The Best of Guy Lombardo: The Early Years is a more intensive compilation than ASV/Living Era's The Band Played On -- 25 Number One Hits!, focusing on the first six years of Lombardo's recording career (1927-1935) and ensuring that every selection was a popular performance. All the more surprise, then, to find the Lombardo band's most popular song, "Charmaine!," missing from the track listing. Also absent are "(There Ought to Be A) Moonlight Saving Time" and "We Just Couldn't Say Goodbye," though the material included are solid performances. During the late '20s and early '30s, Lombardo followed the ideal of Paul Whiteman, striving for a style of symphonic jazz that could appeal to society types as well as flappers; what he lacked, however, were the innovative arrangements of the Whiteman band, as well as the occasional hot-jazz player to heat things up. Still, his group was capable of a parade of witty, endearing romantic novelties -- "Swingin' in a Hammock," "Puh-Leeze! Mister Hemingway!," "Under a Texas Moon," and "By the River Sainte Marie." Taking most of these vocal refrains is Guy's brother, Carmen Lombardo, a sweet crooner with little sense of impact and an odd sense of enunciation, but a sensitive demeanor that fits well with the repertoire.
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AllMusic Review by John Bush