Good Collection But Pales to Previous Sets
Peter | East of Los Angeles | 02/02/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Dinah Washington's 7 box sets on Mercury are lovingly restored and compiled, producing a vast and memorable collection of blues, jazz and pop singing of the highest order. Interesting aspect of these box sets is that they're all so different from another as Dinah's style and choice of songs changed over the years. This set captures Dinah nearing the end of her spectacular run at Mercury. The collection of songs on this set is very good, most of it due to the soulful delivery of Ms. Washington. It's only taken into context when set alongside the previous 5 box sets that it starts to pale in comparison.The problem lies in the choice of arrangements; it's too uniform and lacks the diversity of her previous box sets. The one instrument that keeps coming to mind after listening to this extensive set is violins, violins, and more violins. Some tracks are so overly-saturated with violins that you feel the songs were stuck in syrupy goo. The jazz combo/trio backup to some of Dinah's most memorable earlier hits are missing. With 73 tracks listed, you get the feeling not even at the half way mark, the attack of the violins starts to hit you. Dinah's singing itself remains soulful, urgent and mesmerizing as ever, but unfortunately, the arrangements do her in. Still, there are several hits and outstanding tracks that are not to be denied---her most recognizable recording, "What A Difference A Day Makes", is here along with her other R&B hits, "This Bitter Earth", "Unforgettable" (yes, that Nat King Cole song, but done Dinah's way). One of my favorites is the song later made famous by Nancy Wilson, "Don't Go to Strangers". You can feel the pain and heartache in each of the words phrased wonderfully by Dinah. For some who like their songs piled high with violins/strings, then you would definitely enjoy this box set."
Some great moments from the peak of her stardom
hyperbolium | Earth, USA | 03/17/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is the next-to-last of the 7 triple-CD sets, and unlike the earlier volumes, which were mastered from original 78's (or possibly metal parts), this set was remastered directly from the original master tapes. The sound quality is quite nice, full bass, sharp brush sounds, and more well-rounded vocals. Most (if not all) of this is in stereo.Valuewise, this is a bonanza. Three discs, 73 tracks, and over 200 minutes of music. As with the other volumes, the insert booklet provides the usual track information (title, time, composer, players, recording dates), all researched and compiled by Kiyoshi "Boxman" Koyama. Plenty of previously unissued tracks, as well as a few things previously only issued as singles.At this point in her career, after having waxed hundreds of sides for Mercury (all of them chronicled on the first 5 volumes of this series), Washington finally became a real recording star. These tracks show Washington off much more as a balladeer, something her expressive vocals are really well-suited for, rather than the Queen of the Blues. Included herein is one of her most stunning achievements (and the 1959 Grammy winner for best R&B performance), "What a Diff'rence a Day Makes." Also included is her million-selling duet with Brook Benton, "Baby (You've Got What it Takes)."A lot of this material is carried solely by the strength of Washington's ability to sing past Belford Hendricks' hackneyed arrangements. Were these violinists and choral background singers relatives, or what? Too bad Dinah didn't hook up with Nelson Riddle or Billy May. On a few of the tracks Hendricks manages to use the orchestra and backing singers sparingly, framing Washington's vocals nicely. But an annoying number of the cuts have the same zipping violin lines and useless wonderbread background vocals. Even worse, they often start out promisingly with some understated backing, maybe bass, guitar and bongos, and grow into full-blown string and chorus monsterpieces.Tracks like "Come On Home" start out with a nice bluesy feel, both in the vocals and the accompanying guitar, only to be undermined by the sappy string arrangement. Otherwise nice version's of Mercer and Van Heusen's "I Thought About You", Gordon's "Unforgettable" and Young and Heyman's "When I Fall in Love" are spoiled by the weepy violins and background choruses.Washington's take of "Cry Me a River" is preceded by an interesting clip of in-studio dialog. Washington asks the producer if he'd like her to sound like Julie London (who'd had a hit with the title), and he says he wants her to sound like Dinah Washington. She asks about another name, and eventually says "I could sound like... anyone." I'm not sure whether she was just playing with the producer, or was maybe unhappy about recording this song. In the end she does sound like Dinah Washington, interplaying sung and spoken passages, giving the song a sound very unlike Julie London's.Other favorite tracks include "It Could Happen To You", "I Remember You" (no yodeling though), "Bad Luck", "Crazy Love", "Daybreak" (with a really cool guitar break that has elements of country, rockabilly, jazz and r'n'b all mixed together), and "Misery".Overall I'd say I like the vocals and song-selection on this volume, but the arrangements make it difficult to track through. Good for radio play, making tapes, or mixing it up in your CD changer."
WOW!!!!!!!!!!The Queen Lives On!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Renior Curry | Bahamas | 09/14/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Dinah Washington is indeed the undispuited QUEEN OF THE BLUES!!!!!!!!!!! such emotion she is the Real thing!!!!!!!!!!!! OTHERS MIGHT BE ABLE TO FAKE IT GOOD BUT DINAH SHE IS THE BLUES !!!!!ALL HAIL THE QUEEN. on the song Habour Lights in dis3 WOW!!!!!!! my heart literaly missed a beat what she delivers is just beyond words .special note listen on dis 1 to I Understand now this is some heavy stuff i can feel i mean FEELLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL!!!!!!!!! THE emotional pain IN IT . WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"