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Still Unforgettable: “The Extraordinary Nat King Cole” Collects Hits, Rarities, Unreleased Songs

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Extraordinary Nat King ColeThe title of Capitol’s upcoming Nat King Cole compilation is a simple but accurate one: The Extraordinary Nat King Cole. In his too-short 45 years, Cole transformed himself from an acclaimed jazz pianist to one of America’s pre-eminent vocalists. His smooth-voiced baritone helped put Capitol Records on the map, and he broke down barriers previously unheard of for African-American entertainers. Cole’s posthumous 1991 duet on “Unforgettable” with daughter Natalie Cole earned him a new generation of fan, and his rendition of “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)” keeps him in constant rotation every holiday season. Yet this compilation, to be available in single-disc CD and Blu-ray audio formats and a double-disc CD package with rarities and previously unreleased music, is the first major-label catalogue initiative for Cole since 2009’s remix set, Re:Generations.

While too few of Cole’s original albums are in print as individual CDs today, he’s been the recipient of two complete solo Capitol box sets from Bear Family (one box spanning 1955-1959 and another covering 1960-1964) as well as a Mosaic box set chronicling all 349 of The Nat King Cole Trio’s Capitol recordings. Collectors’ Choice Music issued a number of Cole’s classic albums on CD including 18 albums on 9 CDs available individually and as The Nat King Cole Collection Box Set Volume 1. Yet, miraculously, the Deluxe Edition of The Extraordinary Nat King Cole is packed with never-before-released songs, alternate takes and other rarities.

The standard single-disc edition offers 22 tracks (also available in the high-definition Blu-ray Audio format) emphasizing Cole’s swinging sessions with arranger-conductors including Nelson Riddle, Richard Wess and Billy May. This compilation features both familiar classics (“L-O-V-E,” “Orange Colored Sky,” “Walkin’ My Baby Back Home,” “Almost Like Being in Love”) and lesser-known gems (“You’ve Got the Indian Sign on Me”) as well as two rare and infrequently-anthologized duets with Capitol labelmate and fellow icon of cool, Dean Martin (“Long, Long Ago” and “Open Up the Doghouse (Two Cats Are Coming In)).” Of course, “Unforgettable” also finds a place on this compilation in Cole’s 1961 solo recording. The previously-unissued Nat Simon/Charles Tobias song “You’re Wrong, All Wrong” (1953) with a Nelson Riddle arrangement, closes out the disc.

There’s much more from the vaults on the second disc of the Deluxe Edition!  Hit the jump for more details plus the full track listing and pre-order links!

“You’re Wrong, All Wrong” was one of the songs recently found in the Capitol vaults by Alex Luke, former EVP of A&R at the label. Its discovery was a happy accident; Luke was searching to locate the tapes for a week-long session held in Chicago in 1955. Though those tapes were never uncovered during the course of his two-year search, Luke turned up the numerous lost tracks and alternate versions that premiere on The Extraordinary Nat King Cole.

 “You’re Wrong, All Wrong” is included on all editions; the remaining rare material is reserved for the deluxe 2-CD edition’s second disc of 14 songs – most of which have never before been issued. The other never-before-heard songs are indicated as “Sweet William” (1952), “The Magic Window” (1953), and “Little Fingers” (1953), all with Riddle charts. (Note that Cole’s “Sweet William” was issued on a 1967 promotional LP for The Nat King Cole Foundation.   It’s unclear whether this is a different take from the July 31, 1952 session. More likely, Capitol is not considering that album as an official release.) Also premiering are two duets between Nat and his young daughters Carole and Natalie recorded in 1954 with Riddle: “Ain’t She Sweet” and “What to Do.” These tracks take their place alongside previously unissued alternate takes of the standards “Straighten Up And Fly Right,” “Unforgettable,” “Mona Lisa,” “The Christmas Song,” and “(I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons” all with Ralph Carmichael arrangements from the 1961 Nat King Cole Story sessions.  “Sleeping Beauty” is indicated as a “previously unreleased version.” Cole recorded the song twice, once in 1952 and once in 1953. The 1952 take was included on the same 1967 promo LP as “Sweet William,” and the 1953 version was included on 1955’s 10th Anniversary Album. This is the 1952 version, again likely meaning that Capitol is not considering that promotional LP as an official prior release. In any event, though, this anthology boasts a wealth of material that will prove new even to dedicated Cole collectors.

The Extraordinary Nat King Cole has been remastered by Robert Vosgien and includes new liner notes from James Ritz, who also annotated Collectors’ Choice’s extensive reissue campaign. The 30-page booklet in the deluxe edition also features a number of photographs, many from sessions (including with Dean Martin). Producer and arranger credits, as well as recording dates, are helpfully provided, but discographical annotation is missing. This celebration of all things Cole is available in all formats tomorrow from Capitol Records, and can be ordered at the links below!

Nat King Cole, The Extraordinary Nat King Cole (Capitol, 2014)

Standard 1-CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Deluxe 2-CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Blu-ray Audio: Analogue Productions

CD 1: Standard, Deluxe and Blu-ray Editions

  1. L-O-V-E
  2. Walkin’
  3. (I Would Do) Anything For You
  4. The Song Is Ended (But The Melody Lingers On)
  5. Unforgettable
  6. Walkin’ My Baby Back Home
  7. I’m Gonna Sit Right Down (And Write Myself A Letter)
  8. Midnight Flyer
  9. Send For Me
  10. Open Up The Doghouse (Two Cats Are Coming In – with Dean Martin)
  11. (Get Your Kicks On) Route 66
  12. Love
  13. Papa Loves Mambo
  14. You’ve Got The Indian Sign On Me
  15. Mona Lisa
  16. Let’s Face The Music And Dance
  17. Almost Like Being In Love
  18. Don’t Get Around Much Anymore
  19. Orange Colored Sky
  20. Long, Long Ago (with Dean Martin)
  21. Breezin’ Along With The Breeze
  22. You’re Wrong All Wrong (previously unreleased)

CD 2: Deluxe Edition Only

  1. You Weren’t There
  2. How (Do I Go About It?)
  3. Sweet William (previously unreleased commercially)
  4. Sleeping Beauty (previously unreleased commercially)
  5. When I’m Alone
  6. The Magic Window (previously unreleased)
  7. Little Fingers (previously unreleased)
  8. Ain’t She Sweet (with Carole and Natalie Cole)
  9. What to Do (with Carole and Natalie Cole – previously unreleased)
  10. Straighten Up And Fly Right (previously unreleased alternate take)
  11. (I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons (previously unreleased alternate take)
  12. Unforgettable (previously unreleased alternate take)
  13. Mona Lisa (previously unreleased alternate take)
  14. The Christmas Song (previously unreleased alternate take)


Written by Joe Marchese

June 2, 2014 at 10:13

One Response

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  1. I would like to see vinyl reissues of Nat Cole’s early 10 inch LPs, on 10 inch. Including the rare 10 inch record, Cole for Kids. Then a reissue of all of the singles not included in any of the Mosaic or Bear Family boxes. The Nat Cole Capitol Singles set is incomplete and poor quality sound.


    June 3, 2014 at 08:43

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