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5.0 out of 5 stars
The Very Thought Of You: The Definitive Singles Collection
Format: Audio CD|Change
Price:£12.12+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime

TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 30 July 2012
Drawing inspiration from Billie Holiday, jazz singer, pianist, songwriter, and occasional actress Carmen McRae (1920 - 1994) was instrumental in broadening my interest in pop music to embrace Ella Fitzgerald, Sinatra and all those Fifties vocalists who helped make the newly launched concept vinyl album popular. Carmen's distinctive stylish vocal timbre with its mellow depth but metallic edge immediately caught my attention when I heard her recordings, with two 45rpm singles - OUR LOVE IS HERE TO STAY/THIS WILL MAKE YOU LAUGH and STAR EYES/I'M A DREAMER (AREN'T WE ALL) added to my collection before seeking out more of her recordings. Since her death in 1994, Carmen's contribution to jazz has been wooefully undervalued and although there have been many album reissues there's much more waiting for transfer to CD.

Hopefully this two-disc compilation of definitive singles - totalling fifty-eight songs - recorded for Decca, Kapp and US Columbia labels will fill a few gaps in collections despite not claiming to be "complete" and in fact occasional early recordings (1946-1953) mainly released via the Stardust label have been omitted. The above songs have been included along with the numbers waxed at her first Decca session of 8th October 1954 when Carmen cut KEEP ME IN MIND, OOH (WHAT'CHA DOIN' TO ME), THEY ALL LAUGHED and IF I'M LUCKY (I'LL BE THE ONE). She often recorded Broadway show songs and WHATEVER LOLA WANTS, THE PARTY'S OVER, THE NEXT TIME IT HAPPENS, THE EAGLE AND ME and NAMELY YOU are amongst choices which gained some popularity during the Fifties. Standards MIDNIGHT SUN, I'LL SEE YOU AGAIN, A ROOM WITH A VIEW, I CRIED FOR YOU and SKYLINER are likely to have originated from her Decca albums but also released as singles. Interesting to note Carmen's excellent recording of movie song AS I LOVE YOU (THE BIG BEAT - 1958) pre-dates Shirley Bassey's UK hit version. TAKE FIVE has composer of the original hit version Dave Brubeck and his Quartet accompanying Carmen's tricky lyric track and COAX ME finds her in kittenish mood plus there is a tender rendering of MY ONE AND ONLY LOVE. Inevitably, many undistinguished ballads gain much from Carmen's high gloss styling and deep pondering of their lyrics.

A compilation such as this demands to be sequenced chronologically but unfortunately tracks have been randomly tossed into the mix without recording dates with Carmen's more contemporary early Sixties recordings (such as NIGHTLIFE/HOW DOES THE WINE TASTE? recorded 1962) intruding on her mid-Fifties output which is a shame as it somewhat mars this collection. However, Jasmine's pristine remastering and maximum playing time offsets this listening inconvenience and therefore gains maximum stars.
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VINE VOICETOP 100 REVIEWERon 12 November 2012
This 2 CD set is made up of singles but they are actually tracks from albums released as such. The selections include classic song book numbers such as the title song; the wonderful The More I See You; Gershwin's Love is Here to Stay; vintage song Star Eyes & They all Laughed. Along with classics there are many lesser known songs and in total 58 tracks. I do have one reservation and that is the way these songs are presented. It would have been much more sensible to run them in chronological order but that said you cannot detract from the excellence of performance. As always long running times and great value.
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