Note: these releases were originally purchased as LPs, later replaced by this 2 CD compilation.
"If the darling of a rock singer cooing on standards is no longer a novelty, blame Ronstadt for doing it so well over the course of three rich servings."
-Billboard magazine, October 4, 1986
A two disc set that contains three albums: What's New (1983), Lush Life (1984), and For Sentimental Reasons (1986), released in October 1986, just in time for holiday shopping (box sets were also available on LP and cassette). All recordings of pop standards from the "American Songbook" with arrangements by the legendary Nelson Riddle. If the purpose of these albums was to introduce a new generation to these songs and the work of Riddle, they did. And delightfully so. This stuff led me to dive into Nelson's œuvre and I'm still diving.
Now, thirty years on, I like these recordings even more than I ever have. Headphones recommended.
'Round Midnight peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: #124
What's New peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: #3
Lush Life peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: #13
For Sentimental Reasons peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: #46
Tracks: In my book, Ronstadt owns all these tunes (with the exception of Lush Life, which is owned by Johnny Hartman) so there's no skipping, just two hours of pure bliss. Riddle's arrangements have no peer; people should just accept his arrangements as definitive. My favorites from disc 1 are What's New, Someone To Watch Over Me, What'll I Do, When I Fall In Love, and Skylark. From disc 2: You Took Advantage Of Me, Can't We Be Friends, Bewitched Bothered & Bewildered, and Straighten Up And Fly Right.
Personal Memory Associated with this CD: The unique hat box cover of the Lush Life vinyl (below). The fact that my close high school friends all got into these recordings at age 17. Being featured trumpet soloist with my high school jazz band on an arrangement of What's New (there's a recording of that performance hidden around here someplace; it's better to keep it hidden). It wasn't mine, but I know more than a few people for which this was their first CD acquisition.
Previously revisited for the blog:
Original Album Series (2012)