Home Hear Random Number: Mel Torme | Comin’ Home Baby

Random Number: Mel Torme | Comin’ Home Baby

Dig this happenin' chestnut from the Velvet Fog's surprisingly cool past.

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Mel Torme has never spent much time on my playlist. Maybe it’s because I first came across him in the ’70s, when he was kibbitzing around on the boob tube with the likes of Carol Burnett, Dean Martin and Lucille Ball. Being nicknamed The Velvet Fog and co-writing The Christmas Song — you know, chestnuts roasting on an open fire and all that — definitely didn’t help matters. Far as I was concerned, dude was not cool. Now I’m wondering if I missed the boat. Over the holidays, while listening to a compilation of old soul and R&B numbers, I stumbled across Comin’ Home Baby, a vampy little number he cut in 1962. For the life of me, I can’t recall hearing it before — even though it was a Top 40 hit in America (and Top 20 in the U.K.), earning him Grammy nominations for Best Male Solo Vocal Performance and Best Rhythm and Blues Performance. Not bad for a song he reportedly didn’t want to record. “It was a minor-key blues tune with trite repetitious lyrics” was how Torme apparently described it. Well, fair enough. But it’s also indisputably groovy and hip, both in its initial studio version and a live performance from The Judy Garland Show (below). If the melody seems familiar, it might be because Spencer Davis Group nicked it for I’m a Man. Or because the song has been covered by a few folks over the decades, including contemporary crooner Michael Buble, who poured Velveeta all over it back in 2008. Familiar or not, it’s a keeper. And it’s got me wondering whether I need to go back and put some more Torme onto the playlist.