REVIEW: Engelbert Humperdinck — What’s In a Name?

I think the first time I heard the name Engelbert Humperdinck was during my college years when I spent some time working at a tiny radio station that specialized in classical music. I didn’t know much about that kind of music but I worked for the proverbial peanuts, so maybe that’s why the station owner put up with my lack of knowledge.

However, he would really get annoyed when I’d mispronounce the name of a composer or musician, and he even went so far as to find a book that listed them — complete with pronunciations. Unfortunately I seldom used it, so it was a regular occurrence for me to get a phone call from him, despairingly correcting a name I’d just butchered like a Christmas goose. He kept insisting that I spend some time with the book so I grudgingly did so, but mostly just spent the time looking for names that tickled my fancy. (Which was easily tickled in those days.)

And that brings us back to Humperdinck, a 19th century German composer best known for the opera Hansel and Gretel, but also the originator of a name that was not only funny but was also appropriated by British singer Arnold George “Gerry” Dorsey, who – unlike the original – is still very much around and going strong, as confirmed by his legions of dedicated fans who still show up in droves at his approximately 100 concerts a year. I can’t claim to be a long-time follower of his but have always enjoyed his music, and there’s no doubt at all that he still has a lot of appeal to listeners of our generation. (And maybe some to other generations too.)

I recently received an advance copy of a new DVD of his, Engelbert Humperdinck: Totally Amazing, which is a concert video that features 20 songs, including hits such as “Release Me”, “After The Loving”, and “Quando, Quando, Quando”. There’s a bonus track called “Columns Of Gray”, which is a memorial to servicemen world-wide, and added features include an interview with the star and a photo gallery, both probably a real treat for Engelbert’s fans but maybe not for the casual viewer.

Picture quality is good and so is the Dolby sound. Engelbert still sounds good – at times a little huskier-voiced than in his younger days, but solid – and he looks good too, with his signature sideburns in evidence and almost as long as in the days when he and Elvis were friends and sometimes sang each other’s songs.

If you’re a fan of Engelbert’s, or just a fan of solid vocalizations and professional presentations of many familiar songs, you’ll enjoy this concert DVD. (And you’re not likely to think even once of that other Engelbert Humperdinck.)

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