The Art of Carmen McRae/For Once in My Life

The Art of Carmen McRae/For Once in My Life

by Carmen McRae


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This 2004 double disc of Carmen McRae released by Collectables continues the label's efforts to chronicle her stay with Atlantic Records from 1967 to 1972. She was near the top of her interpretive powers during this era, turning standards and contemporary pop songs into personal expressions of joy and heartache. Her voice, while not as pure as it had been, is still a thing of wonder, very powerful and always very much her own. The Art of Carmen McRae gathers songs from the two live records she released for Atlantic, Live at the Century Plaza and the incredible The Great American Songbook, as well as the studio albums (excepting For Once in My Life, which makes up the whole of the second disc), singles, and for some reason the Bittersweet album that came out in 1964 on Focus. You could spend time beating your head against the wall wondering why those songs are seemingly thrown in at random or why the liner notes provide very little documentation, but there really is no need -- instead it is a better idea to just enjoy the disc for what it is: a very fine compilation of some of McRae's best work. The second disc (the straight reissue of 1967's For Once in My Life) is much easier to enjoy, as it raises no packaging or song selection issues. The record is made up mostly of contemporary songs by Bacharach/David, Brian Wilson, the Beatles, and Buffy Sainte-Marie, and at first glance one might think that the record is just a callow attempt to jump on the pop bandwagon. One would be wrong to conclude this, because whatever the intentions, the record is a success. With producer Joel Dorn mostly providing restrained and sometimes groovy backings, McRae turns in some wonderful performances. The two Beach Boys songs are heartbreaking; "Don't Talk" is one of the better covers of a Wilson song you are liable to hear. "Come Live With Me" is a swinging number that sounds like something Sammy Davis, Jr. would have torn up around this time. Leiber & Stoller's "Flying" is another light and smooth number that works very well. The only song that falls flat is the Vegas-style take on the Beatles' "Got to Get You into My Life," where Dorn lays on the glitz and McRae sounds tentative. While there isn't a whole lot of jazz to be found here, fans of McRae shouldn't be scared off by the songs or the era, as this is actually one of the better albums she recorded in the second half of her career. Taken together, the two discs are a vital purchase for McRae fans. Perhaps someday someone will release a collection that does a coherent job of organizing her days at Atlantic. Until then, The Art of Carmen McRae/For Once in My Life will have to do.

Product Details

Release Date: 11/25/2003
Label: Collectables
UPC: 0090431683620
catalogNumber: 6836

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Carmen McRae   Primary Artist

Technical Credits

Buffy Sainte-Marie   Composer
Kooper   Composer
John Lennon   Composer
Paul McCartney   Composer
Brian Wilson   Composer
Cy Coleman   Composer
Michel Legrand   Composer
Jimmy Rowles   Composer
Johnny Keating   Composer
Bobby Troup   Composer
Richard Rodgers   Composer
Burt Bacharach   Composer
Barry Mann   Composer
Jimmy Webb   Composer
Bob Lind   Composer
Leslie Bricusse   Composer
Johnny Burke   Composer
Sammy Cahn   Composer
Hal David   Composer
Dubin   Composer
Duke Ellington   Composer
Norman Gimbel   Composer
Johnny Mercer   Composer
Anthony Newley   Composer
Stillman   Composer
Mike Stoller   Composer
Axel Stordahl   Composer
Billy Strayhorn   Composer
James Van Heusen   Composer
Harry Warren   Composer
Paul Francis Webster   Composer
Cynthia Weil   Composer
George David Weiss   Composer
Paul Weston & His Orchestra   Composer
Ron Miller   Composer
Sam M. Lewis   Composer
Tommy Wolf   Composer
Carolyn Leigh   Composer
Marvin Fisher   Composer
Orlando Murden   Composer
Jack Segal   Composer
Rezsö Seress   Composer
Camillo Bargoni   Composer
Leah Worth   Composer
Antoine Le Grand   Composer
Joe McCarthy   Composer
Tony Asher   Composer
Gary Theroux   Liner Notes
László Jávor   Composer

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