This discount-priced two-fer combines two of the five solo albums Ann-Margret recorded for RCA Victor Records during the 1960s, her fourth, Bachelors' Paradise (1963), followed by her second, On the Way Up (1962). The albums seem to have been chosen and sequenced as they were to provide a contrast, giving a sense of the different musical approaches Ann-Margret took during her recording career. That career to a back seat to her film acting, making it somewhat scattershot, even though it started promisingly (and prior to her movie work). In September 1961, she hit the Top 20 with the bluesy "I Just Don't Understand," featured on On the Way Up, and RCA Victor tried to position her as a female Elvis Presley, even having her cut "Heartbreak Hotel." That's the kind of material you hear on tracks 13-24 here, and though the singer isn't really a convincing rocker, her interpretations are so characteristically sexy that it doesn't much matter. Around the time that On the Way Up was released, Ann-Margret turned up on the Oscar telecast singing "Bachelor in Paradise," a traditional pop movie theme song, and Bachelors' Paradise, which leads off with that song, finds her fronting an orchestra on a collection of lush ballads, most of them vintage pop standards. She is credible in the role of pop chanteuse, conveying a more mature but just as affecting sexuality. By reversing the chronological order of the albums, Collectables makes it sound like the singer is going from 1950s-style pre-rock pop to 1960s-style pop/rock. That works fine as a listening experience. Ann-Margret could have been a much more successful recording artist than she was if she had given that aspect of her career more attention, and if she had ever figured out what kind of recording artist she wanted to be.
Bachelors' Paradise/On the Way Up Review
by William Ruhlmann