Compiled on The Complete Early Sides are 18 tracks featuring vocalist Johnny Desmond, many of which are available digitally for the first time. Desmond's refined vocal style -- which earned him the nickname "The Creamer" -- was a highlight of several noteworthy big bands. His first high-profile gig was with Bob Crosby's Bob-o-Links circa 1940. In 1941 he joined Gene Krupa's orchestra, where he replaced Howard Dulaney. Then in 1944 Desmond became known as the "G.I. Sinatra" in Glenn Miller's renowned Army Air Force Band. This compilation focuses primarily on his contributions to Krupa's aggregate, with the exception of a pair of tunes -- "Bella Bella Marie" and "Lillette" -- which were cut with the Dell Trio. As a compilation of this type might suggest, Desmond's unaffected style and seemingly effortless delivery is at the center of these vocal pop standards -- many of which were also being concurrently recorded and performed by a majority of the big bands during the era. There are several historically distinguishing inclusions on The Complete Early Sides, such as the propaganda-laden "The Caissons Go Rolling Along (Artillery Song)," "Marines' Hymn," and "Keep 'Em Flying," which was also one of Krupa's signature pieces. "Marines' Hymn" is also included on this disc in a previously unissued alternate take. Another highlight for collectors as well as causal enthusiasts is the never-before-heard rendition of "West of the Weather," recorded during the sessions for "Me & My Melinda" in February of 1942. An additional anomaly is Desmond's duet with Anita O'Day on the Meredith Wilson composition "Two in Love," which was also recorded by Frank Sinatra during his burgeoning days as a crooner with the Tommy Dorsey band.
AllMusic Review by Lindsay Planer
feat: Dell Trio