audiotrack Billie’s Best

reviewed by Jill Hill

Published in Issue No. 17 ~ October, 1998

I thought I was pretty fucking harsh with the Squirrel Nut Zipperslead female singer last month. So I put on Billie’s Best and have listened to it every day for the past four weeks.

I wasn’t harsh.

Billie should never be imitated.

What is most unusual about Billie is that she sounds eternally new. Each day as the songs played they sounded both new and old. Listening to Billie was like listening to songs I had known all my life, each one taking me back to a pleasant memory.

Billie’s Best collects most of her better remastered recordings. There is not a single bad track on the album. That is not to say every one will like Billie Holiday. Her style is so clearly her own that she demands a great deal from the listener. My personal favorites on this album are “Speak Low” (Speak low when you speak love), “East of the Sun” (living on love and pale moonlight), and “Stormy Blues” (I’ve been down so long that down don’t worry me).

Much has been made about her drug abuse and romantic failures, but they neither lend glamour to nor detract from her place in American or Jazz History. She is as good as everyone says.

No … she’s better.

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Jill Hill lives with some kids, some dogs, writes, and manages a restaurant where she tries out her new CD's. She listens to a variety of music, from Classical to Blues, but tries to stay away from most rap. In her words: "I am always on the look out for a new band or singer/songwriter that I will like. I like a CD that does not grow old and weary sounding, which mean I don't want buy a CD that can be found on the used CD sale table a month later. One of my favorite CD's is Neal Young's Everyone Knows this is Nowhere. My favorite writer is Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and my favorite novel of his Of Love and Other Demons. X-Files is about the only TV I watch. I do not watch sitcoms and do not like music inspired by sitcoms. I'd rather listen to a sampled rap version of the Jetsons theme song."