The Astaire Story

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The Astaire Story
Studio album by
RecordedDecember 1952
GenreVocal jazz
Length134 minutes
LabelMercury, Clef
ProducerNorman Granz
Fred Astaire chronology
Blue Skies
The Astaire Story
Attitude Dancing
LP 1 cover
LP 2 cover
LP 3 cover
LP 4 cover
3 LP re-issue
Professional ratings
Review scores
Allmusic4/5 stars[1]

The Astaire Story is a 1952 album by Fred Astaire.[2] The album was conceived of and produced by Norman Granz, the founder of Clef Records (and later Verve Records), who was also responsible for the Jazz at the Philharmonic concerts, at which all of the musicians on the album had performed.[2]

Content and reception[edit]

The album's song selection provides an overview of Astaire's singing career although Astaire also demonstrates his tap dancing on three tracks and there is one informal instrumental Jam session.[2][2] Some later LP and CD re-issues add two versions of Oscar Peterson's instrumental "The Astaire Blues."

Oscar Peterson spoke warmly of the sessions that produced The Astaire Story in his autobiography, noting that vocally, Astaire was naturally attuned to jazz phrasing, and that Astaire enjoyed playing the drums at home. Astaire gave each of the musicians on the album a gold identification bracelet, inscribed "With thanks, Fred A". Ray Brown lost his bracelet, Alvin Stoller's was stolen, but Peterson wore his for the rest of his life.[3]

The Astaire Story won the Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 1999, which is a special Grammy award established in 1973 to honor recordings that are at least 25 years old, and that have "qualitative or historical significance."[4]

Release history[edit]

A deluxe four LP box set was produced of The Astaire Story, in a strictly limited edition of 1,384 copies, each one hand-signed by Astaire and the artist David Stone Martin, who contributed original drawings and paintings to the album.[5] In addition to the limited-edition boxed set, each of the four LPs was released individually, and the tracks were also issued on nine EPs. The complete session was later re-issued in a three-LP (1978) and a two-CD (1988) edition. Verve has also released several single-disc compilations of selected tracks from this 1952 session – Mr. Top Hat; The Irving Berlin Songbook; Steppin' Out: Astaire Sings. In the EU, after the original recording's performers'/producers' rights expired, additional European releases appeared under different names, e.g. Jazz Time (Proper) 2003; Oscar Peterson and Fred Astaire: Complete Norman Granz Sessions (Jazz Factory) 2005.

Track listing[edit]

LP 1[edit]

side A
  1. "Isn't This a Lovely Day?" (Irving Berlin) – 4:26
  2. "Puttin' on the Ritz" (Berlin) – 2:51
  3. "I Used to Be Color Blind" (Berlin) – 4:14
  4. "The Continental" (Con Conrad, Herb Magidson) – 3:28
side B
  1. "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off" (George Gershwin, Ira Gershwin) – 4:36
  2. "Change Partners" (Berlin) – 3:13
  3. "'S Wonderful" (G. Gershwin, I. Gershwin) – 2:56
  4. "Lovely to Look At" (Dorothy Fields, Jerome Kern, Jimmy McHugh) – 3:26
  5. "They All Laughed" (G. Gershwin, I. Gershwin) – 2:55

LP 2[edit]

side A
  1. "Cheek to Cheek" (Berlin) – 5:39
  2. "Steppin' Out with My Baby" (Berlin) – 2:22
  3. "The Way You Look Tonight" (Fields, Kern) – 2:57
  4. "I've Got My Eyes on You" (Cole Porter) – 2:57
  5. "Dancing in the Dark" (Howard Dietz, Arthur Schwartz) – 4:45
side B
  1. "The Carioca" (Edward Eliscu, Gus Kahn, Vincent Youmans) – 4:48
  2. "Nice Work If You Can Get It" (G. Gershwin, I. Gershwin) – 2:07
  3. "New Sun in the Sky" (Dietz, Schwartz) – 2:27
  4. "I Won't Dance" (Fields, Oscar Hammerstein II, Otto Harbach, Kern, McHugh) – 3:01
  5. "Fast Dances (Ad Lib)" – 2:24

LP 3[edit]

side A
  1. "Top Hat, White Tie and Tails" (Berlin) – 4:00
  2. "No Strings (I'm Fancy Free)" (Berlin) – 2:54
  3. "I Concentrate on You" (Porter) – 2:43
  4. "I'm Putting all My Eggs in One Basket" (Berlin) – 2:54
  5. "A Fine Romance" (Fields, Kern) – 3:43
side B
  1. "Night and Day" (Porter) – 5:22
  2. "Fascinating Rhythm" (G. Gershwin, I. Gershwin) – 2:41
  3. "I Love Louisa" (Dietz, Schwartz) – 2:40
  4. "Slow Dances (Ad Lib)" – 2:55
  5. "Medium Dances (Ad Lib)" – 2:01

LP 4[edit]

side A
  1. "They Can't Take That Away from Me" (G. Gershwin, I. Gershwin) – 4:22
  2. "You're Easy to Dance With" (Berlin) – 3:22
  3. "A Needle in a Haystack" (Conrad, Magidson) – 2:22
  4. "So Near and Yet So Far" (Porter) – 3:18
  5. "A Foggy Day" (G. Gershwin, I. Gershwin) – 4:00
side B
  1. "Oh, Lady be Good!" (G. Gershwin, I. Gershwin) – 5:01
  2. "I'm Building Up to an Awful Letdown" (Fred Astaire, Johnny Mercer) – 3:59
  3. "Not My Girl" (Astaire, Desmond Carter, Van Phillips) – 3:37
  4. "Jam Session for a Dancer" – 6:34

(instrumental) bonus tracks added to some later re-issues[edit]

  • "The Astaire Blues" (version 1) (Peterson) – 12:03
  • "The Astaire Blues" (version 2) a.k.a. "The Second Astaire Blues" (Peterson) – 7:52


Recorded at Radio Recorders, Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, December, 1952:



Notes / external links[edit]

  • Mercury MGC 1001/4 (1953, 4LP boxed set)
    • Mercury MGC 1001 #1 (also Clef MGC 662)
    • Mercury MGC 1002 #2 (also Clef MGC 663)
    • Mercury MGC 1003 #3 (also Clef MGC 664)
    • Mercury MGC 1004 #4 (also Clef MGC 665)
  • DRG DARC 3-1102 (1978, 3 LP re-issue, complete + 2 bonus tracks)
  • Verve 835 649 (1988, 2 CD re-issue, complete)


  1. ^ Allmusic review
  2. ^ a b c d The Astaire Story at AllMusic
  3. ^ Lees, Gene (2002). A Jazz Odyssey: The Life of Oscar Peterson. New York: Continuum. ISBN 0-8264-5807-6.
  4. ^ Grammy Hall of Fame Database
  5. ^ ?. "MG C-1001/4: The Astaire Story". Retrieved 2008-09-16.