The Very Best of Cleo Laine: 34 Classic Hits

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Scott Yanow
This two-CD set may be titled The Very Best of Cleo Laine: 34 Classic Hits but it is actually a lesser reissue. Drawing its material from Laine's RCA recordings of 1974-1996, the set is pretty light on jazz despite cameos from Clark Terry, Gerry Mulligan, Toots Thielemans and Joe Williams. While the occasional jazz tracks give one a feeling of relief, most of the reissue finds Laine backed by an orchestra, sounding like a Broadway or cabaret singer, occasionally going over the top with sentiment. While Laine has always had a beautiful voice and a wide range, she was never much of an improviser and her choice of material has been erratic through the years. So, next to ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Scott Yanow
This two-CD set may be titled The Very Best of Cleo Laine: 34 Classic Hits but it is actually a lesser reissue. Drawing its material from Laine's RCA recordings of 1974-1996, the set is pretty light on jazz despite cameos from Clark Terry, Gerry Mulligan, Toots Thielemans and Joe Williams. While the occasional jazz tracks give one a feeling of relief, most of the reissue finds Laine backed by an orchestra, sounding like a Broadway or cabaret singer, occasionally going over the top with sentiment. While Laine has always had a beautiful voice and a wide range, she was never much of an improviser and her choice of material has been erratic through the years. So, next to swinging numbers such as "Just A-Sittin' and A-Rockin'" and "It Don't Mean a Thing," are forgettable show tunes and throwaway songs. Nearly all of the performances are overarranged with little of value occurring outside of the sound of Cleo Laine's voice.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 5/20/1997
  • Label: Rca Victor
  • UPC: 743214321522
  • Catalog Number: 43215

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1 He Was Beautiful - John Williams [guitar] (4:21)
  2. 2 I Loves You, Porgy (3:05)
  3. 3 No One Is Alone - Jacqueline Dankworth (3:39)
  4. 4 Birdsong (Sambalaya) (2:45)
  5. 5 Solitude - Duke Ellington (4:25)
  6. 6 Streets of London (3:48)
  7. 7 I Don't Know Why - Dudley Moore (3:46)
  8. 8 Send in the Clowns (3:34)
  9. 9 Dreamsville - Gerry Mulligan (5:26)
  10. 10 Gonna Get Through (4:32)
  11. 11 Skylark - James Galway (3:25)
  12. 12 Creole Love Call (4:46)
  13. 13 What'll I Do? - Joe Williams (3:57)
  14. 14 It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing) (4:06)
  15. 15 You Must Believe in Spring (3:33)
  16. 16 Wish You Were Here (I Do Miss You) (4:29)
  17. 17 Bill (4:34)
Disc 2
  1. 1 Lies of Handsome Men (4:41)
  2. 2 Play It Again Sam (3:28)
  3. 3 I'm Gonna Sit Right Down (And Write Myself a Letter) (2:32)
  4. 4 If - John Williams [composer] (2:42)
  5. 5 Thieving Boy (2:50)
  6. 6 Won't You Tell Me Why - Toots Thielemans (4:32)
  7. 7 I Remember (3:45)
  8. 8 Just A-Sittin' and A-Rockin' - Clark Terry (6:40)
  9. 9 Woman Talk - Jaki Dankworth (3:13)
  10. 10 Sophisticated Lady (5:56)
  11. 11 Music - John Dankworth (2:38)
  12. 12 Bess, You Is My Woman Now (5:30)
  13. 13 My Man's Gone Now (4:44)
  14. 14 I'm Beginning to See the Light (3:13)
  15. 15 A Time for Farewell - James Galway (3:09)
  16. 16 Turkish Delight (4:36)
  17. 17 Born on a Friday (3:55)
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Cleo Laine Primary Artist, Primary Artist, Primary Artist, Vocals
Ray Charles Track Performer
Dudley Moore Track Performer
Gerry Mulligan Track Performer
Joe Williams Track Performer
James Galway Track Performer
John Williams [guitar] Track Performer
Clark Terry Track Performer
John Dankworth Track Performer
Duke Ellington Track Performer
Toots Thielemans Track Performer
Jaki Dankworth Track Performer
Technical Credits
George Gershwin Composer
Pete Seeger Composer
Irving Berlin Composer
Janet Jackson Composer
Joe Henderson Composer
Bubber Miley Composer
Jerome Kern Composer
Fred E. Ahlert Composer
Andraé Crouch Composer
CeDell Davis Composer
Ira Gershwin Composer
Oscar Hammerstein II Composer
Lee Hays Composer
Terry Lewis Composer
P.G. Wodehouse Composer
James Harris Composer
DuBose Heyward Composer
Joe Young Composer
Tolchard Evans Composer
Evans Composer
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Customer Reviews

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Cleo Laine - Marvelous Singer

    There seems to be some disagreement as to whether Cleo Laine is a jazz singer. Will Friedwald , author of the definitive book on the art of jazz singing (as well as a few dozen CD liner notes) doesn¿t think so. In fact he puts her into a mean-spirited (and most inaccurate) Must to Avoid category. Well, to this reviewer, rather than avoid Cleo I embrace her and the only adjective that needs to precede ¿singer¿ is ¿marvelous.¿ Cleo is a superior singer who happens to sing pop, jazz and even classical. (She has sung lieder and appeared in the operas of Kurt Weill, as well as Schoenberg¿s ¿Pierrot Lunaire.¿) In fact, she is the only singer ever to be nominated for Grammy awards in the female pop, classical and jazz categories. Cleo once stated to music critic Mark Swed ¿I don¿t consider myself a jazz singer. I just consider myself a singer. To me singing is story telling. Words are very important, and I would prefer a word to be understood rather than the sound of my voice be heard.¿ Well, Cleo tells a lot of wonderful stories and, fortunately, for all of us, her exquisite four-octave voice is very much heard on this 34 track double CD set titled ¿The Very Best of Cleo Laine,¿ which covers material from 1974 to 1995. I don¿t know if it is truly her very best. She made some superb recordings prior to 1974. In fact, for the jazz enthusiast, some of her best work dates from the early 1960s with her husband, alto saxophonist/bandleader John Dankworth. But, such quibbling aside, it is a superb compilation and celebrates the wide range of her later artistry. Cleo¿s finest moments, predictably, come with standards - especially a gorgeous rendition of Berlin¿s ¿What¿ll I Do¿ (on which she sings with Joe Williams) and a definitive reading of Hoagy Carmichael¿s ¿Skylark.¿ Although Duke Ellington was one of her major fans, to this reviewer she is less than convincing on his material, such as ¿It Don¿t Mean a Thing¿ and ¿Just A-Sittin¿ and A-Rockin¿.¿ The reason might be that Ellington usually worked with mediocre lyricists and Cleo is at her best with strong text. In any case, she is very convincing on the three Sondheim tunes, ¿Send in the Clowns¿ ¿No One Is Alone,¿ and ¿I Remember,¿ which, of course, have marvelous lyrics. She is equally convincing on the Kern-Hammerstein classic ¿Bill¿ with which she has long been associated. (In the liner notes, by the way, the composer is misidentified as Richard Rodgers). Three of the songs in this compilation are from Gershwin¿s Porgy and Bess and Cleo is marvelous on each, especially the lesser-performed ¿My Man¿s Gone Now.¿ Cleo thinks that Judith Blumenthal¿s 1983 ¿Lies of Handsome Men¿ (from the musical ¿Life is Not Like the Movies¿) is destined to become a standard and, it probably would have in the 1930s or the 1940s. Unfortunately, Rock and Rap and Hip Hop and other such musical ephemera have reduced the market for these intelligent well-written songs. But the cabaret crowd has picked up on this gem and, besides Cleo¿s wonderful reading, it can occasionally be heard in various supper clubs and on a few CDs by lesser-known but superb vocalists such as the Pittsburgh-based Joyce Breach and San Francisco¿s Faith Winthrop. On ¿Music¿ (by John Dankworth) Cleo tosses off those unthinkable high notes as casually as if she were brushing lint of her gown. But she is equally convincing on the bone simple but sublime ¿He Was Beautiful.¿ (Those moving lyrics, by the way, are by Cleo.) On ¿Turkish Delight,¿ a clever Mozart-based piece by Dankworth, Cleo gets to bare her jazz chops. Mention should be made that this CD also contains the first two mother-daughter duets by Cleo and Jacqui Dankworth, a very fine singer whose credits include the London production of ¿Sophisticated Ladies.¿ As Whitney Balliett notes, ¿Cleo is not, as she has been touted, a great jazz singer, but she can do anything with her voice; she is, in the best sense, a showoff.¿ Note his qualifier ¿in the best sense¿ f

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