Eartha Kitt

That Bad Eartha/Down to Eartha

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Collectables Records combines Eartha Kitt's second and third LPs on this discount-priced CD reissue, giving a good sense of her early style, which, come to think of it, is the style she continued to maintain throughout her career. Born in South Carolina and raised in Harlem, Kitt acquired her sexy, self-mocking, continental sophistication via her travels around the world, particularly a stay in Paris. By the time she burst upon New York, first with a series of nightclub appearances, then in the revue New Faces of 1952, and finally on her RCA Victor recordings, she came across as a rich, jaded chanteuse. At the same time, however, she let her audiences know that it was all something of a joke, which, of course, made it all the more appealing. On 1953's "That Bad Eartha" (the quotation marks were deliberate), RCA reprised some of her hit singles, notably "C'est Si Bon (It's So Good)," and gave her some similar material, particularly a couple of naughty Cole Porter songs, "Let's Do It" and "My Heart Belongs to Daddy." She sang in French, Spanish, Turkish, and even Swahili, but all along she was speaking the language of the supper club, singing with precise articulation in her limited, reedy, vibrato-laden voice. On Down to Eartha, a 1955 collection of later singles and tracks, you can hear RCA looking for hits with some up-tempo novelty material, but there are also more songs for the nightclub act, stories Kitt acts out, such as "The Heel" and "Oh John! (Please Don't Kill Me)." Kitt's sly theatricality wins out over the sometimes pedestrian songwriting, making the collection as a whole a powerful demonstration of her talents.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 3:33
2 3:01
3 3:30
4 2:56
5 3:07
6 3:05
7 3:11
8
2:55
9 2:39
10 3:48
11 2:44
12 3:06
13
2:30
14 3:35
15 3:01
16 2:23
17 2:48
18 2:25
19 3:18
20 2:46
21 2:47
22 2:54
23
2:19
24 2:36
blue highlight denotes track pick