Every decade has its novelty music, but only the 1920s, the "Jazz Age," when flappers stayed drunk on bathtub gin and the stock market temporarily made everyone a paper millionaire, seems like an era when comic songs caught the spirit of the day. This 40-track, two-CD/cassette set of recordings from that period focuses on the frivolous, and in doing so it reveals much about the period. It begins with a 1920 recording of "Ain't We Got Fun," which notes that "the rich get rich and the poor get poorer"; continuing through 1925's "Pardon Me (While I Laugh)," which slyly comments on the ways by which Prohibition, among other things, was being subverted; to 1928's baby talk "I Faw Down and Go Boom," which seems to anticipate the market crash by a year, these are songs that remain timely despite their frothy tone. Of course, there are outright gibberish tunes like "Yes! We Have No Bananas," comic romps like "Don't Bring Lulu," and examples of wordplay such as "My Cutie's Due at Two to Two Today." By and large, though, these are simply uptempo dance tunes with lightly romantic (sometimes risqué) lyrics, many of them more "wonderful" than "nonsense." Some of the songs were big hits in their day -- "Ain't We Got Fun," "Yes! We Have No Bananas," "Barney Google" ("with the goo-goo-googley eyes"), "Stumbling," and "It Ain't Gonna Rain No Mo'" -- but the collection contains few of the big hit recordings of the songs. Since many of the performers, even the greatest ones like Billy Murray
, are forgotten today -- that's not too important, but in some cases the substituted versions are band recordings with arrangements that cut the zany vocal to a single chorus in what is otherwise an instrumental, reducing the comic effect. Still, the collection is a worthy tribute to a time when people sang songs that had, as one title put it, "Crazy Words Crazy Tune," and lyrics that asked, "How could red riding hood have been so very good and still kept the wolf from the door?" and declared, "Tain't no sin to take off your skin and dance around in your bones."