The eight-month period, October 1930 to June 1931, covered by the eighth volume of Jonzo Records' The Chronological Bing Crosby series is a crucial one in the singer's career. Along with his fellow members of the Rhythm Boys, Crosby had been dismissed from Paul Whiteman's Orchestra in May 1930. The group then signed on with Gus Arnheim's Orchestra, which opened a long-term residency at the Cocoanut Grove club in the Ambassador Hotel in Hollywood in July. Regional radio broadcasts were made from the club, and Crosby gained enormous exposure. Arnheim's contract with RCA Victor led to the recording of six singles on which the singer performed (only one song, "Them There Eyes," with the Rhythm Boys), including "Just a Gigolo"/"Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams," on which Crosby got top billing. These singles were very successful: of the 11 tracks Crosby recorded with Arnheim, eight reached the charts, seven of them -- "It Must Be True," "Them There Eyes," "The Little Things in Life," "I Surrender, Dear," "One More Time," "Wrap Your Troubles In Dreams," and "Ho Hum" -- making the Top Ten. No wonder Brunswick Records signed him up to a solo recording contract in March 1931. His first four singles for the label were even more successful. Of the eight sides, seven made the charts, with "I'm Thru with Love," "Many Happy Returns of the Day," and "I Found a Million Dollar Baby" in the Top Ten and "Out of Nowhere," "Just One More Chance," and "At Your Command" all hitting number one. Crosby's success on records led to a radio contract, while the series of six short films he made for Mack Sennett testified to his screen potential. The material on this disc, then, marks the birth of one of the greatest careers in 20th century entertainment, and it's not hard to hear why. There may be only a few standards here -- "Them There Eyes," "Just a Gigolo," "I Found a Million Dollar Baby" -- but Crosby is so assured and enthusiastic that he makes the songs seem better than they are. It is always exciting to hear a newly matured talent just before it achieves the acclaim such ability produces, and that's what you hear on these recordings.
The Chronological Bing Crosby, Vol. 8, 1930-31 Review
by William Ruhlmann