Billie Holiday

God Bless the Child [K-Tel]

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The lack of discographical information on this K-TEL release makes placing these recordings in the Holiday oeuvre somewhat difficult. The compilation is, nevertheless, a strong one, featuring fine takes of signature numbers like "God Bless The Child" and "He's Funny That Way," with wonderful less-frequently compiled tracks such as "Wherever You Are" and Holiday's own composition "Fine and Mellow." Lady Day is in fine form here, managing to fuse a gentle, rhythmically sensitive subtlety, a cool sexuality and an aching melancholy in both her tone and phrasing.

In "Until The Real Thing Comes Along" Holiday sounds like she's simultaneously seducing someone and contemplating swallowing a bottle of sleeping pills. It is this combination of dark and light, filtered through her keen instrumentalist's sensibility, that made her such a powerfully emotive artist, and has maintained her popularity for so long. GOD BLESS THE CHILD, despite slightly inferior sound quality (there is a minimum of surface noise on these tracks), is a strong collection and adds yet another notch to her legacy.

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