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4.7 out of 5 stars24
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 7 March 2005
Nat King Cole's singing, his range, tone, diction and phrasing, not to mention the quality of the arrangements and backing, be they the Nat King Cole Trio or Nelson Riddle's full orchestra, are all of what today's young pretenders strive to achieve. And good as some of them are, you only have to play this album, or any of the many others of his that are available, to realise that they have a long way to go to come anywhere near.
Released to mark the 40th anniversary of his death, and in tandem with a DVD and television documentary, the packaging of this collection inevitably has the marketing department's mark, as opposed to the enthusiast's, on it. The accompanying booklet contains an article by daughter Natalie that is nearly all waffle and precious little detail about the music, and the tracklisting neglects to give any recording dates, which would have been helpful because they are not in chronological order - but it does show which tracks are mono and which stereo, in case our ears couldn't work that out.
The album starts off with a bang, Billy May's vibrant big band arrangement and backing for "Let's Face The Music And Dance" making sure that everyone is awake, before settling down into the ballads that most people know and love. It's not all balladry, though, and later on there is a taste of more upbeat material, and it's nice to see the inclusion of some neglected classics like "Send For Me" and "Orange Coloured Sky" before things are wound up with his full and unsurpassed reading of Hoagy Carmichael's "Stardust".
A couple of the tracks are alternative recordings to those normally heard - "Love Letters" and "Smile" - though to be fair, if you're not intimately familiar with them you won't notice. All of them, bar the engineered duet of "Unforgettable" with Natalie, have been digitally remastered; I remain unconvinced that this actually improves sound quality, but it does brighten up the backing instrumentation, and evens out the sound-level variations between tracks.
Whatever little quibbles I have about the packaging of the product, the man's singing and music are what matters, and they are five-star without question. It goes without saying that there is plenty more where this came from, as a browse of the listings will reveal. This does nicely though, especially as a present - I bought it for Mother's Day, and it was very well received.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 28 February 2012
Some singers are so unarguably timeless in their appeal that words almost fail one in trying to encapsulate their genius in something as base as a review. The great Nat `King` Cole is most certainly one of that elect, elite group. He was as influential in his way as Sinatra, Elvis or Ray Charles. Indeed, Cole was a pivotal influence on the young Ray Charles, who found his own voice and inspired singers galore in his turn.
This is the best, and best-value, single-CD compilation of the man with the lazy hazy smoky voice that I know of. In 23 tracks over nearly 78 minutes, we get not only the obvious necessary numbers such as Mona Lisa (oh, that voice!) and the aptly titled Unforgettable, but also the all too brief Nature Boy - a quirky, melodically inventive song (again oft-covered; there`s a stunning version by Jose Feliciano) he sings accompanied by his trio - as well as Chaplin`s suitably sentimental Smile, sixties hits Let There Be Love, with its rippling piano, and the irresistible if poppier Ramblin` Rose; classics like Stardust and Love Letters (yes, the Ketty Lester hit) plus his original version of Route 66, and a song that`s been attempted by many and diverse singers - from Cliff Richard in the 60s to Van Morrison in the 70s - It`s All In The Game. He excels on all of them. Well, of course he does. He only ever excelled...
There are many more, all sung in that unignorable, languid baritone that I`m sure charmed the very birds from the trees.
My two favourite tracks happen to be one solid gold classic and one I hadn`t heard before buying this disc.
When I Fall In Love is the song I might play to someone who didn`t know this great singer. It has everything. In one brief ballad, Cole, with his open-voiced, unhindered style that is pure class, shows how to sing a song with a minimum of fuss to maximum effect. His voice is a caress, a slow and gentle seduction.
The terrific Looking Back is nothing less than a simmering soul ballad (written by Brook Benton, Carrie Otis and Barbara Hendricks - quite a team!) which Nat sings in as clean and wistful a way as Sam Cooke might have done. The two have a lot in common: they made the art of singing a good song well sound easy, or at least they seldom sound like they`re breaking a sweat. On Looking Back, Cole proved he was not only a peerless singer of ballads and `easy listening` upbeat crowd-pleasers, but a sensitive and soulful singer of a more bluesy bent. It shouldn`t be a surprise, but I guarantee that when you play track 17 you`ll get shivers.
On any compilation of this singer`s unique output, you`re going to miss something that`s been left out. As far as I`m concerned, this is near-perfect, a disc that will only give eternal pleasure to those with ears, a heart, and a mind to listen to one of the finest singers of all time at his best. The booklet is a joy too, with full track listings, plenty of photos, and loving notes by his daughter Natalie, who joins him, by the miracle of technology, on a reprise of Unforgettable near the end of the CD.
As the man says: unforgettable.
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on 4 February 2005
This album brings back memories of the unique style that is Nat King Cole.
Rated as one of the great jazz pianist of all time, but his musicianship was appreciated by a wider audience through his singing.The 27 tracks here feature the songs of their time like "Walkin' my baby back home", his wonderful collaberation' with anther great jazz pianist George Shearing,in "Let there be love"and including the unimaginable duet with daughter Natalie in his classic "Unforgettable".
This album is very much in line with todays renewed appreciation of this kind of music, and stands the test of comparison with the Michael Bubles and Diana Kralls.
Great value and a must have in your collection.
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on 13 September 2007
This is an excellent collectin of Nat King Coles work including the Nat King Cole Trio. Great versions of "It's All In The Game" and "Love Letters". Obviously there are the classics which include "When I Fall In Love", "Smile" (1961 version) and both versions of "Unforgettable". A must for anyone who wants to discover the unforgettable Nat King Cole
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on 5 January 2006
This is an excellent compilation covering recordings over a number of years , most of his well-known tracks , and with the re-mastered Unforgettable with the addition of Natalie Cole . However it does seem strange that this album is released also in the USA with different tracks , two of which should have been on this album . Record ( sorry , CD ) producers are strange animals in this respect .
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You'd need a boxed set of several CD's to contain all of Nat's great songs, but this collection is packed full of great music at a reasonable price.
In Britain, Nat is best known for When I fall in love, and it is inevitably included here. Beyond that's it's hard to single out tracks are they are all excellent. Ramblig rose, A blossom fell, Smile, Pretend and Somewhere along the way (all included here) were among Nat's other UK top ten hits, but he had others, not included here. Let there be love, which is here, just missed the UK top ten.
Apart from those UK hits, this compilation includes Nat's versions of classic songs such as Let's face the music and dance, Mona Lisa, Unforgettable (here twice, once solo and once with his daughter), It's all in the game, Straighten up and fly right. On the street where you live, I love you for sentimental reasons, Autumn leaves, Love letters and Stardust.
As an introduction to Nat's music, this is ideal. You're likely to end up buying more than one collection of Nat's music so don't worry about what's missing. Just enjoy what's here.
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on 18 October 2013
Argueably one of the best male popular singers of the last century,this is an excellent introduction to his style of singing and piano playing.Apart from a cringe making recording of "unforgettable" as a "duet" with his daughter Natalie Cole (which to me seems slightly macabre)the recordings are a good mixture.
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on 23 February 2015
Case broken inside and was the songs were not the ones advertised on Amazon. Checked and there are three different CD's with the same Cover. Need to check, which unfortunately could not do when ordering. Rather disappointed.
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on 2 January 2013
Good old classic. Very nice album, with great songs, including the more rare L.O.V.E. It falls into the Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald classic collection.
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on 22 March 2013
The World Of Nat King Cole - His Very Best - the wonderful world of music. Great charming voice and songs full of charm. This ... you have to listen
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