The 1991 compilation San Francisco and Other Jeanette MacDonald Favorites (not to be confused with an earlier LP, Jeanette MacDonald Sings "San Francisco" and Other Silver Screen Favorites) provides a thorough MacDonald best-of for the CD era. MacDonald's recording career closely tracked her film career; it began in 1929, the same year her debut film, The Love Parade, premiered, and ended (except for a handful of later re-recordings) in 1950, the year after her last film, The Sun Comes Up, appeared. During that period, she undertook 35 recording sessions that produced just over a hundred finished masters, many of them songs she also sang in her movies. This 74-minute, 22-track collection culls one-fifth of those tracks, including such signature songs for her as "Beyond the Blue Horizon" and "San Francisco," as well as her solo renditions of "Ah! Sweet Mystery of Life" and "Indian Love Call," songs she sang in duets with her most frequent screen partner, Nelson Eddy. In the popular imagination, she remains so associated with Eddy that it is worth pointing out that he is not heard on this album. Rather, this is the musical story of MacDonald without Eddy, performing songs from films in which he did not appear, such as The Firefly (annotator Bill Rosenfield's liner notes notwithstanding), Smilin' Through, and The Vagabond King, as well as arias from the operas that occupied much of her time in the 1940s, Gounod's Roméo et Juliette and Faust. European copyright law, which allows recordings more than 50 years old into the public domain, has resulted in a flood of unlicensed, mostly low-quality MacDonald CDs into the marketplace, many of which have found their way into American record stores. This disc, however, contains recordings remastered from the original parts, and thus presents the material in the best possible sonic quality, circa 1991. This could well be the definitive MacDonald compilation available, and certainly the only one that can be recommended without reservation.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann