Dick Haymes sang with three of the major big bands of the early 1940s before launching his solo career, and he recorded with two of them, the orchestras led by Harry James and Benny Goodman, on Columbia Records (there are only airchecks of his tenure with Tommy Dorsey, with whom he served next). The lion's share of the material heard on this two-CD set comes from his 1941 tenure with James, including his first Top Ten hit, Mel Tormé's composition "Lament to Love"; another chart hit, "A Sinner Kissed an Angel"; and "I'll Get By (As Long As I Have You)," which hit number one in 1944 as a reissue during the recording ban. The James material also includes covers of such popular songs of the day as "I Guess I'll Have to Dream the Rest" and "I've Got a Gal in Kalamazoo," and one previously unreleased track, "Juanita." Haymes was only able to get in one recording session and five songs with Goodman before the ban took effect, but it brought a two-sided Top Ten hit in "Idaho"/"Serenade." As usual with big band dates, the singer is only one element in the arrangement, but Haymes acquits himself well in this early work, fully justifying his later status as a major solo star. The Collectors' Choice compilation, though welcome and long overdue, would have benefited from annotations.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2