MILES DAVIS & JOHN COLTRANE - MILES & COLTRANE Vinyl LP
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A harrowing classic, Billie Holiday's personal favorite among her '50s albums captures the singer 17 months before her death, her once honeyed voice, scarred and weakened from punishing life, its ravages highlighted by the 1958 session's crisp sonics and the contrasting "satin" of Ray Ellis' sleek string arrangements. Yet it is that very contrast that explains the power of these performances: In revisiting its torchy standards, Holiday reduces them to their core of pain and longing, transforming "I'm a Fool to Want You," "You Don't Know What Love Is," and "You've Changed" into naked declarations as mesmerizing and unsettling as a horrific accident. Any postrocker that presumes pop standards and string sections automatically translate to "easy listening" hasn't listened to this.