Various Artists

The History of Pop Radio, Vol. 11: 1940 [TIM]

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This is the first disc in the ten-CD box set The History of Pop Radio, Vol. 2: 1940-1951. In Europe, where copyrights on recordings apparently lapse after 50 years, reissue labels can take 78s originally issued by major labels and compile them as they see fit, and this is one example. The 20 tracks derive from records released around 1940. Three of the biggest U.S. hits of the year are included: Tommy Dorsey and His Orchestra's "I'll Never Smile Again" (here credited to lead singer Frank Sinatra), Bing Crosby's "Only Forever," and Glenn Miller and His Orchestra's "Tuxedo Junction." Since Miller, Dorsey, and Crosby were the year's three top recording artists, it can be said that some of the year's most successful performers are included, also among them Top Ten finishers the Ink Spots and the Andrews Sisters. But this is not simply a hits collection; rather, it is a miscellany of American and British recordings that range from the most popular to the extremely obscure. U.K. singer Vera Lynn's name will be familiar to U.S. listeners, but you can't say the same thing about Anne Shelton, whose "I'm Stepping Out" (aka "I'm Stepping Out With a Memory To-Night," originally recorded for a 1940 American hit by Kate Smith) really should be credited to the popular British big band Ambrose and His Orchestra, and equally unfamiliar are actress/singer Celia Lipton, U.S. expatriate Bebe Daniels, and "vagabond lover" Cavan O'Connor. American jazz singer Adelaide Hall and Hollywood singing star Deanna Durbin further expand the album's range, offering covers of others' hits. But the result sounds more like selections from someone's record collection (especially since A- and B-sides of the same single are sometimes included) than like a well-thought-out compilation.

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