Rarities contains a number of early 1930s tracks, including a previously unreleased alternate take of "New Sun In The Sky", and also two 1955 recordings of songs from Daddy Long Legs, "Sluefoot" and "Something's Gotta Give" that are not available elsewhere. Two songs recorded by Ginger Rogers are also included, "I Used To Be Color Blind" and "The Yam".
Fred Astaire Sings (MCA Special) contains the tracks from his 1955 release on the Kapp label, "Now!", with two exceptions (see 18 Timeless Recordings, below).
Fred Astaire: The London Sessions is a 3 CD set. The first CD contains all of Fred's recordings of his theatre songs recorded for HMV and English Columbia in the early 1920s and 1930s, the second contains his 1975 recordings for EMI that include many reinterpretations of earlier work plus new songs, and the final CD contains the contents of "A Couple Of Song And Dance Men", an album made with Bing at the same 1975 sessions. Two studio chatter tracks are also included.
The Centenary Collection is a 4 CD set, released in 1999 on Fred's centenary. It is the most comprehensive set, with recordings from the 1930s to the late 1940s and includes all of Fred's Brunswick and Columbia recordings, (that means all his chart hits) plus the majority of his Decca recordings and a large number of recordings from other labels. It has one song, "Oh, My Achin' Back", that is unavailable elsewhere.
18 Timeless Recordings is an odd hodge-podge of recordings not available elsewhere. it is the only CD with the two medleys (The Girl On the Magazine Cover/I Love to Quarrel With You /Along Came Ruth; and Oh, Lady Be Good!/Puttin' On The Ritz/Top Hat, White Tie and Tails) originally released with the 1955 Kapp album, "Now!" It is also the only CD with his 1945 recording of "One For My Baby (And One More For The Road)". Until the release of the Centenary Collection it was the only CD with a number of other tracks as well.
My Greatest Songs has tracks from Fred's Decca years, with a few omissions. It gathers them all into one CD, and includes "Puttin' On The Ritz" from 1946, not available elsewhere.
Astaireable Fred is almost impossible to find, but it is the only CD with Fred's 1956/7 Verve recordings and his 1962 recordings released on his own labels, Choreo and Ava.
A note for completists: The alternate take of "My One And Only" from 4 December 1928, and released only on a 78rpm record, is on the CD album, "A Portrait of Fred Astaire." It is for the most part identical to the widely available take, but differs only in the tap solos, which were probably improvised. This information is not as yet reflected above.
If you detect any errors, please let me know. I would be more grateful.