Monday, October 14, 2013

Welcome to the Blog! A Portrait of Bing Crosby (Music Collection International, 1997)

Today, on the day that marks the 36th anniversary of Bing's passing on a golf course in Madrid, Spain, I begin this new blog that, as its title indicates, is devoted to brief reviews of Crosby releases that are available on CD. Over the years, I have gathered quite an extensive collection of Bing Crosby material, and although I don't have anything that truly dedicated collectors would covet, I do own a fair amount of CDs, LPs, DVDs, books, and sheet music. However, for this blog, I will concentrate on compact discs, and my intention is simply to write short, informative reviews of the CDs in my collection, hoping that they will be helpful to anyone looking to purchase those discs for their own collections. Comments, of course, are always welcome, and if you have any additional information on a particular release or if you agree or disagree with any of my assessments, please let me know via the comment link at the bottom of each entry. Thanks, and let's all enjoy the impressive recorded legacy of Bing Crosby, for the most part widely available on CD.

DISC 1: Please / How Deep Is the Ocean? / Dancing in the Dark / Sentimental and Melancholy / On the Sentimental Side / Don't Be That Way / Blue Hawaii / Silver on the Sage / Song of the Islands / The Last Round-Up / Black Moonlight / Someday Sweetheart / I've Got the World on a String / Did You Ever See a Dream Walking? / Dinah / Brother, Can You Spare a Dime? / Pennies from Heaven / Down the Old Ox Road / Maybe / Thanks / In My Merry Oldsmobile / Moonlight Becomes You / Remember Me? / It's Easy to Remember

DISC 2: Sweet and Lovely / Too Romantic / This Is My Night to Dream / Temptation / Try a Little Tenderness / Star Dust / Sweet Leilani / I'm an Old Cowhand / Goodnight Sweetheart / The Funny Old Hills / Too Marvelous for Words / Out of Nowhere / (I Don't Stand) A Ghost of a Chance with You / An Apple for the Teacher / Sweet Georgia Brown / If You Should Ever Need Me / Still the Bluebird Sings / Were You Sincere / Sing a Song of Sunbeams / You're Getting to Be a Habit with Me / Only Forever / You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby / The Moon Got in My Eyes / White Christmas.

A publicity photo of Bing in the 1930s

I begin this series of reviews of Bing Crosby CDs with the first one that I ever bought many years ago now. In retrospect, even though it wasn't an official release, I must admit that it represented a great introduction to Bing's music at a very reasonable price. A Portrait of Bing Crosby is one in a series of 2-CD sets issued by the obscure label Music Collection International in the mid- to late-1990s, offering recordings by Crosby contemporaries such as Louis Armstrong, Tommy Dorsey, Duke Ellington, Frank Sinatra, Fats Waller, Glenn Miller &c., with good sound, brief liner notes, recording dates, and a total of 48 songs.

The volume on Bing isn't arranged chronologically, but it features songs cut between 1932 ("Please," which opens the anthology) and 1942 ("White Christmas," which closes it) for both Brunswick and Decca. Many of Bing's early hits are covered here, although the cutoff date means that most of his fine 1940s recordings aren't included. Besides his excellent versions of classics such as "Pennies from Heaven" or "Star Dust," we can hear Bing performing country-styled tunes, Hawaiian numbers, jazz perennials like "Sweet Georgia Brown," and even his duets with Connee Boswell on "An Apple for the Teacher" and with the Mills Bros. on "Dinah." The set is now out of print, but as of this writing, used copies are still available from some online retailers, and I would recommend it to those fans looking for a good introduction to Bing's sound of the 1930s and early '40s.

Bing with the Boswell Sisters

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