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The Essential Capitol Collection

4.9 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews

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Audio CD, July 17, 2007
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Editorial Reviews

Keely Smith was so much more than just wife and deadpan foil to Louis Prima. Thankfully, this 27-track set from Capitol captures all sides of this great entertainer, featuring three duets with Frank Sinatra ( Nothing in Common; How Are Ya Fixed on Love? , and Nothing's Too Good for My Baby ), an unreleased live track ( When Day Is Done ) recorded at The Sahara with introduction by Louis Prima, and solo material arranged by Nelson Riddle and Billy May. Among the other songs: That Old Black Magic (with Louis Prima); It's Been a Long Time; All the Way; I Can't Get Started; You Go to My Head; The Song Is You; When Day Is Done; Fools Rush In , and more.
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (July 17, 2007)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Capitol
  • ASIN: B000R7HYQ4
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #39,777 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Giuseppe C. HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 4, 2007
Format: Audio CD
Of all the great American female singers, Keely Smith may be the most "naturally" gifted. The instrument, the technique, the sense of melodic line all invite the closest analysis and emulation--simply exemplary, textbook examples of the art of singing. How do you explain such a phenomenon? It's practically unfair to the aspiring talents who will study and practice long hours yet not come close to equaling skills like hers.

Keely Smith inhaled the smoke of Las Vegas' Sahara Lounge six nights a week for almost ten years, exhaling the strains of an angel over the din of a raucous band, all the while maintaining her cool as "straight man" for a headliner with the onstage persona of a manic Neanderthal--and she ends up with not only the voice but the technique of a singer without peer. If there's one song to put a singer to the test, it's Jerome Kern's incomparable "All The Things You Are," which is the first track of twenty-seven on this collection of Keely Smith material from the mid-to-late 1950s.

Listen to the evenness of the vibrato, the effortless phrasing, the contoured lines, the silky tones supported by firm and unfaltering breath support, the clear and pellucid soprano register that "floats" on a stream of uninterrupted melody, the varied articulations even while maintaining that sweet and rich timbre. Her pitch is always dead center, she's consistent throughout the entire register (no falsetto "breaks"), she catches the dramatic expressiveness of the lyric's meaning without exaggeration or gratuitous drama, and her diction doesn't risk the listener's missing a single word.
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Format: Audio CD
Keely Smith possesses a fantastic ability to sing so well that she could capture your attention at once and you would never want to stop listening to her. She could sing you the phone book; and when she was finished you would be applauding and begging for more. This excellent retrospective album gives us quite a bit of the best of Keely Smith. It has twenty eight wonderful tracks and at 78 minutes the CD is as jam packed with hits as any CD is ever going to be.

"All The Things You Are" opens the CD; Keely sings this perfectly without a superfluous note. Her voice is warm, rich and vibrant in a way that just couldn't be better. The strings and horns help the musical arrangement along although Keely's vocals remain squarely in the foreground. "It's Been A Long, Long Time" sports that big band flavor and Keely makes this number more energetic than I've ever heard it. Keely swings brightly and the musical arrangement lacks nothing, either.

"That Old Black Magic" is a duet Keely does with husband Louis Prima; they got a Grammy for this song and one listen will prove to you that they deserved it. Keely's voice is truly an instrument of its own and she sings "That Old Black Magic" with panache.

"I Wish You Love" begins with a great musical flourish and when Keely comes in this number takes flight! Keely's voice is particularly sweet on this number; and her voice conveys all the subtle romantic nuances to make "I Wish You Love" her very own masterpiece! "Autumn Leaves" gets a somewhat less melancholy flavor than usual when Keely sings it. Unfortunately, this is one number that I think was better left to Edith Piaf.

"On The Sunny Side Of The Street" gets a big band, jazzy feel to it as Keely sings this triumphant, upbeat melody flawlessly.
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Format: Audio CD
If anyone is gawking at those three stars and getting angry at me for dissing this gorgeous chick with one of the greatest pre-'55 rock era voices imaginable, please forgive me. My issue is with the cut & chop nature of the comp album.

Keely had three Lps on Capitol. My ears tell me they were her best recorded work. I have them: I WISH YOU LOVE, ST 914; POLITELY, ST 1073; SWINGIN' PRETTY, ST 1145, released between January, 1958 and May, 1959. That's a total of three albums, total 35 tracks. It wouldn't have been much of a stretch to compile all three to a small box set. That's my disappointment.

As a vinyl junkie, Keely Smith's output suffers the same annoying characteristic that Julie London's London albums do, generally: no one wants to let them go, and they're not usually in really nice condition--mine suffer somewhat for condition. Added to that is that Keely's Capitol albums that do show up are most often the mono; I prefer the stereo in spite of the recent regressive infatuation with mono one dimensional recordings these past few years. Early stereo albums (pre-'62) were premium items for hi-fi snobs of the period; you had to invest in a stereo cartridge for your turntable (mono needles vibrated side-to-side; stereo needles moved both vertically and horizontally to split the channels. Play a stereo album with a mono cartridge, quicker wear and tear on a stereo album. Stereo albums had that warning banner printed above the liner notes for that reason.), wire and balance a second amplifier--two volume levels for balance control. When Keely's albums first came out, her albums were the stereo vanguard of early adoption (Capitol didn't start consistently putting out stereo versions until about Christmas, 1958), hence they didn't sell especially well.
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