Shameless Bob Shad's somewhat shady business acumen is mostly to thank for this 1974 compilation of songs popularized by Ms. Holiday on Mainstream records. Ostensibly meant to mark the 15th anniversary of her passing, it actually comes off as more of a cash-in than anything else. Since Diana Ross'Lady Sings the Blues soundtrack reached #1 on the Billboard Pop Album chart and #2 on the Billboard Black Album chart while the movie itself received 5 Oscar nominations in 1973, what's a rough 'n' tumble record label owner to do? Well, gather up a bunch of Lady Day covers from your back catalogue, cram as many as you can onto one compilation and give top billing to the most recognisable names involved. That's what.
As a result, you've got this hodge-podge of a record that seems quickly cobbled together using source materials of various quality from both live and studio recordings. 'Cause it's for the fans, right? Well, the good news is this isn't a bad record at all, just not so essential if you happen to have the Mainstream albums from which these tracks are pulled. As a matter of fact, Dinah Washington's version of "Crazy He Calls Me" from her critically lauded 1954 live set Dinah Jams produced by Shad for Polygram is the only track that isn't found elsewhere on the MRL series. If you're a fan of the songbirds on show or have yet to hear Charles McPherson's lovely Siku Ya Bibi (Lady of the Day) then it will be well worth to give this one a listen. However, hardcore fans who are overly familiar with the artists' catalogues and have more than one or two of the LPs in question will likely want to give this a pass.
For a full rundown of all source material & players involved on each track, check out this album's page at the shad shack which also has links to most of the original albums for furthering listening enjoyment. If you haven't had the opportunity to get any of those sides yet then this album will serve a dual purpose as a bit of a sampler, too. Shad couldn't have been that savvy a marketer though, since none of the source LPs are listed anywhere and only a considerable amount of detective work on the web revealed the origins of some of the tracks (and a couple are still suspect).
0 Billie Holiday Intro 1 Sarah Vaughan - Summertime 2 Dinah Washington - Crazy He Calls Me 3 Carmen McRae - Don't Explain 4 Morgana King - Easy Living 5 Carmen McRae - No More 6 Art Farmer - God Bless The Child 7 Sarah Vaughan - There Is No Greater Love 8 Carmen McRae - Miss Brown To You 9 Morgana King - Easy To Love 10 Charles McPherson - Lover Man (Oh Where Can You Be) 11 Sarah Vaughan - I Cried For You 12 Charles McPherson - Good Morning Heartache