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Music Classics, Volumes 1-3

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Billed on the boxes as a ”lavish tribute to the music of the 1940s,” Music Classics, Volume 1-3 collects 74 public-domain music clips from the ’30s to the early ’60s and sticks them together in a presentation that’s anything but lavish. There are some wonderful performances by Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, Nat ”King” Cole, Sarah Vaughan, Dizzy Gillespie, and others, but they’re mixed in with the pop sugar candy of Gene Austin, Ozzie Nelson, Al Donahue, and Les Elgart, whose orchestras were once characterized by swing fans as ”Mickey Mouse bands.” Unfortunately, virtually none of the soloists and singers are identified — not even the Andrew Sisters (heard with Harry James) or Roy Eldrige (heard with Gene Krupa). And the editing is haphazard: Some pieces begin or end in the middle, others suddenly fade out in slow motion or stall in a freeze frame. Yet the price is reasonable, and musically, more than half of the clips hold up just fine. Volume 1: B; Volume 2: B-; Volume 3: C-

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