Alma Cogan

Celebration: The Ultimate Collection

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This triple-CD set devoted to Alma Cogan won't supplant the four-disc set issued a couple of years earlier by EMI, but it does contain a different breakdown of her music with a couple of tracks -- most notably, her rendition of the Beatles' "Help!" -- that aren't on the larger set. Each disc is broken down chronologically, into "The Fifties," "The Sixties," and "The Standards," respectively, and while John Lennon might've been amused by it, Paul McCartney will probably be downright impressed that the Beatles songs that Cogan -- a beloved personal friend of the band, but a half-generation older and out of a completely different performing tradition -- embraced during the final phase of her career, are presented on that last disc, alongside the work of George Gershwin, Harold Arlen, Arthur Freed, and Nacio Herb Brown; as Cogan herself might've quipped, all "jolly good company." Although the music off of her album Alma, the one attempt that she ever made at a proper LP, has been spread around across these two discs, that work is so strong that it holds up even compromised in this manner. At the same time, there are a couple of oddities and rarities in her output, mostly distantly rock-related, that are still missing, such as her German-language rendition of "A Lover's Concerto," which one would love to have seen here (on the other hand, we do get her Japanese version of "Tell Him"). In defense of the 75-song set, however, the sound of what is here is excellent, and the annotation is extremely thorough, and at the very least this collection renders as obsolete all of those single-CD compilations of Cogan's early work that have been showing up since the late '80s -- the package is also nicely designed, with a delightful array of artwork in the CD panels, showing the evolution of Cogan's image and her work by way of sheet music graphics and more (yes, she went back far enough to represent a time when sheet music was a significant part of the business, and lived and worked just long enough to see the start of the pop side of psychedelia).

Track Listing - Disc 1

Title/Composer Performer Time
1 1:46
2 3:04
3 2:07
4 2:31
5 2:34
6 3:17
7 2:26
8 2:36
9
2:10
10 2:30
11
2:22
12
2:16
13 2:35
14 3:07
15 2:24
16 2:17
17 2:08
18 2:00
19 2:08
20 2:11
21 2:47
22 2:08
23 1:49
24 2:20
25 2:55

Track Listing - Disc 3

Title/Composer Performer Time
1 2:11
2 2:41
3 3:53
4 3:13
5 3:04
6 2:50
7 2:32
8 2:16
9 1:59
10 3:59
11 3:08
12 2:22
13 2:24
14 2:54
15 2:35
16 2:09
17 2:37
18 2:50
19 3:06
20 2:36
21 2:26
22 2:32
23 3:50
24 2:28
25 3:50
blue highlight denotes track pick