Various Artists

The History of Pop Radio, Vol. 14: 1943 [TIM]

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This is the fourth disc in the German box set The History of Pop Radio, Vol. 2: 1940-1951. It marks a distinct improvement over its three predecessors, at least as far as American pop fans are concerned, since those CDs tended to feature lots of cover versions of American hits by British performers. Preoccupied by the war, the British record industry was not very active around 1943. Of course, the American record industry, hobbled by a musicians' strike, wasn't either, and lots of these tracks actually date from before or after 1943. But 13 of them were chart hits, including some of the year's biggest records, such as Bing Crosby's "Sunday, Monday or Always," Dick Haymes' "You'll Never Know," and the Mills Brothers' "Paper Doll." (Another chart-topper, Jimmy Dorsey's "Besame Mucho," actually dates from early 1944.) The oddities typical of the box set as a whole are still present here. The compilers, simply rifling their record collections for tracks to transfer, over-represent the Capitol Records catalog; there are a few inferior British covers, and mixed in with the studio recordings is a soundtrack excerpt from The Sky's the Limit, Fred Astaire introducing "One for My Baby." But the proportion of hits is much higher than usual, with eight of the year's ten major stars -- Crosby, Harry James, Haymes, Frank Sinatra, Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, Dinah Shore, and the Mills Brothers -- included in the song list. (James' band backs Sinatra on "All or Nothing at All," actually recorded in 1939 and first released in 1940, though it first became a hit in 1943.) Given the mediocre sound quality, the randomness of the sequencing, the lack of annotations, and the chronological problems, this still isn't a first-rate representation of pop music in 1943, but it's better than other discs in the set.

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