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Early Years at Rko

Fred Astaire Audio CD
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)

Price: $11.88 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details
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 : Includes FREE MP3 version of this album.
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MP3 Music, 37 Songs, 1 Digital Booklet, 2013 $14.99  
Audio CD, 2013 $11.88  

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Frequently Bought Together

Early Years at Rko + Steppin Out: Astaire Sings + TCM Greatest Classic Film Collection: Astaire & Rogers (The Gay Divorcee / Top Hat / Swing Time / Shall We Dance)
Price for all three: $37.45

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (November 19, 2013)
  • Original Release Date: 2013
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: SONY MASTERWORKS
  • ASIN: B00FNRA1D6
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #57,780 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Disc: 1
1. Music Makes Me
2. Flying Down to Rio
3. Night and Day (From "The Gay Divorce")
4. No Strings
5. Isn't This a Lovely Day
6. Top Hat, White Tie and Tails
7. Cheek to Cheek
8. The Piccolino
9. We Saw the Sea
10. Let Yourself Go
See all 20 tracks on this disc
Disc: 2
1. (I've Got) Beginner's Luck
2. Slap That Bass
3. They All Laughed
4. Let's Call the Whole Thing Off
5. They Can't Take That Away from Me
6. Shall We Dance
7. I Can't Be Bothered Now
8. Things Are Looking Up
9. A Foggy Day
10. Nice Work If You Can Get It
See all 17 tracks on this disc

Editorial Reviews

In conjunction with Turner Classic Movies Network Masterworks presents Fred Astaire The Early Years at RKO, a 2013 two CD set that showcases Astaire's vocal performances from the RKO films of the 1930s. If any performer symbolizes dapper spirit, sophisticated wit and suave romanticism, that performer is Fred Astaire. As a dancer, singer, and actor he was in a class by himself - and class is definitely the operative word where Astaire is concerned. In those early RKO movies, Astaire not only danced but sang, introducing now classic songs by the crŠme de la crŠme of American composers like Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern, and George and Ira Gershwin. The Early Years At RKO compiles together more than 30 musical numbers he performed in those movies, in bright studio recordings with backing from the orchestras led by Leo Reisman, Ray Noble, and Johnny Green. The collection includes liner notes by The Ambassador of the Great American Songbook, Michael Feinstein, as well as a rare alternate takes, and two performances by his most famous partner, Ginger Rogers. Like the star it celebrates, The Early Years at RKO is in a class by itself.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Format:MP3 Music
When I was a teenager in high school at the time who listened to popular music at the time but I always had a special place in my heart for the classics.

And for any classic film fan, you can't help but be enamored by Fred Astaire for his style, elegance and as he can dance, he can also sing.

Back in 1986, my first Fred Astaire album was "Fred Astaire: The Irving Berlin Songbook". Yes, that was the year when a lot of my classmates in high school were into the latest and greatest of rock n' roll and hip hop and whatever was seen on MTV, but for me, I was a teenager that would surprise the local record store owner by purchasing classics.

But I treasured that first cassette purchase featuring the music of Fred Astaire. It was my first introduction to how Astaire only worked with the best arrangers in the business at the time. It was my introduction that while there were other jazz singers that had better vocals, it was his delivery, his timing and the way he would have fun with the lyrics that caught my attention. I would listen to Fred Astaire so often, that I eventually worn out the cassette and of course, the following year, like many people around the world, I was deeply saddened by Astaire's death.

But decades later, I still enjoy Fred Astaire, from watching his magnificent films with Ginger Rogers and listening to a few other albums that were released, in 2013, I was surprised by the announcement that an album featuring his work with RKO would be released.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
Fred Astaire is thought of as a ultimate master of dance entertainment (and rightly so) but he was equally an articulate vocalist who made the Hit Parade numerous times throughout his career. For you younger folks, Fred Astaire WAS the Michael Jackson of the 1930's. If you know your Michael, you'll know he simply idolized Fred Astaire.

Songs written by the 20th century greats like Irvin Berlin, George & Ira Gershwin, Cole Porter, Dorothy Fields, Johnny Mercer and others, you don't get dance tunes/jazz/swing/boogie/ragtime/easy listening/show tunes like this today. Truly, Fred Astaire delivers in this wonderful compilation of songs within the RKO musicals he was involved in. All tunes are digitally-remastered and are clear and crisp. One of the tunes has Mr. Astaire tapping away like mad which is breath-taking in itself just to hear. I'm sure you will be gob-smacked like I was when you hear how fast and how cleanly he can dance both in and off rhythm. This set alone is worth hearing his resplendent fleet feet work their magic with music.

Many thanks to the Astaire Estate for bringing forward the versatile talents of a 20th century icon that inspires others in the 21st century. They don't get any better than Mr. Astaire!
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heaven, I'm in Heaven... December 3, 2013
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
The standards of the Great American Songbook, as introduced by Fred Astaire in the movies for which many of them were originally written. Astaire is a unique vocalist with a style so distinctive and pleasing that he inspired people like the Gershwins, Berlin, Kern, and others to craft their best material for him.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Decent Transfers January 11, 2014
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
This is a great set to get started in collecting the recordings of Fred Astaire.

Many of the transfers are wonderful, but some of them suffer from substandard source material and too much filtering on the part of the audio engineer. The tracks which have been released previously on Columbia/Legacy's Starring Fred Astaire are excellent; the ones which have had more limited exposure tend to be the ones which suffer. If you're tempted to chalk it up to the age of the material, I've heard other, of identical takes of the tracks featured here--specifically, "Night and Day." The version from THE CREAM OF FRED ASTAIRE (Great Recordings From 1926-1941) has more clicks and pops, but the music is clear, not scrubbed away as it is in the TCM CD.

Another great recording to be perused which is worth owning is Songs & Pictures 1928-1944.

That being said, the liner notes are brief but wonderful and generally the quality is good. Check it out!

*Another edit: My comments of the quality of transfers being superior on STARRING FRED ASTAIRE were originally based upon the LP edition released in 1973. I recently heard the CD version and was frankly dismayed at the muffled sound. It's probably worth buying the LP to hear the depth some of these recordings have. I wish Legacy would reissue these tracks using the master from the 1973 release instead of the one from the '89 CD version. Good luck, right?
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superior sound quality upgrade January 31, 2014
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
The old edition of these recordings, called "Starring Fred Astaire" on Columbia label sounds terribly muffled and obscured in comparison to this new edition. If you listen to both in a synchronized "A/B" comparison using two CD players, the improvement screams out, it is so obvious. On this new edition, Astaire's voice sounds so much more natural, much clearer and as if he were really with you. The instruments have far better definition and the tap dancing portions sound like real tap shoes on a stage. The old edition is so terrible in comparison, that it seems criminal that it was ever issued. It is a shame that some people who have the old edition might pass this up. I am very glad that I bought this version!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars What a treat for Fred Astaire fans!
I keep this set in my car and play it while running errands and shopping. It keeps me in a cheery mood - these songs were made for it! Read more
Published 5 months ago by Patti Rutledge
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Song Collection from the Astaire/Rogers Films
A great set of music from the Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers movies of the thirties. Several of these songs were written by Irving Berlin and all are quite good jazz recordings... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Paul Moreau
5.0 out of 5 stars Elegance In Words And Music
Many reviewers fixate on Astaire's small band, intimate recordings made late in his life. Personally, I prefer the performances on this album with the full studio orchestra and... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Stephen A. Campello
5.0 out of 5 stars Sublime Astaire
No review needed: This is the Astaire of the RKO films--and it is simply Astaire: perfect! Along with 2 cd's (37 songs), there is an essay by Michael Feinstein. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Barry V. Qualls
5.0 out of 5 stars Always a pleasure
Wonderful sound & music . The tap dancing is amazing, sounds like Fred is in the room with you. Thanks
Published 6 months ago by bridget peachey
5.0 out of 5 stars FRED ASTAIRE
FRED DIDN'T DANCE,HE FLOATED ACROSS THE STAGE.THERE ARE OTHER GREAT DANCERS,BUT IN MY BOOK HE WAS THE BEST.HE ALSO KNEW HOW TO SING THE GREAT AMERICAN SONGBOOK.
Published 6 months ago by edward koosa
5.0 out of 5 stars A Class Act
I was born in the 1950's and watched a lot of old B&W movies on TV, well before anyone heard of cable. Fred Astaire was always one of my favorite musicals stars. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Vince Moss
5.0 out of 5 stars Hear those tapping feet! (Oh yeah, there are some vocals here too!)
Okay, up front I have to say I’m a huge Fred Astaire fan. Sure, I think he’s an okay actor and, he certainly can interpret the big songs from the Great American Songbook. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Steven I. Ramm
5.0 out of 5 stars The Gift that Made me a Hero
Gave this to a friend for Xmas. She's a big Astaire fan. She was very happy. Even I liked it, and I'm not particularly addicted to Astaire. So = "Buy this thing."
Published 7 months ago by Thomas Dow Albon
2.0 out of 5 stars disappointing
I was really excited when I ordered this, but it's a let-down. The sound quality is poor. With so many fabilous songs written specifically for Astaire, he shouldn't be singing... Read more
Published 7 months ago by LLN
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