Various Artists

EMI Music Resources: The Standards

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It's a real shame that EMI Music Resources: The Standards is available solely as a promotional item -- a better collection of American popular classics you're not going to find. A four-disc, 91-song compilation assembled by EMI Music Publishing to highlight the crown jewels of its massive catalog for potential licensing deals, The Standards doubles as one of the most comprehensive and tasteful overviews of traditional pop ever put together -- spanning from Duke Ellington's "It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)" to Michael Feinstein's "Anything Can Happen in New York," the set includes an absolutely stunning number of the greatest recordings of the 20th century, including (but certainly not limited to) Judy Garland's "Over the Rainbow," Glenn Miller's "Moonlight Serenade," Fats Waller's "Ain't Misbehavin'," Nat King Cole's "Stardust," and Tony Bennett's "I Left My Heart in San Francisco." There are no liner notes, but the fidelity is excellent, and as a crash course in the history of the popular song, it's tough to beat.