Various Artists

The History of Pop Radio, Vol. 20: 1950-1951 [TIM]

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The tenth and final disc in the German box set The History of Pop Radio, Vol. 20: 1940-1951 focuses on pop hits from the years 1950 and 1951, a surprising development following its predecessor, Vol. 19: 1949, which took a turn toward R&B and country tracks. Previous volumes primarily consisted of pop material, with a few curiosities, such as soundtrack recordings, thrown in. Vol. 20 hews largely to the top of the charts, however, including major hits like "The Tennessee Waltz," "Mona Lisa," "Music! Music! Music!," "Cry," "Because of You," and "Come On-a My House" and major stars like Patti Page, the Ames Brothers, Frankie Laine, Nat "King" Cole, Guy Mitchell, Tony Bennett, Rosemary Clooney, and Dinah Shore. Like other volumes in the series, this one has been put together somewhat sloppily. There are tracks that date from before 1950-1951, such as Shore's 1947 hit, "Anniversary Song," or after, like Rosemary Clooney's 1952 hit "Half as Much." And there are strange typos, such as the listing of Mel Tormé as "Mel Thorme." The compilations are made possible by European copyright law, which puts recordings over 50 years old in the public domain (hence the arbitrary cutoff date). But the compilers are more concerned with turning out product than assembling a thoughtful selection, so that, for example, here are two different versions of "Music! Music! Music!," the biggest hit recording by Teresa Brewer and a cover by the Ames Brothers, and there are two tracks each by Page, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Mitchell, Cole, Bennett, and Clooney, while other important artists of the period are ignored. Cheaply available through mail order in the U.S., the collection gives a general idea of the pop music of its period, but it is also shoddy and random in construction.

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