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Fred Astaire's Finest Hour

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Album Review

It's obvious from a moment's thought that Fred Astaire's finest hour occurred in the movie studio, not the recording studio. And while Astaire's musical career was fine indeed, his best performances date from the '30s, when "Night and Day" or "Top Hat, White Tie and Tails" weren't pop standards but a pair of magical, effervescent songs just unleashed on the public. Fred Astaire's Finest Hour, the Verve collection, consists of recordings from a pair of '50s dates that have been packaged and repackaged many times over the years. Surprisingly, although he suffered from a thinner voice two decades after his prime, Astaire's sense of melodious fluidity had diminished not a whit. The 1952 LP The Astaire Story, which furnished most of the tracks for this compilation, featured a stately swinging band — the JATP backbone of Oscar Peterson, Charlie Shavers, Barney Kessel, and Ray Brown — that fit Astaire's light, airy performances perfectly. They recorded nearly all of Astaire's most famous movie hits, and though his voice had degraded slightly, he also showed he'd learned much since his '30s heyday. Five other tracks date from the 1959 LP Now, which also earns notices for its arrangements (by Marty Paich).

Biography

Genre: Musicals

Dancer, actor, and singer Fred Astaire worked steadily in various entertainment media during nine decades of the 20th century. The most celebrated dancer in the history of film, with appearances in 31 movie musicals between 1933 and 1968 (and a special Academy Award in recognition of his accomplishments in them), Astaire also danced on-stage and on television (garnering two Emmy Awards in the process), and he even treated listening audiences to his accomplished tap dancing on records and on his own...
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Fred Astaire's Finest Hour, Fred Astaire
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