17/5/2017 11:10 pm  #1

A Gal In Calico

Hello there. I'm a younger fan of Bing, and a collector of pop hits from his era. "A Gal In Calico" was a number one on the UK's chart based on sales of sheet music. Who knows who the most popular version was by, but it was quite likely to have been Bing's. It's quite rare on CD, and usually seems to be a dub from the 78, so I consulted the discography linked to this site to see if it might have appeared from a Decca master source. That told me that it was on "16 Original World Hits", an MCA release in Germany and Australia, which I think dates from 1989. I ordered the CD from Amazon (secondhand), and the quality is better, as well as the CD also having Bing's rarer versions of some more hits from the era. It still doesn't sound as clean as other tracks on it, but more to the point, I don't think it's the commercial 78rpm version. It sounds like a different take to me, although according to the discography, it has the same master number as the 78rpm issue (printed on both the UK Brunswick and US Decca 78s). I note there was a rejected take from the previous session, master number L4134, but that's listed as 2:29, so a bit shorter than this CD version which is about 2:32 (2:37 in the database). 

If anyone has the MCA CD (the German pressing is what I have), perhaps they can listen and tell me what they think, or perhaps there's a good explanation for this. He definitely sounds as if he's singing it differently to the 78rpm version (if you go on YouTube, people have uploaded videos of both the Decca and Brunswick 78s). Case in point - at about 0:40, the way he sings the word "rodeo". On the 78s, he holds the first note of the word. This isn't evident on the CD version. As this CD dates quite far back, I'm sure one of the Crosby collectors must have noticed this alternate take. Odd too that the song was seemingly very popular, both in the UK and the US, yet was mostly neglected on CD by MCA et al.

Session detail for the recording:Date: 7 May 1946
Location: Los Angeles, Calif.
Label: DECCA (US)   c.L4169-AA Gal In Calico - 2:37(Arthur Schwartz, Leo Robin)Bing Crosby (voc), Jud Conlon's Rhythmaires (vgr), John Scott Trotter and his Orchestra (orc)MUSIC FOR PLEASURE (Australia) CDMFPCD 023 — BING CROSBY - 16 ORIGINAL WORLD HITS    
MCA (Australia) CD256 137-2 — BING CROSBY - 16 ORIGINAL WORLD HITS    
MCA (Germany) CD8.62008 256 137-2 — BING CROSBY - 16 ORIGINAL WORLD HITS - Golden Gate Collection    


18/5/2017 7:03 am  #2

Re: A Gal In Calico

An interesting thought and I for one will investigate.

When I compiled the discography I was certainly not undertaking any detailed comparisons and would have assumed that a commercial LP release would have included the "standard" official recording.

But first a couple of comments

- it is an interesting and exhilarating fact that new takes are being discovered still, after all these years. Another was identified on this board this year of "Winter Wonderland" and in the last ten years or so there have been quite a number of recordings stretching back to the '30s.   

- a recording from that era would have been directly onto a 78 rpm disc and all subsequent LP issues will have been copied from a 78 rpm disc. They are all dubbings, the only thing varying being the quality of the disc being copied. The "official" Decca /Brunswick releases should in theory have come from something pretty close to the original master, "unofficial" issues from commercially released pressings.    


18/5/2017 7:26 am  #3

Re: A Gal In Calico

Ah, I thought the discography might have been a long-standing ICC one. Maybe Wig's printed one has more detail. I await any further thoughts from your investigation! I remember a friend of mine (a member of the ICC) had the track on an LP. Could have been the same as the CD, or maybe it's a better source for the commercial take.

I believe that in the pre-tape era, the discs used on recording were "glass masters". I believe they are also often metal. Therefore Bing's recordings up to the late 40s usually sound very "clean" and clear on "official" MCA/Universal releases, as those masters are a superior source to commercially pressed shellac 78s. There is noticeable surface noise on dubs of commercial 78s in most cases.

     Thread Starter

18/5/2017 5:54 pm  #4

Re: A Gal In Calico

Reference to Colin Pugh's book "Alternate Bing Crosby" has reminded me that he deliberated at some length about the takes of "A Gal In Calico".
Admirable though his work is, it is most unfortunate that he does not reveal in detail the sources from which he was working.

I find what he says a little confusing but on the present evidence I think there are indeed three versions (and I have also compared with the radio recordings, just to eliminate them) 

What we have is, in my view, best summed up by the following -

L4134-A (stated to be rejected) of 22 March 1946
L4169-A (the usually issued take) of 7 May 1946

An alternative which might have come from either session and now discovered by "Brunswick 78" on the Australian MfP CD "16 Original World Hits", also issued in Germany.

At 1.34 approx on L4169-A Bing sings a very positive "I'll" at the start of the second chorus.
In both the other versions he omits the word and goes straight into "-- take my gal"

The differences between the rejected take L4134-A and the Alt are more subtle.
The alt has a slightly more staccato orchestral accompaniment in the opening passage.
Throughout the Alt version Bing places more emphasis on the first word of each phrase and there are differences in timing but I am having difficulty finding a  clear and easy to identify marker. More work is indicated but my feeling, in view of the similarities, is that the Alt was recorded at the same time as the reject L4134-A and presumably rejected for the same reason - the omission of "I'll". Why it should be included on an Australian MfP/Ariola  CD issued right at the start of the CD era is beyond me. 

I do not think that minor differences in total running times can be regarded as definitive because minor differences in transcription speeds can produce startling differences over a period of two to three minutes, and issuers have been known to adjust timings in order to correct pitch.



18/5/2017 11:08 pm  #5

Re: A Gal In Calico

Well, many thanks to  our "new recruit" Brunswick 78 for drawing attention to the differences.

I have been undertaking some side by side comparisons, employing my usual method of creating a stereo pair out of the different recordings. This is my personal finding
There are differences between the sounds of the orchestral accompaniment in the opening bars but I would not totally exclude the possibility that these are brought about by differences in the treatment of the audio spectrum during the mastering.

The vocal chorus seems as near identical as possible throughout. The two are certainly not attempts to produce anything different (as some alternative takes were).

Whilst differences are easily viewed on the waveform, audibly they are very minor and occur almost exclusively in Bing's timing, with very slight differences in emphasis on some words, which are difficult to describe in a coherent way without having the two playing side by side.

Forced to pick an example I would point to the line at around 1.37 where Bing sings "Guess I'd better let her know".

On the rejected take L4134-A "I'd better" sounds I'd bett - er - let 'er"
whilst on the "new" alt it sounds  "i -  'd better let 'er"  but to my old ears it only becomes obvious on a side by side comparison. 

My comparison is between the rejected take on Jonzo's Chronological Crosby Vol 42 and Arista/ Ariola/MfP MFPCD 023 "16 Original World Hits", very slightly re-timed to synchronise with each other. 
As I stated in an earlier posting Take L4169-A is easily distinguishable. 


19/5/2017 11:19 pm  #6

Re: A Gal In Calico

Hello Richard, thank you for investigating this recording and sharing your findings. I'm glad you agree with me that the version on 16 Original World Hits is different, and thanks for pointing out the changed lyric. Hearing that, it's obvious. I have to admit, I don't have the "Chronological" series, so hadn't heard the "rejected alt." version.

     Thread Starter

22/5/2017 1:06 am  #7

Re: A Gal In Calico

Having now heard the "rejected" take, I've found a more noticeable difference (the line "I'd bet-ter let 'er know" is too forensic for me to discern for sure!). 

At about 1:20, listen to the way he phrases the lyric "I'm just a country boy, and any country boy..." on both the "rejected" take and the 16 Original World Hits version. The way he sings the word 'country' the second time is notably different on these. He seems to sing 'count - ry' on the rejected take, whereas on the new Alt, I can't hear any pause in the syllables of that word. I'd also say that at about 1:55 the line "gonna quit the rodeo" he seems to pause slightly more before 'rodeo' on the rejected take. The two versions are almost identical and I'd be slightly inclined to think it could be pitching differences or transfer speeds, but like Richard, I can hear these very subtle differences. I also think that on the very final note in the outro he seems to waver/tremble on the "oh..." on the 'rejected' take, whereas it sounds smoother on the new 'alt'. I would concur that this new Alt is most likely another 'rejected' take from the earlier session. I imagine that MCA simply used the first master they found of the song on the 1989 CD.

     Thread Starter

22/5/2017 6:57 am  #8

Re: A Gal In Calico

I agree. The differences occur throughout, but all are very slight and which you pick as the defining item will I think still need side by side comparison, unlike many "alts" where there are often very obvious and conclusive differences that stand alone. 


22/5/2017 8:42 pm  #9

Re: A Gal In Calico

Like Richard and Brunswick78, I love it when (apparently) previously unidentified alternate takes turn up. I have just ordered the "16 Original World Hits" from ebay, and as soon as it arrives I look forward to joining the fray.!

Last edited by jeremyrose (22/5/2017 8:43 pm)


26/5/2017 5:34 pm  #10

Re: A Gal In Calico

My copy of the "16 Original World Hits" - German pressing - arrived today. It's been fascinating comparing the take on this CD with the two takes on Jonzo 42. Many thanks for the detailed work put into this by both Brunswick78 and Richard.

There's a nice selection on the "16 Original World Hits" CD, with some lesser-known items in - as Brunswick78 points out - some very clear transfers.


28/5/2017 11:07 am  #11

Re: A Gal In Calico

By the way, I remember when I first heard this track aged 14 or 15 (and obviously not listening too closely to the lyrics), I thought that Calico was a suburb of Santa Fe..!


28/5/2017 12:06 pm  #12

Re: A Gal In Calico

Glad to hear it, Jeremy, thanks. Actually, until listening closely to the track I also thought Calico was a place! It doesn't get much mention as a fabric these days...

     Thread Starter

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