Connie Francis played an important part in late-'50s and 1960s American pop music as one of the most versatile vocalists in the field (she has been likened to Pat Boone
in that respect) and one of the few women to join the top ranks of Italian-American entertainers like Dean Martin
and Tony Bennett
is a four-disc career retrospective that goes beyond the hits -- of which there are many -- to present her early recordings as a demo singer, offbeat novelties like "Robot Man," and many non-hit singles and album sides. Francis covers a huge territory, from traditional and teen-oriented pop to country, continental music, faux girl-group experiments, and even a little rock & roll. Her hits from 1958-1962, many of which make her seem like a female teen idol, are the ones most people remember, but Francis was really in her element when fronting an orchestra on Jerry Vale
- or Perry Como
-style traditional pop of the sort that comprises the bulk of Souvenirs
. The scope and quantity of her music creates a problem for music buyers and, accordingly, there have been several anthologies that concentrate on one or another aspect of her recording career. Serious fans will want to invest in Bear Family's pair of multidisc box sets, both of which are complete within their respective timeframes. But listeners with a pointed interest in Francis' career, who care enough to want to hear various demo recordings, oddities, and obscurities without investing in the import sets, will find Souvenirs
a perfect compromise.