In 1921, the music business could look back to nearly three decades of recording activity; though sheet music was still a large part of it, many of the recordings on the pop front were still throwbacks, whether to barbershop, coon songs, vaudeville, or the Tin Pan Alley pop of Billy Murray and Henry Burr. Jazz and the blues, however, were beginning to make an impression, which makes this volume of the hits of the year a rather schizophrenic collection. Large bands led by Isham Jones and Paul Whiteman were slowly integrating jazz music (or at least jazz musicians), resulting in huge hits like "Wabash Blues," "The Wang Wang Blues," and "Song of India," while a few small groups, led by the Original Dixieland Jazz Band, began to be heard on record as well. These tracks do fit well with ones by the stars of vaudeville (Al Jolson, Eddie Cantor, Fanny Brice), but that leaves plenty of room for the type of sedate pop that looked back to the 19th century -- "My Mammy" by the Peerless Quartet, "Look for the Silver Lining" by Marion Harris, or "Feather Your Nest" by Henry Burr and Albert Campbell. Two other tracks of note are Mamie Smith's "Crazy Blues" and Vernon Dalhart's "Tuck Me to Sleep in My Old 'Tucky Home," a pair of pioneer recordings for the blues and country genres (respectively).
Share this page
AllMusic Review by John Bush