Billie Holiday - Lady In Satin

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Billie Holiday's 1958 album Lady in Satin has gained much appreciation over the years. The feeling and tension she manages to put into almost every track set this album as one of her finest achievements. "You've Changed" and "I Get Along Without You Very Well" are high art performances from the singer who saw life from the bottom up. She may have lost much of her upper range due to heroin addiction, but her delivery is infused with her experience both tragic with its abusive relationships, prison stints and drug addiction, and triumphant with her musical success.

Billie chose the repertoire of songs on this album on the basis of the lyrics. She wanted to do songs she had not done before and so she and Ray Ellis, started with that. During the recording sessions she drank her vodka neat, but still managed to infuse immense feeling into ‘You’ve Changed’ and ‘For All We Know’. Ray Ellis tried to match his arrangements to her late raspy voice and used it in her favour.

Some critics at the time felt the arrangements were overdone and preferred her earlier work. However, for others this album was a career high point. Trumpeter Buck Clayton recalled, “The most emotional moment was her listening to the playback of “I’m a Fool to Want You”. There were tears in her eyes…After we finished the album I went into the control room and listened to all the takes. I must admit I was unhappy with her performance, but I was just listening musically instead of emotionally. It wasn’t until I heard the final mix a few weeks later that I realized how great her performance really was.

Heavyweight vinyl produced by Columbia Records in 2015.

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