Pearl Bailey

Pearl Bailey and Louis Bellson

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Pearl Bailey was a gifted actress and vocalist, whose handling of popular songs was often disarmingly honest and funny. The Collectables Priceless Collection edition of Pearl Bailey and Louis Bellson material dating from circa 1955 had better not be "pricey," because it only contains nine songs adding up to a whopping total of about 24 minutes of music, or barely the duration of the cheapo LPs on which Pearl's songs originally cropped up willy-nilly. "Solid Gold Cadillac," "Zing Went the Strings of my Heart," "That Certain Feeling," and "Hit the Road to Dreamland" were foisted upon the public by dime-store labels like Celebrity and Guest Star, sometimes with a secondary vocalist like Margie Anderson shuffled in like a curtain raiser. Surviving copies of these albums usually have a 67ยข sticker still adhering to the brittle shrink-wrap. This Collectables CD is a reissue of a 1982 Ala LP called Pearl Bailey Archive, with one extra track thrown in as filler. Note that in spite of the vivid cover portrait, Bailey only sings on four titles. "Little Sheba," "Land of Promise," "Rich People of Hollywood," and "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" (!) are soundtrack instrumentals apparently representing Bellson's utility session work during the mid-'50s. Fats Waller's "Stealin' Apples" is dished up hot with a bop arrangement that emphasizes the drummer's important links to the jazz world. It's not hard to locate and enjoy more accurate and respectful homages to the wryly soulful Pearl Bailey and her percussionist husband Louie Bellson. One need only look to the Classics Chronological Series for her complete works, beginning with 1944-1947, and chase down the collections entitled Ain't She Sweet! and Cocktail Hour for a good sampling of the '50s material.

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