Wonderland By Night (1960)
Bert Kaempfert And His Orchestra

  1. Wonderland By Night (Wunderland bei Nacht) (Klaus Günter Neumann/Willi Stanke)
  2. La Vie En Rose (Louigay/Edith Piaf)
  3. Happiness Never Comes Too Late (Das Glück kommt nie zu spät) (Bert Kaempfert/Kurt Schwabach)
  4. On The Alamo (Isham Jones/Gus Kahn/Joe Lyons)
  5. As I Love You (Jay Livingston/Ray Evans)
  6. Dreaming the Blues (Bert Kaempfert)
  7. Tammy (Jay Livingston/Ray Evans)
  8. The Aim Of My Desires (Das Ziel meiner Wünsche) (Peter Moesser)
  9. This Song Is Yours Alone (Diesses Lied gehört nur dir) (Bert Kaempfert/Kurt Schwabach)
  10. Drifting And Dreaming (Egbert Van Alstyne/Loyal Curts/Erwin R. Schmidt/Haven Gillespie)
  11. Stay With Me (Bert Kaempfert)
  12. Lullaby For Lovers (Bert Kaempfert)

Trumpet solos by Charly Tabor

1 to 12 issued as Decca DL 4101 (mono) and Decca DL 74101 (stereo)
1 to 12 issued in Europe as Polydor LPHM 46 353 (mono) and Polydor SLPHM 237 553 (stereo)
1 and 6 issued as single Decca 9-31141
1, 5, 6 and 7 issued as EP Decca ED 2697

Bert Kaempfert’s wonderful arrangement of Wonderland by Night, given a full, lush treatment by his orchestra, is creating a sensation throughout the country – its haunting beauty capturing the imagination of both the listeners who nostalgically welcome a reaffirmation of the “big band” sounds they once heard so often, and those too young to know there had ever been a “big band era.”

“Wonderland by Night” was the German cabaret artist Klaus-Günter Neumann’s theme to the little-known 1959 film Unser Wunderland bei Nacht (a.k.a. For Love and Others). Kaempfert’s German label, Polydor, thought the film (and the song) was a flop – which, in fact, it turned out to be. Kaempfert believed in the piece so strongly that he took it to America and presented it to producer Milt Gabler, who thought the song had real promise.

The song entered the American Top 40 charts in November 1960 at number 27, at the very same time Henry Mancini’s “Peter Gunn” theme debuted on the chart – at number 28. Interestingly, while “Wonderland by Night” was taking America by storm, Elvis Presley’s then-controversial “Wooden Heart,” co-written and arranged by Kaempfert (and never a hit in the US), was topping the charts in Germany.

“Wonderland by Night” reached the Number One spot on January 9, 1961, displacing Elvis Presley’s American hit of the time, “Are You Lonesome Tonight,” making Bert Kaempfert the first German artist to earn an American number one. (Silver Convention was the second with “Fly Robin Fly” in 1975.)

Remarkably, “Wonderland by Night” even reached number 5 on the R&B chart, exactly when Smokey Robinson and the Miracles’ “Shop Around” was topping that particular chart. “Wonderland by Night” earned Kaempfert his first Gold record. In the end, the song sold more than 1.5 million copies in the U.S. alone with millions more sold around the world.

The remainder of the album – which was said to be “rush released” in the United States, due to the immediate success of “Wonderland by Night” – mirrors the title track to a fault. The entire set is populated with low-key tunes featuring an oohing chorus and church-organ chords undergirding Charly Tabor’s plaintive trumpet solos. Five of the program’s dozen tunes are Kaempfert originals, highlighted only by the quiet swinger “Dreaming the Blues,” which pleasantly recalls Duke Ellington’s “Creole Love Call.”

“Kaempfert’s single of ‘Wonderland by Night’,” wrote Billboard on December 5, 1960, “is one of the label’s fastest moving disks since [Italian singer Modugno’s 1958 hit] “Volare,” and this initial package contains the hit single plus a flock of other highly listenable and spinnable efforts. The [orchestra] is handsomely recorded and Charley [sic] Tabor’s trumpet solos really sing.”

“Wonderland by Night” earned a Gold Record award, which Kaempfert and his wife, journeyed to New York to receive from Decca Records in February 1961.