Decades since his heyday, Nat King Cole remains one of popular music's most beloved and influential voices, as well as an iconic pop-culture presence whose smooth, confident persona continues to endear him to new generations of fans.
“Sadly the missing session tapes are still missing, but finding these completely unreleased tracks and alternate takes in the vaults was a big win.”
The swinging side of Cole's massive musical legacy takes the spotlight on The Extraordinary Nat King Cole, a compelling new collection that demonstrates the legendary artist's confident musical mastery with such icons as "L-O-V-E," "Almost Like Being In Love," as well as several soon to be classic unreleased tracks, “The Magic Window,” “Little Fingers,” and the alternate take of “Sleeping Beauty.” These tracks were found in amazing condition and unearthed recently for this release. The set also features a pair of historic duets with Nat's Capitol labelmate and fellow icon of cool Dean Martin, along with the previously unreleased number "You're Wrong All Wrong."
Originally lost and unissued, the rare tracks were finally rediscovered by Alex Luke, former EVP of A&R at Capitol Records. Luke, a big Nat King Cole fan, spent two years working tirelessly in the Capitol vaults attempting to physically locate missing master tapes, searching every variation of Nat Cole's name, combing through photos, union records, paperwork and tapes. It began as an effort to solve the mystery of a specific week-long lost Cole session from Chicago. That search uncovered the tracks here. “We deduced the session we wanted was lost in late 1955,” Luke says, “almost certainly as the result of the tapes coming to L.A. from an unusual location (Chicago) at a time when Capitol was moving operations into the brand new Capitol Tower. Nat even re-recorded a few of the tracks in late 1955 and 1956, which was a strong indication they were lost at that time." Luke adds, "Sadly the missing session tapes are still missing, but finding these completely unreleased tracks and alternate takes in the vaults was a big win."
Available on CD and digital download, The Extraordinary Nat King Cole will be released in two distinct versions. The standard single-disc edition contains 22 classic Cole performances, while the two-CD Deluxe edition adds 14 rare and/or previously unreleased tracks, including four never-before-heard vintage songs and previously unissued alternate takes of the Cole standards "Straighten Up And Fly Right," "Unforgettable," "Mona Lisa," "The Christmas Song," and "(I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons" taken from the Nat King Cole Story sessions. Also featured are "Ain't She Sweet" and "What to Do," recorded in 1954, both of which find Cole trading vocals with his daughters Carole and Natalie (whose cross-generational 1991 duet version of "Unforgettable" helped to introduce her father to a new generation of listeners).
Although he was loved by millions as a singer of lush romantic ballads through the '40s, '50s and '60s, Nat King Cole never strayed far from his early roots in jazz and R&B. Even after he disbanded his celebrated jazz-oriented King Cole Trio in order to pursue a solo career, Cole retained an effortless sense of swing and a fluid rhythmic sensibility that consistently elevated his music above mere middle-of-the-road pop.
As James Ritz writes in his The Extraordinary Nat King Cole's liner notes, Cole "was one of the preeminent swingers in the peak era of prominent swingers, an era that included that esteemed group that swung hard and was spearheaded by Messrs. Sinatra, Martin and Davis. If Nat was not an immediate member of that prestigious aggregation per se, he was a de facto charter inductee. Their career paths crossed many times and he was held in the highest regard by all concerned. In essence, Nat was Rat Pack before there was a Rat Pack."
High praise and heady company indeed, but The Extraordinary Nat King Cole demonstrates exactly why Nat King Cole remains one of the greatest performers of his—and our—time.
DISC 1 (STANDARD AND DELUXE)
3. (I Would Do) Anything For You
4. The Song Is Ended (But The Melody Lingers On)
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
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)
DISC 2 (DELUXE VERSION ONLY)
1. You Weren't There
2. How (Do I Go About It?)
3. Sweet William (And Lily At The Valley - Previously Unreleased)
4. Sleeping Beauty (Previously Unreleased Version)
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 (Unreleased Alternate Take)
11. (I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons (Unreleased Alternate Take)
12. Unforgettable (Unreleased Alternate Take)
13. Mona Lisa (Unreleased Alternate Take)
14. The Christmas Song (Unreleased Alternate Take)