 from Edelweiss, Columbia (U.K.) LP SCX 6141, 1967
Tracks 13-24 from Look Around (And You’ll Find Me There), Columbia (U.K.) LP SCX 6482, 1971
Track 25 from Columbia (U.K.) single DB 8738, 1970