Gee Baby, Ain’t I Good To You: Live, Radio, TV & Film Recordings

Billie Holiday
FORMAT: Audio CD - 2 Disc
Release date: 8 Jun 2009

CAT No: FVDD010UPC TEXT: 5055311000107

Full details

Nicknamed Lady Day for her elegance by her long-time friend and musical associate, tenor player Lester Young, Billie Holiday is regarded by many fans as the voice of jazz. She developed her style from listening to blues singers such as Bessie Smith and instrumentalists like Louis Armstrong, incorporating a personalised phrasing that was a major influence on numerous vocalists, both jazz and pop, that followed. Born Eleanora Fagan in Baltimore in 1915, Billie and her mother moved to New York City around 1928, where they both took up menial domestic jobs.

In the early thirties she improved her income by singing for tips in various Harlem clubs and, by some accounts, moonlighting as a prostitute. Her first break came in 1933 when she was discovered by talent scout and A&R man John Hammond. Hammond arranged for her to record with a band led by Benny Goodman for Columbia. She was cast in the film short Symphony in Black in late 1934, singing Saddest Tale with Duke Ellington & His Orchestra. Benny Goodman also helped out in the next recording line-up led by pianist Teddy Wilson, when Billie was featured on sides cut for Brunswick between 1935 and 1939. During the same period Holiday sang with her own orchestra on recordings for Vocalion, which included her own song Billie’s Blues . When Columbia refused to record her on the controversial song Strange Fruit, Milt Gabler agreed to cut it for his own Commodore Records. They were rewarded with substantial sales. Billie continued recording for Columbia subsidiary OKeh in the forties aiming at a more serious repertoire, amongst which was her successful composition God Bless The Child in 1941.

Milt Gabler was also A&R man at the Decca label and in 1944 he signed up Billie to record Lover Man, a song written especially for her and her third hit. Holiday made her only major film appearance in New Orleans in late 1946, performing Farewell To Storyville and Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans with Louis Armstrong & His Band. The melancholy in the songs reflected her mounting personal problems. Her heroin addiction culminated in 1947 with her arrest for possession and being sentenced to eight months in prison. Billie continued studio sessions for Decca until 1950 and included in the sides was one of her signature songs Don’t Explain . In 1952 she pacted with Norman Granz’s Clef label, later part of Verve, and although abuse of alcohol and drugs had taken its toll on the range and flexibility of her voice, many of her listeners found her fifties recordings intense and moving.

Billie Holiday collapsed in May 1959 and was hospitalised with heart and liver disease. She was arrested in her hospital bed for drug possession and remained under police guard until her death of cirrhosis of the liver in July that year. Gee Baby, Ain’t I Good To You combines 44 live, radio, TV and film recordings from across Billie Holiday’s career. Accompaniment is provided by some of the greatest names in jazz music Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Louis Armstrong and their all-star bands. A selection of tracks also showcase Billie’s vocals in the more intimate club atmosphere backed by trios led by Buster Harding and Carl Drinkard.

The tracks are presented in a 2 CD collection, including full details of the accompaniment, recording date and venue. Many of these recordings have had limited issue over the years and collectors and fans of Billie Holiday will appreciate the opportunity to acquire this selection of her rarer performances.



  1. Saddest Tale (aka Big City Blues)
  2. They Can't Take That Away From Me
  3. Swing, Brother, Swing
  4. Do Nothin' Till You Hear From Me
  5. I'll Get By (As Long As I Have You)
  6. Billie's Blues (i.e. I Love My Man)
  7. Gee, Baby, Ain't I Good To You?
  8. Farewell To Storyville
  9. Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans
  10. The Man I Love
  11. Keeps On A-Rainin'
  12. Lover Man
  13. You're My Thrill
  14. God Bless The Child
  15. Ain't Nobody's Business If I Do
  16. Lover, Come Back To Me
  17. You're Driving Me Crazy
  18. He's Funny That Way
  19. Billie's Blues (i.e. I Love My Man)
  20. Strange Fruit
  21. I Cover The Waterfront
  22. Miss Brown To You


  1. My Man
  2. Fine And Mellow
  3. I Cover The Waterfront
  4. Lover, Come Back To Me
  5. Too Marvellous For Words
  6. (I Loves You) Porgy
  7. Them There Eyes
  8. Willow Weep For Me
  9. I Only Have Eyes For You
  10. You Go To My Head
  11. What A Little Moonlight Can Do
  12. Stormy Weather
  13. (I Don't Stand) A Ghost Of A Chance With You
  14. You've Changed
  15. Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone
  16. Nice Work If You Can Get It
  17. Don't Explain
  18. You Better Go Now
  19. Foolin' Myself
  20. Easy To Remember
  21. Moanin' Low
  22. When Your Lover Has Gone