Primarily a collection of early demos, The Beginning 1975 takes listeners back to a time when Susannah McCorkle had yet to become well-known or record for Inner City, Pausa, or Concord Jazz. In fact, these recordings came a year before the jazz/cabaret singer's debut album, The Music of Harry Warren. McCorkle was in her late twenties in 1975, and although she wasn't nearly as well-known as she would be in the '80s and '90s, she had some very enthusiastic supporters in England -- namely, producer Chris Ellis and pianist Keith Ingham. Both of them help McCorkle out on these demos; with Ellis serving as producer and Ingham accompanying her on piano, McCorkle comes across as a singer who has some growing and developing to do but still has considerable potential. In 1975, McCorkle had a major Billie Holiday obsession and, at times, she goes out of her way to emulate Lady Day's '30s recordings (which is a mistake because it's best to be yourself). But more often than not, McCorkle is wise enough to let her own personality shine through, and one really hears her potential on material that ranges from "This Funny World," "As Times Goes By," and "42nd Street" to the Brazilian song "Felicidade" (which demonstrates that even in 1975, McCorkle was capable of singing in Portuguese). Meanwhile, McCorkle's version of "I Love a Film Cliché" is too campy for its own good; this is the sort of performance that gives certain types of cabaret a bad name. Again, McCorkle still had some growing and developing to do in 1975, but excellence was just around the corner -- and Ellis was among the people who helped her achieve it. Although inconsistent and not recommended to casual listeners, The Beginning 1975 is a disc that McCorkle's hardcore fans will find fascinating.
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson