The 20th volume in Jonzo Records' collector's series The Chronological Bing Crosby includes 21 takes of 15 songs recorded in five sessions held in February, March, and July of 1937. As the album picks up, the 33-year-old singer is holding a second session to record a song in his upcoming film, Waikiki Wedding. But unlike the first session (included in Vol. 19), this one does not use a Hawaiian band -- rather Crosby's usual accompanists, the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra. Nor is the song, "In a Little Hula Heaven," quite up to the standard of its predecessors, the Oscar-winning "Sweet Leilani" and the standard "Blue Hawaii." Happily, Crosby also cut a song from a film he did not appear in, "Never in a Million Years," which became a major success. Three days later, Crosby was back in the studio, again recording his version of a song from someone else's film, the Johnny Mercer-Richard Whiting composition "Too Marvelous for Words." The result was the first of two chart-toppers in this collection and a new standard. Still not finished recording songs from Waikiki Wedding, he returned to cut a few more with the Victor Young Orchestra. Crosby next shot a new film, Double or Nothing, and his next recording session, devoted to songs from the film, concludes the album; it is highlighted by the number one hit "The Moon Got in My Eyes" and is also notable for marking the beginning of Crosby's association with musical director John Scott Trotter, who replaced Dorsey and stayed with the singer 17 years. In general, the material is pleasant but unmemorable, yet Crosby gives the songs winning performances that make them seem better than they are. This is a period when Crosby was cruising through his career with no other vocalist to challenge him for popularity, and unfortunately not much in his acting, hosting, or singing careers to challenge him artistically either.
AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann