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42 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic and wonderful, December 23, 2002
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This review is from: Billie Holiday - Greatest Hits (Sony) (Audio CD)
I really enjoyed this particular selection of Holiday's work. I looked everywhere for a compiliation CD that included "The Very Thought of You" (my copy of Lady's Decca Days didn't) and this one had it, along with other songs that weren't included on Decca Days either. Short of purchasing a wildy expensive boxed set of her work, I would reccomend this for anyone even remotely interested in the talent of Billie Holiday: the sound quality is excellent and the choice of songs is great, as well. Even the liner notes are an welcome addition---they include an informative bio about Billie as well as her rise to fame and anecdotes from some of the people she worked with.
As a side note, the only song I would have added to this collection is "Strange Fruit," one of the most haunting and politically-charged Holiday songs to date. If you get a chance to hear that, you'll be doing yourself a favor. Otherwise, this album is a great choice.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great place to start, an album with a special treat!, March 10, 2005
By 
Tony Thomas (West Palm Beach Florida USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Billie Holiday - Greatest Hits (Sony) (Audio CD)
Almost everything Billie Holiday recorded, and maybe everything Billie recorded before 1941, like these sides, was great. Certainly, this collection doesn't have any of the very important work Billie Did during WWII for Commodore, nor does it have some of th exciting Jazzy recordings Billie did for Verve in the late 1940s and 1950s. Nor are any of the outstanding live performances by Billie for Jazz at the Philharmonic or in her Carneige Hall concerts on this CD.

With Billie who recorded for about 30 years on a lot of labels, the tendency was, particularly back in the days of LPs, for every owner of some Billie material to put out whatever they could crip together as Billie's greatest hits.

I have to say that I was introduced to Billie's greatest work, that in the 1930s, by owning this collection on Vinyl. This is nice fun and engaging music. On some of the great standards, she really makes it. Like all of her recordings for Columba and its ancestors back then, John Hammond Sr, gathers together some of the masters of Black and white swing Jazz to join her. Very shortly after she started recording, the greatest names in Jazz would flock to her sessions and play on her recordings for litte because of the innovation and creativity Billie showed as a jazz creator in her own right.

One special treat here is "I can't get started" with the Count Basie Orchestra. Billie was the first female singer with Count Basie's band, but because she was booked to Columbia and the Count had been shanghied by Decca, there were no studio recordings of Billie singing with the Basie Orchestra. This is an enormous loss to human culture. "I can't get started" is one of the two air checks (recordings made off of radio broadcasts) we have of Billie with the Baseities. The other "Swing it Brother Swing" is available on an album with air checks from a Basie broadcast from the Savoy Ballroom.

I really love the way her singing interplays with the backing particularly from the reed section, and love the sinuous solo Lester takes which is more mellow and romantic than the one he takes in the small group Billie Holiday recording of "I can't get started."

All of this is nice music. If you are not ready to take the plunge and get everything from the 1930s and early 1940s (to be followed by everything from the 1940s and then most of the stuff from the 1950s) this is as good as any place else to start. Nice fun, wonderful music, great jazz in both her voice and in the way that the sidemen swing in her honor.
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25 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Needs More Fast "Swingers", September 26, 2000
By 
Peter (East of Los Angeles) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Billie Holiday - Greatest Hits (Sony) (Audio CD)
To many, Billie Holiday is tragically linked to drugs and alcohol, including the rapid decline of her unique voice after the 1940s. But as this set demonstrates, her voice was still in peak form in the 1930s and early 40s, the eras from which this set culls the songs. For this greatest hits, Sony-Columbia picks mostly slow tempo songs despite the fact that Billie swings fast tempo songs aplenty back then. The only fast one here is "What A Little Moonlight Can Do", otherwise the rest are ballads and slow burners. I wish Columbia had included more "swingers" in their remastered hits package. No doubt this will NOT be the last Billie Holiday reissue or hits compilation we'll see from Sony-Columbia. There will be more to come---just put more "fast ones" on the next one. For that shortcoming, I rate this package 4 stars instead of 5. But the singing here is still inspiring and enjoyable as any Lady Day CD from the 1930s.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Early greats from Lady Day, April 30, 2005
This review is from: Billie Holiday - Greatest Hits (Sony) (Audio CD)
I heard this CD while I was walking around Borders and just had to have it. These are early recordings - the music is fresh and joyous - the vocals are superb. I especially love the recordings of "Miss Brown To You," "What a Little Moonlight Can Do" (a treat), "Some Other Spring" and my very favorite, "I Can't Get Started." I have other Holiday recordings. However, this is the one I play again and again. I only wish that it had "Good Morning Heartache" on it. Oh, well.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great music to listen to when you're sad, October 17, 2002
This review is from: Billie Holiday - Greatest Hits (Sony) (Audio CD)
...Fortunately, this CD contains recordings made in her early years (1930's) when her voice had not yet been affected and when her phrasing was innovative and inspired.
I enjoyed the first half of the CD more so than the second half mainly because the last 6 tracks are quite melancholy. ... This is real blues music from a woman who experienced nothing but the blues.
I enjoyed the opening, peppy teaser "Miss Brown to You", including a more somber "Some Other Spring". But I would have to say my favorite track is the unabashedly romantic "Sailboat in the Moonlight".
I was surprised at the lyricism of the songs. This is more like poetry set to jazz and blues chords. ..
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Biilie's phrasing was a heart-to-heart with the whole world--and no one ever wanted to go home, July 7, 2007
By 
Matthew G. Sherwin (last seen screaming at Amazon customer service) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Billie Holiday - Greatest Hits (Sony) (Audio CD)
Billie Holiday could sing jazz and the blues unlike any other singer. Ever. Her voice was the ultimate instrument which could convey all the sorrows of her personal life as she sang about life, love and the pain of being discriminated against because she was African-American. We will never see another quite like Billie; this CD of thirteen of Billie's greatest hits from Sony doesn't even begin to scrape the surface of what this remarkably talented lady could do.

The CD track set begins with a number that's actually sassy as well as jazzy; Billie sings of how Emily Brown's "comin' to town;" but it's "Miss Brown to you." Listen for Benny Goodman on clarinet and Roy Eldridge on trumpet. Teddy Wilson does a great job on piano, too. Even though Billie was only 20 when this was recorded, she was already working with the best!

"What A Little Moonlight Can Do" gets a breakneck pace and a jazzy interpretation that would make any jazz artist green with envy. Billie's voice is light and clear as a bell; yet she imparts all the right emotions to her audience. Once again, Billie recorded this with The Teddy Wilson Orchestra. Teddy plays piano; Benny Goodman plays clarinet and Roy Eldridge plays trumpet. And ooh, how they jam!

"I Cried For You" gives Billie the chance to sing of how she cried for a man who left her--but she no longer cares for him and she won't waste one minute more worrying about that loser. The musicians work wonders before Billie even comes in; but when Billie comes in the number soars and Billie takes flight! Billie imparts the sense of all the pain in her past and how she's happy to have found a new man who loves her more. Teddy Wilson again plays piano; and listen for Harry Carney on both the clarinet and the baritone saxophone. Excellent!

"Billie's Blues" stuns you with its sublime treatment of the blues; Billie wrote this number and Artie Shaw himself plays clarinet! Billie sings about how her man treats her so poorly; and you believe every word she sings--she's THAT good at sharing her feelings from the depths of her soul.

"I Can't Get Started" is a number recorded live when Billie performed at The Meadowbrook Ballroom in Cedar Grove, New Jersey with Count Basie & His Orchestra. Despite the passage of time and the surface noise on this track, I distinctly feel everything Billie put into this song. Billie was unlucky in love and the pain of this problem helps her to deliver "I Can't Get Started" as if the lyrics were a intimate, personal and very private confession to you from the bottom of her heart. Wow.

"God Bless The Child" was one of Billie's most famous signature songs; and she delivers this with all her might. Billie sings so well because she truly means every word of the lyrics. This is not just another chanteuse singing a ballad; this is Billie Holiday once again sharing her most intimate feelings with her audience. Roy Eldridge plays trumpet and I predict you will enjoy this number very, very much.

"Gloomy Sunday" became associated with many a suicide; anyone deep in despair and hopelessness can identify with "Gloomy Sunday." Billie sings this so well because of the countless times she experienced these very emotions in her private life. "The Very Thought Of You" swings ever so slightly to infuse this ballad with just the right amount of energy and romantic effect. Billie's excellent diction, coupled with her light and clear voice, lets her perform "The Very Thought Of You" with twice the panache that any other singer could ever have infused into it.

The CD track set ends with the classic "Body And Soul." Billie sings of how she wants a man who doesn't love her in return. Billie sings from the bottom of her heart as she draws upon her personal pain from unrequited love. As always, Billie's delivery is flawless.

The liner notes include an informative essay by Timme Rosenkrantz; and the black and white pictures of Holiday are very tastefully arranged. The song credits and recording dates are there for you, too.

We will never again see another Billie Holiday. During her all too brief life she gave us more than most entertainers and "celebrities" do in a full lifetime. We are so much richer for Billie sharing her endless talents with us; and fortunately we can continue to experience her talents on CD for ages to come.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fave Jazz Album!, May 26, 2005
This review is from: Billie Holiday - Greatest Hits (Sony) (Audio CD)
Every tune is fab! Thankfully, the remastering has not diminished the old scratchy sound typically found in recordings from this era.

This is why I hate most modern jazz. This has genuine feeling, a raw sound, natural flow, and catchy licks--things lacking these days, IMO.

Pick this up if you are not a huge jazz collector, but just wish to add something worthwile to your otherwise ecclectic collection of music.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Oh my!, September 15, 2007
By 
Steven A. Peterson (Hershey, PA (Born in Kewanee, IL)) - See all my reviews
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Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Billie Holiday - Greatest Hits (Sony) (Audio CD)
There are only 13 cuts on this CD--but what a great set of cuts they are! Billie Holiday was a star-crossed talent. But her talent was real, and this CD provides concrete evidence of that. Some of her best works are included, although 13 cuts cannot possibly do justice to her complete oeuvre.

Let's take a look at a sampling of the songs.

"Miss Brown to You": Benny Goodman plays with the Todd Wilson Orchestra--a nice group to accompany Holliday. She displays a smooth, rich voice. The words are clear and easy to pick up. This is a short song, and it is well sung. It is evocative. Nice instrumental backing!

"Billie's Blues": This song is backed by her own orchestra, with Bunny Berrigan and Artie Shaw--not bad! Nice blues sensibility. Some nice lines, such as:
"But when he mistreats me
Makes me feel so blue."

"I Can't Get Started": This Gershwin song is wondrous. Holiday is backed by Count Basie. Her voice is lush and smooth. One line:
"Now I'm broken hearted
I can't get started with you."
This is a terrific wedding of Count Basie and Billie Holiday.

"Body and Soul": Nice orchestral backing. Her voice intertwines well with the instruments. She sings of her loneliness. Some key lines:

I spend my days in longing;
I'm wondering why it's me who's lonely. . . .
I'm all for you, body and soul."

She can't believe that her man is throwing romance away. An affecting song.

To conclude, this is a fine CD, even though it has a small number of tunes. A great introduction to Billie Holiday's work.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What else can be said? This is the greatest female vocalist of the 20th century and possibly forever, March 17, 2014
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This review is from: Billie Holiday - Greatest Hits (Sony) (Audio CD)
I loved this CD but i love everything the late Billie Holiday did......and I am not a jazz fan. From Billie Holidays early recordings to her last with her damaged voice, everything The Lady did was just chillingly awesome. When her voice was gone from the hard life of drug abuse and general heartbreak, Billie Holiday still excelled making you feel every bad moment in her life. As was general practice at the time, performers, both black, white and hispanic were generally screwed over by the record companies. Gene Vincent never was adequetely compensated and he was white as snow, Carl Perkins saw Elvis make millions off his songs despite he fact that Mr. Perkins actually wrote many of his performed songs. I don't know of a single Elvis song ever written by Mr. Presley. Elvis was a performer, not a musician. Of course since many if not most of the black musical artists were either fully or partially illiterate and thus were open season for the record companies who of course exploited the hell out of them. I dont really feel sorry for the black performers more so than the white ones as they could have and some did obtain good managers and didn't end up broke with little more than an impressive resume that they could't read and by the 20th century there werent any laws that forbid the black musicians from learning to read and write and NOBODY ever forced a single performer or performer/songwriter to do drugs to excess so even for Billie Holiday I don't feel sorrow for. Gratitude yes, sorrow, no. She must be given credit for being so superb that even with a mostly ruined voice she used that broken voice to tell the ongoing saga of her too short life. Whether you listen to a young Billie Holiday with a perfect voice or a broken Billie Holiday using her broken voice to illustrate her broken heart and broken life you got to enjoy what I consider to be the consummate female vocalist of perhaps all time. Personally I feel humbled by simply being able to listen to the Great Lady at every stage of her career. This is a great "album" of truly great hits. The ones chosen are not her finest but it is impossible to purchase a collection of any poor selection of Billie Holiday songs. She simply never made any poor songs, singly or collectively. Buy this album, keep track of the date and name of the recording and just buy whatever you can that The Lady is featured on and you simply cannot lose.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good quality for such old recordings, October 17, 2013
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This review is from: Billie Holiday - Greatest Hits (Sony) (Audio CD)
These are lovely songs, though I wish the selections were slightly better. You can tell these were made from very old recordings. It's like listening to an old record with scratches here and there. But considering the source, they probably did about as best as possible getting the sound quality.
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Billie Holiday - Greatest Hits (Sony)
Billie Holiday - Greatest Hits (Sony) by Billie Holiday (Audio CD - 1998)
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