Various Artists

The History of Pop Radio, Vol. 11: 1943-1944 [OSA/Radio History]

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Vol. 11 in the 15-CD box set The History of Pop Music, released by the History label of Germany, claims to cover the years 1943 and 1944, and it provides a good sampling of some of the most popular songs and performers of that period, even if there is some filler and some recordings don't actually fit into the chronological range. (Despite the album title, there is no apparent connection between these tracks and radio. They consist mostly of studio recordings with the occasional soundtrack thrown in, though "Pistol Packin' Mama," credited to Carmen Mastren & Ray McKinley, may be an Aircheck by the Glenn Miller Army Airforce Band.) The album opens appropriately enough with Frank Sinatra's recording of "Night and Day," which was in the charts in both 1943 and 1944 (and in 1942, for that matter), and introduces the most important and successful performer to emerge in this period. There are also hit recordings of "Brazil" (by Xavier Cugat), "It Could Happen to You" (by Jo Stafford), "No Love, No Nothin'" (by Ella Mae Morse), "I'm Beginning to See the Light" (by Duke Ellington & His Orchestra, though credited to singer Joya Sherrill), "Sentimental Journey" (by Les Brown & His Band of Renown, though credited to singer Doris Day), and "The Trolley Song" (by the Pied Pipers). Hit recordings of "Deep in the Heart of Texas" (by Bing Crosby) and "Symphony" (by Benny Goodman & His Orchestra, though credited to singer Liza Morrow) are also included, but the former came out in 1942 and the latter in 1945. Major African American performers such as Nat "King" Cole, Billy Eckstine, and Sarah Vaughan have selections, and Fred Astaire's introduction of the standard "One for My Baby" has been borrowed from the soundtrack to The Sky's the Limit. All of that makes for a good sampler of mid-'40s pop music, though there is also some padding in the form of inferior British imitations of American hits, the oddest of which is Carl Grayson's copy of Spike Jones' zany novelty version of "Cocktails for Two." Who'd have thought that anyone would want -- or be able -- to replicate it?

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