The Best of the War Years

by: Perry Como

Back in the '60s and '70s, no artist underscored the gap between the World War II generation and the baby boomers more than Perry Como. To the boomers (many of them, anyway), he was square, dated, and unhip -- music your parents listened to while you were off in another room cranking the Doors, Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, or Led Zeppelin. And not everyone from the WWII generation appreciated Como; some people who are old enough to remember the '40s and '50s insist that he was never as cool as Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, or Tony Bennett. To be sure, Como wasn't as edgy or adventurous as those fellow Bing Crosby admirers; regardless, he could still be a pleasing, darn enjoyable pop singer when he had strong material to work with. Spanning 1943-1946, The Best of the War Years takes listeners back to Como's most productive decade. Most of the CD focuses on V-Discs -- 78s that, in the '40s, were not sold commercially and were strictly for the enjoyment of the United States military. However, some of the tracks are from radio broadcasts. But whether he is performing for servicemen or radio listeners, Como usually embraces decent or excellent songs. Cornball novelty items are not a priority here, and the singer is in good to excellent form on romantic gems such as "Don't Blame Me," "It's the Talk of the Town," and "Like Someone in Love." Did Como record his share of schlock in the '50s? Absolutely, and Como himself hated some of the dreadful novelty items that he agreed to record during that decade. But the '40s recordings on this CD are generally respectable. For those who want to hear how pleasing Como could be when he had the right material, The Best of the War Years is enthusiastically recommended. ~ Alex Henderson

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