Various Artists

Forty Number One Hits of the Forties

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Except for the rare AM station, or swing jazz programs on NPR, the music of the 1940s seems to belong to some misty, romanticized past. Forty #1 Hits of the Forties, then, serves as a refresher course on ten years of popular American music history. This two-disc set follows chronological order and includes four number one hits from each year. With a combination of crooners (Bing Crosby), big bands (Glenn Miller), and vocal groups (the Inkspots), the music of the era is incredibly eclectic. The collection begins with the dominance of the big bands in the early '40s, including notable instrumentals like Artie Shaw's "Frenesi" and Glenn Miller's "In the Mood." Swing's sway, however, declined in popularity following a recording ban on musicians in 1942. As a result, vocalists like the Mills Brothers ("Paper Doll"), Dorothy Collins ("Swingin' on a Star"), and the Andrew Sisters ("Rum and Coca Cola") came to prominence on the charts. Forty #1 Hits of the Forties also includes western fare originally introduced by singing cowboys on the silver screen. Al Dexter tells of the dangers of getting involved with the wrong type of girl in "Pistol Packin' Mama" while Vaughn Monroe sings an early version of "Ghost Riders in the Sky." Many other familiar names appear on this set--Dinah Shore, Nat King Cole, and Perry Como--making it a rich and varied collection. For those that remember the era, Forty #1 Hits of the Forties promises a nostalgia-filled trip to yesteryear. To everyone else, the set provides a comprehensive overview of the popular music of the era.

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