LeBaron wrote:Yes, well, we don’t agree on everything, but I absolutely trust Matt to recommend the most exhaustive/necessary compilation covering a specific era for a canonical artist.
In the meantime, keep this in mind: when Charles signed with ABC, part of the deal was complete artistic control and ownership of his masters. That means whatever one thinks of his albums for the label, it's his doing. Also, he and/or his manager were pretty sharp businessmen.
After ABC, he put some albums out on his own Tangerine label, and leased the ABC catalog to Concord, which had a pretty strong, though not complete, reissue program several years ago. The deal ran out; and, to the best of my knowledge, nobody has picked up the catalog, which has largely gone out of print.
Except: the UK companies who issue out of copyright stuff. There's loads of stuff out there. I won't recommend any, because Amazon US says they have small quantities of most of them, and God knows what's available (or what shape it's in) in other markets. But if you're going to spend relatively little money for five, or ten, or twenty albums -- what the hell?
And for God's sake, stay clear of the posthumous duet albums, and the one with the Basie band underdubbed. The only duet album he recorded under his own control was the one with Betty Carter, and it's terrific. (There's also a Porgy and Bess album with Cleo Laine, if you must).