Fred Astaire is remembered primarily for his feats of cinematic terpsichore, but he also did a fair amount of singing in his movies, and he found occasion throughout his career to go into the recording studio and sing many of the songs featured in his films, as well as some other material. These recordings were made for a variety of record companies, dating back to the English Columbia label, which had him and his sister Adele preserve some of the songs from their stage shows when they were in London in the 1920s. In the '30s, while he was making a series of movies with Ginger Rogers, Astaire recorded for Brunswick Records, following a brief sojourn at RCA Victor, and by the '40s, he was contracted to Decca. All these recordings are now in the vaults of different major labels, but in Europe, where there seems to be a 50-year copyright limitation, they are all in the public domain, allowing the Dutch reissue label Disky to assemble this three-CD, three-and-a-half-hour collection by transferring old 78s and cleaning up the sound. Golden Greats is a bare-bones package not even containing a booklet. So, all you get for annotation is a list of songs and songwriters in small print on the back cover. Compiler Tony Watts has mixed the selections up, but roughly speaking, the first disc contains the '30s Brunswick material, standards by the likes of Irving Berlin and George Gershwin, while the second disc goes back to the '20s (more Gershwin), and the third disc contains the '40s Decca tracks. Thus, the bulk of Astaire's studio recordings from 1923 to 1946 is included, in reasonably good sound. If there were annotations, they would note the presence of Bing Crosby on two tracks, and occasional accompaniment by Benny Goodman, among others.
AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2
Track Listing - Disc 3