Lady Day: The Best of Billie Holiday CD
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Top Customer Reviews
This 2-CD anthology is the answer, providing a generous helping of memorable cuts, with an preference for high-quality songs (frankly, quite a few of the tunes on the boxed set aren't worthy of Britney Spears, let alone a peerless vocalist like Billie, albeit Lady Day is renowned for turning trite songs into art). There are other one-disc collections culled from these sessions, but I highly recommend this collection above all others--the sound quality is as good as possible, and with two discs there's enough of a sampling to give the listener a good idea of what Billie and her accompiament were up to during this era...and what they were up to revolutionized popular music!
Since I own the box set of LP's already, I settled for this "Best Of" CD version. It's a judicious selection of material, the audio quality affords slightly more "presence" to Billie's voice than on the originals, the liner notes by Gary Giddins are informative and provocative, and the photos are revealing (contrasting the early buxom, spontaneous Billie with the later posed, slimmed-down star).
Columbia-Sony has obviously invested much thought and care in the production of this package. Unlike many of my CD acquisitions, this one is not going to be played once and set aside.
Like others here, I have it all, but I think her work from the 30s and early 1940s from Columbia and its ancestors is not just her greatest works, but among the great works of world musical culture. Everyone with a set of ears should be more or less required to have this music and enjoy it.
Strange Fruit was not recorded for Columbia but for the Indy label Commodore. Thus, you will not find it on this or any of the Columbia collections like this that capture her work in the period BEFORE Strange Fruit. It was recorded in the 1940s, whereas this collection contains work from Billie in the 1930s and perhaps 1940 and 1941. No doubt Sony wishes it had the rights to that side and everything else Commodore recorded, but they don't.
The truth is, Strange Fruit is not one of Billie's Greatest works. There are about 15 tunes on this CD that have better singing, better musicians backing her, and were more important pieces of Billie's work. Strange Fruit is well known to the people who know about Billie as a person, but don't know much about Billie as a Jazz musician. Her recording, while powerful, was not very nuanced, not very jazzy, and not as good as much of the work here. Indeed, the weakness of her mid-1940s Commodore work as opposed to these recordings is that Billie was persuaded to move away from Jazz and swing to attempt to become a cabarat chanteuse of "serious" songs, a move that some also relate to the inception of heroin and the decline of her voice, a move that brought about a decline in her art.
If you want to hear a better version of "Strange Fruit," listen to Josh White's recording which is so much more powerful, if not as well known.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Not one of Billie greatest albums, a bit disappointing.Published 14 months ago by Maureen Giallombardo
Her style is always intoxicating...mesmerizing. you can never get enough. God rest her and I praise both her imitators and those who get really close to that very inimitable... Read morePublished on May 5, 2014 by Perry A. Johnson
There's something about Billie Holiday's voice that has soothed many a soul. After Karen Carpenter, she is probably my favorite vocalist of all time. Read morePublished on March 6, 2013 by Angie E.
My sister in law had this on her wish list. As far as I know she is enjoying her giftPublished on February 6, 2013 by Elizabeth A Harrison
Finally, Columbia has done justice to their Billie Holiday recordings, which are among the finest in the history of jazz. Read morePublished on January 31, 2013 by Mark Pierlot
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