Another "must have" from "The First Lady"!
Eric D. Harris | Chicago, IL United States | 06/21/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Irving Berlin Songbook is in a word, SUPERB. I first heard this album over 20 years ago at my Grandmother's house in Michigan; I had been thumbing through her record collection and happened across this album. Up until that time I had only a glancing familiarity of her work, "A-Tisket A-Tasket" notwithstanding.However, upon hearing "How Deep Is The Ocean?", I was gone, sunk, hooked, you name it! Twenty years later and that one song has the power to bring me to tears because of it's sheer beauty. I'm a sucker for strings simply because they can transform a song into something lush and rich and wonderful, which is exactly what the strings in "How Deep" do; from the dramatic opening strains to the bridge in the middle (along with the brief sax solo)which lifts you straight to the clouds, to the absolute gorgeous and tender finish, this song never fails in taking my breath away. "Now It Can Be Told", another stunner included on this album, frames Ella's superb vocals like a musical photograph.For pure scat pleasure, "Blue Skies" simply ROCKS! That tune is simply awesome, defintely a song to listen to with the top down and the wind in your hair! "You Can Have Him" is another gem among the stand-outs on this album; underneath the light, breezy playful tempo, Ella proclaims to "The Other Woman" that "he's not the man for me" despite the fact that she wants to cook, clean, kiss and cuddle him, "rub his forhead with a gentle touch/mornings after when he's had too much" and have a score of children with the man! Let's face it, we know that she's absoltely loopy for the guy!"Suppertime" is a number that is equally tense as "You Can Have Him" is playful, about a woman's realization that her man "ain't comin' home no more" (according to the play the song was taken from, he had been lynched). The release in the song, "how can I be thankful/when they have to thank the Lord/Lord" is simply shattering; you can feel Ella's anguish throughout."Always", which was a valentine of sorts from Berlin to his wife, remains as timeless today as it does in 1958 when Ella recorded it. To know that someone will be loving you, good or bad, up or down, is something to treasure. Defintely a great wedding song.All in all, this is a wonderful album to own, and it's a great starting point for discovering two great American treasures: Ella Fitzgerald and Irving Berlin; the songs are timeless masterpieces to be cherished by this generation and the next. Give in to the magic, the mystery, the majesty that is Ella Fizgerald; I promise you won't be disappointed!"