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Jazz - Released January 1, 2014 | EMI Music Special Markets

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This double CD finds Cole revisiting his earlier hits with new versions. The 36 selections mostly focus on his pop successes of the 1950s, although there are a few wistful looks back at his trio days. Not as essential as the original renditions of these popular recordings, the remakes nevertheless find Cole in peak form and comprise a highly enjoyable retrospective of his vocal career. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2007 | EMI Music Special Markets

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Jazz - Released January 1, 2007 | EMI Music Special Markets

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Lounge - Released January 1, 2006 | EMI Music Special Markets

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Lounge - Released January 1, 2006 | EMI Music Special Markets

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Pop - Released January 1, 2006 | EMI Music Special Markets

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Jazz - Released January 1, 2004 | EMI Music Special Markets

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Jazz - Released January 1, 2004 | EMI Music Special Markets

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Jazz - Released January 1, 2002 | EMI Music Special Markets

Recorded at the Persian Room of the Plaza Hotel in New York, For Once in My Life captures Vikki Carr's nightclub act of the late '60s. Carr scored a Top Five hit with the melodramatic torch song "It Must Be Him" in the fall of 1967. A year later, she showed herself to be a polished and professional show business entertainer. On record the act can seem somewhat artificial, as Carr introduces celebrities at ringside with effusive encomiums and rehearses some tired jokes. But what really matters is the singing, and she has a powerful voice and precise enunciation that accentuate the heartrending quality of her signature song and enable her to put her own stamp on covers of hits such as "For Once in My Life," "Happy Together," "Can't Take My Eyes off You," and "The Other Man's Grass Is Always Greener." She is equally effective on standards like "Come Rain or Come Shine" (offered in a medley with "This Girl's in Love With You"), "Some of These Days," and "After You've Gone," and she nods at her Mexican heritage with a Spanish version of the Portuguese song "Carnival (Manha de Carnival)" (aka "A Day in the Life of a Fool"), the theme from the film Black Orpheus. As a club act should be, this one is a demonstration of the varied talents of its star and a reflection of the times, mixing her own material with contemporary hits and old favorites. It no doubt worked better in the Persian Room than it does on record, but it remains an effective showcase. © William Ruhlmann /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 1996 | EMI Music Special Markets

The first of Freddie King's three albums for Leon Russell's Shelter label set the tone for his work for the company: competent electric blues with a prominent rock/soul influence. King sings and plays well, but neither the sidemen nor the material challenge him to scale significant heights. Part of the problem is that King himself wrote none of the songs, which are divided between Chicago blues standards and material supplied by Leon Russell and Don Nix. The entire album is included on the compilation King of the Blues. © Richie Unterberger /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 1996 | EMI Music Special Markets

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Country - Released January 1, 1995 | EMI Music Special Markets

At a time when most of her contemporaries were heading down the country-pop route, Jean Shepard was one of the few female honky tonk singers to stay true to the genre in the '50s and '60s. The definitive Honky Tonk Heroine: Classic Capitol Recordings, 1952-1962 is a terrific anthology of her peak years. Most of her biggest hits are included, as are a handful of rarities that should delight casual fans as much as dedicated fans. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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R&B - Released January 1, 1990 | EMI Music Special Markets

Melba Moore's Soul Exposed found the singer working with soft soul trio Surface ("Happy," "Shower Me With Your Love," "Just Like the First Time") and DJ/remixer Frankie Knuckles (the percolating "I Found a New Love") for an album that seemed to touch on all of her musical roots. The smooth "Do You Really Want My Love" floats along like an upbeat "Happy." The standard "Let Every Voice and Sing" is given an all-star rousing rendition that boasts Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Freddie Jackson, Anita Baker, Howard Hewett, Take 6, the Clark Sisters, Stephanie Mills, Jeffrey Osborne, Gerald Albright, and BeBe & Cece Winans. A showstopping version of "Stormy Weather" harks back to Moore's Broadway stage days. Released as a single, "Let Every Voice and Sing" went to number nine on Billboard's R&B chart. "Face to Face" is smooth R&B/gospel in the mode of Tramaine Hawkins (with whom Moore recorded In Concert). Soul Exposed shows her wide stylistic range, but for an overall career overview see This Is It-Best of Melba Moore. © Ed Hogan /TiVo
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Pop - Released January 1, 1983 | EMI Music Special Markets

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R&B - Released October 12, 1981 | EMI Music Special Markets

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Soul - Released January 1, 1981 | EMI Music Special Markets

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Soul - Released January 1, 1980 | EMI Music Special Markets

Natalie Cole entered the '80s with Don't Look Back, which Marvin Yancy produced with Gene Barge. This LP marked the first time that Chuck Jackson didn't co-produce one of Cole's studio albums, and it was also the first time that one of her albums was uneven and disappointing. Don't Look Back does contain a few enjoyable tracks, including two adult contemporary ballads ("Beautiful Dreamer" and the major hit "Someone That I Used to Love") and an interpretation of the standard "Stairway to the Stars." Arranged by Nelson Riddle, the latter has nothing to do with R&B or adult contemporary -- it's vocal jazz, and Cole's scat singing is right out of Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan. In the early '80s, Cole was still unwilling to take the plunge and record an album that emphasized jazz or jazz-based pre-rock pop; she was still fearful of people thinking that she was trying to ride on her late father's coattails. Nonetheless, she did record the occasional standard in the late '70s and early '80s -- and when she did, it was clear that she was making a big mistake by not recording more of them. Don't Look Back has its moments, although most of the time, Cole is saddled with mediocre, pedestrian material and sounds uninspired. Definitely not one of the singer's more consistent efforts, Don't Look Back is strictly for completists. © Alex Henderson /TiVo
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Soul - Released January 1, 1979 | EMI Music Special Markets

If, in 1979, anyone still had illusions about Natalie Cole being a hardcore soul purist, they were shattered by I Love You So. Although this is primarily an R&B effort, Cole laces her R&B with a big dose of pop. And that isn't necessarily a bad thing, because most of the material is solid and enjoyable. Those who like Cole as gritty, funky soul shouter should appreciate "You're So Good," but she also gets into everything from sleek disco ("I Love You So") and a Fleetwood Mac cover ("Oh, Daddy") to a commercial R&B/adult contemporary blend ("Who Will Carry On"). Meanwhile, "Your Lonely Heart" (a Cole original that also appeared on her We're the Best of Friends album with Peabo Bryson) is the sort of pop-country ballad that wouldn't be out of place at a Dolly Parton or Reba McEntire session. I Love You So isn't among Cole's essential releases, but it's a satisfying effort that underscores her ability to successfully tackle a variety of musical styles. © Alex Henderson /TiVo
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Pop - Released January 1, 1977 | EMI Music Special Markets

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Folk/Americana - Released January 1, 1970 | EMI Music Special Markets

John Stewart's follow-up to the unprecedented success of California Bloodlines stuck close to the same formula. Recorded in Hollywood with many of the same musicians from the earlier record -- Norb Putnam, Kenny Buttrey, Charlie McCoy, among them -- Stewart also employed other country musicians such as banjo boss Bobby Thompson and fiddle player Doug Kershaw as well as a host of his peers -- from Russ Kunkel and Carole King to Danny "Kootch" Kortchmar, James Taylor, and Bryan Garofalo -- at the suggestion of producer Peter Asher -- later known for his schlock work with Linda Ronstadt and Carly Simon among others. Nonetheless despite Asher's best attempts at taming the thin, reedy wildness in Stewart's voice, it wasn't to be. Stewart is a songwriter with a rambling vision, and the best of his rambling songs are included here, and as such, he draws inspired performances from all of his bandmembers. The feel of the album is somewhat stripped of the California crap that was in so many records from that time. A listen to "Belly Full of Tennessee," with Kershaw's fiddle and Putnam's bass driving the tune, colored elegiacally with Thompson's banjo, makes it a Louisiana bayou dance tune. It's raw, tough, and full of unbreakable spirit. "Back in Pomona" is a country rocker in the purest sense of the word. Stewart's uncompromising lyrical vision that relates the past as if it were a living, breathing present drives a band eager to carry those words through to the listener. Willard is a romantic record in the same way that California Bloodlines was, but its romanticism is well intentioned in that it poetically preserves a time period in America that was quickly disappearing. In the title track, Stewart's romanticism centers on a character, a hobo, who embodies everything that is free and wild, untamed, and often tragic, but there are no apologies, no sentiments other than the fact that this unlikely icon is everyone and everyone is him, separated only by circumstance. Likewise "Golden Rollin' Belly," about the need for a woman's sexual company, with Chris Darrow's fiddle and Thompson's banjo riding well inside a big fat Garofalo bassline. Willard is a country record in all the best ways; it just might be Stewart's master opus. © Thom Jurek /TiVo