Various - The Voice
What makes a good singer? Well, the new two-disc compilation The Voice tries to point you one step closer to the answer by providing almost a kitchen-sink guide to the greatest vocalists of the twentieth-century. Anyone with a bare record-collection could pick up many classic standards in one deft swoop based on what’s on offer, and the only detrimental factors are the other quality vocalists that have missed the cut.
The bias of the compilation does lean towards the fifties and sixties as opposed to the latter quarter of the last century. The eighties and nineties are virtually ignored, and the obvious quota of high royalty earners - McCartney, Jagger, Brown, Mercury and Sinatra are missing due most probably to financial reasons and through no fault of the compilers. Still, there are some rich pickings included in the list that is available.
The Voice doesn’t seem to have any sort of formula to its track order. Nina Simone powerfully launches proceedings and she’s followed by the breezy tones of good old Bobby Darin crooning to Beyond The Sea. When you swoon through Crosby, Armstrong and then Jolson, you realise the compilation is opting for high profile singers as opposed to actual singing voices, but that doesn’t serve to be a bad thing as The Voice proves to be a fine retrospective compilation.
Billie Holiday singing God Bless The Child rivals Otis Redding’s painfully soulful I’ve Been Loving You Too Long for all-time classic track featured, but before you know it the first disc goes all classical and cuts through Piaf, Lanza and Callas. Disc two essentially carries on where the first disc left off, opening with Tony Bennett and Ella Fitzgerald and reaching a highlight of Marvin Gaye’s Abraham, Martin & John. Surprisingly, two bona-fide groups The Supremes and The Beach Boys make it to the final cut, but on the whole any singer-songwriter seems virtually ignored.
No matter, because as stated The Voice is a must for any beginner launching themselves into the ownership of a record collection worth owning. Whilst compilations are the enemy of any pretentious musical connoisseur, they serve as effective diving pods into deeper territory, so with that in mind The Voice is a fine way to ‘spread the word’ about some of the twentieth-century’s musical pillars.