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Lady In Satin

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iTunes Review

Recorded less than 18 months before she passed away from heart failure complicated by a lifetime of chemical dependent hard-living, Billie Holiday's unique 1958 take on a slate of well-chosen standards is both triumph and paradox. Viewed from one perspective, it's a calculated attempt to wrap the singer's deteriorating voice in the decidedly muscular veneer of Ray Ellis' string arrangements, resulting in a starkly recorded sonic aura that's a bittersweet conundrum in its own right. More to the artistic point, Holiday invests both a career-long blurring of the lines between blues and jazz and a lifetime of personal pain into these songs. She channels a sense of genuine tragedy into "I'm a Fool to Want You" and "The End of a Love Affair," a sensibility that's further underscored by the revealing session outtakes included on this expanded modern edition. By turns harrowing and hypnotic, the often unsettling transparence of Billie Holiday's performances here make most contemporary American songbook revivals sound like cynical karaoke.

Customer Reviews

Beautiful Courage!

Here is a woman who's voice changed the way most everyone sang who came after her, who's deep feeling touched even the most hardened of hearts, who brought most people in those clubs to tears. Here is a woman who's years of being misunderstood, slapped around, locked up instead of being gentling eased from her addiction.....had just had enough. Being human is not being a super hero like in the comic books. I'm proud of this album, for here is a woman who kept going when many others would have quit. She faced a lot in her brief lifetime. Here is a soul which lives on and on in today's modern music. How can anyone say anything bad about such a brave soul who did the very best she could? Thank you Billie for sharing your very private and personal feelings with all of us. It has inspired billions of people!!

As essential as "Songs for Destingue Lovers" in any Billie catalog

iTunes gets it wrong once again. True, Holiday's voice was badly worn by the time these sessions were recorded. However, the plangent throb and velvety gravel only heighten the emotional impact of each track. Small wonder Holiday considered these her personal favorites. I also take strong issue with the characterization of Ellis' arrangements as near muzak. Ellis was neither the most nor the least talented of Holiday's many collaborators. What he offers here is what Holiday never got on any other label: lush strings, satin-textured winds, and the gentlest of rhythm tracks. The total effect is pure magic, and as fine a recording as any in the Holiday career. Oh, and a further incentive for purchasing here: the bonus tracks!

First on my list of desert island discs!

I've been listening to this Lp for over forty years and I've never tired of it. Her voice is not the same one she had before the world decided she couldn't do things her way and go unpunished, She shows her heart and soul in ths collections so unadorned that it is hard for some to accept. That's a pity for them, the rest of us who know when we're in the presence of great art are not diminished by their easy dismissal of one of Ms. Holidays greatest triumphs.


Born: April 7, 1915 in Baltimore, MD

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '30s, '40s, '50s

The first popular jazz singer to move audiences with the intense, personal feeling of classic blues, Billie Holiday changed the art of American pop vocals forever. More than a half-century after her death, it's difficult to believe that prior to her emergence, jazz and pop singers were tied to the Tin Pan Alley tradition and rarely personalized their songs; only blues singers like Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey actually gave the impression they had lived through what they were singing. Billie Holiday's...
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Lady In Satin, Billie Holiday
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