The younger generation probably knows Doris Day through her movies shown late at night on various cable channels. Their parents may have known her as the star of the successful Doris Day Show, 1968-1973. The older generation and people in the know remember her as one the leading box office actresses of the early 1960s and a recording artist who sold tens of millions of albums and singles.
Now in her early 90s, her recording career extends back to the big band era of the late 1930s and through the release of 2011’s My Heart. Legacy Music has now issued 36 tracks from her long association with the Columbia label under the title The Essential Doris Day.
When listening to Doris Day you need to realize you are entering a time machine. While she continued to record during the rock and roll era, her material is decidedly not rock and roll. It is easy listening, maybe a little jazzy in places, but is most associated with the light pop of the pre-Elvis Presley era.
During the height of her popularity, she possessed a voice that had a pure tone and was perfect for her style. Songs such as “Sentimental Journey,” “Till the End of Time,” “When I Fall in Love,” “Secret Love,” and “Whatever Will Be Will Be” remain classics of their type over a half-century after their initial release.
Several duets allow the listener to delve a little deeper into her catalogue. “There Was Once A Man” with John Raitt, “They Say Its Wonderful” with Robert Goulet” and the simple “Fools Rush In” with pianist Andre Previn present her ability to adapt her style to her partner’s.
Perhaps the tracks that best define her appeal are the title songs from Pillow Talk and Teacher’s Pet, and “The Black Hills Of Dakota” from Calamity Jane. They communicate likeability and that was the foundation of her career.
The enclosed booklet contains a heart-felt essay by Nancy Sinatra. The sound has been cleaned-up as much as modern technology will allow but 27 of the tracks are presented in their original mono sound. The wise decision was made to present the material in chronological order and while this may not be critical to an artist like Day, it helps one to understand the history of her career.
Doris Day, despite still being active, remains a star from a long gone era. The Essential Doris Day is a good introduction to her career and for many may be the only album of hers you will ever need. On the other hand, if you are a fan of her work, it is an essential trip down memory lane.