Offering a viable alternative to Columbia's popular Quintessential series of Billie Holiday's 1933-1942 sides, Classics' multi-disc survey of the singer's early material features a handful of additional tracks per disc and oftentimes better sound. This is not to say the Columbia titles are to be overlooked, but if you come across one of these fine imports, don't hesitate in picking it up. This mix of Holiday's 1940-1942 material is especially recommended; the songs mark the end of her Columbia stay, showing the first signs of a voice mellowed and toughened by a life of nightlife dissipation. In addition to such classics as "God Bless the Child" and "Solitude," Holiday delivers often overlooked highlights like "Jim" and "I Cover the Waterfront." Maybe not the best introduction to this vocal giant's catalog (try a disc from the latter half of the '30s), but still one that will be essential to any respectable Billie Holiday collection.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Cook