Louis Armstrong

Louis Armstrong [Laserlight]

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Part of discount-price repackaging label LaserLight's series of albums devoted to recent U.S. Postal Service stamp honorees, American Legends #5 is a confusing compilation of 12 miscellaneous Louis Armstrong tracks that the barebones liner notes say come "from the 1920s to 1970." Sound quality is variable, with, for example, the lively version of "St. Louis Blues" played by Armstrong and Jimmy Dorsey & his Orchestra sounding little better than a bootleg, while the recording of "A Kiss to Build a Dream On," licensed from MCA, sounds fine. There are some terrific songs here, and Armstrong is typically winning as singer and trumpet player, but the album has a thrown-together feeling, and the lack of credits means, among other things, that Bing Crosby goes unacknowledged for his contribution to "Pennies from Heaven."

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