The latest release from Bear Family Records’ Juke Box Pearls series celebrates the work of American jazz artist Dinah Washington.
A Rockin’ Good Way includes some cracking standards which have been covered in a myriad of musical genres spanning the decades. The title track is a perfect opener to this encompassing compilation, with its peppy melody, the combination of two incredible voices and the enjoyable dynamic between Washington and Brook Benton. This album comprises such well-known tracks as Smoke Gets In Your Eyes, What a Difference a Day Makes and Cry Me a River, as well as rarities such as Honky Tonky. The title of the closing track describes all in between here and there perfectly: Unforgettable.
The tracks lead on from each other well. Though not presented chronologically, Washington’s catalogue is so strong and ties together through its themes and elegance, that this does not matter. The listening experience is a seamless one. There is nothing here which feels out of place or incongruous.
Washington’s strong, smooth vocals are breathtakingly pleasing. The vibe is largely smooth jazz, incredibly listen-able. The listener would not have to be a jazz connoisseur to enjoy this compilation, or indeed much of Washington’s work. Her powerful, emotion-led yet intimate vocals cross any genre divides and touch the audience in a way that transcends any label. Her delivery and the lighter jazz instrumentation behind her fit into popular music spanning several eras. In fact, they are almost above such classification. Even to put her into the Easy Listening category seems unjust. Yet that is exactly what can be said about Dinah Washington: she is incredibly easy to listen to.
The compilation also includes a comprehensive booklet. The information within offers an insight into a fascinating lady, her life and career, which sadly ended much too early. There are many wonderful photos included, as well as a detailed discography with recording session information and cover art.
- Dinah Washington & Brook Benton – A Rockin’ Good Way
- Is You Is Or Is You Ain’t My Baby
- Baby, Get Lost
- New Blowtop Blues
- A Bad Case Of The Blues
- Such A Night
- T.V. Is The Thing (This Year)
- Trouble In Mind
- A Sunday Kind Of Love
- Bad Luck
- Dinah Washington as ‘The Queen’ – Honky Tonky
- Smoke Gets In Your Eyes
- What a Diff’rence A Day Makes
- Dinah Washington & Brook Benton – Baby, You’ve Got What It Takes
- Come On Home
- Early Every Morning
- Cry Me A River
- I’m Thru With Love
- Everybody Loves Somebody
- I Don’t Hurt Anymore
- Mean And Evil Blues
- Ask A Woman Who Knows
- Relax, Max
- September In The Rain
- Mad About The Boy
- Time After Time
- The Song Is Ended
A Rockin’ Good Way brings together those smooth, rich love songs and ballads, as well as the lighter, more fun numbers. There is something in here for everyone and every mood. Yet the compilation comes together as a whole beautifully. The quality of these recordings is breathtaking still today; there is incredible clarity and balance in these transfers.
A Rockin’ Good Way is quite simply incredibly pleasing. Like a balm for the ears, this is a lovely collection celebrating an outstanding and influential performer, fully deserving of her enduring reputation. Is it any wonder that she was known as “The Queen”?