This collection likely would never have been considered for U.S. release, but for the fact that in September of 2009 it topped the U.K. charts, in the face of new reissues by the Beatles
et al. And to the degree that it fosters some new interest in and attention for Dame Vera Lynn
(age 92 in 2009) and her music, that's great. But that's about the only thing great about this collection. It does offers a decent cross-section of her music across two decades of her career, which lasted 41 years. But this is hardly the definitive account of the singer's World War II-era recordings, which were the main focus of the coverage it received. For reasons that have never been adequately explained, since the 1990s Decca has persisted in using Lynn
's 1953 re-recording of "We'll Meet Again," a career-defining song if ever there was one, rather than the 1941 original (which was available on a now out of print ASV compilation of her work). The absence of recording dates is also questionable under the circumstances. Lynn
's very first record, "Up the Wooden Hills to Bedfordshire," recorded in 1936 when she was 19, is present; and so is her classic rendition of "The White Cliffs of Dover." But most of the music here is actually from the '50s, though the CD still manages to miss some of her pop hits from that era, as well. It's difficult to argue with success on the scale this collection found upon release, or the sound quality of what is here, but it is an odd state of affairs that has Lynn
's '30s sides (including her rendition of "Harbor Lights" from 1937) in release, but not, say, her rendition of "A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square," or the original "We'll Meet Again." Perhaps they'll make an appearance on a subsequent volume, the release of which seems likely, in view of the sales success of this one. In the meantime, though one wishes it were better executed, it's best to encourage Decca by purchasing this disc.