For good or bad, the European copyright limitation of 50 years makes albums like this British compilation possible. After serving as boy singer with Ted Weems' orchestra, Perry Como struck out on his own in 1943 in the wake of Frank Sinatra's solo success. After a relatively slow start, he hit his stride in 1945, topping the charts with "Till the End of Time," and never looked back. The 44 tracks on this double CD, which have been sequenced in roughly reverse chronological order, strangely enough, make up the bulk of the recordings he made for RCA between the start of his solo career and the end of 1948 (the copyright cut-off date for this 1999 release). The final track, which is also the earliest, finds Como in 1942, singing "Deep in the Heart of Texas" with Weems on Decca. During this early phase of his career, the singer tackled a variety of material, from revivals like "I'm Always Chasing Rainbows," "Prisoner of Love," "When You Were Sweet Sixteen," "I Wonder Who's Kissing Her Now," and "Because" to novelties like "Dig You Later (A Hubba-Hubba-Hubba)" and newly emerging standards from Hollywood and Broadway like "Long Ago (And Far Away)," "If I Loved You," "All Through the Day," and "They Say It's Wonderful," and he scored hits with all of them. As the inclusion of ten non-chart items indicates, he cut a number of other standards as well: "With a Song in My Heart," "What'll I Do," "Love Me or Leave Me," "Body and Soul," "Easter Parade," "You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby," and "Blue Skies." Como fans will welcome an album that so thoroughly, if haphazardly, collects his early work, especially since RCA has shown little interest in competing with sets like this. But no one should buy this album expecting to get a collection of Como's recordings from throughout his career. A youthful cover photograph and a song list on the back may warn them off, though it would have been nice to have seen something more specific, like a date range or a notation that this is the work of the young Perry Como.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2