Recording information: Kraft Music Hall (1937-1944).
Vocal harmony quartet the Ink Spots formed a kind of bridge between the showtune pop styles of the 1940s and the later street corner doo wop style of the 1950s and were arguably the first modern black vocal group. Rare Air 1937-1944 is a marvelous collection of extremely rare movie and radio transcriptions and plays like a live concert, showing off the range, talent, and personality of this endearing quartet. Bill Kenny's impossibly high tenor is spotlighted on an air check of "Maybe," and his easy control is breathtaking and as intimate as if he were standing in your living room. The group shines on the infectious "Swing, Mr. Charlie." Bernie Mackey replaces Charlie Fuqua on guitar for the final ten tracks here, drawn from the Armed Forces Victory Parade of Spotlight Bands broadcasts. The concluding cut, "Time Waits for No One," shows the kind of ensemble power the Ink Spots possessed. While it shouldn't replace a collection of the group's greatest hits, Rare Air in some ways does a better job of showing off the energy and versatility of this amazing and important group. ~ Steve Leggett