This week I acquired copies of MB's three pre-fame, self-produced recordings, and they are each, in different ways, astonishing. The first is from 1996 and is a six-track affair entitled "First Date." Recorded when Buble was 21, there are a few Sinatra karaoke cuts and two that appear to be originals. It is very well done and the voice and style are already there. Maybe the two originals were a single that he threw onto what is clearly meant to be an intro/demo CD?
Buble, as has been oft noted, grew up on a Canadian fishing boat and music-wise was fairly much at the mercy of his grandfather fisherman who exposed him only to the best of the Great American Songbook. Thus, whatever else you might think of Buble, his attachment to this sort of music is a natural affinity.
His first musical recollection is of listening to the Mils Brothers' "Paper Doll." Buble's "Dream" (2002) is, in fact, top-heavy not on Sinatra but Mills repertoire. His version of "Doll," an obvious homage to the Mills' interpretaton, is just sweet, funny and downright amazing, i.e. his Herbert Mills-ish pronunciation of "dollies" (dulleez), "say boy" (sehh bwayuh) etc. " The instrumentation might represent a recording first, i.e. guitar and muted trumpet throughout all 13 tracks. And it works!
The final album of the trilogy, from 2001, is entitled "Babalu" (but does not contain that song) and sports standard studio backing on Vegas-y type repertoire. A good solid production. Properly exposed, it should/would have been a hit. As things stood, it probably just moldered, gathering dust in some cupboard in Buble's Vancouver digs. Might as well have been released on the Landfill Records label.
Overall, the three efforts represent quite a revelation, raising the obvious question as to why it took him so relatively long to attain his IMHO well-deserved success.
I read somewhere recently that Buble's discoverer, producer David Foster, first met and became keen on Buble as early as 2000. One can only wonder why no one had the vision to spot the singer before this AND why it took Foster took what appears to've been nearly three years to launch Buble. And launched he IS; only a few weeks ago his latest "Call Me Irresponsible" was the the number one CD in not just the U.S., but the world!
If I had found any of these CDs in a record store---remember them?---at the time of their release and subsequently Googled Buble (or Bubled Googlay), I'd have probably come up empty-handed. My, how times have changed.