Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Gershwin Songbook – Ella Fitzgerald (1959)

Album no. 19/1001

Ella Fitzgerald was a pretty big wheel in the jazz scene back in the day, and for good reason – her voice is superb.

She recorded A LOT of music. Like, this album is long. 57 songs, split into three albums. According to wikipedia it goes for three hours, sixteen minutes and forty eight seconds. The original release was a five albums set.

There was…some disagreement between us about this album.

Have you listened to this album before?

CL: No I haven’t – but I’ve heard bits and pieces of Ella Fitzgerald before. Mostly from Fallout.

NK: No, I haven’t. I am concerned about this album though, 57 tracks seems excessive.

Standout track?

CL: Interestingly, I really liked the first two tracks which are instrumentals. No Ella Fitzgerald in sight. Clarinet isn’t used in enough modern music, in my humble opinion. But these first two are great! And they’re not weird jazz. It’s more classical music, which is a nice change. When old mate Ella gets involved, I could name 5 standout tracks. There are a STACK. So, narrowing it down, I’ll say ‘(I’ve Got) Beginner’s Luck’ (and not just because I have a penchant for song titles using brackets).

NK: I did not enjoy this nearly as much as you. In fact, I would go so far as to say I actively despised it. I thought a lot of the songs were pretty similar and not very interesting. I liked her voice a lot, but I wish I could have heard her sing something else. I liked her version of ‘Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off’, and ‘But Not For Me’ is ok too.

When would be the best time to listen to this?

CL: If you want to pretend you’re in an old-timey movie, put on the first two tracks. They’re basically a movie soundtrack in 15 minutes. Enter Ella Fitzgerald, and man, it’s NEXT LEVEL. I had an excellent time listening to this. It kind of loses its way near the end, but that’s ok.

NK: I had lost my way a lot earlier than you. The songs are so boring! I honestly found this really hard to listen to. I kept tuning it out, it took conscious effort to concentrate enough to tell one song from another. My brain started registering this as background music very early on. If I’m ever in a coma and the doctors say that if I don’t wake up within an hour they’re going to turn off the life support, put this album on, because I will wake up and ask you to either turn it off or let me die.

CL:…wow.

Why has this album been included on the list?

CL: Because Ella Fitzgerald sounds amazing. And the strings are amazing. Actually, this album is probably one of the best sounding records we’ve had this decade. Production is top notch. Amazing.  

NK: Do you know there’s a live album of Ella Fitzgerald AND Billie Holiday? It came out in 1958, a year before the Gershwin songbook. Why the HELL couldn’t they have picked that? Listen to Ella tear it up here! And they made her sing this shit? If you gave the Gershwins a thoroughbred racehorse they’d make it pull a plough. Or turn it into glue. It’s like when Matthew Pavlich got drafted by Fremantle. Ella Fitzgerald has been let down by the Gershwins, badly. You deserve better than this Ella. I’m sorry.

CL: I can’t believe this.

Will you be listening again?

CL: This is VERY uncharacteristic of me. Usually I don’t enjoy female singers – I’m pretty well-known for not having a lot of lady musicians in my music collection – but I am loving the old school ladies! YES. I think I will listen to this again. I liked it.

NK: To Ella Fitzgerald, absolutely. To this album, never.

CL: What is wrong with you.

Out of context youtube comment

19-sings-the-gerschwin-songbook

NK: That’s Russian for “I’m very sorry you had to go through this Ella”.

Rating

CL: This is possibly one of the worst things I’ve ever heard. I’m removing it from my iTunes without delay. It was offensive to my eardrums.This is possibly one of the worst things I’ve ever heard. I’m removing it from my iTunes without delay. It was offensive to my eardrums.This is possibly one of the worst things I’ve ever heard. I’m removing it from my iTunes without delay. It was offensive to my eardrums.This is possibly one of the worst things I’ve ever heard. I’m removing it from my iTunes without delay. It was offensive to my eardrums.

NK: This is possibly one of the worst things I’ve ever heard. I’m removing it from my iTunes without delay. It was offensive to my eardrums. Is that the lowest we can give?

Listen to Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Gershwin Songbook on Spotify or buy it in iTunes.

2 thoughts on “Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Gershwin Songbook – Ella Fitzgerald (1959)

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