Bert Kaempfert & His Orchestra

The Best of Bert Kaempfert [Mobile Fidelity]

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There are a number of Bert Kaempfert "best-of" albums out there -- and lo, here's another, one that bears little resemblance to the others in content and deed. It was probably assembled sometime around 1970 and released as a two-LP set, but apparently not by American Decca or German Polydor (Mobile Fidelity somehow leased it from CBS Special Products). While the CD includes a few of Kaempfert's best-known recordings -- two versions of "Strangers in the Night," "L-O-V-E," "Red Roses for a Blue Lady," and "Bye Bye Blues" -- and a few cracking good ones that aren't -- like Duke Ellington's "I'm Beginning to See the Light" -- the album leaves out a ton of obvious choices, not to mention much of Kaempfert's best, most characteristic material. Rather, a good deal of the disc is weighted toward cover versions of standards like "Star Dust," "Over the Rainbow," and "Laura," or swing-era standbys like "Moonlight Serenade" and "Opus One," whose routine gestures are not nearly among the pick of Kaempfert's catalog. Two compensating factors are the excellent, clear Mobile Fidelity sound and generous playing time -- about 70 minutes. For a number of years in the 1990s, this was the only Kaempfert available on CD, but it has since been superseded by two-fer reissues and expanded versions of the original Decca albums. Or if you double back to the LP era, either the Decca Best Of or Greatest Hits albums deliver peppier, more representative tastes of Bert Kaempfert.

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