This particular slice of the Joe Venuti & Eddie Lang chronology presents some of their all-time best instrumental performances garnished with a small bouquet of precious novelties and sugary love songs with delightfully naïve vocals by Scrappy Lambert, Billy Hillpot, and Rube Bloom. The sweetest of these are sung in a manner so euphoric as to be almost nonsensically charming. This is true even of a suspiciously idyllic paean to the pleasures of "Pickin' Cotton," a faintly onerous song representing a tenebrous subgenre of Tin Pan Alley tunes that wistfully glorified the gallant bygone days of slave or cheap "emancipated" labor. Venuti's lyrically inspired handling of the violin and Lang's virtuosic guitar still sound surprisingly fresh and imaginative. These earliest Venuti and Lang collaborations exude a special sort of positive energy that is unique in all of classic jazz. Some of the instrumental tracks feel like well-organized, improvised hot chamber music. Fortunately, Venuti's "Kickin' the Cat" and "Beatin' the Dog" are presented without any nasty lyrics or cruel sound effects.
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AllMusic Review by arwulf arwulf