Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Ella Fitzgerald: Love Songs: Best of the Verve Song Books [Verve, 1996]
The third hour-long budget album PolyGram has constructed from that 16-CD box you passed on seems much the best to me. It doesn't limit a swinging chick to ballads, or apply her automatic sophistication to lyrics whose brilliance verges on silly, like "Miss Otis Regrets" or "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered." Because the emotional complexities love songs deal in are known to us and assumed by her, we're free to ignore her questionable interpretive powers and luxuriate in an instrument as pleasurable as Sinatra's or Jones's. I'm not just talking subtle force and supple range--those you can pick up in the gym. I love its verve and its reserve, and can't get over the character that grains but never roughens its lissome clarity. A