Ann-Margret

Viva La Vivacious

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If you want more of Ann-Margret's '60s RCA material than a single CD offers, but shy away in horror from the prospect of investing the time and money that Bear Family's five-CD box set 1961-1966 involves, this two-CD, 48-track compilation would seem to be the suitable compromise. Here's one case, however, where the usual "do the math" calculation doesn't add up. For despite its length, this is actually missing some of her better, more pop/rock-oriented tracks, particularly in the absence of some of the obscure compositions by the Gerry Goffin-Carole King and P.F. Sloan-Steve Barri songwriting teams that show up on Raven's The Many Moods of Ann-Margret. This anthology is weighted toward the more adult-oriented, cabaret-burlesque-inclined face of her repertoire, also slotting in some pretty unimpressive cuts with light teen idol-doo wop leanings (including the rare early David Gates song "Hey Little Star," a transparent rewrite of Frankie Avalon's "Venus" that appeared on a 1963 single). There are, of course, several of her most well-known recordings, including the hit "I Just Don't Understand," and the theme from "Bye Bye Birdie." There are also several tunes of note -- relative to the oft-mediocre quality of the singer's output, at any rate -- that don't show up on some other best-of comps, like the 1966 B-side "Mister Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" (co-written by John Barry); her spunky whirl through "I Ain't Got Nobody (And Nobody Cares for Me)," from a 1961 B-side; the not-bad cover of "Begin the Beguine"; a sultry rendition of jazzman Horace Silver's "Senor Blues"; the moody, bluesy 1963 45 "No More"; and a duet with Elvis Presley on the obscure Jerry Leiber-Mike Stoller song "You're the Boss." The liner notes and photos are good too, but the song selection should have been better.

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