20/8/2011 1:49 am  #1


"Presenting the Crosby Brothers," my first hearing of this LP

This was among my finds and an annual charity sale benefitting a public radio station in my region.  It is just now playing the first side.  I must say I'm impressed.

On this album "The Crosby Borthers" consist of Phillip, Dennis, and Lindsay.  I recall that all four brothers performed/toured for a period of time.  I seem to recall there was some falling out.  The more pugnacious Gary seems not to have been with them for this recording.

I like Gary's singing, from the duets with Bing I know.  I would expect that the Brothers group with Gary would have been very good, by I must say that I like listening to these three brothers more than I like listening to Gary solo.  As the first track played, I kept saying to myself, "This is exceptional."

I am hearing an interesting variety of songs and arrangements.  There are some beautiful harmonies, and also some part-unison passages with a harmony line weaving occasionally in or out of it.  On balance, the body of songs could be called middle-of-the-road -- we might say guaranteed to please their dad's audience, but on "Joshua" and "Green Grass" they remind a bit of The Kingston Trio and some of the other folk-influenced groups that were coming out of colleges in those days -- and touring among colleges, playing to packed auditoriums.  On some of the ballads they remind me of slightly later male groups like the Lettermen and the Vogues, except I can tell you I would much rather listen to these brothers than either of those groups.  By comparison, to the "body" present in this music, the Lettermen and Vogues strike me as not much better than lite beer.

"Once In A While" reminds me of the Mills Brothers, a comparison Bing invited in his note on the album's back cover, but that doesn't mean it isn't clear for anybody to hear.  The version of "Dinah" on the album also reminds me in places of the Mills Brothers, though less so in the jazzier sections when the boys' particular interpretations stand out more.

A very remarkable song is "Magic is the Moonlight" which closes the album.  There are some passages in the first third of the song which quite extraordinarily sound to me like a * * * Choir of Bings *** crooning together in harmony.  Perhaps this seems even moreso because the instrumentation has a touch of the Hawaiian in it, and also who sany more songs with moonlight in them than Bing?

It is easy to imagine a group with this talent putting out a folk album competitive with those of groups similar to the Kingston Trio.  They clearly were musically talented enough to have recorded hits as popular as the other two groups I mentioned...if given equally memorable song material to work with.  And their jazzy timing and flourishes clearly could have permitted them to go in that diirection as a swinging pop group.  I also wouldn't rule their being capable of having some rock-and-roll hits, though I don't hear an example on this LP that leans in that direction.

While Bing's introductory note is warm, humorous, and charming -- there is so much more I wish the album cover told me about what I am hearing: what band and leader?  whose arrangements?  what instrumental soloists?  which sons offer vocal solos on which songs?  I am hoping some Crosby fans will be generous enough to fill in some of these gaps, to the extent that some of the answers are known.

As to the vocal solos, it seems to me that at least two, if not all three of the sons offer solos at various times.  These solo voices are very, very rich.  They are also very, very smooth.  I don't hear the sandpapery quality I have always heard in Gary's voice.  Have other's also noticed something distinctly different in Phillip, Dennis, and Lindsay's voices compared to Gary's?  That wouldn't keep Gary from blending with his brothers, but in a solo his voice would stand out I think as having a different texture.

Interestingly, I have watched this album on ebay from time to time, and never really thought of it as being particularly essential to my Bing collection.  Now that I have heard it (only one time through so far), it makes me wonder what else such a group might have been able to offer, especially as it evolved in its song selection and as it grew in its artistry.  Was there ever a second Crosby Brothers album?  If not, what a crying shame!

 

20/8/2011 6:14 am  #2


Re: "Presenting the Crosby Brothers," my first hearing of this LP

They only made the one album in April 1960. For a couple of years they were very popular indeed appearing on the Perry Como and Ed Sullivan shows as well as touring. Here's a review of one of the shows.

Bing’s Boys Sing Out In Latin Quarter Debut
Music in harmony, clear and sweet and rhythmic, approached intelligently, often humorously and always with a timing that is a thing of beauty in itself, is the essence of an act starring Phillip, Dennis and Lindsay Crosby, three of Bing’s sons, which E. M. Loew and Ed Risman presented last night at the Latin Quarter. Advance notices from Las Vegas, where the boys were enthusiastically received, do not exaggerate. It is no fly-by-night act, built on a father’s reputation. Rather, does it subtly recognize talent handed down to another generation that carries on in its own proficient way. Much credit is due John Bradford and William Friml, who added some apt lyrics for the opening “This is a Lovely Way to Spend an Evening  and the following “You’re a Good Group.  The numbers are the boys’ introduction of themselves to the audience, and they are solid.
    The next two numbers “Mamselle  and “Dinah,  are purely the harmony, indicating the range of each voice and pinpointing the personalities in little ways. There isn’t a solo all night, but each boy takes a brief turn in introducing a segment or singing a few bars. Charles O’Curran staged and produced this superior act of the Crosby Bros., Bill Thompson did the orchestration and vocal arrangements and drummer Lloyd Morales sat in with Joe Lombardi’s orchestra as Fred Otis conducted from the piano.
    A folk medley of “Scarlett Ribbons,  “Little White Duck,  “Old Dan Tucker,  “Lil’ David  and “Joshua  made up the second segment of the act, with each number interpreted in an original manner. Then came the finale, as the boys did excerpts from about 30 songs made famous by their father. This could have been an ear-bending, wearying number without proper editing. As they present it, it is a closely woven tapestry of song and sentiment, bringing the past to the present with taste and skill. As they closed, in tribute to Bing, with “The Blue of the Night,  I felt deeply moved and awfully glad I attended the opening. Earlier, before and during the show, I realized the familiar antics of Frank Libuse, the mad “waiter,  as well as other variety acts and the beautiful girls in Fred Wittop’s scintillating costumes. The Crosby Bros. and the Latin Quarter have a rare treat for all comers.
(Robert W. Dana, New York World Telegram and Sun, April 27, 1961)

 

20/8/2011 6:43 am  #3


Re: "Presenting the Crosby Brothers," my first hearing of this LP

Malcolm,  thanks so much.  That review is certainly consistent with my impressions of the album, though it suggests additionally that their on-stage showmanship matched these vocal accomplishments.  The album does include a very interesting interpretation of "Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams."  It is in no way a copy of how Bing did it, but it is a very solid and memorable (I think) version.  It is hard to imagine another group doing a better rendition, though there might be other different versions.  It certainly sounds from the review like they could have been on their way to doing a folk ablum, or another eclectic album.

Do you know if any of these songs from the album, or others I suppose that might have been recorded, were released as 45-rpm singles?  It seems to me that two or three of them could have been competitive with some of what passed for top 40 hits in 1959-62.

     Thread Starter
 

20/8/2011 11:58 am  #4


Re: "Presenting the Crosby Brothers," my first hearing of this LP

Cover Pic -
https://docs.google.com/uc?id=0B3vneCRh1nRHY2RkNmY2OGMtYmY3Ni00ZGRjLWE4MmQtYjg1ZDM3ZmE3YTJi&export=download&hl=en_US


Full Track list -
You Must Have Been A Beautiful Baby
Mine
Limehouse Blues
Wrap Your Troubles In Dreams
Joshua
Mamselle
Once In A While
I Can't Give You Anything But Love
Green Grass
Dinah
Singin' In The Rain
Magic Is The Moonlight

I like the bit about a "choir of Bings''.

Not too certain about the name "Crosby Bros'' What was wrong with "Brothers''?

Last edited by Richard Baker (21/8/2011 10:03 am)

 

20/8/2011 2:45 pm  #5


Re: "Presenting the Crosby Brothers," my first hearing of this LP

Richard,  I realize now that I translated the Bros to Brothers in reading the title.  The front cover says "Bros" and the back cover says "Bros." WITH the period.  Most abbreviations are supposed to be read as the word represented: Mr. as Mister, for example.  But around 1960, there is a slight chance that they were calling themselves the Crosby * Broze * to evoke a certain hipster sensibility.  Does anyone recall any introductions from their TV or radio perfomances?

     Thread Starter
 

21/8/2011 1:27 am  #6


Re: "Presenting the Crosby Brothers," my first hearing of this LP

I have been trying to get a copy of this album for years - I have never heard it on cassette even. Great find Steve - I am so envious!

 

22/8/2011 10:38 pm  #7


Re: "Presenting the Crosby Brothers," my first hearing of this LP

Then there is Moss Bros. but they have nothing to do with singing at all.

 

23/8/2011 12:38 pm  #8


Re: "Presenting the Crosby Brothers," my first hearing of this LP

Ron, considering the quality of the brief solo passages on the album, I did start thinking about famous brothers groups who donated members who became great solo acts:  The Ames Brothers, The Williams Brothers.  Of course, had any one of these Crosby brothers gone solo, after the brothers group had had a good run, that brother would have been standing more in Bing's shadow.  People who know the boys' individual voices better than I do, perhaps from knowing more of the radio shows on which they appeared, might be able to shed some light on who is taking solos on the album's songs.  I just keep wondering 'who is this singing now?'

     Thread Starter
 

24/8/2011 6:22 pm  #9


Re: "Presenting the Crosby Brothers," my first hearing of this LP

Steve,
Moss Bros is a firm in the UK that rents/sells men's suits. It was a 'tongue in cheek' remark, which our UK friends would understand.

 

24/8/2011 11:25 pm  #10


Re: "Presenting the Crosby Brothers," my first hearing of this LP

Ron Field wrote:

Steve,
Moss Bros is a firm in the UK that rents/sells men's suits. It was a 'tongue in cheek' remark, which our UK friends would understand.

Did they have singing salesmen?   ;)

It makes me think of that British TV program "Are You Being Served?"

     Thread Starter
 

25/8/2011 1:08 pm  #11


Re: "Presenting the Crosby Brothers," my first hearing of this LP

Steve Fay wrote:

Ron Field wrote:

Steve,
Moss Bros is a firm in the UK that rents/sells men's suits. It was a 'tongue in cheek' remark, which our UK friends would understand.

It makes me think of that British TV program "Are You Being Served?"

The sort of establishment in which the character played by Beatrice Lillie in the 'Double Damask Dinner Napkins' sketch with Bing on Philco Radio Time, 5th February 1947 might have felt at home. (Grace Bros of 'Are You Being Served', not Moss Bros, that is).  A little bit surprising that this bit of eccentric British humour travelled so far.

 

25/8/2011 5:53 pm  #12


Re: "Presenting the Crosby Brothers," my first hearing of this LP

Steve,
Beatrice also did this in "Dr. Rhythm" with Bing, Andy Devine & co.

 

26/8/2011 1:57 am  #13


Re: "Presenting the Crosby Brothers," my first hearing of this LP

Richard Baker wrote:

Steve Fay wrote:

Ron Field wrote:

Steve,
Moss Bros is a firm in the UK that rents/sells men's suits. It was a 'tongue in cheek' remark, which our UK friends would understand.

It makes me think of that British TV program "Are You Being Served?"

The sort of establishment in which the character played by Beatrice Lillie in the 'Double Damask Dinner Napkins' sketch with Bing on Philco Radio Time, 5th February 1947 might have felt at home. (Grace Bros of 'Are You Being Served', not Moss Bros, that is).  A little bit surprising that this bit of eccentric British humour travelled so far.

"Are You Being Served" is one of the British TV Comedies ( some people call them Britcoms ) that have been aired extensively in the US on the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS)  and some other cable or other stations.  Here's a link to a page devited to them, but I admit that I haven't heard of a little over half of the ones on this page: http://valdefierro.com/index.html

     Thread Starter
 

26/8/2011 8:41 pm  #14


Re: "Presenting the Crosby Brothers," my first hearing of this LP

There used to be a company in Sydney called Grace Brothers. They had a big store - 2 buildings -on Broadway, but they're no more.

 

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