Annotator Brian Rust describes this 18-track compilation with a running time just under 50 minutes as containing "a variety of songs that made Paul Robeson famous." Actually, Robeson was already famous when he made the first of these recordings in 1930, and no more famous when he made the last in 1935. The key word in Rust's statement is "variety": the album is a grab-bag of different tracks, 11 with accompaniment by Ray Noble and His Orchestra, three with accompaniment by Robeson's regular pianist, Lawrence Brown, and the four songs drawn from the soundtrack to the 1935 film Sanders of the River backed by a choir and orchestra directed by Muir Mathieson. The material includes both originals by such contemporary writers as Hoagy Carmichael (three songs) and W.C. Handy ("St. Louis Blues") and some spirituals, along with the forgettable compositions crafted to the singer's role as an African chief in Sanders of the River. Robeson, who was in his thirties and in his prime when he made these recordings, is in typically impressive voice. Sound quality is adequate, but it would not be surprising to find that the tracks were mastered from records.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann