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Love Songs: Best Of The Verve Songbooks

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Critics' Reviews

amg review
Are you one of those people who can't walk through the jazz section without mooning over the lavishly packaged and heart-droppingly expensive 16-disc Complete Ella Fitzgerald Song Books set? If so, you're not alone, and Verve knows it. So to keep you from bemoaning your fate, the company has been releasing single-disc compilations drawn from the set -- the first was an overview entitled Best of the Song Books: The Collection, the second a perfect bachelor pad accessory called simply Best of the Song Books: The Ballads. This latest one appears redundant at first glance -- why follow Best of the Song Books: The Ballads with Best of the Song Books: Love Songs? -- but a listen dispels that impression quickly. Though there are several excellent slow numbers, including glorious versions of "Prelude to a Kiss" and "I Concentrate on You," the album is dominated by mid- and uptempo standards such as "I'm Beginning to See the Light," "I Let a Song Go out of My Heart" and "Love You Madly." The settings vary from the lush orchestrations of Nelson Riddle and Billy May to standard small-group arrangements, though the focus is on larger ensembles. That's kind of too bad, since Ella always seemed to loosen up a bit more with her small groups -- one of the most beautiful moments on this disc is her rendition of "Solitude," on which she is accompanied only by Barney Kessel's guitar. But every track is a wonder, and though it won't stop you from pining after the whole thing, this disc is a welcome window on the Song Books set. ~ Rick Anderson, Rovi
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