Bing Crosby had scored one of the biggest hits of his career in the spring of 1937 with Harry Owens' "Sweet Leilani," on which he had been accompanied by Lani McIntyre and His Hawaiians, so it was natural to schedule another session with the group that September and dig deeper into the Owens songbook; that's where the 21st volume in Jonzo Records' The Chronological Bing Crosby picks up. The second session here found him tackling recent film songs backed by John Scott Trotter and His Orchestra; the third one was a duet date with Connie Boswell on a couple of hot swing tunes; the fourth and fifth used only organist Eddie Dunstedter for backup on a set of Western-tinged and sentimental numbers; and the last featured songs from his upcoming film Doctor Rhythm. Crosby sounds equally at home with the plodding rhythms of the Hawaiian material and the jumping beat of the Boswell session, and he is appropriately warm on the album's best-remembered song, Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II's "The Folks Who Live on the Hill." That and the album's biggest hit, Harry Warren and Al Dubin's lightly comic "Remember Me?," are paeans to the pleasures of domesticity, and Crosby, who celebrated the birth of his fourth child during this period, seems particularly suited to such sentiments. But he sounds most engaged on the Boswell duets, which provide him with a talented partner and a chance to recall his jazzy beginnings. Like other volumes in the series, Vol. 21 features several barely distinguishable alternate takes; as such, it's for collectors more than casual fans. But it actually hangs together as a stand-alone collection better than many titles in the series, containing a well-balanced set of good songs by quality composers given assured performances.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann