ELVIS Elv1s 30 #1 Hits (RCA)
The boy from Tupelo, Mississippi, who earlier this year posthumously surpassed the Beatles for most number one singles (18) in the Fab Four’s native U.K., is being given the royal sendup again. From his first hit, 1956’s “Heartbreak Hotel,” to 1969’s “Suspicious Minds” and all the love songs (“Can’t Help Falling in Love,” “Love Me Tender,” “Are You Lonesome Tonight?”), red-hot blues (“Hound Dog”), early rock gems (“Burning Love,” “Jailhouse Rock”), and everything in between, Elvis’ full range is well-represented, digitally mastered, and ready for the world to get crazy about the King all over again.
NATALIE COLE Ask a Woman Who Knows (Verve)
Cole once again teams up with 1991’s multi-Grammy winning Unforgettable, With Love producer Tommy LiPuma, and while the majority of the 13 traditional numbers (handpicked by Cole and originally performed by greats like Dinah Washington and Sarah Vaughan) are low-key jazzy renditions (“Tell Me All About It,” “You’re Mine You”), she steps it up on “It’s Crazy” and “Better than Anything,” a duet with Diana Krall showcasing both vocalists as they trade lines and harmonize on the chorus.
ARETHA FRANKLIN The Queen In Waiting: The Columbia Years (1960-1965) (Columbia/Legacy)
Containing seven previously unreleased tracks, this CD set is Franklin at age 18, playing piano on “Maybe I’m a Fool”; coming into her own while being backed by jazz bands, strings, and horns, getting bluesy (“Evil Gal Blues,” “Today I Sing the Blues”); and belting out alternate takes (“Skylark”). For those who think an artist’s early recordings are always the best, this 40-cut collection won’t disappoint.
— JAMES E. MAYFIELD