Kay Starr

The One, The Only Kay Starr

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After a decade at Capitol Records, Kay Starr decamped for RCA Victor in 1955, a move that had no immediate effect on her hitmaking abilities, since she shortly scored one of the biggest hits of her career with "Rock and Roll Waltz." As was the custom at the time, neither that single nor the tracks from her other 45s were included on her debut RCA album, The One -- The Only Kay Starr. But the impact of the emergence of rock & roll was felt in the album's approach, with the beat heavy, the horns blaring, and Starr herself turning in rhythmic, emotive vocal performances. With her expressive, abandoned phrasing and throbbing vibrato, she came off like a distaff Johnnie Ray, and as such another significant pre-rock progenitor. The material often hearkened back to an earlier era, from the Bing Crosby signature song "Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams" to Duke Ellington's "Jump for Joy," but Starr's interpretations tended toward jump blues and rhythm & blues. Even "Fit As a Fiddle," which had a country feel, stomped along, and Starr's version of "Georgia on My Mind" might have served as a blueprint for the treatment Ray Charles would give it five years hence. Even the weeper "My Buddy" only stayed slow and sad for about half its running time, after which Starr and a vocal chorus picked up the pace in competition with a wailing saxophone.

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