Various Artists

The History of Pop Radio, Vol. 14: 1949 [OSA/Radio History]

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In stark contrast to Vol. 13 of The History of Pop Radio, the 15-CD box set issued by the German History label, Vol. 14 eschews a pop hits approach in favor of a far more varied selection. True, some of the biggest pop hits of 1949 are featured (albeit not in their most successful versions), notably "Cruising Down the River," "Mule Train," "Far Away Places," "Again," "Baby It's Cold Outside," and "Lavender Blue," and the artist list includes such major pop stars as Perry Como, Doris Day, and Buddy Clark. But there is also a significant representation from the R&B charts, with such tracks as Fats Domino's "The Fat Man," Wynonie Harris' "All She Wants to Do Is Rock," and Dinah Washington's "It's Too Soon to Know." There are also plenty of non-hit tracks by blues and R&B legends like B.B. King and Professor Longhair. And Johnny Lee Wills' country version of "Rag Mop" leads a selection of country material by Moon Mullican and Gene Autry, among others. From Broadway comes Ezio Pinza, singing "Some Enchanted Evening," his signature song in South Pacific. And the young Marilyn Monroe is heard in an excerpt from the soundtrack of her first featured film performance in 1949's Ladies of the Chorus, vamping her way through "Every Baby Needs a Da-Da-Daddy." The result may not be a representative selection of the most popular recordings of 1949, but it suggests the musical upheaval on its way in the 1950s, and there are some terrific tracks. (The album title notwithstanding, radio has nothing to do with this collection. All the tracks are studio recordings except the Monroe soundtrack song.)

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