Various Artists

The Great Divas

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AllMusic Review by

Australian reissue label RedX Entertainment packages 48 tracks by 12 female singers on this three-CD box set (which could have fit onto two CDs). Ransacking the major American labels, which can no longer claim copyright to these 1930s and '40s recordings overseas, RedX presents four songs each from the legendary jazz and pop ladies, mixing and matching material in an otherwise random fashion. The compilation is as likely to draw from the singers' stints with swing bands as from their solo performances, so that the performances sometimes employ only a vocal chorus from the ostensible star. For example, Helen Forrest's selections all derive from her big band affiliations: Harry James ("Skylark" and "I Don't Want to Walk Without You"), Artie Shaw ("Deep Purple"), and Benny Goodman ("Taking a Chance on Love"). Covering more than a decade, the collection jumps around stylistically from the '30s swing arrangements to post-swing novelties like Peggy Lee's "Mañana" and Dinah Shore's "Buttons and Bows." There are plenty of hits and signature tunes, but no real organizing principle and certainly no annotations. Sound quality is generally good, though there is audible hiss from the secondary-source transfers on occasion. Purchased at a budget price, the collection may provide casual listening pleasure for fans of swing and '40s pop. But this is far from the best way to appreciate these classic distaff singers.

Track Listing

Title/Composer Performer Time
1 3:46
2 3:07
3 2:43
4 3:13
5 2:02
6 2:58
7 2:40
8 3:09
9 2:54
10 3:15
11 3:04
12 4:35
13 3:08
14 2:50
15 3:05
16 2:58
17 3:18
18 3:08
19 2:33
20 2:56
21 3:01
22 2:50
23 2:37
24 2:29
25 2:53
26 2:56
27 3:11
28 2:40
29 3:22
30 2:45
31 3:04
32 2:57
33 3:07
34 3:02
35 3:15
36 2:56
37 3:12
38 2:53
39 2:50
40 3:20
41 2:42
42 2:42
43 2:34
44
2:35
45 3:18
46 3:13
47 3:03
48 2:52
blue highlight denotes track pick