Although Bing Crosby remained far and away the most successful American solo artist on records during the five-month period from the fall of 1941 to the late winter of 1942 covered by the 32nd volume of Jonzo Records' chronological reissue of his commercial recordings, making records, as usual, did not constitute his sole or even his primary activity as an entertainer. Crosby was also a movie star; in this period, his film Birth of the Blues opened, and he shot two others, Holiday Inn and Road to Morocco. And he was a radio star, hosting the nationally broadcast Kraft Music Hall weekly. Increasingly during this period, which saw the entry of the U.S. into World War II, his time was taken up by war-related volunteer efforts. He still managed to get into the recording studio on seven days in this period, though most were in late January 1942. But he doesn't seem to have worried much about what he was going to sing. On October 24, 1941, the first session included here, he turned up at Decca Records' New York studio at 9 a.m. without having even seen the two songs chosen for him to record. Forty-five minutes later, "Shepherd Serenade" (which became a number five hit) and "Do You Care?" were in the can. Under Decca's direction, he recorded the usual mixture of material, good and bad, in various styles. There were country songs, Hawaiian songs, and covers of recent hits by others. Heard in chronological order, the result is inevitably uneven, though the singer's willingness to take on anything -- and often to make something of nothing -- is remarkable. And when he gets hold of a piece of worthy material ("Deep in the Heart of Texas," "Skylark," "Blues in the Night"), the performances can be impressive. Jonzo's series is for Crosby completists, of course, and for them the rarities, including alternate takes of several songs, will be a delight. More casual fans should opt for a more selective collection.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann
feat: Mary Martin
feat: Mary Martin