Ultimate Collection Billie Holiday
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Bigger Billie Holiday boxes have been released, but if you're looking for a collection that doesn't break the bank but spans her career AND packs a multimedia punch, look no further. Among these 42 tracks are sides cut for every label (Brunswick, Okeh, Commodore, Columbia, Capitol, Decca, Aladdin, Clef and Verve) that recorded Billie, including all the classics: Lover Man; God Bless the Child; Strange Fruit; Don't Explain; Good Morning Heartache , and more. And the accompanying DVD includes eight TV performances including three (from 1956's Stars of Jazz ) that have never been seen since their original airing. Exemplary.
Billie Holiday (1917-59) wore gardenias, was a teenaged prostitute, did drugs, and died with a cop posted outside her hospital bed. But with her gravel-like vocals, and behind-the-beat phrasing, she was one of the greatest singers of the twentieth century. This multimedia collection commemorates her ninetieth birthday. Two CDs contain forty two of her greatest hits, from her 1935 stint with Benny Goodman, to her chilling 1958 strings album, Lady in Satin. It features her signature songs like "Good Morning Heartache," "God Bless the Child," and her unforgettable anti-lynching number "Strange Fruit." The DVD includes film cameos with Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong, photographs, posters, rehearsals and interviews with friends and musicians, including a rediscovered 1956 radio broadcast with a young Mike Wallace. Her achy artistry is timeless, and as Ashley Kahn wrote in his superb liner notes, "Billie will be there tonight, tomorrow night and a long time to come." --Eugene Holley, Jr.
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The 2-CDs contain all of Billie's standards like "Strange Fruit," "Fine & Mellow," "Lover Man," and "Lady Sings The Blues," plus many more, and they all sound wonderful! Hip-O, Universal and Verve have done a fantastic job remastering these songs. They all sound crisp and clear! I remember I had an old cassette tape of Billie's and a CD and the songs sounded murky and fuzzy and that kept me from enjoying them to its fullest.
Well, this set solves that problem. There are a few instances where Holiday's voice blares on some of the tracks on CD one and there's some hiss, but that's probably from the source masters and can't be helped.
As I get older, I've come to appreciate Billie Holiday even more. Sure she doesn't have the power and vocal range of Barbra Streisand and she might not be able to whoop and holler like Aretha Franklin or Chaka Khan, but there's something familiar in Billie's voice that makes you feel all right. Like an old classic pair of shoes, Billie Holiday's music is always stylish and comfortable. Timeless.
This set includes 2-CDs, 1-DVD and a 23-page booklet filled with pictures and bio/song information written by Ashley Kahn (author Kind of Blue: The Making of the Miles Davis Masterpiece).
Here's further details on the DVD, there's a video and an audio section:
***VIDEO PERFORMANCES (45:00+ Minutes/"Play All" or "Select Song" Feature) = Seven performances by Billie and one each of Bessie Smith and Louis Armstrong. These were filmed at various times and although there are some dust and scratches, the quality looks pretty good so they really cleaned it up.
1. Saddest Tale
2. The Blues Are Brewin'
3. Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans
4. My Man (Mon Homme)*
5. Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone
6. Billie's Blues
7. Fine And Mellow
8. What A Little Moonlight Can Do
*Note: the DVD video tracks listed in the booklet are in the wrong order 4,5,6 should be 5,6,4.
9. St. Louis Blues - Bessie Smith
10. I Cover The WaterFront - Louis Armstrong
***AUDIO ONLY PERFORMANCES (13:35-Minutes/"Play All" or "Select Song" Feature)5-Songs play over still graphic of song and band credits
1. Swing! Brother, Swing!
2. They Can't Take That Away From Me
3. Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me
4. I'll Get By
5. I Wonder Where Our Love Has Gone
***INTERVIEW WITH BILLIE (15:04-Minutes) 1-Audio only interview with Mike Wallace
***AUDIO REHEARSAL (8:56-Minutes) 1-Audio only of Billie rehearsing with Jimmy Rowles in 1955. This has some funny dialogue in between the song rehearsal as Billie starts chattering away about people and telling stories. Really shows off her character.
Other stuff on the DVD include audio interviews with musicians and people who knew or worked with Bille; Time Line Photo Gallery; and Recording history info.
This is probably the only Billie Holiday set you need to own. It has all the Holiday standards and sounds wonderful! This would make a great starter or intro set to someone who only knows Billie through Diana Ross's movie Lady Sings the Blues.
I am delighted I purchased this collection. A "must have" for serious jazz collectors!