Although its legality may be questionable, this album provides a welcome combination of two somewhat similar movie musicals of the mid-'40s, drawing its tracks directly from the soundtracks to the films. State Fair, based on the Philip Strong novel and previously made into a non-musical motion picture in 1933, opened in 1945, telling the story of an Iowa farm family's adventures at, of course, the state fair. Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, the newly crowned kings of Broadway following the success of 1943's Oklahoma!, were well matched to the rural material, which had a similar tone to their big stage hit, and they turned out half a dozen songs in the same vein, even presenting a state song in "All I Owe Ioway" to match "Oklahoma!" A talented cast was led by Dick Haymes, Vivian Blaine, and Jeanne Crain (whose singing was dubbed by Louanne Hogan). "It Might as Well Be Spring" won the Academy Award for best song and became a Top Ten pop hit, as did "That's for Me." Centennial Summer (1946), based on the Albert E. Idell novel, was about a family attending the Philadelphia Exposition of 1876, among them Jeanne Crain again (again dubbed by Louanne Hogan), along with Linda Darnell. The seven-song score represented the final effort of veteran composer Jerome Kern before his death, collaborating with lyricist Leo Robin (except for "All Through the Day" by Oscar Hammerstein II and "Cinderella Sue" by E.Y. Harburg). It was not, perhaps, one of Kern's best scores, although he went out with popular hits in "All Through the Day" and "In Love in Vain." The sound quality of the disc is not the best, and the editing leaves something to be desired, too, but this album contains some classic movie music of the mid-'40s.
AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann