The 36th volume of Jonzo Records' collectors' series, The Chronological Bing Crosby covered only ten days' worth of studio recordings in Los Angeles in July 1944, but the 37th volume, though it accounts for only 13 songs recorded in six sessions held on five days, nevertheless finds those sessions spread out over more than four months, during which Crosby traveled from the West Coast to war-torn Europe and back again. The Allies having landed in France on June 6, 1944, Crosby followed three months later to entertain the troops. With such distractions, he might have been expected not to have given much attention to his recording career, but in fact these tracks mark a high point, if only because the quality of songwriting is unusually high. Casual fans must be warned that the Jonzo series is intended for aficionados who enjoy parsing the differences in alternate takes of the same tune; there are three or four versions of certain songs here. That said, the songs are terrific, which isn't surprising when you consider that Harold Arlen's name is on more than half of them and that the other writers include George Gershwin, Jerome Kern, Johnny Mercer, and E.Y. "Yip" Harburg. Only two of these songs became chart entries for Crosby, but one of them, "Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive," recorded with the Andrews Sisters, crested at number two and helped him maintain his status as the top record seller in the U.S. for the third year in a row in 1945. The other, "Evalina," was one of two songs, along with "The Eagle and Me," from Arlen's musical Bloomer Girl, and these were compositions more than a cut above what Crosby generally got to sing in his pictures. That said, Johnny Burke and James Van Heusen, his regular screen songwriters, outdid themselves with the two hilarious duets for Crosby and Bob Hope included, "Put It There, Pal" and "Road to Morocco" (neither of which was released for a decade, oddly enough). Even the lesser tracks here, such as the duets with Judy Garland that lead off the album, are enjoyable. It's important not to discount the assurance and authority with which Crosby, who was on top of the world in career terms at the time, sings, but it is also true that the songwriters have given him a lot to work with, making this one of the better entries in a long series.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann