Cole Porter - Where to start?

What is the first CD by Cole Porter that I should get? I am willing to consider double CD’s but I don’t want a box set.

And I would also like the CD to feature multiple singers.

The Cole Porter Songbook (2 volumes) sung by Ella Fitzgerald. Forget about multiple singers. There really is no need. Ella singing Cole Porter is about as close to perfection as you can get in this world. :slight_smile:

Well, I gotta disagree with this, simply because Porter is so incredibly adaptable that the flexibility in his writing is best appreciated by comparing Ella to Blossom and Billie and Mel and Billy and Louis and Dinah and Shirley and Anita.

That said, if I only had 10 albums in the entire world, one of them would be this

I agree with Greg that Ella singing Cole is sheer heaven.

However, if you’d like a one-disk intro that has lots of different singers (including Alfred Drake, Dinah Shore, Mario Lanzo, and others, including Cole Porter himself singing a few), I recommend “Cole Porter: A Centennial Celebration”

Actually–and I know this is a shootin’ offense–but I don’t care for Ella Fitzgerald. I mean, I know for a fact she was a very nice lady, I just don’t care for her singing voice or style.

Me, I’d go for the earliest recordings you can find: Ethel Merman, Bing Crosby, Jack Buchanan, Fred Astaire, Lee Wiley, Libby Holman, Ethel Waters . . .

But fer chrissakes avoid Michael Feinstein, the guy camps it up so much he makes Liza Minnelli look like Tom Waits.

I’d recommend the soundtrack to “De-Lovely.” I love the Ella Fitzgerald collection, but it might not give you the same sense of adaptability (as someone else said). Some of the other compilations (like Centennial) are good performances but old recordings and suffer for it, while others have too much jazz instrumental adaptations when half of Porter’s brilliance is his lyrics. De-Lovely has a nice collection of songs that are accessible and make a nice whole since they were meant to be a collection and not put together piecemeal.

Red Hot + Blue – which is, I believe, the first of the “Red Hot” compilations.

I thought RH&B was pretty spotty, myself.

I actually didn’t like the De-Lovely soundtrack, I thought it was a little too schmaltzed up.

BTW, Kel – if you’re at the video store, you can look for the move De-Lovely (the biographical picture with Kevin Kline), as well as Kiss Me Kate, High Society, and Broadway Melody of 1940 (featuring scores by Porter).

And let me commend you on beginning this journey. Cole Porter is the best composer of pop songs ever.

A little, perhaps – but the good stuff – including (but not limited to) David Byrne, Jody Watley, Lisa Stansfield – is so. damn. good.

Hmm … possibly good points. However, usually when I hear somebody else singing Cole Porter, I think to myself that Ella would sound better. For that matter, when Ella is singing other songs, I think her Cole Porter stuff was better. For me the Cole Porter Songbook is the perfect confluence of talents.

O, my G … um, chet troi oi! Eve prefers Ethel Merman to Ella Fitzgerald? Ethel Merman? Well, no shooting, but if you ever need help with that pillow smothering thing, you’ve got a volunteer.

Did you like any of the “Anything Goes” cast recordings?

Two suggestions.

First, avoid the ‘Red Hot & Blue’ CD. The way you would avoid an oncoming train full of fresh silage laced with the ‘Turn You Into A Goatsucking Zombie’ virus.

Secondly, get ‘Frank Sinatra Sings The Select Cole Porter’. I know you said you’d prefer diverse singers, but even so, I recommend this album in every way. I consider it to be as close to perfection as anything I’ve ever heard. You have a fine selection of Cole Porter tunes. You have Sinatra at his peak, delivering some of his finest work. And, crucially, you have the Nelson Riddle orchestral arrangements. It’s the arrangements that you have to hear to believe. Nobody could arrange a Porter tune like Nelson Riddle – they were kind of made for each other. Pure bliss.

Well, I would like to thank everyone for the suggestions and the OP for starting this thread. This was a question I was asking myself last year after watching the Cole Porter bio-pic for the first time in a long time.


I also love the Frank Sinatra collection, but be careful. There’s a couple of Frank/Cole CD’s floating around. One is the later Frank, with most of the songs backed by the Nelson Riddle Orchestra (my copy also has some songs from movies thrown on), and the other is a younger Frank Sinatra from the radio program. The later one is the one you want.

You really can’t do better than to get those two comps - the aforementioned night and day and the companion, I get a kick out of you. They’re as definitive an introduction as you can get.

Have you ever heard her early, 1930s-era recordings? I’m not talking her Call Me Madam era. She originated a lot of Cole Porter’s songs on B’way, and made some great cuts of them in the '30s.

No mention of Fred Astaire?

For shame.