Various Artists

Dancing With the Stars

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1955 was the year that the 12" disc overtook the 10" disc as the standard format for "long playing" (LP) records, and record companies began looking for ways to fill up all that space. At CBS Records' Epic subsidiary, someone got the idea to root around in the CBS vaults and create a couple of various-artists compilations of big band swing music, leading to the releases of Dancing With the Stars and its companion, For Dancers Only. If you don't look too closely, Dancing With the Stars might appear to be a first-rate collection. After all, it includes classic songs like "Georgia on My Mind," "Indian Summer," and "Mood Indigo," and the performers include such major artists as Glenn Miller, Artie Shaw, and Gene Krupa. Look more closely, however, and you find that the versions of those popular compositions were not hit recordings and that the work of both Miller and Shaw comes from their first, unsuccessful attempts to lead bands when they were contracted to the Brunswick label (later acquired by CBS' Columbia label), before they reorganized and signed to RCA Victor's Bluebird imprint. Only Krupa's 1941 revival of "Georgia on My Mind," which features Anita O'Day, and Tony Pastor's cover of the 1947 Eddy Howard hit "I Wonder, I Wonder, I Wonder" were chart records. Many of these performers are second-echelon swing bandleaders or ringers (among the latter, Neal Hefti's "Mood Indigo" is a 1950s recording). There are, however, a few interesting tracks, the most notable of which is Count Basie's "Blues (I Think of Her)," which features Jimmy Rushing.

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