Arnold Dorsey, or as most people know him, Engelbert Humperdinck, is one of those singers that very nearly but didn’t quite reach the heights. There is probably a reason for that, which I will look at later.
But, having said that, he had a pretty good career that continues even at the grand old age of 86. And one can hardly deny that he has had enormous success making him one of the richest entertainers of his era.
That career has given us some good music, so let’s take a look at the best Engelbert Humperdinck songs of all time.
Born in India
He was born Arnold George Dorsey in Chennai, India, in 1936 to a British Army NCO. The family returned to England when he was ten and lived in Leicester. He was one of ten children and was of Welsh descent.
By his mid-teens, he was playing saxophone in small clubs and was given the nickname “Gerry” when friends saw his impression of Jerry Lee Lewis. He worked under the name of Gerry Dorsey for quite a few years.
Any dreams he may have had about a music career had to be shelved in the mid-50s as he was ‘called up’ to the British Army. Service was usually 18 months, but because of the Korean War, that was extended to two years.
On finishing his military service, he returned to singing once again. He was spotted in a talent show and recorded a couple of singles, but they were quite poor and did nothing.
In 1965, he met up with Gordon Mills, who he had known previously. Mills, an impresario, and manager of Tom Jones, knew he had been largely unsuccessful in his efforts. He agreed to help him.
A name change was suggested, and he chose Engelbert Humperdinck, a 19th-century German composer who wrote the opera “Hansel and Gretel.” His career started to improve; he nearly got the song “Strangers In The Night,” but Sinatra insisted he had it. Say no more; he got it.
All the work and the changes paid off for him in 1967 when he released the song “Release Me.” We shall look at that song later on. Interestingly, what is the link between Engelbert and Led Zeppelin? A young Jimmy Page was a session guitarist on that first hit.
His easy-going, easy-listening style of ballads has helped him continue a lengthy career. He has released well over 100 albums and sold 140 million records. Let’s take a look at some of the best Engelbert Humperdinck songs of all time.
Top 50 Best Engelbert Humperdinck Songs of All Time
Spanish Eyes (1968)
As was “Strangers In The Night,” this song was written by Bert Kaempfert, but there seem to have been no objections to him recording this. The song was first performed by Kaempfert in 1965 under the title “Moon Over Naples.”
Engelbert’s version came out in 1968 under the revised title. Al Martino had already had a reasonably successful version a year or so before.
There Goes My Everything (1967)
I suppose, in many ways, I am fortunate to be writing this rundown of Engelbert Humperdinck’s best songs. I played quite a few of them, and this is one. Released in 1967, it tells a common story. One person in a relationship is not happy and decides to end it. The other bemoans their actions.
In this case, a woman leaves her husband because she is unhappy. This leaves him to sit and think about what went wrong.
Who Had The Successful Version?
I remember shortly after its success, there were certain ‘influential’ people trying to put a downer on it. They claimed that a version by American country singer Jack Greene had been more successful.
He did reach #1 on the Country Music chart, but only #65 on the main chart in America. It was nowhere in the UK; I am not sure it was ever released there. Engelbert’s version reached #20 on the main US chart and #2 in the UK. Engelbert wins.
Was It A Country Song?
Indeed, it was a Country song and has been covered by many people. Engelbert’s version held the same tempo and style but with plenty of added extras which made it appeal to a wider audience.
What Now My Love (1967)
What might be termed as a little-known recording of his. This track was included on his 1967 album The Last Waltz. A powerful French ballad that was written by Gilbert Becaud and Perre Delanoe.
It has the same theme as “There Goes My Everything,” but in truth, it is a far better song. Shirley Bassey had enjoyed major success with it in 1962.
I have included it here because it demonstrates that whilst always seemingly living in others’ shadows, he was no slouch. He puts in a good performance with plenty of sensitivity.
Most people, when asked, seem to think that this song achieved its fame by being included in the film “Notting Hill.” It was included in the film’s soundtrack. However, it was one of Engelbert Humperdinck’s biggest hits before anyone ever thought Notting Hill was anything other than an area in West London.
Charles Aznavour released his single in 1974, and it went to #1 in the UK and stayed there for four weeks. It sold over a quarter of a million copies.
Engelbert released it on an album called Definition of Love, which came out in 2003. This is a romantic ballad about what can happen when a beautiful woman enters your life.
Am I That Easy To Forget (1968)
Written by Carl Belew and W.S. Stevenson in 1958, this was a song that appeared on two of his albums. The Last Waltz in America and Greatest Hits in the UK. A nice easy ballad that saw some success in a few countries.
Not his greatest work, it has to be said. But, it is, again, an example of how he can take popular songs and add his easy listening style to them.
Les Bicyclettes De Belsize (1969)
When this track was first released, some people thought he was singing about something in France. Of course, the French language in the title encouraged that. But, he was singing about Belsize Park in London.
It is a simple song written by Les Reed and Barry Mason for a short film of the same name. It was a top-five recording in the UK and top 30 in America.
There are no hidden meanings; it is just a song about two people enjoying a bicycle ride through the park.
Winter World Of Love (1969)
Another collaboration with writers Les Reed and Barry Mason saw this release in 1969. It came from the album bearing his name. Another successful Engelbert Humperdinck song and good chart performance.
It had 13 weeks on the chart in the UK and reached #7. Also, it saw success in Ireland, Belgium, and Canada and peaked at #16 in America. As a result, it is one of the best Engelbert Humperdinck songs of all time.
Quando Quando Quando (1968)
This is a track taken from his fourth album, which was called A Man Without Love. It was the third track released as a single from that album.
The issue with singles…
The problems with releasing singles from albums are easy to see for those who want to see them. His fans are quite likely to buy the album, so they are not going to buy singles released from the album. They have already got them.
Therefore, you are relying on another set of record buyers. That is okay if you are right in the musical groove at the time. Engelbert, for all his success, wasn’t.
Music was leaning more towards the rock scene. Easy listening was popular with some but limited in its attraction. One reason The Beatles didn’t release singles from albums.
Still, An Interesting Recording
He made it when you could say he was at the height of his early success. It wasn’t particularly well-received by critics or the record-buying public at the time for reasons we have just mentioned.
It peaked at only #40. That was disappointing considering the successes he was having just 6 to 12 months before.
One Of The Most Requested?
This song remains one of the most popular Engelbert Humperdinck songs and most listened to tracks. It has been covered by many people, but Engelbert’s recording attracts more requests than most of the alternatives.
After the Lovin’ (1976)
This single was released from the album of the same name. By this time, his star in the UK had been in decline for quite a while. However, he was still popular overseas, especially in America.
That may have prompted his permanent move to Los Angeles. He became popular at the venues in Las Vegas and still is.
A Success In America
Composed by Alan Bernstein and Ritchie Adams, this reached #8 in America and was certified gold. However, it was to be his last big record on the Billboard chart. Later chart appearances were limited to the Country and Adult Contemporary charts only.
But, its success wasn’t limited to just America. It sold well in Canada and was #1 in New Zealand. However, it failed to chart at all in the UK. Times had moved on.
A Polished Performer
He had become a polished professional, if not a singer who had much chart success anymore. This song is very typical of where he saw himself. And this style of romantic ballads has ensured he has remained popular with a lot of people who enjoy the softer sides of music.
The Last Waltz (1967)
Let’s return to his heyday as we get near the end of this list. Humperdinck’s first album, released in 1967, was called Release Me. This was the third track released as a single from it.
By the time of its release, his popularity ratings had soared. And it was #1 in the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Belgium, and South Africa.
In the UK, it spent five weeks at #1 and sold well over a million copies. Written by Les Reed and Barry Mason, it became one of his signature tunes and came to typify his easy-going style.
Interesting Word Play
It is an interesting lyrical idea. “The Last Waltz” was when he danced with her for the first time at a party. That was the first time they had met. But, the Last Waltz also occurs later on when they dance together for the final time as their relationship had cooled and was over.
A huge hit record for him and one of probably two he will always be known for.
Release Me (1967)
The other most well known Engelbert Humperdinck song is this one. I suppose you could say it was his biggest success. Also, from the 1967 album of the same name, he could have been considered to be at his peak recording-wise.
It is still the most requested song on streaming services from his catalog. That indicates the importance of the songs and his popularity. It was an old song written in 1949 by Robert Yount and Eddie Miller, and he certainly wasn’t the first person to record it.
He Had The Most Success
A string of artists before the 1967 Humperdinck version had a go, including Dean Martin and The Everley Brothers. But, it was his version that was the most successful of all of them. And it held a major distinction. More on that in a minute.
Engelbert Humperdinck’s version of the song topped the UK singles chart and was at #1 for six weeks. It sold over 1.3 million copies and stayed on the chart for 56 consecutive weeks.
It went to #1 in early March and held onto that spot. That prevented what many would say were The Beatles’ best singles, “Strawberry Fields Forever” and “Penny Lane,” from hitting the top.
There are not many people who can rightfully claim they kept those guys off the top in the UK.
After the Lovin’ (1976)
Am I That Easy to Forget? (1968)
Quando, Quando, Quando (1968)
A Man Without Love (1968)
Les Bicyclettes de Belsize (1968)
This Moment in Time (1979)
The Way It Used to Be (1969)
Love Is All (1975)
I’m a Better Man (For Having Loved You) (1969)
I’ll Never Fall in Love Again (1969)
Can’t Take My Eyes off You (1968)
There’s a Kind of Hush (All Over the World) (1967)
Another Time, Another Place (1971)
My World (Il Mondo) (1970)
When There’s No You (1972)
Ten Guitars (1967)
I Don’t Want to Call It Goodbye (1987)
Dance the Night Away (1989)
Love Me with All of Your Heart (1966)
Too Beautiful to Last (1967)
The Shadow of Your Smile (1967)
Misty Blue (1969)
There’s A Kind Of Hush (1967)
A Time For Us (1970)
Love Me With All Your Heart (1966)
A Lovely Way To Spend An Evening (1972)
Love Is A Many Splendored Thing (1967)
A Night To Remember (1968)
What A Wonderful World (1970)
Yours Until Tomorrow (1968)
I Love Making Love To You (1987)
You Belong To My Heart (1967)
Don’t You Love Me Anymore (1977)
Love Letters (1966)
In Time (1972)
Just The Two Of Us (1987)
Only A Lonely Child (1975)
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Best Engelbert Humperdinck Songs of All Time – Final Thoughts
In my opinion, these are the greatest Engelbert Humperdinck songs. And, unless he does something pretty spectacular, they will remain so. Was it a career fulfilled? Could it have been better, and could he have had more success than he did?
The answer to that is probably yes. And the reason can be summed up in two words, Tom Jones. Engelbert’s early successes came in 1967, the year Jones released “Delilah” and started his assault on world music. He, like Engelbert, is still strutting his stuff.
Jones was more rock-n-roll and braver as an artist. Engelbert was steady and safe. But, it was the 60s. People had seen enough steady and safe; they wanted some risk and, dare I say it, a more ‘risque’ artist. Tom Jones fitted the bill.
Let the battle commence
For a while, they battled it out to be known as the best in the UK. And, whilst it wasn’t a “battle,” there was an air of competition about it. There was only going to be one winner in that situation.
But, credit to Engelbert. He didn’t try to emulate Tom Jones; he just carried on doing what he was doing, even when it went out of vogue a bit.
Sixty years later, we still have them both and a wealth of material from the pair of them. Engelbert’s is where you turn if you want it smooth and relaxed. For days when you just want to sit back and relax. That is what he was very, very good at. And still is.
Until next time, let the music play.