As the British TV series Pop Idol and its US counterpart American Idol stormed the popular consciousness, it was only a matter of time before the cash-ins started. The UK reissue label Avid winkingly references Pop Idol not only with the album title The Original Pop Idols but with a less than subtle appropriation of the show's type style, color scheme and microphone logo. As a collection of public domain live and radio sessions, however, The Original Pop Idols isn't bad at all. The label takes the term "original" literally: these are primarily recordings from the late '30s and early '40s, when the likes of Frank Sinatra (represented by one recording with Tommy Dorsey, "Oh Look At Me Now" and a slightly lackluster version of his later signature song "One For My Baby"), Bing Crosby (two tracks, one a duet with Peggy Lee on the standard "They Can't Take That Away From Me") and Judy Garland (an early version of "Get Happy" before her performances of the song took on an unintentional irony) were the fave raves. They take a broad view of the term "pop idol" -- Billie Holiday was great, but was she ever a teenybopper star? -- and some of the British artists will be all but unknown to American audiences. (Leslie A. Hutchinson, better known as Hutch, was a West Indian star in his adopted UK home, but never broke through in the US.) However, fans of this era of pop music will find much to enjoy here, and unlike many similar collections, the sound quality is excellent throughout.
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AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason