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With the expirations of copyrights in Europe (where a 50-year limit is in effect), Deanna Durbin's Decca recordings of the 1930s and '40s entered the public domain in the 1980s and '90s, leading to a slew of unlicensed reissues. This budget-priced British entry is typical of the lower end of the scale in such product. Despite the misleading title -- it is hardly "ultimate," and Durbin had no "hits" in the usually accepted sense -- it does contain 24 of Durbin's recordings for Decca Records between her first session, in 1936, and 1944. In his liner notes, Tony Watts describes the songs as "[t]aken from some of Deanna's most popular films," which is largely true, at least in the sense that Durbin sang 17 of them in her films, but not in the sense that it implies these are actual soundtrack recordings; they are not, and that's just as well. So, while the bulk of this combination of newly written pop songs and opera arias was addressed by Durbin on-screen in Spring Parade, Nice Girl?, First Love, Three Smart Girls Grow Up, Christmas Holiday, 100 Men and a Girl, Mad About Music, That Certain Age, It's a Date, and Can't Help Singing, the actual performances included here were recorded in a Decca studio, not on a Universal soundstage. That's already much more information that you get from the bare-bones annotations on the album, and what notations you do get are untrustworthy. The songwriting credits include errors and misspellings, and the song titles, especially of the opera arias, are suspect. (By the way, that's Robert Paige warbling with her on "Can't Help Singing" from the movie of the same name.) As usual, the Durbin compilations by the more expensive reissue labels, Jasmine and Pearl, are far superior, but this one has price on its side. ~ William Ruhlmann
eBay product ID: EPID30644243
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