Culled from the Columbia Records reissue packages, variously released under the multivolume Quintessential Billie Holiday umbrella, this package goes straight for the love songs, the heart of Holiday. Ranging from such pla... more »yful lyrics as "Let's Do It" and "Them There Eyes" to such essential Holiday as "You Go to My Head," "The Very Thought of You," and "Easy Living," this set is guaranteed to keep the home fires burning brightly. Lay this one on your lover next Valentine's Day. As was so frequently the case with Holiday, the ensemble support is impeccable, including many of the swingers from Columbia's Greatest Hits package. The bonus here is Count Basie on piano, leading his swinging big band on "They Can't Take That Away from Me." --Willard Jenkins« less
Culled from the Columbia Records reissue packages, variously released under the multivolume Quintessential Billie Holiday umbrella, this package goes straight for the love songs, the heart of Holiday. Ranging from such playful lyrics as "Let's Do It" and "Them There Eyes" to such essential Holiday as "You Go to My Head," "The Very Thought of You," and "Easy Living," this set is guaranteed to keep the home fires burning brightly. Lay this one on your lover next Valentine's Day. As was so frequently the case with Holiday, the ensemble support is impeccable, including many of the swingers from Columbia's Greatest Hits package. The bonus here is Count Basie on piano, leading his swinging big band on "They Can't Take That Away from Me." --Willard Jenkins
Excellent Billie Holiday primer w/best sound possible
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This compilation collects the very love songs from what is probably Billie's best records, the early Columbia (Brunswick/Vocalion) records. Those records do not equal her later records in terms of recording quality nor does it match the nuanced phrasing of her Verve records. What they have going is a young and fresh sounding Billie fronting unbeatable arrangements and performances. They also have some great upbeat material that would become increasingly absent towards the end of Billie's recording career, showing just how much she could do (as her voice faded, she became less capable of handling such material convincingly). All the Columbia material was collected on the 9 volume "Quintessential" set, but unfortunately, while half of the stuff is pure gold, there's also a lot of dreck. Furthermore, all 9 volumes have poor, compressed sound, and some great stuff comes off limp and lifeless. "Love Songs" rectifies this, and it's just amazing how much better everything is once it's been put through Sony's 20-bit fairy dust. Now if they would only go back and re-do it all in a tightly packaged 6 CD set..."
Essential songs. Essential Singer.
Campbell Roark | from under the floorboards and through the woods.. | 02/03/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"What can one say here, that hasn't already been said of Billie Holiday... I come not to praise but simply to say, "Pick this up!" 11 bux (unless you get it used) for a fat-load, a veritable goldmine, of great tunes sung by one of the last century's most soulful and velvetine singers, each with incredibly superb backing (the players include Count Basie((!!!)), Gene Krupa, Lester Young, Al Casey and Freddie Green, among other badass greats of the time).
Each note of these songs is art. Language shudders under the weight of describing how wonderful this music is. The songs always end making you wish teh band had just played on... And the thematic unity is never cumbersome- yes they're all love songs, but what are looking for? Protest music?
Also Recommended- if you get this plus the Sony comp "Blue Billie," (I love that collection, cheap copies abound, and it's not really soooo bluesy- just more meditative and pensive songs and many of the songs have the term "blue" in the title, but most swing!). Get those two and you got 31 great tracks of swingin', depression-era Billie. Only one overlap track- "Night and Day." Both CDs are remastered lovely and nice, the sound is clear, warm, sumptuous.
Or pick up Lady in Autumn (another fave of mine), for more voluptuous recordings, later in her life.
Honestly though, you can't go wrong with Billie. "
Billie Sings Like No Woman Can
Peter | East of Los Angeles | 12/06/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Sony-Columbia once again comes up aces in their great job remastering and choosing the songs on this collection. Billie not only sounds wonderful, the sound quality itself is excellent. Majority of the hisses have been taken out. Holiday recorded these songs at a time when she was still fresh and upbeat, and this is reflected in her singing (or her drug habit hadn't fully kicked in yet). The song selection is hard to fault, most of them waxing romantic optimism. Even on the torchier numbers, the mood is still wistful as opposed to downright depressing as she would sound later in her career. One only wishes Sony had included more numbers on this set. Maybe there'll be a Love Songs Volume 2 next time?"
Really a sampler but a Good Place to Start
Tony Thomas | SUNNY ISLES BEACH, FL USA | 03/10/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"My addiction to Billie Holiday since my childhood makes it impossible for me to do with just this much of Billie from the 1930s and early 1940s. I have it all!
Still, if you are not ready to take the ultimate step and get it all, this is a wonderful place to start. Too much is said about Billie Holiday as a life tragedy in various stages, when what is important is her life as a jazz musician and singer. In that regard these are revolutionary records that will be treasured as long as people have ears. It is very hard to really explain how good these recordings are. You simply need them and listen and enjoy them and have them swing you to know.
Holiday swings in a way that no singer to her time, even her one predecessor of note, The Great Louis Armstrong, swings. She swang so well that she immediately attracted the greatest of swing musicians who wanted to be part of these sessions for the musical experience. In a sense these recordings were a chance for them to jam together in loose arrangements and be more innovative and creative than they were with the orchestras they played with.
Of course, the great collaboration captured on so many of these recordings is the one between Lester Young and Billie. They were great musical friends and personal friends until Billie became a heroin addict at which point Lester didn't much want to be around her.
As much as I am a Lester Young man to the death (his framed picture hangs in my home), Billie's collaboration with pianist Teddy Wilson who plays on and directed most of these recordings (many were recorded as Teddy Wilson Orchestra sides)needs to be explored. Likewise, her work with the great bassists and rhythm players on these records needs to be appreciated. My favorite sides are the ones in which she has the benefit of Basieites like her dear friend Freddy Green on guitar and the great Walter Page on bass. Likewise, Billie's musical closeness with the great Buck Clayton and his role on these sides is also underestimated.
Yet, it doesn't matter if Billie had recorded these sides with some high school band members from Winslow, Arizona. This is good music to listen to, good music to smile to, music to fall in love to, and music to dance too. Contrary to the tendency to get maudlin and milk her personal image she developed as her life and her musical skill declined in the late 1950s, even the songs with the sadest lyrics possess a great joy, swing, and spirit of the wonders of Jazz."
You ain't heard these songs 'til you hear Billie singin' em
Nathan | Charlotte, N.C. United States | 05/02/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It's one of those names that e'ybody's heard, but lotsa people, 'specially my age group (the under-25 category), have yet to truly embrace. But, lemme tell y'all that Lady Day was one of a kind. There's been certain vocalists over the past century that have an alluring quality about them and who's impact has etched them into history, allowing them to constantly be re-discovered by a new generation. It's when music becomes more than music. It's when it becomes a part of our collective conscious and everyday lives. Billie Holiday is an artist that my ol' grandmother used to listen to, and she probably woulda never thought that I would be comin' home from work, sittin' back in my easy chair, and listenin' to these old songs from the 30s and 40s crackle out of my stereo speakers. As with all the great singers, I feel every word she sings. While there are many legendary jazz musicians that are providing her with her backdrop, including Duke Ellington, Ben Webster, Lester Young, and others, Holiday's delivery is the real showcase. She sang straight from her gut. Her voice is smooth and rough, rich and gritty, raw and lovely, all at the same time. These are all sweet, romantic and cherishable love songs that are absolutely timeless in appeal. The story of her life is certainly a tragic one, but hearing her sing these wistful and almost-innocent numbers you'd never know it. If you've never listened to Ms. Holiday, don't deprive yourself of such great music any longer. This is a great place to get started. Chances are, once you hear this, you'll want to hear more. As for me, I think I'm gonna go crack a few brews, sit in my easy chair, put my feet up, and put this in my stereo. Ahhh, yeah, it doesn't get much better than this."