Cut straight on the heels of Bad Company’s 1974 debut — just a matter of three months later; not quite long enough to know how big a success the first LP would be — Straight Shooter is seemingly cut from the same cloth as its predecessor.
Filling in a gap in Frank Sinatra's history, Legacy's 2015 box A Voice on Air collects over 100 radio broadcasts recorded between 1935 and 1955. This is the first collection to chronicle this era – over 90 of its 100 tracks are previously unreleased – and it's pulled from a variety of sources, including the Sinatra estate's vaults, the Library of Congress, and the Paley Center for Media, each strand assisting in sterling re-creations of original broadcasts from Frank's bobbysocks days, World War II, and the nascent saloon singer of the '50s. Sinatra wound up singing some of these songs in the studio but not necessarily in these arrangements, a wrinkle that would be tantalizing enough but a good portion of A Voice on Air is devoted to songs he only sang on the air.
This attractive three-CD set gives listeners an overview of Ella Fitzgerald's Verve recordings, although the inclusion of seven previously unissued cuts (in addition to 44 that are mostly available in more complete form elsewhere) will frustrate some completists. However the careful selection of representative performances along with the informative and lengthy text make this highly enjoyable reissue (which captures her in prime form) recommended even to collectors who have most of the singer's albums.
Let's not waste time: get this for soprano Lucy Crowe's voice, for her performance of "What passion cannot Music raise", for her "The soft complaining flute"–and don't forget the glorious "But oh! What art can teach". Okay–just get this for the magnificent Crowe, whose golden, ringing tone and impeccable, uninhibited technique sets Handel's arias ablaze in vibrant, scintillating glory, relegating any recorded competition to second-class status. (Listen to that long-held, stratospheric note in the final chorus, on the words "The trumpet shall be heard on high"–on high, indeed; it seems like Crowe could have sustained it forever!) To sing Handel requires technical ease and comfort, range and unreserved explicatory ability–and in this, and in her complete habitation of the world of Handelian style Lucy Crowe is unsurpassed.