29/1/2020 3:53 pm  #1

Nomination for a Bing album to be re-released on CD...

BING CROSBY: Sings the Great Country Hits.

In my experience, this album isn't often discussed, yet it sounds good and is very well made. Perhaps it has become "forgotten" because the style is a bit dated. It's not in the vein of Garth Brooks whipping an arena full of modern country fans into a frenzy, very true, but it is perfectly presented in the style of many a top country song produced in Nashville by the likes of Chet Atkins, with lush string sections and even lusher vocal choruses in the background, that tipped them over into cross-over hits on the pop charts. Listening to just a few examples of hits from country crooners like Eddy Arnold and Ray Price around that time reveal similar production values and techniques, as did some of Nat King Cole's remakes of country songs, and songs with country subject matter, that crossed over the other direction.  

Bing isn't remaking the songs as his own, as Ray Charles certainly did when he turned to country songs. Although had Bing had more years working with Ken Barnes and Pete Moore, and had they all turned their collective talents to a country music album, I know it could have been better than this one for two reasons: (a) because the arrangements would have been more surprising and timeless, and (b) because Bing would have dramatized the ballads more effectively, as he did so often in his collaborations with Barnes and Moore.  Still, despite that pipe-dream of mine, Bing gives fine renditions of the songs on this 1963 album, and the album features a good selection of songs hit songs from that time.

If the original tapes survive who knows whether a remix might offer more sparkling audio than my excellent-condition copy of the stereo LP, not to mention that, as many recent Crosby album re-releases do, the new CD might offer several other Crosby country or country-related songs as bonus tracks.  And I have no doubt that an interesting booklet about the the making of the album, its tracks, and Bing's relationship with country music could also be compiled and included.

(I have seen online that the album did appear once on CD, but it was paired with Travelin' Two-beat -- not the sort of re-release project I am suggesting.)


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