Customer Reviews: The Very Best Of Nat King Cole
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on January 3, 2007
Yeah, it's hard to go wrong with the music of Nat King Cole, but somehow this disc manages to do so.

Casual fans should be aware that this disc is anything but "the very best" of Nat King Cole, despite the title. Some of Nat's biggest hits are missing in action. Note the absence of "Ramblin' Rose" and "Send For Me" and "Those Lazy Hazy Crazy Days Of Summer" and "Pretend" and "Too Young" and ... well, you get the idea.

By excluding so many of Nat's biggest hits, the producers were able to include some rarely heard tracks like "Candy" and the live "I Wish You Love," but what's the point? Those who prefer Nat's 1961 stereo remakes of classics like "Unforgettable" and "Smile" and "When I Fall In Love" will also be disappointed, as the versions heard here are the mono originals that most Cole fans agree are inferior to the remakes recorded when Nat's voice was at its distinctive best.

All in all, the track listing resembles some committee's idea of a mix tape -- an indiscriminate, incoherent hodge-podge of big hits and obscurities that have nothing at all in common. Following the wistful "Looking Back" by cutting immediately to the bouncy, foreign-language version of "L-O-V-E" does both songs a major disservice.

One other complaint: The uncredited liner notes are among the most embarrassing ever penned for an album by any major artist: "In his lifetime, the king was renowned for an immortal ability to make stars of his hope and torment." Ehhhhh... Looks like someone took a creative writing class at the local community college.

All that said, Capitol deserves a lot of credit for including the previously unreleased version of "Morning Star" (it's a stunner) and for some very tasteful art direction. Also, this disc was superbly mastered by Ron McMaster and the resulting sound quality is exceptional.

Even so, I think most fans would be much happier with the 2005 compilation "The World Of Nat King Cole." (Though they should avoid the disappointing DVD of the same name.)
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on May 5, 2006
Nat King Cole is often called the black Sinatra, a banner that could easily be reversed. Fact of the matter is that both Nat King Cole and Sinatra were artists in their own right, with very distinct styles, titans each. Cole had a beautiful phrasing; you never missed a word, a voice as clear as crystal, yet powerful as bell. He was quite the charmer as well. Although the lyrics are often very innocent, his deliverance tells you he has something far more risque on his mind. The man flirts through his singing with a very subtle sexual undertone. Aside the fact he had the voice of an angel that was probably the key to his success. Male or female, you immediately get the idea you share a secret with Cole underneath that sugarcane topping.

Cole had a long and prolific career and any single disc compilation is going to fall short. My biggest beef with this compilation that it hardly does justice to his years at Capitol with the Nat King Cole Trio. The trio featured some of his most lasting song, only a few found their way to this disc. His more lush productions are favored here. Still for the casual fan this is an excellent starting point.
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The Very Best Of Nat King Cole is a single CD compilation of what are truly just some of the best from Nat King Cole. No single CD could EVER contain all of Nat's best work; he did so much beyond perfection that the title of this CD is a stretch of the imagination. However, what we do get here is very high quality controlled words and music; and that does impress me nonetheless.

"Stardust" starts the track set off with a beautiful love song sung by Nat in his best form. The lush musical arrangement also enhances the beauty of the number; but it's truly Nat's vocals that make this rendition of "Stardust" an instant Nat King Cole classic. "Sweet Lorraine" is a favorite of mine; Nat does this up right with his excellent diction and he imparts to his listeners every subtle nuance of every word he sings. "(Get Your Kicks) On Route 66" sparkles like gold when Nat sings it; this works so well in Nat's capable hands. "Route 66" is a very playful song; I really like this number with its excellent piano accompaniment.

"What'll I Do?" always tugs at my heartstrings; and when Nat sings this I really am impressed. Wow, how Nat does this with great sensitivity. The relatively simplistic musical arrangement keeps the focus on Nat's singing--which is where we want it!

"Unforgettable" is, of course, completely sublime! "Mona Lisa" also gets the royal treatment by Nat. Nat sings "Mona Lisa" with all his heart and the strings do a fine job on "Mona Lisa," too. "Smile" also tugs at my heartstrings; "Smile" is a stunning ballad and Nat sings this perfectly. I could listen to Nat singing "Smile" over and over again--and I have!

"I'm Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter" is another one of my very favorite tunes; the upbeat flavor belies the sadness of the lyrics. Nat does this up right without making this tune schmaltzy or silly sounding--it's very invigorating to hear Nat sing "I'm Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter." Moreover, "That Sunday, That Summer" is easily a highlight of this album; it doesn't get the attention it deserves but hopefully when people hear Nat sing this they will recognize the incredible beauty of this ballad.

"L-O-V-E" features Nat singing in French--and other languages--to symbolically make the statement that love is special anywhere in this world of ours. The CD ends strong with "I Wish You Love." The piano arrangement is perfect; and this live track shows off the excellent rapport that Nat always enjoyed with his adoring audiences.

Sure, there are many more songs that could be in a several CD set entitled The Very Best Of Nat King Cole. No single CD, as we have here, could truly do Nat justice. However, as a single CD goes, this one does give us quite a bit to be happy about. Diehard fans of Nat King Cole can find CD sets for sale on this website as of this writing.

Four stars.
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on May 17, 2006
I know i gave it five stars, but how many times can you re-package his greatest hits (while adding one or two rarities). This must be at least the twentieth re-packaging of these same songs, and I keep buying them because i have an obsessive compulsive disorder. It seems like every year (or even less) there is another cd out containing the greatest hits of Nat Cole, But i feel if this is the way people can be introduced to him then all for the better. But for some of us who have been fans of his since whenever, it would be nice and thoughtful of his record company to throw us a bone every now and then. Cole is one of the few great singers who could toss off the burden of Sinatra's influence and have his own style. Frank destroyed generations of pop singers, who could not help but either sound like him or come pretty close to same in interpretation of the standards. Both he and Nat stand like monuments (pace Bing and Al) in the delivery of the great American popular song. The female singers like Peggy Lee and Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday and Mabel Mercer are a whole other story. I like Nat not just because of his beautiful voice (which i think veers more toward baritone than tenor) but also his sincerity, his diction, and his great musicality. The same goes for Frank. I am humbled by their greatness.
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on May 21, 2006
I must admit that I am a great Nat Cole fan. this compilation contains many tracks that you've enjoyed numerous times. I will say that a couple of gems were released on this album. His French version of Autumn Leaves is wonderful. I don't understand the language but the song is beautiful. I've also enjoyed his multi-lingual version of LOVE. He evidently recorded it in many languages and this is the result. He may not have the proper accent, but to me, his effort in each langauage makes him THE universal singer.
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on April 28, 2014
I absolutely loved Nat King Cole. I sometimes wonder if he realized how much he was loved and respected. I hope so.
This CD takes me back to what was a better time. The songs on it are beautifully arranged and sung. What's not to like about Nat King Cole? His voice was wonderful, his manner excellent. I love this CD.
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on October 12, 2015
Nat King Cole has a wonderful voice. I don't know if I could listen to him all day. But I can honestly say that about Stevie Nicks, Luciano Pavarotti, Jim Steinman, and several of my other favorite singers. If you like him, then you should be pleased with this album.
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on August 23, 2015
I'm not sure but I think this is the CD I purchased that had pops in it.
I had an LP which I had recorded. The reason I purchased this one is because
the LP had pops in it. Now I have a CD and an LP that have pops.
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on January 9, 2014
He is absolutely the BEST.!!!!!. His voice, his style, his cool is unmatched. I want to find a cd of his 'Love is the Thing'. Grew up with this music and my love for it has kept my heart willing to love!
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on November 13, 2013
He's classic and smooth and his songs are beautiful. What more can you say? I bought his collection when I was in my early twenties and because I moved around alot I gave it to my Grandmother to enjoy. When I seen this collection, I had to get it. I enjoy it tremendously and play him at work.
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