This modest, single-CD compilation remains an excellent introduction to Duke Ellngton's work as composer and bandleader, two indistinguishable roles. It includes many of the original recordings of his most familiar songs, reaching back to the 1930s for the swinging "It Don't Mean a Thing" and the exotic "Caravan" and forward to the 1950s for "Satin Doll." The first 10 tracks appear here in their original monaural sound, and they're an authentic account of the early years of Ellington's marvelous band–with the rich, smooth saxophone textures of Johnny Hodges and Harry Carney, the soaring muted trumpets of Cootie Williams and Rex Stewart, and the unadorned musicality of Ivie Anderson's voice. If you want a CD with just the most famous tunes, or if you want to introduce someone to Ellington's music in all its regal brilliance, this is a good place to start.
This double-disc set is one of the more bountiful compilations gleaned from Mitch Miller's voluminous Columbia Records catalog. Unfortunately, the contents of 50 All-American Favorites (2004) have been confined to the years 1958 to 1962, during which time Miller's unconventional performance style was on its final descent. Mitch Miller & the Gang consisted of Miller fronting a full choral ensemble of vocalists who sang in unison.
From My Little Stick of Blackpool Rock to God Save the Queen, this is the story of ten records from the 1930s to the present day that have been banned by the BBC. The reasons why these songs were censored reveals the changing controversies around youth culture over the last 75 years, with Bing Crosby and the Munchkins among the unlikely names to have met the wrath of the BBC. With contributions from Carrie Grant, Paul Morley, Stuart Maconie, Glen Matlock, Mike Read and Jon Robb.