Various Artists

The Victory Collection

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    9
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AllMusic Review by

This three-CD set is a well-conceived and executed collection of songs, spoken-word entertainment, interviews, and newscast transcriptions from 1941 through 1945, devoted to aspects of World War II and what life was like in the United States during the war. The three discs are divided up in broad thematic terms -- the first disc is the most entertaining, a selection of songs that are alternately (and sometimes simultaneously) angry, funny, and sardonic, from the defiant, topical pop/country-based work of Carson Robison (who made a second career out of his morale-boosting, anti-Hitler anti-Japanese repertory) to Jazz Gillum's "Wartime Blues" and "One Letter Home," which tell about the war as perceived by the black community in Chicago. Disc Two is weighted toward softer, more directly sentimental pop sounds, though country music, such as it is, is also represented. Disc Three, really the heart of the collection, is made up of news reports and radio transcriptions of speeches by Franklin Roosevelt, dating between September 3, 1939, when war was declared against Germany by England and France over the invasion of Poland, intercut with the recorded recollections of reporters such as Ben Grauer, celebrities such as Margaret Whiting, and ordinary citizens as well, plus radio programs and some silly-sounding dramatic re-creations. The greatest amount of time and depth is given over to recollections of the Irving Berlin stage musical This Is the Army. This section comes off well, because it segues into a series of short talks by participants about the importance of songs to the G.I., and even the use (seldom talked about today) of American popular songs as a weapon against the morale of German soldiers. This 50-minute disc is heavily indexed, but the index points are not labeled or otherwise identified; the booklet is reasonably informative and well annotated. The collection isn't as strong as it might have been, because the music is limited to RCA's holdings -- on their best boxes, the Smithsonian has the budget to license from numerous labels -- but it's as good as we're likely to see.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Title/Composer Performer Time
1 2:41
2 2:53
3
2:41
4 3:03
5 2:45
6 2:19
7 2:26
8 2:22
9 5:10
10 2:48
11 2:43
12 2:32
13 3:04
14
3:15
15 2:57
16 3:12
17
2:38
18 2:45
19 3:03
20 3:01
21 3:08
22 2:49
23 2:49

Track Listing - Disc 2

Title/Composer Performer Time
1 3:00
2
3:00
3 2:17
4 3:14
5 3:12
6 2:43
7 3:23
8 2:53
9 5:37
10 3:16
11 3:14
12
2:40
13 3:21
14 2:49
15 2:33
16
2:55
17 3:10
18 3:07
19 3:05
20 3:01
21 4:57
22 2:44

Track Listing - Disc 3

Title/Composer Performer Time
1
30:00
blue highlight denotes track pick