Jo Stafford

Walkin' My Baby Back Home

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This two-disc British compilation combines some of the recordings Jo Stafford made with Tommy Dorsey and His Orchestra in 1941-1942 with some of her solo work from 1944-1947, much of the former originally released in the U.S. on RCA Victor Records, much of the latter on Capitol. In Europe, where the copyright for recordings apparently runs out after 50 years, anyone is free to assemble an album by remastering old 78s and borrowing from other sources, and it's no accident that the otherwise seemingly arbitrary cut-off date for this 1998 compilation is 1947. Be that as it may, this is a good assemblage of material from the first seven years of Jo Stafford's recording career, most of it drawn from commercial recordings, though there are some airchecks and perhaps a V-Disc or two thrown in. Not all of Stafford's American hits are included, but her most significant Dorsey tracks, "Yes Indeed!" and "Manhattan Serenade," are here, along with major early solo hits like "Candy," the comedy song "Temptation (Tem-Tayshun)" (originally credited to Red Ingle & the Natural Seven, with Stafford billed as "Cinderella G. Stump"), which suspiciously is presented with the same false start that was first heard on the 1991 Capitol Collectors Series CD, "That's for Me," and "Symphony." And you get to hear "Stafford" singing such standards as "Too Marvelous for Words," "I Remember You," "The Trolley Song" (accompanied by her old group, the Pied Pipers), "I Didn't Know About You," "I'll Be Seeing You," "Fools Rush In," "It Was Just One of Those Things," "In the Still of the Night," and the title song. Sound quality is adequate, though not up the standards maintained by the major labels. It would be preferable for the labels that own this material (at least for the U.S.) to issue better-sounding and better-annotated versions of Stafford's recordings (among others). In the absence of that, fans are driven to releases like this, which, while technically not bootlegs, share many of the characteristics of gray market fare.

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