It isn't hard to understand why Adolf Hitler's Nazi regime of the '30s and early '40s felt threatened by Marlene Dietrich's work. Though the German actress/singer insisted that she was apolitical, her performances had serious sociopolitical ramifications. Dietrich experimented with androgyny, employed lesbian-friendly imagery at times, had an abundance of sex appeal, and celebrated the delightfully decadent, pre-Hitler cabaret culture of '20s-era Berlin -- in other words, she was the antithesis of the Nazi regime's extreme social conservatism. Many anthologies of Dietrich's recordings have come out over the years; The Anthology: 1930-1949 is among the more thoughtfully assembled. From generally decent sound quality (by 78-era standards) to singer Athan Maroulis' informative liner notes to attractive art work, a lot of care went into this 25-track CD. The Anthology: 1930-1949 isn't the last word on Dietrich's performances; nonetheless, many of her essential recordings of the '30s and '40s are provided. The disc gets off to an ideal start with Dietrich's famous 1930 version of "Falling in Love Again" -- a perfect opening track -- and many of the tracks that follow are also definitive, including "Mein Blondes Baby" from 1933, "I Am the Naughty Lola" from 1930, and "Lili Marlene" from 1945. Dietrich is heard in three languages (German, English, and French), and the material was recorded in Berlin, Paris, and Los Angeles. Of course, the Berlin performances (from 1930 and 1931) preceded Hitler's reign of terror -- and they capture the wild, free spirit of Berlin's pre-Hitler cabaret culture. Again, The Anthology: 1930-1949 doesn't tell Dietrich's whole story -- none of her '50s recordings are included -- but the CD is well worth obtaining if one is seeking a beginner's introduction to her classic '30s and '40s output.
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