Nat King Cole
The World of Nat King Cole
First Appeared in The Music Box, January 2005, Volume 12, #1
Written by John Metzger
Nat King Cole spent the bulk of his career with Capitol Records, and between his signing with the label in 1942 and his untimely death in 1965, he recorded a staggering 150 singles. With the King Cole Trio, he devoted his repertoire to jazz and blues selections, but when the public’s interest shifted direction, he wisely, if controversially broadened his scope and became an even bigger star, scoring hits in the realms of pop, R&B, and country. Yet, for all of his successes, Cole very well may have drifted into relative obscurity had it not been for two factors: his seminal rendition of Mel Tormé’s holiday hit The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas to You) and the well-intended, posthumously produced update of his minor, but no less memorable 1952 single Unforgettable. The former, unfortunately, is not included on the newly minted, 28-track retrospective The World of Nat King Cole. Not surprisingly, however, the digital trickery of the latter, which absurdly pairs the singer in a virtual duet with his daughter Natalie, is.
Despite these foibles, The World of Nat King Cole is about as comprehensive a single disc compilation of the late, great singer’s repertoire as one is likely to find. It also happens to be astoundingly good. On early selections — such as the airy swing of Straighten Up and Fly Right, the sprightly groove of (Get Your Kicks on) Route 66, and the touching balladry of (I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons — Cole’s deft (and vastly underappreciated) skill on piano is beautifully highlighted. Still, the fact remains that it was his gloriously golden-hued voice — and all of the warm sentiments that it conveyed — that allowed him to become a manifest presence within popular culture for well over half a century. Whether leading his trio along with Stan Kenton and His Orchestra through the horn-splattered Orange Colored Sky or delving into the country-tinged refrains of Ramblin’ Rose, whether soaring through the string-laden A Blossom Fell, soulfully delivering the Spanish-tinged Mona Lisa, or effortlessly gliding across the jazz-blues terrain of You Stepped Out of a Dream, Cole consistently found the heart and soul of his songs and turned them into something truly special. While 2003’s 4-disc set The Classic Singles is undoubtedly the ultimate Nat King Cole collection, those seeking something more manageable will be satisfied completely by The World of Nat King Cole.
Of Further Interest...
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2005 The Music Box