Thursday, 16 May 2019

Ella Fitzgerald ‎– Sings The Cole Porter Song Book (1956)

Style: Soundtrack, Score, Musical, Swing, Easy Listening
Format: CD, Vinyl, Cass.
Label: Verve Records

A1.   All Through The Night
A2.   Anything Goes
A3.   Miss Otis Regrets
A4.   Too Darn Hot
A5.   In The Still Of The Night
A6.   I Get A Kick Out Of You
A7.   Do I Love You
A8.   Always True To You In My Fashion
B1.   Let's Do It
B2.   Just One Of Those Things
B3.   Ev'ry Time We Say Good-Bye
B4.   All Of You
B5.   Begin The Beguine
B6.   Get Out Of Town
B7.   I Am In Love
B8.   From This Moment On
C1.   I Love Paris
C2.   You Do Something To Me
C3.   Ridin' High
C4.   Easy To Love
C5.   It's All Right With Me
C6.   Why Can't You Behave
C7.   What Is This Thing Called Love
C8.   You're The Top
D1.   Love For Sale
D2.   It's DeLovely
D3.   Night And Day
D4.   Ace In The Hole
D5.   So In Love
D6.   I've Got You Under My Skin
D7.   I Concentrate On You
D8.   Don't Fence Me In

Arranged By – Buddy Bregman
Conductor – Buddy Bregman
Liner Notes – Don Freeman, Fred Lounsberry
Mastered By – Ryan Smith
Producer, Liner Notes – Norman Granz
Songwriter – Cole Porter
Vocals – Ella Fitzgerald

Originally released as a double LP back in 1956, Ella Fitzerald Sings the Cole Porter Song Book was both the first of her eight "songbook" albums and the first release on Norman Granz's then brand new Verve Records (MG V-4001/2). 
This release from Analog Spark celebrates the much celebrated album's 60th anniversary. As with previous re-issues from this label, the production spares no expense to do it correctly, including spreading the thirty two songs over three RTI-pressed records instead of the original's two. Ryan K. Smith at Sterling Sound cut lacquers from the original mono master tapes. 
The original's gatefold gives way to a nicely produced laminated cover box set, with the annotation formerly in the original's gatefold now well-printed in the box's insides. The artwork reproduction is perfect. 
Thirty two songs were recorded live with orchestra in three sessions at Capitol Studios in Hollywood, February 7- 9 and March 27th 1956. 
The elegant classics, filled with both Porter's melodic and lyrical genius —familiar to just about everyone, almost regardless of age (or so I like to think!— include "Just One of Those Things", "Begin the Beguine", "From This Moment On", "I Get a Kick Out of You", "Too Darned Hot", "Night and Day" "Let's Do It" and "You Do Something to Me". 
While many stage show and movie songs do best in context, these Porter classics obviously do not. Strung together they produce a joyous look back at an era of sophisticated popular musical culture that was at the same time accessible to all. 
Granz spared no expense in giving Fitzgerald the lush backdrops both she and the songs deserve, using a big band and when appropriate a small (but large sounding) string section. All of the arrangements were by Buddy Bregman, who also conducted. 
Sonically this was never a great sounding production. While it was recorded at Capitol, for some reason it lacks the depth and warmth of Sinatra and Nat "King" Cole records of that era. Ella's voice is certainly cleanly presented but it's somewhat bright and occasionally harsh. Perhaps it was the wrong microphone? 
The original pressing is of course more "tubey" because the entire chain was so. By comparison this reissue sounds far more transparent, with blacker backgrounds and a great deal more detail but it also can sound hard and bright if you turn it up too high. 
The original no matter what you do to it will sound warm and on one level easier on the ears, but it's also clogged and "colored" in an old-fashioned way. I'm not sure if Ryan K. Smith just ran the tape flat or if he applied some EQ. in my system at least, a bit of high frequency shaving might have made for a more pleasant sound. 
Still, given the choice between the original and the reissue, it's like an Iranian revolution: a hundred veils are lifted! For Ella fans, this is easy to recommend. Ella singing Cole Porter will put a spring in your step!
Michael Fremer / Analog Planet

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