The 1930s were a tumultuous decade, and the record business almost went under after the stock market crash of 1929 and the Depression that gripped the nation. But in adverse times America still wanted to be entertained, and Victor provided much of the soundscape for that decade. This first of two volumes features escapist fare like Bing Crosby's "Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams," Leo Reisman's optimistic "Happy Days Are Here Again," Fred Astaire's "We're in the Money," Cole Porter's "You're the Top," Tommy Dorsey's "The Music Goes 'Round and Around," and Kate Smith's patriotic flag-waver "God Bless America." But it was also the beginning of jazz taking the nation by storm, with tracks like Fats Waller's "Honeysuckle Rose," Benny Goodman's "Life Goes to a Party," Meade "Lux" Lewis' "Honky Tonk Train Blues," Glenn Miller's "Moonlight Serenade," and Bunny Berigan's "I Can't Get Started with You" counted in the mix. And great torch songs like Hoagy Carmichael's "Stardust" and Mae West's (with Duke Ellington) "My Old Flame," along with infectious novelties like Wayne King's "Josephine" and Maurice Chevalier's "Mimi," help to give the big picture of the decade in this marvelous collection. Transfers are still a bit grainy, as these recordings were still a good decade and a half away from the invention of magnetic tape, but nothing sounds like a battered 78 on here either.
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AllMusic Review by Cub Koda