The CDs that Archeophone has included in its Phonographic Yearbook series are more than compilations -- they are experiences. From digitally remastered vintage recordings to comprehensive liner notes (which discuss historic events as well as music) to old black-and-white photos, Archeophone's Phonographic Yearbook releases do everything possible to immerse the listener in a bygone era. In the case of this 77-minute CD, that era is the World War I era. Not everything on The Phonographic Yearbook: 1916 - The Country Found Them Ready was actually recorded in 1916; some of the songs were recorded in 1914 or 1915, but 1916 was when they had their greatest impact -- and Archeophone spotlights some of the biggest stars of that time with hits by Henry Burr ("M-O-T-H-E-R," "Good-Bye, Good Luck, God Bless You"), Al Jolson ("I Sent My Wife to the Thousand Isles," "Yaaka Hoola Hickey Doola"), Billy Murray ("Pretty Baby," "Hello, Hawaii, How Are You?," "I Love a Piano"), and the American Quartet ("Along the Rocky Road to Dublin"). This release has its share of cutesy novelty items (Joseph Cawthorn's "I Can Dance with Everybody But My Wife" certainly fits that description), but many of the songs are romantic in an ultra-sentimental way (for example, the Albert Campbell/Henry Burr duet "Is There Still Room for Me 'Neath the Old Apple Tree?" and John McCormack on "Somewhere a Voice Is Calling" and "The Sunshine of Your Smile"). And while vocal pop of the pre-crooner variety dominates this compilation, there are a few instrumentals as well (including Prince's Band's arrangement of "The Star Spangled Banner"). Anyone with even a casual appreciation of pop music from the World War I era cannot go wrong with 1916 - The Country Found Them Ready.
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson