Elton Britt was a somewhat elusive star whose life presents several contradictions. He had several huge country and pop hits during his long career, including 1942's "There's a Star Spangled Banner Waving Somewhere," which was one of the biggest songs of the World War II era, and he recorded over 600 songs and some 60 albums, yet mention his name to a contemporary country fan and you'll more than likely get a blank stare. An intensely private man, somewhat shy and unassuming, Britt, amazingly enough, actually made a bid to be President of the United States in 1960, a job hardly conducive to privacy. Then there was his public image. In spite of being a graceful, jazzy singer with as much Bing Crosby in his musical DNA as Jimmie Rodgers, plus an undeniable flair for easy, flowing song arrangements in a wide variety of settings, Britt often was dismissed as a Gene Autry clone. And finally, there is the yodel. No one in the long history of country music has ever had a better yodel, and it remains the standard against which all yodels will forever be measured, and yet Britt only occasionally featured it on his records. Britt's yodel feels as natural as the wind over a wine glass, a bit like an atmospheric jazz clarinet solo on a lonely, rainy night, so forget everything you ever thought about yodeling. Britt is yodeling's Segovia. This generous anthology of his early and mid-period work includes several examples of that famous yodel ("Chime Bells," "Maybe I'll Cry Over You"), along with his unique pop-jazzy approach to country like "I Hung My Head and Cried," the Bing Crosby-like "Thanks for the Heartache," the moving, atmospheric "Cowpoke," and the elegant "I Get the Blues When It Rains." Also included is the sentimental and patriotic "There's a Star Spangled Banner Waving Somewhere," which was arguably the defining song of World War II. He may have been somewhat of a conundrum, but Elton Britt sure could yodel, and his smooth, unassuming professionalism means his work still holds up in a contemporary context. This set makes a fine introduction to this one-of-a-kind singer.
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AllMusic Review by Steve Leggett
feat: Rosalie Allen
feat: The Three Suns
feat: Rosalie Allen