Fred Astaire: The Early Years at RKO
Songs Performed By: Fred Astaire
Music by: Various Artists
Distributed by: Sony Masterworks
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
The incredible singer, dancer and actor known as Fred Astaire began his performing career at the early age of five, performing at vaudeville shows with his sister. But RKO Pictures paired him with Ginger Rogers in Flying Down to Rio that his career really took off. Throughout his career, Fred Astaire exhibited a professionalism and care for his craft that could not be matched and is still respected long after his death in 1987. In November 2013, Sony Masterworks released a two-CD album celebrating Fred Astaire entitled Fred Astaire: The Early Years at RKO. In addition, Turner Classic Movies named Fred Astaire the "Star of the Month" for December 2013.
Having seen a number of his movies and watched excerpts of performances with Ginger Rogers, I couldn't wait to review this album. Featuring over thirty-five tracks of music, Fred Astaire: The Early Years at RKO is comprised of a number of songs that many would recognize even if they had no idea who Astaire was, like Let's Call the Whole Thing Off, They Can't Take That Away From Me, Cheek to Cheek and The Way You Look Tonight. Even if you don't recognize the songs, there is no way you can deny Astaire's talent. The album contains quite a large assortment of songs from Astaire's early work and even a couple of bonus tracks featuring Ginger Rogers.
I loved the big band style and the smooth professional tones of Astaire's vocals, often accompanied by the sound of dancing feet. I also liked the fact that, although they cleaned it up a bit, the tracks still have that scratchy tone one associates with older music. As I listened to this album, I had the distinct impression that, no matter how professional Fred Astaire strived to be, he was still not above having a great deal of fun with his performances.
Fans of Fred Astaire are going to love the close to two hours worth of music found on the Fred Astaire: The Early Years at RKO 2-CD set. At $12.00 US, the album is quite the steal with enough music to please any fan of early film music.