09/12/2010 3:02 pm  #1

The Year in Review. Part 1

It’s coming up to the end of a phenomenal year from Crosby fans, and I think it might be time to take stock in order  to pause and remind ourselves what has happened over the past twelve months or slightly more in terms of issues of CDS.

This period has seen the greatest activity that I, a veteran Crosby fan for over 55 years, can remember. We had a wonderful series of new records in the period 1975 – 1977.  In the wake of that resurgence of interest there were also quite a number of compilations of older material released in a new packaging and combinations. A Golden Indian Summer for Bing.

But the recent activity seems to have eclipsed that in sheer volume of ‘new’ items, particularly bearing in mind that one CD broadly equals two LPs.

It seems to me almost a race – the issues kept coming and the fans were kept running hard to keep up.
There has been an extremely productive collaboration between Bing Crosby Enterprises and Mosaic Records and Collector’s Choice.

Things were kicked off in November 2009 so that is where I’ll start. 

First came MOSAIC with the seven disc set

All made for radio use with Buddy Cole and His Trio or an augmented Dixieland group. Bing is at his best in a delightfully relaxed manner with a small group of friends enjoying themselves. Delightful. And then the 14 tracks with the Dixieland group really gets the toes tapping. A fantastic set.

Then a big batch from Collector’s Choice:

CCM2104 ‘SEASONS’ A true delight and I think the real jewel of all issues so far. Bing’s last LP plus the songs from his last radio show plus some poetry readings never generally available and all recorded in the last two months of Bing’s life. And as I have said elsewhere I challenge anyone with knowledge of the imminent news of that day in October 1977, listening to the last song ‘Once In A While’ not to have moist eyes.

CCM2105 ‘RETURN TO PARADISE ISLANDS’ Only ever issued once in 1963 in LP form and for long unavailable so very welcome to all enthusiasts.  Whilst not out of Bing’s very top drawer still a delight. And as I constantly remind people, even Bing’s bottom drawers are still higher than many other singers’ top drawers! And this is far from the bottom.

CCM2106 ‘ON THE SENTIMENTAL SIDE’ Eagerly awaited by many because this recording from 1962 had never been issued in any form. There are some very good songs – many standards and old ‘parlour’ favourites and all very welcome. Bing is in great voice but I do find the CD very frustrating because they are abbreviated and sung as medleys of three. I want Bing to serve up the full feast and not just the canapés. I do feel that he is wasting his abilities in this format.

CCM2107 ‘BING ON BROADWAY’ Bing in his element in many well loved show songs by the greats- Berlin, Gershwin, Rodgers and Hart, Porter, Lerner and Loewe and others. All except two tracks with Buddy Cole and his Trio and drawn from the same sources as the MOSAIC set and the same comments apply. The two remaining tracks are with John Scott Trotter and his Orchestra. 

CCM2108 ‘EL SENOR BING’ An issue that initially puzzled me. We have the original tracks from the LP of 1960 but then repeated in mono, but from different takes. I’m a completist and avid collector – I want everything that Bing recorded, but I wonder about the views of the average buyer here. The tracks ARE different with the mono versions sounding more positive in terms of rhythm, though I find it a bit too emphatic. I have heard two opposing views as to preferences. As with ‘On The Sentimental Side’ we have a series of medleys with songs in abbreviated form but here I don’t find it quite so frustrating, partly I suspect because of my own lack of familiarity with the original Latin American songs.  There are six makeweight tracks of suitable Latin American titles, from the radio shows of the 1950s with the Buddy Cole Group.

CCM 2109 ‘SO RARE’ Another jewel very aptly named. Of two discs, this is in some ways a very odd mix. But a very interesting one. And entertaining. Sit listening with the notes before you as you are taken on a figurative tour of much of Bing’s career from 1931 on. The unusual, the rare, the unissued, the firsts, the never before released versions. A magical tour of the byways of Bings recordings, but don’t expect the big hits here. If I were recommending a representative series of records to a non Crosby fan to give an idea why the great man is a great man this would be low on my list but to the keen fan who knows all the hits this is a ‘must have’.

Full track listings and sound samples of all these issues, including the Mosaic set, are at Collector’s Choice here


And I will continue with my review of the year in Part 2

Last edited by Richard Baker (09/12/2010 3:06 pm)


13/12/2010 1:15 am  #2

Re: The Year in Review. Part 1

Must say that I was disappointed with the 'Broadway' CD as many songs are on the Mosaic CD's.
I was expecting the commercial recordings Bing had made from Broadway shows.
Also, I thought that I had been 'HAD' with this CD after forking out for the 7 CD set.


13/12/2010 9:50 am  #3

Re: The Year in Review. Part 1

Ron Field wrote:

Must say that I was disappointed with the 'Broadway' CD as many songs are on the Mosaic CD's.
I was expecting the commercial recordings Bing had made from Broadway shows.
Also, I thought that I had been 'HAD' with this CD after forking out for the 7 CD set.


I stand chastised. I might have mentioned the duplication.

There is regrettably a lot of it. I can only hope it is not repeated on further issues. It's something that has beset all Crosby collectors for many years of course - Countless copies of that Christmas song - and others such as 'Don't Fence Me In' 'Old Cowhand' and 'Ac-Cent- tchuate' etc.

Last edited by Richard Baker (13/12/2010 9:51 am)

     Thread Starter

13/12/2010 5:14 pm  #4

Re: The Year in Review. Part 1

With regards to "El Senor Bing" I am thrilled that the mono and stereo versions have been released on the CD. I prefer the mono recordings as they do not have the vocal chorus that appears on several of the stereo tracks. But, I still "go to" a mint mono LP I picked up this past Summer for $3.00. It sounds more balanced and warm than the CD. However, the CD is a joy to own and the "bonus" material is the finest of the group. I will agree that these 2 or 3 song medleys get to be "too much" after awhile...and that "cha-cha" beat can wear on your nerves by album's finale.

All the best,
Paul M. Mock

13/12/2010 7:59 pm  #5

Re: The Year in Review. Part 1

I bought 'Return to the Paradise Islands' when the LP was issued in 1963. The mix was dreadful with Bing drowned by the excellent Nelson Riddle backings.  I understand this fault is now corrected in the complete remix on the Collectors' Choice CD.  The track playing recently on the official Bing Crosby site sounded really good.  I'm looking forward to hearing the rest!

Devotee of 'the art that conceals art' which of course Bing epitomised.

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