Album Details

November 30, 2010
Vocal Music, Early R&B, Vocal Jazz, Jump Blues, Traditional Pop, Standards

Album Review

A four-CD box set containing 107 tracks, The Fabulous Miss D! The Keynote, Decca and Mercury Singles 1943-1953 traces the first decade of Dinah Washington's recording career on 78s and 45s with a song on either side, starting with her stint with Lionel Hampton and continuing through the early years of her solo career. The album title implies an equivalence among the three labels for which Washington recorded in this period, but that is just a way of assuring the potential customer that those early Hampton sides -- the Keynote singles "Evil Gal Blues"/"Homeward Bound" and "Salty Papa Blues"/"I Know How to Do It" featuring a Hampton sextet, and Hampton's Decca single "Blow Top Blues" -- are included. In fact, most of this material comes from Mercury, and that means her string of solo R&B hits starting with 1948's "Ain't Misbehavin'" and running through 1953's double-sided "TV Is the Thing (This Year)"/"Fat Daddy," with the chart toppers "Am I Asking Too Much" and "Baby Get Lost" in between, along with all the B-sides (some of which also charted) and plenty of non-chart items, all in chronological order. That sequencing allows an appreciation of Washington's development from the bluesy jazz and big-band efforts of the early recordings through jump blues to a mixture of ‘50s R&B and lush pop efforts. It's clear that Mercury hoped to cross Washington over to the pop charts, and every now and then, strings and a hearty backup chorus signal an attempt to push her toward the sound of Patti Page. But only "I Wanna Be Loved" made an impression on the pop chart in this period, and the poppier efforts tended to miss the R&B charts, where Washington otherwise scored consistently in the Top Ten. Sometimes, she did so by going gutbucket and gritty, such as on "Long John Blues," perhaps the most salacious song ever written about dentistry ("You thrill me when you drill me") and a number three hit in 1949. But Washington got to the same chart peak with her version of Hank Williams' "Cold Cold Heart," which suggests both her versatility and the range of Mercury's demands on her. Indeed, she was frequently called upon to cover pop hits for the R&B market during this period, and succeeded with such reverse crossover hits as "Harbor Lights," "My Heart Cries for You," "Wheel of Fortune," and "Tell Me Why," which, just earlier, had been pop chart entries for Sammy Kaye, Guy Mitchell, Kay Starr, and the Four Aces, respectively. And she occasionally undertook pop standards, such as "Embraceable You" and "How Deep Is the Ocean," or dipped into the Bing Crosby ("Just One More Chance") or Frank Sinatra ("I'm a Fool to Want You") catalogs, always with satisfying results.
William Ruhlmann, Rovi

Track Listing

  1. Evil Gal Blues
  2. Homeward Bound
  3. Salty Papa Blues
  4. I Know How to Do It
  5. Blow-Top Blues
  6. I Can't Get Started with You
  7. Joy Juice
  8. Embraceable You
  9. When a Woman Loves a Man
  10. On Wee Walkie Talkie
  11. A Slick Chick (On the Mellow Side)
  12. Postman Blues
  13. That's Why a Woman Loves a Heel
  14. I Want to Be Loved
  15. Stairway to the Stars
  16. Mean and Evil Blues
  17. Fool That I Am
  18. Since I Fell for You
  19. You Can Depend on Me
  20. There's Got to Be a Change
  21. Early in the Morning
  22. I Love You, Yes I Do
  23. Don't Come Knockin' at My Door
  24. Ain't Misbehavin'
  25. No More Lonely Gal Blues
  26. West Side Baby
  27. Walkin' and Talkin'
  28. I Want to Cry
  29. Resolution Blues
  30. Tell Me
  31. In the Rain
  32. Am I Asking Too Much
  33. I Sold My Heart to the Junkman
  34. It's Too Soon to Know
  35. I'll Wait
  36. Why Can't You Behave?
  37. It's Funny
  38. You Satisfy
  39. Laughing Boy
  40. What Can I Say After I Say I'm Sorry
  41. Pete
  42. Baby Get Lost
  43. Long John Blues
  44. Am I Really Sorry
  45. I Challenge Your Kiss
  46. Good Daddy Blues
  47. Richest Guy in the Graveyard
  48. I Only Know
  49. New York, Chicago and Los Angeles
  50. It Isn't Fair
  51. Journey's End
  52. I Wanna Be Loved
  53. Love with Misery
  54. I'll Never Be Free
  55. Big Deal
  56. How Deep Is the Ocean
  57. Why Don't You Think Things Over
  58. Harbor Lights
  59. I Can Cross My Fingers
  60. Time Out for Tears
  61. Only a Moment Ago
  62. My Kind of Man
  63. If I Loved You
  64. Fast Movin' Mama
  65. Juice Head Man of Mine
  66. My Heart Cries for You
  67. I Apologize
  68. I Won't Cry Anymore
  69. Don't Say You're Sorry Again
  70. Please Send Me Someone to Love
  71. Ain't Nobody's Business But My Own
  72. Fine Fine Daddy
  73. I'm so Lonely I Would Cry
  74. If You Don't Believe I'm Leaving (Count the Days I'm Gone)
  75. I'm a Fool to Want You
  76. Cold, Cold Heart
  77. Mixed Emotions
  78. Be Fair to Me
  79. Saturday Night
  80. Out in the Cold Again
  81. Hey, Good Looking
  82. Just One More Chance
  83. Baby Did You Hear
  84. Wheel of Fortune
  85. Tell Me Why
  86. Trouble in Mind
  87. New Blowtop Blues
  88. Mad About the Boy
  89. I Can't Face the Music (Without Singing the Blues)
  90. Pillow Blues
  91. Double Dealing Daddy
  92. My Song
  93. Half as Much
  94. Stormy Weather
  95. Make Believe Dreams
  96. I Cried for You
  97. Gambler's Blues
  98. You Let My Love Grow Cold
  99. Ain't Nothing Good
  100. Lean Baby
  101. Never, Never
  102. TV Is the Thing (This Year)
  103. Fat Daddy
  104. Silent Night
  105. The Lord's Prayer
  106. My Man's an Undertaker
  107. Since My Man Has Gone and Went
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