Had Glenn Miller lived to see March 1, 2004, he would have turned 100. But Miller, of course, didn't live nearly that long; the swing icon was only 40 when, on December 15, 1944, the plane he was on disappeared over the English Channel. Miller spent the final months of his life performing for Allied forces during World War II, and he died a patriot. Released in 2004, The Centennial Anthology celebrates what would have been Miller's 100th birthday by offering a variety of V-Discs and live radio broadcasts from 1938-1944 (as well as a lush arrangement of "Symphony" that some of his musical associates performed in 1945). This CD doesn't contain any of the definitive, well-known studio versions of Miller's major hits for RCA, so it would be incorrect to describe The Centennial Anthology as a best-of. Nonetheless, all of the material is pleasing, and die-hard Miller aficionados will be happy to acquire these V-Disc and/or radio versions of major hits like "In the Mood," "Pennsylvania 6-5000," "Little Brown Jug," "Chattanooga Choo Choo," and the gorgeous "Moonlight Serenade" (which became Miller's theme song just as "Nightmare" became Artie Shaw's). In fact, the list of songs on The Centennial Anthology reads like the musical soundtrack of World War II -- if the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Motown, Stax, and Bob Dylan provided the soundtrack for the lives of the baby boomers and alterna-rock and hip-hop are the soundtrack of Gen-X lives, Miller was certainly among the big-band greats who defined swing for the WWII generation. The Centennial Anthology falls short of essential, but it's a consistently enjoyable collection that Miller's hardcore fans will appreciate.
The Centennial Anthology Review
by Alex Henderson