Top positive review
17 of 18 people found this helpful
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.