Nat King Cole

Special 3-CD Collection

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This triple-disc EMI collection packages together three separately released compilations, each of them boasting long track listings but a bewildering selection that may confuse longtime fans and beginning listeners alike. The first disc attempts to collect some of Cole's rarer singles entries, balancing perennials "Lush Life" and "People" with obscure early-'50s items like "Mother Nature and Father Time" and "Faith Can Move Mountains." The second disc focuses on love songs, most from the late '50s or early '60s, also including a parade of common titles ("Stardust," "Too Young," "For All We Know") alongside rarer performances ("I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter," "A Cottage for Sale," "Once in a While"). The final volume in the set is the most valuable, examining the album side of Nat "King" Cole and grabbing 20 tracks from '50s classics like Nat Sings for Two in Love (with Nelson Riddle), The Nat King Cole Story (with Ralph Carmichael), Just One of Those Things (with Billy May), and Love Is the Thing (with Gordon Jenkins). The opener "Sweet Lorraine" is a later, rarer version of the Cole standard, and here too the compilers are able to select great material that hasn't been heard enough (thanks mostly to Capitol's continued ignoring of original items in the Cole catalogue). Highlights here come frequently, led by "Mona Lisa" but also including obscure material like "Serenata," "The Song Is Ended (But the Melody Lingers On)," "Love Is the Thing," "Dance Ballerina Dance." The sound is fine on all three discs but, overall, this budget collection presents more questions than it answers on the long recording history of Nat "King" Cole.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 3:19
2
2:50
3 2:55
4 3:13
5 3:13
6 2:45
7 3:12
8 3:15
9 2:58
10 2:55
11 2:33
12 3:01
13 2:54
14 2:37
15 2:21
16 2:21
17 2:37
18 3:13
19 3:00
20 2:40
blue highlight denotes track pick