Various Artists

A Collection of Various Interpretations of Fever

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Billy Joel performing "Fever" on his United Artists debut with the band the Hassles in the late '60s is only one of the surprises here. An album that starts off with all that's left of close to 60 seconds of Cilla Black performing Peggy Lee's signature tune (backed by Gerry & the Pacemakers, a version half erased in error!) crosses the musical spectrum with performances by Quincy Jones, Caterina Valente, the Manhattans, and, of course, the McCoys, the recordings spread out over 19 tracks. The McCoys' version of "Fever" sure sounds like they sang the Eddie Cooley/John Davenport melody over their original production of "Hang on Sloopy," as some have surmised. If so, Bang Records saved on recording costs! Following Sarah Vaughan is no easy task, but having a hit version does give the young Rick Derringer and friends some kind of an edge. James Brown appears on three of these four German Trocadero compilations; his "Sunny" leads off volume two of A Collection of Various Interpretations of Sunny, getting to do the same on a duet with Martha High for A Collection of Various Interpretations of Summertime. The Godfather of Soul is low-key on his rendition of "Fever," but it is truly one of the great ones. Peggy Lee's Top Ten hit from 1958 is not included here, but Little Milton's hit is. There's a French version by Caterina Valente, while Cindy Ellis does one in German backed by the Burt Kaempfert Orchestra. Maybe the most important fact emphasized here is that co-writer John Davenport is the nom de plume of the great Otis Blackwell (a photo of the legend is inside the fold-out cover), his 1977 version closing out the compilation. One could gush about these takes, and it goes without saying that this album has great merit. What the Trocadero label is doing so successfully is putting valuable copyrights like "Fever" in a stunning setting and in an important context. Compilation producer Rudiger Ladwig is a fan first and foremost, and his sense of style is impeccable, putting the songs in an order which makes them shine and making for a great listening experience. Just as important is that these sonic libraries will speak volumes to the future generations who want to study and enjoy the magic.

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