Margaret Whiting (1924-2011) enjoyed a long career and well-earned reputation as a classy vocalist with her Capitol Records tenure of the '40's and `50's enabling many hits in the USA although her fame fell short of the wider popularity bestowed on Ella, Peggy, Doris etc. However, Margaret's innate ability to handle all song genres included not only the Great American Songbook but newly-minted show and movie songs, country ballads, novelty pop ditties and occasionally even kids nursery rhymes set to music. Having helped to establish the newly-launched Capitol label in 1943, she bloomed until 1957 before seeking pastures new and surviving the rapid and drastic changes to musical styles during that decade and those which followed, she recorded for Dot and Verve/ MGM before surprisingly reinventing herself as a pop princess at London Records where she notched up a dozen US hits including the Chart-topping single THE WHEEL OF HURT in 1966.
Such popularity spawned a same-titled album followed by two others and Real Gone Music has done us all a favour by resurrecting them with the latter two neatly combined to fit this CD - thus filling a gap in the Whiting CD discography. MAGGIE ISN'T MARGARET ANYMORE (1967) is a mix of covers like THERE'S A KIND OF HUSH, THIS IS MY SONG, SOMETHIN' STUPID and revived oldie I REMEMBER YOU (hits for Herman & His Hermits, Petula Clark, Frank/ Nancy Sinatra and Frank Ifield respectively) with show tune MY CUP RUNNETH OVER from Broadway's two-hander I DO!, I DO! a hit for Ed Ames. Less familiar is the Bacharach/David ballad, ONLY LOVE CAN BREAK A BROKEN HEART and the jaunty JUST LIKE A MAN. Needless to say, Margaret's vocal range and power are well on form on ideal material that makes an entertaining collection.
The second album POP COUNTRY (1968) returns the singer to the country and western genre with which she was quite familiar, having had a string of hits with country singer Jimmy Wakely during the Forties and had since revisited on occasions. RELEASE ME, I CAN'T STOP LOVING YOU, YOU DON'T KNOW ME and GENTLE ON MY MIND are familiar favourites, whilst I CAN'T HELP IT (IF I'M STILL IN LOVE WITH YOU) is a known Hank Williams heart-breaker and I LOVE YOU SO MUCH IT HURTS an old Wakely hit. Orchestrations blend country and pop with occasional chorus with sufficient space allowing Margaret's emotional vocal shading to shine through. Four previously unreleased songs intended for singles are welcome bonus tracks and enhanced by an unexpected jingle for a beer commercial!
Real Gone Music's remastering is faultless and Will Friedwald's accompanying notes are an abject lesson on how such reissue material should be treated with rare photographs adding their significance to this welcome project.
This has to be one of my favourite releases of Margaret Whiting. I have the original LP albums of both these superb albums and was delighted when they were issued on cd earlier this year. The remastering is superb and Margaret's voice is at her very best. Wonderful versions of My Cup Runneth Over and Only Love Can Break A Heart are included on this great set. Just wonderful.
The first album, Maggie Isn't Margaret Anymore, mostly features Maggie's covers of familiar pop songs, although there are surprises, such as her solo cover of Somethin' stupid. Other great songs include Only Love Can Break a Heart, There's a Kind of Hush, I Remember You and This Is My Song.
The second album, Pop-country, begins with a song I've not heard elsewhere, I Hate to See Me Go, which was released as a single but only made the bubbling under chart. The rest of the album is filled with classic songs and every fan of traditional country music will recognize. Maggie does them in her own style which really isn't all that far removed from traditional country, and certainly a lot closer to it than much of the so-called country music recorded later.
These albums from the late sixties are not among Maggie's most famous recordings, but for sheer quality they are among her best, providing you enyoy listening to cover versions.