Entertainment Weekly - 7/16/93, p.59
"...Wisely emphasizing the jazz-oriented material and small-band settings that best suited her cynically sophisticated style, FIRST ISSUE is marred only by some really annoying surface noise..." - Rating: A-
Musician - 10/93, p.93
"...[FIRST ISSUE] neatly encapsulates [Dinah Washington's] achievements...every style is represented here, and her force-of-nature approach is seldom less than magical..."
Personnel includes: Dinah Washington, Brook Benton (vocals); Cannonball Adderley (alto saxophone); Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis (tenor saxophone); Maynard Ferguson, Clifford Brown, Doc Severinsen, Quincy Jones, Clark Terry (trumpets); Mitch Miller (oboe); Terry Gibbs (vibraphone); Lionel Hampton (vibraphone, drums); Wynton Kelly, Beryl Booker (piano); Jackie Davis (organ); George Morrow, Keter Betts (bass); Max Roach, Ed Thigpen (drums).
Producers include: Quincy Jones, Hal Mooney, Clyde Otis, Bob Shad, Leonard Feather.
Compilation producer: Chris Albertson.
FIRST ISSUE contains 46 tracks presented in roughly chronological order beginning with Dinah Washington's first recordings for Keynote with Lionel Hampton in 1944 and concluding with her Mercury tracks from 1961. This 2-CD set includes never-before-published photos by Chuck Stewart, plus liner notes and annotations by jazz historian Chris Albertson.
First Issue, which coincided with the United States Postal Service's issue of a stamp bearing the image of Dinah Washington, is a two-disc, 46-song anthology of her recordings for Keynote, Mercury, Verve, Wing, and EmArcy from 1943-1961. The set chronicles Washington's evolution from a strictly jazz and blues vocalist in the Bessie Smith tradition to an important crossover artist who could appeal equally to the pop audience. The collection is not entirely hit-oriented -- although it rounds up her important R&B and pop singles, including the crossover hits "What a Diff'rence a Day Made" and "Baby, You've Got What It Takes" (a duet with Brook Benton), there is also an early bluesy session with Lionel Hampton and a few notable album tracks that show the variety of material she handled. Some of her Top Ten R&B hits are omitted, but Washington was a prolific hitmaker beyond that which a two-disc set can contain. Washington recorded nearly 500 sides during the period covered by First Issue, and this generous survey is an excellent compromise for buyers wanting a thorough anthology but who are unwilling to commit to the expensive series of box sets that comprise The Complete Dinah Washington on Mercury. ~ Greg Adams