This volume in British collectors' label Jonzo's series of chronological studio recordings of Bing Crosby covers a relatively inactive and aberrant period in the singer's career, picking up with the December 30, 1940, session that ended the 29th volume and continuing with five sessions in May and June 1941. On January 1, 1941, a dispute between ASCAP, the songwriters' performance licensing organization, and the radio networks resulted in the temporary banning of all ASCAP songs from the airwaves. Since most prominent songwriters were associated with ASCAP, this meant that recording artists had little incentive to cut new material. Crosby duly stayed away from the recording studio for nearly five months, and when he did return, his choices for material tended toward non-ASCAP songs, often very old ones. Accordingly, he recorded such works as Brahms' "Lullaby (Cradle Song)" (written in 1864) and two tunes by the suddenly popular Stephen Foster, "Sweetly She Sleeps, My Alice Fair" (1851) and "Old Black Joe" (1860). The absence of radio promotion tended to dampen record sales, and though four of the tracks included here reached the Billboard charts, only "'Til Reveille" and "You and I" made the Top Ten. Nevertheless, there are some excellent songs, among them the mournful standard "My Buddy"; Johnny Mercer's "The Waiter and the Porter and the Upstairs Maid," performed with Jack Teagarden and Mary Martin and featured in the Crosby film Birth of the Blues; a playful reading of "Clementine" (aka "My Darling Clementine"); and George M. Cohan's "Mary's a Grand Old Name." The compilation contains several alternate takes that provide insight into Crosby's recording process. On one, a version of the mediocre composition "I Only Want a Buddy -- Not a Sweetheart" (probably only recorded as a favor to someone), he is heard to exclaim derisively, "Oh, what a song!"
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann