Top positive review
27 people found this helpful
Great stuff...but beware one or two serious flaws
on 19 October 2012
If you like Anita O'Day, this is undoubtedly a great buy - and if you don't yet know of Anita O'Day, then this is a fine place to discover her genius. But you need to remember that this is a public domain release of recordings made more than fifty years ago, and the companies releasing this material do have a tendency to be more sloppy and careless than one would really like, and sadly that has definitely happened here.
But, better to begin with the good points, I think. All these LPs were originally released on the Verve label, and (I am fairly sure) can all be obtained separately in their authentic copyrighted editions at higher prices, but often with bonus tracks. I have read so many contradictory opinions about the sound quality of this issue (and others on the Real Gone Jazz label), so I feel entitled to add my own quite unscientific and inexpert, but I hope balanced, thoughtful and helpful views. I get particularly annoyed by those who rant about how awful the sound is, generally making ludicrous assertions backed up with nothing. I simply say that the sound quality of the recordings here is, taken purely on its own terms and compared against nothing else, good enough for anyone to enjoy every one of the songs completely and absolutely. There is some slight variation from album to album (well, some are mono, some stereo for a start!), but all the vocals and backing groups, big and small, are as clear as you need them to be. I do not have any of the full albums on LP or authentic Verve CDs to compare them with, but I do have the Verve compilation CD entitled "Anita O'Day's Finest Hour" which contains some of the tracks on this set. If you listen reasonably carefully to these copyrighted versions, it is noticeable that the backing has a crisper and cleaner sound there, particularly where it is the full Billy May orchestra. I don't think you can really miss that point if you want to muck around (wasting time??) making comparisons - but, in its own right and in isolation, there is nothing seriously lacking in how this set sounds.
The flaw, however, is most vexing, and I find it incredible that nobody writing about this release before has spotted it or mentioned it!! Disc 3, "Swings Cole Porter with Billy May" - please, someone start that and take a listen! Yep, "Just One of Those Things", that's for sure the first track of that LP - but, hang on, THIS is the Billy May orchestra and arrangement we're hearing???!!??? Well, no, it isn't, it's a quartet of distinguished jazz musicians - oh, and it's in mono, while this SHOULD be a 1959 stereo LP! Why?? Because it's actually the first track of the LP "An Evening with Anita O'Day, and was recorded in 1954, that's why! It's also glaringly obviously wrong, because it's just so different from the next eleven tracks, which makes me wonder why nobody else seems to have noticed. Now, I don't know where these public domain companies get their material from. Some claim LP needle drops, some say they get them from the proper CD releases, but neither could possibly explain this error, as either way you'd get the right first track! Even odder, this album actually has the six bonus tracks from the Verve CD edition! They are all recordings of Cole Porter songs that Anita did for various other Verve LPs. So Track 13, "You're the Top" is the same one as Track 1 of Disc 1, which is fine. And, guess what, the last bonus track was "Just One of Those Things" from "An Eve......" - well, you get the idea...Tracks 1 and 18 are the same, which certainly AIN'T fine!!
So, to summarise, what you get here is seven full LPs, all as originally released, with perfectly good sound quality, but no album covers other than what you see here pictured jumbled on the front shot and absolutely no sleeve notes...and one LP with bonus tracks but missing its opening track.
Please enjoy the great music, but you might as well skip the first track of Disc 3 and delete it from your mp3 player. I have!