It's Magic [Bear Family]
Six CDs of 145 songs covering seven hours probably seems like overkill, but this three-year span of Doris Day's career is an extraordinary body of music, covering her transition from swing band vocalist to one of the great pop vocalists of this century, an interpreter ranked right in the same league (back then) with Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, and Tony Bennett. In the wake of her late-'50s/early-'60s movie comedies, it would take an MTV Unplugged-type release, a la Tony Bennett, to make modern listeners understand just how hot and cool Doris Day was as a singer -- or listening to this set. Disc One chronicles her superb re-emergence as a vocalist in a solo career in 1947, still doing swing-style material, but the disc also catches the growing sophistication of her material and her style. Disc Two is highlighted by several beguiling duets between Day and Buddy Clark (and one, "Let's Take an Old Fashioned Walk," awith Frank Sinatra), as well as a handful of previously unreleased outtakes. Disc Three may be the weakest of the six, weighted down as it is with a few novelty and Christmas songs, but it also soars elegantly with her interpretation of "Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered" and a ton of additional successful pop numbers. The Doris Day/Dinah Shore duet "It's Better to Conceal Than Reveal") is too cute for words as a Latin-flavored novelty tune, but their rendition of Irving Berlin's "You Can Have Him" makes up for the other number's shortcomings. Disc Four shows Day devoting more of her time to cutting songs from her movies, which were still very strong -- her interpretive skills also shine on songs like the sultry "With You Anyway You Are." We also get a taste of things to come in "Save a Little Sunbeam," a quirky upbeat pop number of the sort that -- in its worst form (which this track is not) -- helped cede mainstream music to rock & roll. Here renditions of "Tea For Two" and "I Only Have Eyes For You" are a good counteractive to the quirkier tunes here. Disc Five is actually stronger -- Day's duets with Gene Nelson are a lot of fun -- and holds up extremely well. Disc Six is made up of the last of the 1950 sessions, and is filled out with a dozen previously unreleased outtakes. The box comes with a 90-page hardcover book that chronicles Day's life and career up to the last of the sessions here, from 1950, augmented with lots of photos and a full sessionography. The box is expensive, and it's easiest for the true fanatic to justify it, although once one hears the songs, it's also easy to get hooked.