As with any "chart"-oriented compilation, Living Era's Chart-Toppers of the Twenties focuses upon numbers of units sold rather than, say, the most artistically important or innovative recordings from the time period in question. This sampling perfectly reflects the bigoted nature of U.S. culture during the early 20th century by presenting 25 recordings made by white people for a clientele that was assumed to also be white. Even Wendell Hall's "It Ain't Gonna Rain No Mo'" seems to stop short of tapping into blackface minstrelsy, sticking instead with a straightforward standard of white rural entertainment. All of this being said, Chart-Toppers of the Twenties is a marvelous sampler of vintage popular music, beginning with Ben Selvin's lovely 1919 recording of "Dardanella," which occupied, according to the liners, a number one spot for 13 weeks, selling more than five million copies -- an extremely popular record in its day. Amidst the expected appearances by Paul Whiteman, Gene Austin, and Al Jolson there are delicious moments of great social import as Sophie Tucker, Vernon Dalhart, Eddie Cantor, Billy Jones, Ted Lewis, and Isham Jones each contribute to the overall charm of this interesting retrospective.
AllMusic Review by arwulf arwulf