Includes liner notes by band leader Vic Schoen.
Personnel: LaVerne Andrews, Maxene Andrews, Patty Andrews (vocals).
Audio Remasterer: Doug Schwartz.
Recording information: Sound Tek Studios, NY.
Unknown Contributor Roles: Dale Sizer; Al Jolson; Vic Schoen; Danny Kaye.
The first of a very good two-volume collection of some of the Andrews Sisters' best work, this 16-song CD was more than essential at the time of its release, mostly due to the presence of several numbers that hadn't been heard in decades: "Pagan Love Song," "Shoo Shoo Baby," "Bounce Me Brother With a Solid Four," "Gimme Some Skin My Friend," their rendition of "Tuxedo Junction," and their Danny Kaye and Al Jolson collaborations, "Civilization" and "Way Down Yonder In New Orleans." Apart from the Jolson number, which was in release in 1956, none of the others had been available since the 1940s, and all were worth hearing. Among the previously "lost" tracks, "Pagan Love Song" as a boogie-woogie style number is worth the price of the disc by itself, and "Tuxedo Junction" isn't far behind, Patty Andrews luxuriating in the lead while her sisters wrap their voices around hers like a second skin and Vic Schoen's arrangement provides playful accompaniment by the trumpets and saxes. "Gimme Some Skin My Friend" and "Bounce Me Brother With a Solid Four" are unique Andrews Sisters creations, authored by Don Raye (of "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" fame) and nearly as successful in their use of early-'40s slang. "Corns for My Country" is a delightful period song about the Hollywood Canteen (from the movie of the same title) that shows off Patty Andrews' comical mugging for the microphone. Danny Kaye makes a better lead singer than one would expect, and not just in a comic vein, and Al Jolson sounds infinitely better than one would expect on a song cut in the year of his death. The notes are also a treat, featuring reminiscences by Patty Andrews and Maxene Andrews and arranger Vic Schoen. The only drawback to this collection is that it was done in 1987, and there are now better mastering techniques and technology available. Those just discovering the trio's work, however, should also be warned that this disc doesn't stand by itself -- there are any number of key songs that only made it onto the second volume, and there are other anthologies that embrace still other parts of their vast catalog, but this and its companion volume are a nice place to start. ~ Bruce Eder