The 1944 volume of this ubiquitous CD series -- which, it's amazing, Time Life or some other U.S. distributor didn't come up with first -- offers a reminder of just how tame, yet accomplished, American pop music had gotten three years into U.S. involvement in World War II. There are some superb examples of early R&B here, in the form of the Mills Brothers, Louis Jordan, the Ink Spots (with Ella Fitzgerald), and Ella Mae Morse doing "You Always Hurt the One You Love," "G.I. Jive," "Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall," and "No Love No Nothing," respectively, and a few swinging moments from Tommy Dorsey ("Boogie Woogie"). But the dominating sounds are pop music, though mostly of a highly polished sort -- Frank Sinatra at his most sultry with "I Couldn't Sleep a Wink Last Night" and Guy Lombardo (with Billy Leach on vocals) doing "Speak Low." The point of it all, if there was one, was a desire not to make waves on the airwaves -- but make it classy, and even the R&B-flavored sides here are mostly that. The quality is excellent, and only the absence of any annotation will lessen the enjoyment for those with a taste for these pop sounds.
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AllMusic Review by Bruce Eder