CD The Definitive Collection [Verve] (CD 1150851),
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The Definitive Collection [Verve]

  • 1. What a Little Moonlight Can Do
    2. Mean to Me
    3. Strange Fruit
    4. Fine and Mellow
    5. Travelin' Light
    6. Billie's Blues
    7. Lover Man (Oh, Where Can You Be?)
    8. Don't Explain
    9. Good Morning Heartache
    10. Solitude
    11. Easy Living
    12. I Loves You Porgy
    13. My Man (Man Homme)
    14. 'Taint Nobody's Business If I Do
    15. You're My Thrill
    16. Them There Eyes
    17. Willow Weep For Me
    18. I Thought About You
    19. Lady Sings the Blues
    20. God Bless the Child
    21. I Cover the Waterfront
    22. You've Changed
  • Additional Info
    Manufacturer Part Number (MPN): 0010626

  • Credits

    Since the range of recording dates for Verve Records' Billie Holiday compilation The Definitive Collection stretches from her first session in 1935 to her last in 1958, it might be supposed that the album attempts to live up to its ambitious name. In fact, however, this disc is really a selection of 18 highlights from the portion of Holiday's catalog controlled by Verve's parent company, Universal Music, which is to say her work for Commodore, Decca, Clef, and Verve itself between 1939 and 1956, with a couple of tracks licensed from her mid-'30s work for Brunswick (now owned by Sony BMG); a track she recorded under a pseudonym for Capitol (now controlled by EMI) in 1942; and a track from her final album, Lady in Satin, released by Columbia (another Sony BMG label). Although the bulk of these performances date from the '40s, the chronological sequence gives a sense of Holiday's vocal development over the years, as her craft improved and the technical quality of her voice deteriorated. Many of her better-known songs are included, with the caveat that "God Bless the Child," "Billie's Blues," "Easy Living," "Solitude," "My Man," and "I Cover the Waterfront" are re-recordings. (Annotator Bill Dahl states the case made by some listeners that the later versions are superior to the earlier ones.) Absent a merger of the remaining major record labels, it may be impossible to attempt a comprehensive, not to mention "definitive," collection of Holiday's career peaks on a single disc. This one is not a bad attempt, but it still basically represents only a part of the story. ~ William Ruhlmann

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