This collection of Dick Jurgens' classic Vocalion and OKeh sides is well worth a listen, even by those who don't have a lot of appreciation of "sweet" bands; as with the best of the latter, the musicianship is impeccable and the band could get into a slightly swinging mode in its looser, more daring moments. The seemingly sappy, overly sentimental opening numbers from the end of the 1930s give way to slightly tighter and snappier pieces that can just about hold their own with the best of Glen Gray or Bob Crosby's bands of the same era. Collectors' Choice and Sony Music Special Products producer Dan Rivard have done an excellent job with this nearly hour-long compilation, which encompasses all of the major hits and most of the important tracks cut by Jurgens across eight years; additionally, Rivard unearthed a trio of previously unreleased tracks from the prime of Jurgens' career, in 1941 and 1942, just prior to his breaking up the band and joining the military. Among the three, "Juanita" is a fine upbeat ballad, while "Don't Break the Heart That Loves You" plays to the sentimental side of Jurgens' sound, and "Better Not Roll Those Blue Blue Eyes" is a bouncy dance tune that shows everyone concerned having some fun. What's more, one is able to appreciate here the evolution of the band from the late '30s to the post-World War II period -- of which there aren't quite enough sides to fully balance the early-'40s tracks -- in which Jurgens successfully integrated strings into his sound and enhanced the resulting records. The audio quality is first-rate throughout, also a bit of a surprise given the vintage of some of the recordings, and the annotation is excellent.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Bruce Eder