Bing Crosby recorded 18 songs in four sessions in July 1941, and all of them are included here, along with several alternate takes. The dispute between ASCAP, the song licensing organization, and network radio had led to the temporary banning of ASCAP songs, so that recording artists such as Crosby were looking to non-ASCAP compositions, which may help explain why these sessions contain such an exotic mixture of material. Crosby sings Irish music ("Danny Boy") and country & western ("You Are My Sunshine," "Ridin' Down the Canyon") before tackling songs in Spanish and French. The final four tunes, including two by his regular songwriting team of Johnny Burke and Jimmy Van Heusen, feature Woody Herman's band and are closer to the then-contemporary swing style than much of what has gone before. While the overall series of which this album is a part is intended for collectors who can be expected to be indulgent, even for them this will be one of the lesser entries. None of these recordings produced chart entries, and most of the songs are forgettable and, indeed, forgotten. Even when Crosby tackles standards, he often doesn't do well with them. "Danny Boy" is a song he must have had an affection for, but it is intended for a tenor, and he is uncomfortable in the key he's attempting. "Ol' Man River," on the other hand, is written for a bass, and here he alters the melody noticeably to manage it. (No wonder it went unreleased in the U.S.) Of the songs anybody would remember, only "You Are My Sunshine" and "I Ain't Got Nobody" are performed competently. Also notable -- for Crosby fans -- is the inclusion of "When the Surf Meets the Turf," a promotional song for the Del Mar racetrack, of which Crosby was part-owner.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann