A great many of Nelson Riddle's Capitol albums have been reissued on CD, but this 12-song anthology is the only collection to focus on his hit singles. (The import Best of the Capitol Years actually contains two of his original albums in their entirety, and Curb's brief Best of Nelson Riddle is too sketchy to count). Even at that, The Best of Nelson Riddle isn't a complete survey of his chart hits -- it leaves off the Top 20 hit "Port Au Prince" and the Top 40 "Theme from 'The Proud Ones'." Most importantly, Riddle's biggest hit is here, the chart-topping "Lisbon Antigua," with its mesmerizing juxtaposition of strings and piano. Many of Riddle's album's were moody and romantic, but these singles are up-tempo and have more immediate melodies. Some of the instrumental orchestral recordings here showcase not only Riddle's skill as an arranger, but his talent as a composer; well-known melodies such as "The Untouchables" and "The Theme from Route 66" are Riddle's own compositions. "Brother John," Riddle's first charting single, is an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink arrangement of "Frere Jacques" that really swings, and his rendition of "Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries" cheekily references "Lisbon Antigua." Many of the recordings are film or television themes, including two by Dimitri Tiomkin: "De Guello" and "The Green Leaves of Summer." Riddle had only a half-dozen or so singles that charted, so The Best of Nelson Riddle could have easily included them all. Until someone compiles a new singles collection, however, it stands as the only anthology of its kind on the market.
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AllMusic Review by Greg Adams