The year 1949 was the point when novelty tunes began to assert an unusually large degree of presence on the pop charts -- if memory serves, it was just about at that time that Frank Sinatra (who is not represented on this collection) began to have serious doubts about the quality of the music he saw charting around him (and that he was being asked to do), particularly novelty songs -- in fact, "Riders in the Sky," which is represented here in a fairly arch version by Vaughn Monroe, and "Mule Train" by Frankie Laine, are two of the better examples of what works in that vein. But their presence, and a certain silliness, cutesiness, and superficiality to a lot of what is here, makes this one of the weaker entries in Dynamic's series of year-by-year hit surveys -- not that this is the fault of the label; it was the silly season, and it's represented here. Somehow, juxtaposing "A Little Bird Told Me" by Evelyn Knight next to Ezio Pinza's heartbreakingly beautiful version of "Some Enchanted Evening" doesn't do either song any good, though Pinza is on firm enough ground to survive the encounter unscathed. And Les Brown and his band seem the epitome of middle-brown cool on "I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm." Bing Crosby shows up late on the CD with "Galway Boy," which is hardly one of his landmark records -- and Tommy Dorsey and his band (with Charlie Shavers) do a surprisingly low-key rendition of "The Huckle-Buck." Coupled with Doris Day ("Again"), the Mills Brothers ("Someday"), and Al Morgan ("Jealous Heart"), these tracks make the closing section of this collection much more worthwhile than anything on the front end, but it's still not enough to make the first two-thirds worth plowing through without skipping a lot of tracks. As usual with this series, the sound quality is good, if not great -- some cuts seem drenched in too much reverb, and not to be derived from first-generation sources (no surprise there, as this is essentially a "public domain" compilation from Europe) -- and there is no annotation.
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AllMusic Review by Bruce Eder