Classic Singles

The Classic Singles

by Nat King Cole
The music of Nat King Cole has been readily available throughout the CD era, but this four-disc overview -- collecting 100 mostly monstrous singles -- stands apart from all the other Cole anthologies. This display of Cole's peerless artistry begins with his first single, 1942's lowdown blues "That Ain't Right" (a No. 1 R&B hit out of the box) and winds up four CDs


The music of Nat King Cole has been readily available throughout the CD era, but this four-disc overview -- collecting 100 mostly monstrous singles -- stands apart from all the other Cole anthologies. This display of Cole's peerless artistry begins with his first single, 1942's lowdown blues "That Ain't Right" (a No. 1 R&B hit out of the box) and winds up four CDs later with a bonus, multilingual version of his last Top 20 hit, 1964's sweet pop ditty "L-O-V-E," hitting all the commercial high-water marks in between. It's a breathtaking unfolding of immaculate pop and R&B hits, but even more than that, it spotlights a consummate vocalist gracefully melding his approach to the varying styles of great arrangers. Most notable among them are Nelson Riddle and his lush strings; Pete Rugolo and his muscular, orchestral punch; Billy May and his brassy exhortations; and the underappreciated Ralph Carmichael and his seamless integrations of penthouse pop and swinging rock 'n' roll during Cole's later years (the ones behind classics such as "Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer" and "That Sunday, That Summer"). For those who prefer their Nat unadulterated, Disc 1 is heavy on the evocative Nat King Cole Trio recordings, including legendary sides such as "Sweet Lorraine," "Straighten Up and Fly Right," and "The Frim Fram Sauce." Enter the above-mentioned Murderer's Row of arrangers, and it's one sweet ride over the next three hit-filled discs. This is quintessential American pop that stands with the best of its era, including Sinatra's great work during the same time frame -- which is to say it stands with the best of all time.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - William Ruhlmann
If you add up all the songs Nat King Cole placed in the various Billboard singles charts -- including not only the pop and R&B charts, but also the adult contemporary and even country ones, as well as the lists of discs "bubbling under" the main pop chart -- the total comes to a remarkable 123, and that's not including the many repeat appearances of "The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas to You)." The entries begin with "That Ain't Right," the King Cole Trio recording that entered the "Harlem Hit Parade" in the fall of 1942, and end with "Let Me Tell You, Babe," which dropped off the easy listening chart in the summer of 1966 more than two years after Cole's death; they range in popularity from "Straighten Up and Fly Right," which topped the black chart for ten weeks and the country chart for six while also placing in the pop Top Ten in 1944, to "Cappuccina," which spent one week bubbling under the pop chart at number 115 in 1961. Capitol Records chronicles this run of chart singles on a four-disc box set running close to five hours and containing 101 tracks. "Cappuccina" is understandably not among them, and many of Cole's other down-chart discs have been omitted (particularly ones from the late '50s to the '60s, when he was battling the incursion of rock & roll into the singles chart and had trouble making the Top 40). Also, the compilers have taken occasional liberties, including the odd U.K.-only hit, EP track, and, in the case of "Quizas, Quizas, Quizas (Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps)" from the Cole Español LP, a song that was never released as a single. (The collection is sequenced chronologically by recording date with the exception of "The Christmas Song," which is held until the end. The running order gives a good sense of Cole's development from his jazzy trio days to his years as a pop singer backed by an orchestra.) But the problem isn't so much what has been excluded, it's what has been included. Cole fans and pop music scholars may be happy to have a close-to-complete collection of the singer's chart singles, but as a listening experience many of the songs turn out to be justly forgotten. With his pleasurable pipes, Cole shared with Bing Crosby the knack for raising mediocre material to listenability, but for the average fan it is still sometimes a long wait from one big hit to the next on this set. Many of these singles really are classic, but many others are not. Capitol's 1992 box Nat King Cole, which mixes in key album tracks, remains a better overview of Cole's career, and a two-disc reduction of this collection focusing on the more popular tracks would be better for most listeners.
New York Times - Ben Ratliff
[These singles] provide a valuable way to understand Cole, who belongs to the history of the radio at least as much as to the history of the LP.
Blender - Jon Young
[A] dazzling package.

Product Details

Release Date:


Disc 1

  1. That Ain't Right
  2. All for You
  3. I'm Lost
  4. Straighten Up and Fly Right
  5. Gee Baby, Ain't I Good to You
  6. If You Can't Smile and Say Yes (Please Don't Cry and Say No)
  7. Sweet Lorraine
  8. It's Only a Paper Moon
  9. I Can't See for Lookin'
  10. I Realize Now
  11. I'm a Shy Guy
  12. Don't Blame Me
  13. Come to Baby, Do!
  14. The Frim Fram Sauce
  15. Route 66
  16. You Call It Madness (But I Call It Love)
  17. (I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons
  18. You Don't Learn That in School
  19. Meet Me at No Special Place (And I'll Be There at No Particular Time)
  20. What'll I Do?
  21. Kee-Mo Ky-Mo (The Magic Song)
  22. Nature Boy
  23. Little Girl
  24. A Boy from Texas, a Girl from Tennessee
  25. Lost April
  26. My Mother Told Me

Disc 2

  1. Exactly Like You
  2. I Almost Lost My Mind
  3. Always You
  4. Mona Lisa
  5. Orange Colored Sky
  6. Jet
  7. Too Young
  8. Because of Rain
  9. Red Sails in the Sunset
  10. Unforgettable
  11. Walkin' My Baby Back Home
  12. Walkin'
  13. The Ruby and the Pearl
  14. Somewhere Along the Way
  15. Funny (Not Much)
  16. Don't Let Your Eyes Go Shopping (For Your Heart)
  17. Strange
  18. Because You're Mine
  19. I'm Never Satisfied
  20. Faith Can Move Mountains
  21. Mother Nature and Father Time
  22. Pretend
  23. A Fool Was I
  24. Lover, Come Back to Me
  25. Can't I?
  26. If Love Is Good to Me

Disc 3

  1. Tenderly
  2. Return to Paradise
  3. Make Her Mine
  4. I Am in Love
  5. Why
  6. Darling, Je Vous Aime Beaucoup
  7. Answer Me, My Love
  8. Alone Too Long
  9. It Happens to Be Me
  10. Unbelievable
  11. Hajji Baba (Persian Lament)
  12. Smile
  13. My One Sin (In Life)
  14. The Sand and the Sea
  15. A Blossom Fell
  16. Forgive My Heart
  17. If I May
  18. Someone You Love
  19. Ask Me
  20. Too Young to Go Steady
  21. Dreams Can Tell a Lie
  22. My Personal Possession
  23. That's All There Is to That
  24. Night Lights
  25. To the Ends of the Earth
  26. Ballerina

Disc 4

  1. Stardust
  2. When I Fall in Love
  3. With You on My Mind
  4. Send for Me
  5. Angel Smile
  6. Looking Back
  7. Acércate Más (Come Closer to Me)
  8. Quizas, Quizas, Quizas (Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps)
  9. Non Dimenticar
  10. You Made Me Love You
  11. That's You
  12. Midnight Flyer
  13. My Love
  14. Let True Love Begin
  15. Let There Be Love
  16. Dear Lonely Hearts
  17. Ramblin' Rose
  18. Those Lazy-Hazy-Crazy Days of Summer
  19. That Sunday, That Summer
  20. I Don't Want to Be Hurt Anymore
  21. L-O-V-E
  22. The Christmas Song
  23. L-O-V-E

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Nat King Cole   Primary Artist,Piano,Celeste,Vocals
Baxter   Conductor
Maynard Ferguson   Trumpet
Gordon Jenkins   Conductor
Billy May   Conductor
Art Pepper   Alto Saxophone
Irving Ashby   Guitar
Bobby Bryant   Trumpet,Soloist
Oscar Moore   Guitar
Pete Rugolo   Conductor
Buddy Cole   Celeste
Frank deVol   Conductor
Shorty Rogers   Trumpet
Ralph Carmichael   Conductor
Harry Bluestone   Violin
Red Callender   Bass
John Collins   Guitar
Joe Comfort   Bass
Jack Costanzo   Bongos,Conga
Belford Hendricks   Conductor
McCoy's Boys   Vocals
Johnny Miller   Bass
Nelson Riddle   Conductor
Wesley Prince   Bass
Richard Wess   Conductor
Lee Young   Drums
Four Knights   Vocals
Joe Lipman   Conductor
Armando Romeu   Conductor
Ray Charles Singers   Vocals
Dave Cavanaugh   Conductor
Julius Kinsler   Reeds
Charlie Harris   Bass

Technical Credits

Ivory Joe Hunter   Composer
Sigmund Romberg   Composer
Dimitri Tiomkin   Composer
Irving Berlin   Composer
Baxter   Arranger,Orchestral Arrangements
Brook Benton   Composer
Hoagy Carmichael   Composer
Gordon Jenkins   Orchestral Arrangements
Louis Jordan   Composer
Bert Kaempfert   Composer
Stan Kenton   Composer
Billy May   Arranger,Orchestral Arrangements
Mel Tormé   Composer
Carl Kress   Producer
Irving Mills   Composer
Pete Rugolo   Arranger,Producer
John Benson Brooks   Composer
Jimmy McHugh   Composer
Don Redman   Composer
Bobby Troup   Composer
Harold Arlen   Composer
Richard Rodgers   Composer
Matthew Fisher   Composer
Frank deVol   Orchestral Arrangements
Mary Lou Williams   Composer
Ralph Carmichael   Arranger,Orchestral Arrangements,String Conductor
Jimmy Kennedy   Composer
Andy Razaf   Composer
Fred E. Ahlert   Composer
Paul Atkinson   Producer,Discographical Annotation
Gene Austin   Composer
Howard Barnes   Composer
Bennie Benjamin   Composer
William Best   Composer
Sammy Cahn   Composer
Charlie Chaplin   Composer
Nat King Cole   Composer
Con Conrad   Composer
Joe Davis   Composer
Eddie DeLange   Composer
Lew Douglas   Composer
Ray Evans   Composer
Osvaldo Farrés   Composer
Dorothy Fields   Composer
Milt Gabler   Composer
D.W. George   Composer
Charles Randolph Grean   Arranger
Walter Gross   Composer
Bill Halley   Composer
Oscar Hammerstein   Composer
E.Y. "Yip" Harburg   Composer
Belford Hendricks   Arranger,Composer,Orchestral Arrangements
Hoot Hester   Composer
Edward Heyman   Composer
Bob Hilliard   Composer
Matt Hyde   Composer
Bert Keyes   Composer
Jack Lawrence   Composer
Jay Livingston   Composer
Leroy Lovett   Composer
Johnny Mercer   Producer
Sid Miller   Composer
Taps Miller   Composer
Robert Mosely   Composer
Nelson Riddle   Arranger,Composer,Orchestral Arrangements
Clyde Otis   Composer
Mitchell Parish   Composer
Cole Porter   Composer
Hughie Prince   Composer
Ben Raleigh   Composer
Leon René   Producer
Richard Wess   Orchestral Arrangements
Bob Russell   Composer
Robert Scherman   Composer,Producer
Arthur Schwartz   Composer
Joe Sherman   Composer
Carl Sigman   Composer
Harry Beasley Smith   Composer
Hubert Spencer   Composer
Roy Turk   Composer
Ned Washington   Composer
Deek Watson   Composer
Ben Weisman   Composer
George David Weiss   Composer
Robert Wells   Composer
Paul Weston & His Orchestra   Producer
Fred Wise   Composer
Victor Young   Composer
Emil Newman   Composer
Lee Gillette   Producer
Milton DeLugg   Composer
Ian Grant   Composer
Will Jason   Composer
Kelly Owens   Composer
Eden Ahbez   Composer
Alan Livingston   Producer
Bob Merrill   Composer
Dave Dexter   Producer
Russ Columbo   Composer
Luther Dixon   Composer
Ollie Jones   Composer
John Turner   Composer
Joe Lipman   Orchestral Arrangements
Cliff Parman   Composer
Kevin Flaherty   Discographical Annotation
Jim Conkling   Producer
David McEowen   Noise Reduction
Charles Tobias   Composer
Ted Shapiro   Composer
Marcia Neil   Composer
Bryan Kelley   Producer
Harold Adamson   Composer
Irving Gordon   Composer
Harry Revel   Composer
Robert Mellin   Composer
Clifford R. Burwell   Composer
Sylvia Dee   Composer
Marvin Fisher   Composer
Sammy Gallop   Composer
Arthur Kent   Composer
James V. Monaco   Composer
Otis Rene   Composer
Sydney Robin   Composer
Jack Segal   Composer
Sunny Skylar   Composer
Guy Wood   Composer
Frank LaVere   Composer
Sidney Lippman   Composer
Vittoria Mascheroni   Composer
Joe Ricardel   Composer
Nadine Robinson   Composer
Russell Robinson   Composer
Noel Sherman   Composer
Anna Sosenko   Composer
Fred Spielman   Composer
Dok Stanford   Composer
Lindsay Steele   Composer
William Stein   Composer
Arthur Terker   Composer
Hugh Williams   Composer
Gerhard Winkler   Composer
Kurt Adams   Composer
Roy Alfred   Composer
Dan Belloc   Composer
Nicholas Brodszky   Composer
Philip Broughton   Composer
Chester Conn   Composer
Harold Cornelius   Composer
Stanley Cowen   Composer
Shelley Dobbins   Composer
Gladys Dubois   Composer
Michele Galdieri   Composer
Kay Twomey   Composer
Carole Cole   Liner Notes,Executive Producer
Walter Rivers   Producer
Jeff Smith   Art Direction
Francis Henry   Composer
Rose Marie McCoy   Composer
Dominic John   Composer
Inez James   Composer
Shannon Ward   Producer
Quattrocchi   Art Direction
Billy Rose   Composer
Dave Cavanaugh   Producer,Orchestral Arrangements
Charlie Singleton   Composer
Fred Rauch   Composer
Carlyle Hall   String Arrangements
William O. Harrington   Composer
Joseph McCarthy   Composer
Lionel Rand   Composer
Aaron Kahan   Producer
Hans Carste   Composer
Ruth Poll   Composer
Gino Redi   Composer
E.J. Anton   Composer
Henry Pyle   Composer
Charlotte Hawkins   Composer
Annerley Gordon   Composer
Lynell George   Liner Notes
Geoffrey Parsons   Composer
Paul Gregory   Composer

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