Dinah Washington

50 Greatest Hits

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For most artists, a collection named "50 Greatest Hits" on a Portuguese label would be suspect at best. In the case of Dinah Washington and this collection, it's actually a pity that a package of this quality wasn't released stateside. For starters, it's large. While this could have been some compiler's subjective list of favorites or a ripoff artist's compendium of a few classics with a ton of filler, it's about as far from either of those scenarios as you are likely to get. For starters, all but one of the 50 tracks spread over these two CDs charted in the Top 100. And the one that didn't chart, "If I Loved You" by Rodgers & Hammerstein, was never issued as a single, but as part of a various artists collection from which it was selected as the representative single. The material here is arranged for the most part chronologically, though there are some questionable departures from this format, and the material ranges from Washington's near definitive version of "Ain't Misbehavin'," issued in 1948 and charting at number six, to her final side, "Tears and Laughter," which topped at 71 in 1962, less than a year before her death. In between are all the favorites, such as "What a Difference a Day Makes" (number eight, 1959), "Resolution Blues" (number 15, 1948), and dozens of others. The story this set tells -- with truly excellent sound and skeletal, but adequate, liner notes -- is how perceptively Washington pegged herself a "blues" singer, and not as a jazz vocalist, which is how she is referred to even today. Here, especially from the late '40s through the mid-'50s, Washington is singing like the "Queen of the Blues" she dubbed herself to be. While not a belter like Big Mama Thornton or Bessie Smith, Washington took the middle road favored by Billie Holiday, expressing every nuance of emotion hidden in the heart of a lyric. This is an excellent introduction for anyone interested in Washington, and a fine and succinct compendium for the collector who has everything.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 2:35
2 2:57
3 3:15
4 2:32
5 3:10
6 2:48
7 2:40
8 2:48
9 2:55
10 3:09
11 2:40
12 2:25
13 3:01
14 3:19
15 2:42
16 3:18
17 2:48
18 3:02
19 2:42
20 3:21
21 3:21
22 2:15
23 2:58
24 2:51
25 2:37

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 2:40
2 2:26
3 3:13
4 2:23
5 2:45
6 2:52
7 3:05
8 3:03
9 2:38
10 2:48
11 3:02
12 2:50
13 2:30
14 2:42
15
feat: Brook Benton
2:46
16
feat: Brook Benton
2:27
17 2:29
18 2:10
19 2:20
20 2:19
21 2:08
22 2:17
23 3:42
24 2:51
25 2:25
blue highlight denotes track pick