Various Artists

The History of Pop Radio, Vol. 18

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The eighth disc in the German ten-CD box set The History of Pop Radio, Vol. 2: 1940-1951, covering the years 1947 and 1948, is a better album than any of the first seven. Each of them was devoted to a single year, though the compilers didn't seem to have a good sense of what records actually came from which year, often mixing them up. Having a two-year stretch to work with seems to have helped, since the tracks do actually come from the correct period. There is also a sonic improvement, which may suggest that instead of transferring old 78s, the compilers are pilfering the tracks from other CDs. There is a much higher percentage of actual hits, with 14 of the 20 recordings coming from hit records, including chart-toppers like Francis Craig's "Near You" (credited to singer Bob Lamm), Art Lund's "Mam'selle," Dinah Shore's "Buttons and Bows," Kay Kyser's "Woody Wood-pecker," Margaret Whiting's "A Tree in the Meadow," and Doris Day and Buddy Clark's "Love Somebody" (credited solely to Day, though its flip side, "Confess," also included, is correctly credited as a duet). The tracks that were not pop hits include such intriguing items as the number one R&B hit "Good Rocking Tonight" by Wynonie Harris and "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah" taken directly from the soundtrack to Song of the South and sung by James Baskett. The latter inclusion can't please Disney, but then most of these tracks are claimed by the major labels in the U.S. In Europe, it's a different story, which makes compilations like this possible, but the gray area they occupy legally also invites sloppy packaging and annotations. Still, this is one of the better entries in the series.

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