Probably one of the most popular vocal groups ever, The Mills Brothers celebrated their fifty years in show business in 1976 and were inducted into The Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 1998. The quartet is acknowledged to have released over 2000 recordings with combined sales reaching fifty-million copies; from which they were awarded at least three dozen gold records. Such longevity leaves no doubt The Mills Brothers were a major influence on all the close-harmony groups that followed.
There are many Mills Brothers collections available but this four-CD set consists of 114 tracks so must be regarded as highly comprehensive with not only their popular hits (PAPER DOLL, GLOW WORM, IF I HAD MY WAY, ACROSS THE ALLEY FROM THE ALAMO etc.) but songs from the Fifties;- SUDDENLY THERE’S A VALLEY, THE JONES BOY and STANDING ON THE CORNER etc; jazz classics IN A MELLOW TONE, OPUS ONE, KING PORTER STOMP and many tracks previously unknown to me so they alone make this collection invaluable.
Unfortunately, Jasmine’s failure to programme in chronological order or even list years’ of release or recording dates makes it difficult to actually identify the time-frame of the material except the notes hint they are recordings from the mid-Forties through to 1958 when the group’s Decca contract expired and they moved on to the Dot, Paramount labels etc. However, included original album (either released as vinyl LP or 78rpm sets) compilations are specified and they are IN A MELLOW TONE (1958), MEMORY LANE (?), MEET THE MILLS BROTHERS (1954) with WONDERFUL WORDS (1950) the only album specifically recorded as a new eight-song collection of songs of faith/hymns.
Despite my reservations, it’s invariably the music which counts and that is backs by excellent sound remastering and the expansive content makes this release a really worthwhile Mills Brothers collection to consider.