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The Early Years at RKO

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iTunes Review

Fans of the Great American Songbook often cite Frank Sinatra or Ella Fitzgerald as the genre's top dog. Yet this Fred Astaire collection culled from his classic '30s films with Ginger Rogers is a vivid reminder that the genre was nothing without this dancer-singer-actor. Featuring some of the first performances of compositions by the Gershwins, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, and Jerome Kern (who all loved to write for Astaire), this set presents early versions of “Night and Day,” “Top Hat, White Tie and Tails," and “They Can’t Take That Away from Me.” While Astaire didn’t have the singular sense of swing of Sinatra or Bing Crosby, this is pop music at its best from a bygone era backed by the notable orchestras of Ray Noble or Johnny Green. Fans will also get a bit of that patented Astaire humor—the end of the album includes two takes on the Berlin novelty “The Yam” with Rogers doing vocals on the last version. Astaire reportedly hated his own singing voice, but this is truly a gift for the rest of us.

Customer Reviews

Absolutely Spectacular!

Tip top! Bravo TCM and Sony Masterworks for finally giving these recordings their due. Most of these early recordings have never been re-mastered and they’ve never sounded better. The detail and clarity in the Brunswick recordings are particularly breathtaking. If you like Fred Astaire and are familiar with these records I cannot recommend them enough. Thank you for getting this right!


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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The Early Years at RKO, Fred Astaire
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