Fred Astaire is remembered and revered today as one of the most transcendent popular singers and gifted dancers of any generation. Born in 1899, he was performing regularly on the vaudeville stage with his older sister Adele by the age of five. He went solo in 1932, when Adele retired, but Hollywood was hesitant to pick up the talent. He was not considered to be sexy, handsome, or vibrant enough for the screen. He got a cameo part opposite Joan Crawford in 1933 at MGM, but it wasn't until he was paired with Ginger Rogers at RKO that he became a recognizable commodity. Now, Sony Masterworks is inviting audiences, young and old, to revel in his glorious early performances, which have been re-mastered for the 2-Disc album The Early Years at RKO.
The 37 track treasure trove of song and dance numbers features music from such indelible films as Flying Down to Rio (1933), The Gay Divorcee (1934), Top Hat (1935), Follow the Fleet (1936), Swing Time (1936), Shall We Dance (1937), A Damsel in Distress (1937), Carefree (1938), and features a small assortment of bonus tracks as well.
At the bottom line, for fans of Fred Astaire and 1930s Hollywood Showtunes this is an invaluable collection of charming and celebrated performances. For those wanting to educate themselves with the best of the best from Hollywood's Golden Era, this collection also serves as a valuable starting off point. Astaire's shows off his indefatigable charm on such favorites as "Top Hat, White Tie and Tails," "Cheek to Cheek," "We Saw the Sea," "Let Yourself Go," "The Way You Look Tonight," "A Fine Romance," "(I've Got) Beginner's Luck," and "Nice Work If You Can Get It."
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Even though each track has been re-mastered for the digital age, they still include an audible hiss from beginning to end -- a permanent reminder of just how far recording technology has come. Fred Astaire's The Early Years at RKO, released by Sony Masterworks, was made available both digitally and physically on November 19. The album can be purchased from iTunes, Amazon, TCM (Turner Classic Movies), and elsewhere music is sold.