24/11/2010 6:35 pm  #1

The Crosby Christmas Sessions


I suppose all of the more popular singers have released Christmas albums at some stage in their career, and those that achieved regular radio or TV shows would of course feature Christmas songs at the appropriate time on their shows. Bing did no less but achieved much more, becoming 'The Voice Of Christmas'.  But it was not always so.

Robert Bader in his notes to 'The Crosby Christmas Sessions' makes the point that apart from 'Silent Night' and 'Adeste Fidelis', Bing’s early holiday radio shows hardly acknowledged the season.

'Adeste Fidelis' and 'Silent Night' were recorded  commercially in 1934 and 1935 and there were regular appearances for both annually on radio from 1936.  That was about it for several years – with the single exception of the Christmas show for Woodbury in 1934 which had 'Jingle Bells', 'Christmas Dawn In Harlem' (don’t ask me, I haven’t a clue what that is), and 'Silent Night'. A trifle academic, because I don't think anything from this show survives.

The KMH shows of 19 December and 26 December 1935 were completely devoid of Christmas material.

In 1936, 1937, 1938, 1939 and 1940 the KMH shows included both 'Silent Night' and 'Adeste Fidelis' whilst from 1938 some suitable material from the Kraft Choral Society was added, but so far as Bing’s contribution was concerned, things were restricted to those two, though I suppose I should mention 'Auld Lang Syne' which made an appropriate appearance just after Christmas 1939.

So the Voice of Christmas was a slow starter, but from 1941 things started to got going with 'Santa Claus Is Coming To Town'  on 18 December and 'Adeste Fidelis' ,  'White Christmas' (yes, as early as that) 'Shepherd Serenade' and 'Silent Night' with Connie Boswell chipping in with 'When Christmas Is Gone'  on Christmas Day itself.

Then of course came May and June of 1942 when several of the studio record versions of the songs in 'Holiday Inn' were made, and we all know what they were and what they included, don’t we?

Christmas for Bing was never the same again. Bing took Christmas over. Or did Christmas take Bing over? (I do sometimes wonder whether Christmas in general and “White Christmas�  in particular was a bit of a handicap as well as a blessing.  The ill informed too frequently merely associate Bing with THAT song, or possibly the genre, to the exclusion of all else).

I have now given  a couple of hearings to the new CD 'The Crosby Christmas Sessions', a very welcome compendium of the most common, and some less common of Bing’s seasonal favourites. But in a way they are the less common because they are, in the main, other versions, taken from radio. Eight tracks including one medley of four items, making eleven titles, have been pulled from the General Electric show recorded on 30 November 1952 and broadcast on Christmas Day of that year.  I have a complete copy of that show, and believe me, the audio quality of the new CD is a startling contrast with it. If this is what Bing Crosby Enterprises can do with the tapes of General Electric and Chesterfield material in their possession there is only one possible reaction. Well, possibly two -  'Encore!' and 'More Please!'.

Indeed,  most of the tracks have been taken from radio - the General Electric and Chesterfield shows and the annual (for some years) “Christmas Sing With Bing� ,  and all give a different “feel�  to the songs with which we are so familiar from the commercially issued versions,  including a very enjoyable “White Christmas� .

There are some commercially released tracks  -  a Columbia single – 'Just What I Wanted For Christmas' and 'The Secret Of Christmas' and four from Reprise - 'Go Tell It On The Mountain',  'It’s Christmas Time Again' and 'We Wish You The Merriest' from the '12 Songs of Christmas' LP  (fairly recently issued on a Frank Sinatra CD which many will have, and personally I would have hoped for something else but others I am sure will be very happy indeed),  and 'White World Of Winter' from a single.

And then there is the 'Little Drummer Boy/ Peace on Earth' duet with Bowie from 1977 TV recorded just a month before Bing’s death and first shown after it. 

Altogether a very good selection, and in several instances I find the radio versions (which are very good “clean�  copies) preferable to the usual commercial versions.  Or maybe it’s just refreshing to hear them in a slightly different setting. 

It’s also very pleasing to have decent recordings of 'The White World Of Winter' and 'Just What I Wanted For Christmas'.  And just listen to the second 'fast' version of 'Jingle Bells'. You need jet skis to keep up!

I nearly forgot to mention that both 'Silent Night' and 'Adeste Fideles' are here too,  from November 1952 – 58 years ago and a mere 17 or 18 years after Bing first recorded them.

I have one very tiny quibble.  I do wish that it would be possible to find a way in which the information associated with each track could be displayed in a more accessible form.  The track titles are in one place, recording information in another with track numbers, which are not all in order, and accompanist information in a third place, again with numbers.  I realise that space on a CD insert is limited but it is difficult to see all relevant information as a cohesive whole.  There is a minor typographical error – The recording information for track 18 is shown twice but the second version actually relates to track 19.

Collector's Choice have continued with the stout card cover and pocketed insert notes. Their series now makes a nice smart matching set.  I think the style is much better than the fragile transparent plastic still offered by most record companies. And it takes up slightly less space.

Buy it in time for Christmas - I don’t think you will regret it.

Last edited by Richard Baker (08/12/2010 6:06 pm)


07/12/2010 5:57 pm  #2

Re: The Crosby Christmas Sessions

Just listened to this CD last night and, aside from the aforementioned information quibble, it is quite enjoyable. In fact, I find it a wonderful "stand alone" Christmas CD. By that I mean even the casual Crosby Christmas fan could pick this as their one and only Bing holiday CD and find it totally enjoyable.

Once again, kudos to all involved in the reissing of these long-neglected musical masterpieces!

All the best,
Paul M. Mock

03/11/2014 9:54 pm  #3

Re: The Crosby Christmas Sessions

Richard and Paul, thank you for writing about this album! I saw it online (http://www.bingcrosbyshop.com/music-1/bing-crosby-christmas-cd.html) and though I've been pleased with all the Bing Crosby Enterprises releases I've heard to date, it's hard to sift through the mountains of Crosby Christmas releases. I'll be ordering posthaste.


08/10/2020 5:27 pm  #4

Re: The Crosby Christmas Sessions

I wish I could've gotten it while I could have, as it has gone OOP and I can't find any listing online to buy it used.

From my research looking for the CD I found there was a lawsuit with Universal around the time of it's release about the release of the CD because of a 1943 contract with BING and Decca concerning Christmas recordings and that they wanted distribution.

I started to ask myself why it isn't in production now with the other CCM release that were rebranded under UMG with the other CCM releases. This will be speculation, but I believe what happened is that the tracks from 12 Songs Of Christmas stopped this CD from being reissued. Nancy Sinatra said that Warner still owned the album which makes since as when the Sinatra Estate went with Concord and UMG in 2010 for a box set of all of the Reprise Sinatra except Robin and the Seven Hoods, and the Musical Repertory releases. Which It doesn't necessarily surprise me with the Musical and Robin albums as they are even more mixed artists. Then you have 12 Songs Of Christmas which wouldn't surprise me IF America, I Hear You Singing wasn't in the set and it was. That makes me believe Warner still owns the 12 Songs album, and BCE was able to release those duets with Frank and I believe It's Christmas Time Again because CCM is not a direct competitor music wise unlike UMG. I don't know why Warner wants to keep ahold of the 12 Songs album as they aren't doing anything with it, but this is what I've came up with.

Every time it rains, it rains pennies from heaven.

08/10/2020 10:56 pm  #5

Re: The Crosby Christmas Sessions

It's best we don't speculate too deeply about rights matters, which can be pretty tangled.
It's far too easy for conjecture to be interpreted or develop into misleading fact. 


     Thread Starter

08/10/2020 11:37 pm  #6

Re: The Crosby Christmas Sessions

I realize that, and I probably wouldn’t have even posted this if this wasn’t the only CCM release not reissued, especially since it is a Christmas CD.

Every time it rains, it rains pennies from heaven.

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