The musical trends of 1948 included the continuing transition from big bands to individual singers, as well as the increasing popularity of lighthearted novelties, often set to arrangements based on diverse musical genres. This excellent compilation, which presents, among its 24 selections, 19 of the year's biggest hits in their most popular recordings, illustrates those trends. Ten of the tracks are by big bands, with such veteran names as Tommy Dorsey, Sammy Kaye, Kay Kyser, and Ray Noble represented. But it's the singers who dominate, notably the Andrews Sisters, Buddy Clark, Bing Crosby, Doris Day, Dick Haymes, Peggy Lee, and Dinah Shore, all of whom were among the year's top recording artists. The parade of hits includes some outright oddities, especially Nat King Cole's quasi-philosophical "Nature Boy," and genre pastiches such as Dinah Shore's Western-styled "Buttons and Bows" and Peggy Lee's good-natured south-of-the-border song "Manana." Because musicians were on strike against the recording companies for much of the year, some of the songs had to be recorded with choral backup only, another blow to the big bands. In the five songs the compilers have chosen to omit, one finds even more novelty -- no "Woody Woodpecker" or "All I Want for Christmas (Is My Two Front Teeth)." Instead, they have substituted a few slightly lesser hits, such as Woody Herman's "Sabre Dance" and Perry Como's "Because," that give a wider sense of the music and artists popular during 1948.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann