09/12/2010 3:24 pm  #1

The Year In Review Part 2

This is a continuation of my brief review of the CDs to which we have been treated over the past year.

The next item is a slight oddity in that it had limited availability for some months via PBS stations in the US. It became generally available during November 2010.

One CD which takes a selection of items from the 7 CD MOSAIC set but adds four titles. If you have the ‘Mosaic’ set and you are anxious for those titles you need to buy it and accept a lot of duplication, but you might decide to pass it by. If you want a very nice selection of the songs as presented by Bing with Buddy Cole and His Trio but don’t want to run to the costs of seven CDs on Mosaic then this is a very satisfactory alternative.  But if you do get it you might find a craving for the full Mosaic set..

After the big batch of CDs from Collector's Choice covered in part 1 of this review we had a short pause to catch our breath and replenish our pockets. Then the next batch came along:

CCM2159 ‘BING SINGS THE SINATRA SONGBOOK’. Well actually Bing got in first with some and made a hit of at least one before Frankie got his teeth into it. But no matter, they are titles that many would now associate with Frank. And jolly good they are too. Here we make further inroads into the radio titles with Buddy Cole, but there are others from earlier radio shows (though all recorded in studios for radio use rather than in front of an audience) and there are also items from later records including a remix of ‘Summer Wind’ from 1977.  And Frank puts in appearance on a duet medley. 

CCM2160 ‘A SOUTHERN MEMOIR‘ One of Bing’s independent productions from 1975 which very oddly was only issued in the UK by British Decca. Were their partners in the US asleep at the time? Why on earth couldn’t Bing’s representatives secure a release there? There should be much pent up demand that this CD will now fill. Bing takes a swing through the south. The accompaniment is very ‘busy’ at times and I know it irritates some, but Bing surmounts it – he seems to sail over it with magnificent ease.

Wonderful stuff. There are several alternative takes but the item that really fascinates me is ‘Bing’s South Texas Quail Hunting Medley’.  Bing seems to have delighted in making recordings for private circulation among  friends,  using tunes to well known melodies but lyrics which he had re-written mentioning those friends and incidents.  I wish there were more explanatory notes about those incidents the details of which we can only guess.  Or possibly no one now has or remembers the information?  Highly entertaining.

CCM2161 ‘THE CROSBY CHRISTMAS SESSIONS’  Those radio shows being well mined again,  though here we have several seasonal songs from later commercial recordings.  A beautiful mix of  the very well known, including ‘White Christmas’, but in different versions,  with the slightly less well known.  Paul Mock,  on this forum, has made the point that this album is a very satisfactory stand alone Christmas CD and I agree.

Although Rosemary Clooney is closely linked with Bing via their appearance in the film ‘White Christmas’ from 1954 and from 1952 from her regular appearances on his radio shows, they did not sing together on commercially issued records,  surprising though that may seem,  until the LP ‘Fancy Meeting You Here’ in 1958.  They eventually had a joint show – ‘The Crosby-Clooney Show’.  Here we have an assortment from 1952 through to 1960, from their appearances together on radio with accompaniments from the John Scott Trotter Orchestra and Buddy Cole and His Trio.  Bob Hope puts in an appearance. There is one solo from each,  all songs otherwise being shared between them.  The voices and styles of Bing and Rosemary were an ideal match and they produce a very entertaining pair of CDs.  This is high on my list for repeated hearings.

All the Collector's Choice issues share the same style of stout card boxes with a pocket for a notes insert and moulded tray for the CD, which I find better the standard  plastic cases.

They are very well engineered and the radio-derived material is from the original tapes that were inserted into the radio shows (in contrast to being taken from the shows as broadcast) of which copies have informally circulated for some years.  The sound is really something to be heard.   

I assume that the process of ‘raiding’ the radio archives will continue.  It is clear that Bing Crosby Enterprises possess tapes going back certainly to the General Electric and Chesterfield shows that are much better in audio quality than might have been imagined for the early and mid 1950s. It serves as a reminder to us that Bing championed and financed new recording technology.  Our appetites are whetted.  Bring them on! (But remember our pockets).

Full track listings and sound samples of all these issues are at Collector’s Choice here

More to be covered in Part 3

Last edited by Richard Baker (09/12/2010 3:26 pm)


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