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Jazz - Released January 1, 1991 | Verve Reissues

Billie Holiday is heard at her absolute best on this attractive two-CD set. During her period on Decca, Lady Day was accompanied by strings (for the first time), large studio orchestras, and even background vocalists, so jazz solos from her sidemen are few. But her voice was at its strongest during the 1940s (even with her personal problems) and to hear all 50 of her Decca performances (including alternate takes and even some studio chatter) is a real joy. Among the high points of this essential set are her original versions of "Lover Man" (Holiday's biggest selling record), "Don't Explain," "Good Morning Heartache," "'Tain't Nobody's Business if I Do," "Now or Never," "Crazy He Calls Me," and remakes of "Them There Eyes" and "God Bless the Child." ~ Scott Yanow

Jazz - Released January 28, 1997 | GRP


Jazz - Released October 11, 2005 | Verve Reissues

Hip-O's 2004 two-CD and one-DVD compilation The Ultimate Collection set a new standard for Billie Holiday retrospectives. It boasted not only a strong selection of songs, but also material from all of her scattered labels (Brunswick, Decca, Commodore, Verve) and it stood, in effect, as the first best-of compilation capable of living up to its rubric. Gold is a very similar collection. In fact, the audio program is identical to the first two discs of The Ultimate Collection. The only difference lies in the subtraction of the DVD, included with the previous set but missing here, that presented ten of Holiday's filmed performances. (Also subtracted was 20 dollars from the list price.) Musically, it's just as powerful as The Ultimate Collection. ~ John Bush