The late '30s can be seen as a lull in Bing Crosby's recording career; 1939 was the first year since his solo breakthrough in 1931 that he failed to score a number one hit. But the evidence of this volume in Jonzo Records' series of his complete recordings, which covers most of his sessions for that spring, suggests that his repertoire had more to do with the lapse than anything else. The bulk of the tracks here fall into two categories. Seven of the 20 songs (plus five alternate takes) are remakes of songs Crosby had cut before. Another four are covers of songs that were already hits for other artists. Neither category was likely to produce big sellers. Several other songs are revivals of old tunes. It's only on the rare occasions when Crosby is allowed to introduce new material, such as the partially Anglicized Spanish import "Alla en el Rancho Grande (My Ranch)" and the songs "Go Fly a Kite" and "A Man and His Dream" from his film The Star Maker, that he really has a chance to sell some records. That said, nine of the recordings here did manage to reach the charts, not a bad percentage. Crosby's more casual, mature vocal style sometimes seems unsuited to the older material, as he revisits old hits like "I Surrender, Dear" and "Just One More Chance" in a curiously uninvolved way. But the infamous "blow up" take of "Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams," in which he improvises vulgar lyrics after being tripped up by the arrangement, is still a hoot. The problem here isn't Crosby, it's a lack of interesting new material. Crosby's fans, for whom the entire series is made, will find many small pleasures in these recordings, but there's little here for more general pop fans.
AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann