30/12/2012 12:50 pm  #1

The Year In Review 2012

Another year is almost over and the newspapers and TV schedules have numerous reviews of the events of the last twelve months. Two years ago I created a rod for my own back by starting something similar here. At that time there was plenty to write about, covering the issues from late 2009 through 2010 - a magnificence of issues from Mosaic and Collector's Choice of mouth watering material.

Perhaps, viewed in retrospect it was too much all at once, because the momentum has certainly flagged of late.
I ended my review of 2011 with reference to volume 9 of "Through The Years" and a very nice set of  less well known films on DVD from Universal. What have we had since that might be worthy of note?
The end of 2011 left us wondering whether perhaps the future lay in the issue of new material from Bing Crosby Enterprises as downloads - ''virtual'' CDs rather than real CDs  - we had seen the two ''virtual CDs'' in ''Shall We Dance'' and ''With All My Heart'' with their mix of audio and a video track - a nice innovation.
Some expectations might also have existed that we might see something, whether  CD,  virtual CD, or DVD, at the time of Bing's birthday in May (age 109), but that opportunity came - and went. Possibly the death anniversary in October? Again, nothing. Or maybe something for Christmas?
A flower needs to be tended or it wilts and dies. Troops can only follow the flag with enthusiasm if there is a flagbearer out there waving it with energy or a commander actively maintaining morale. Without this activity the troops will give up or desert. If the general fades away the troops certainly will. 
3 May 2013 is a special date. Bing's 110th birthday can surely not pass unheralded? Surely there is an adequate supply of material in that famed basement archive? Please do not confound our hopes and expectations, BCE. Might it yet be that Bing will become possibly the oldest or only entertainer to have previously unissued material issued on disc to celebrate his 110th birthday? Our breaths are held. Dig deep in that archive. PLEASE.
Meantime from other sources we had from Sepia the final issue - volume 10 - of the ''Through The Years'' sequence, filling one of the major gaps - that of the December 1955 broadcast '' A Christmas Sing With Bing Around The World'' issued by Decca/ Brunswick on LP but never on CD.

This was a new departure for the series because it contained a number of non-Bing tracks, but a reasonable decision, given the context of the original issue.
The CD was rounded off with seven other tracks to complete the ''Decca'' recordings from 1956 and four alternate takes newly identified but from earlier perods of time and never before on CD. This volume brought an end to the series, which taken with it's predecessor, ''The Chonological Crosby'' at once provides a complete collection of all known surviving studio recordings (including alternative takes) for  the pre - Decca and Decca years and also full information about recording dates, venues and accompanists togeher with a wealth of other information. All remain available and all serious collectors should have the set, as should any record library or broadcaster with any claims to serious coverage of the genre.
Two CDs in a series titled 'The Best Years Of Our Lives: The Most Popular Songs of  - -''  have interest to Crosby fans.
Each CD in this series covers a year with a number of songs. I think it would be truer to describe them as being hits from the years in question rather than the most popular hits. The unusual feature is the inclusion on each of a radio dramatisation of a film from the appropriate year. Thus we have dramatisations of such films as ''The Philadelphia Story'', ''The Maltese Falcon''  and the original ''Stagecoach'' and others but the two of interest to Crosby fans are those from 1942  and 1945 with dramatisations of ''Holiday Inn'' and ''The Bells Of St Mary's'' .


''Holiday Inn'' is the broadcast of January 1943 from the Screen Guild with Bing and Dinah Shore, whilst ''Bells Of St Mary's'' is from October 1947 with Ingrid Bergman. Both are very truncated versions of the films, omitting several songs.  Older readers, or those with extensive LP collections, may remember both of these on a Spokane LP from the 1980 s.  The series as a whole has quite a lot of interest, but there is regrettably little in the way of supporting information. 
Two or three small companies specialising in reissues have brought out some noticeable CDs over the years, and one of those that have served collectors well is Jasmine. They were responsible for a series some time back titled Going Hollywood and also have issues of Bing with brother Bob as well as with Bob Hope. This last year they have issued a four CD set of ''The Andrews Sisters - Some Sunny Day'' which naturally includes some Bing, 10 titles in all out of the total of 117.

Jasmine usually produce fairly comprehensive notes including recording dates but have not quite met their usual high standards here.  Nothing wrong with the audio quality, though, but as might be expected with material of variable age some tracks are better than others.

The year has seen a ''two on one'' reissue titled ''Bing Crosby - The Jazz Sides'' consisting of  "Bing Sings Whilst Bregman Swings" and  "Fancy Meeting You Here" with  Rosemary Clooney.
Great tracks but most collectors will have them http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51GE7e6TmcL._SL500_AA300_.jpg

There has been the usual plethora of cheap compilations frequently drawn from the same ''standard package'' tracks of 70 or so that are endlessly recycled. It seems that every small record operation thinks that they need  to have some Crosby material in their lists.  Very nice that they should accept that there is still the demand but the attention to detail, whether in audio mastering, packaging or supporting information is rarely worthy of the attention of real enthusiasts. There is rarely much imagination in the selection, which is frequently also fairly short.
For example I noticed a CD with but ten of Bing's Christmas titles on it, released in late October, and perhaps even worse, a three CD set with 30 Christmas titles, mainly Crosby, but with a very thin sprinkling of others - Mario Lanza, Vera Lynn and Rosemary Clooney.  Little justice is done to any of them. 80% of the whole would fit comfortably on one CD.

If any reader of this has come across any issues that are worthy of attention by reason of unusual content or superior selection and packaging, please let me know.

I'll add some notes on DVDs shortly, though here also there has not been a great deal of activity.


30/12/2012 3:01 pm  #2

Re: The Year In Review 2012

An excellent review, Richard. Let's hope 2013 will bring us lots of goodies. We did have some on siriusxm after all.


31/12/2012 2:54 pm  #3

Re: The Year In Review 2012

As promised (or threatened) I'll add a few snippets about DVDs issued over the past year that have caught, or been drawn to, my attention.

I have to be frank here and admit that I do not collect video material to anything like the extent that I indulge myself in audio, and whilst I go out of my way to get almost everything that comes along in the form of (these days) CD, this is not the case with DVD, and I have not sampled most of the items covered below, so this is really only a summary of what is on offer, and I cannot give any appreciation of the quality of the content.


First off there is ''Road To Comedy'' - a set of four Road movies - Zanzibar, Morocco, Singapore and Utopia, region 1, from Universal Studios, and of course co-starring Bob Hope and Dottie Lamour. Who can resist such fare, but who has not already got them?



On Blu Ray we have a reissue of the three ''That's Entertainment'' films, with Bing taking a share of the  narration as well as appearing in short snatches from his two MGM films - ''Going Hollywood'' and ''High Society''. 
An earlier version apparently consisted of four discs with ''extras'' whilst the reissue seems to have three discs, with no publicised ''extras'' though I have not personally sampled it.  The soundtrack is alleged to be in 5.1 track surround sound but I am a little baffled as to how the musical films, mostly made in mono or at best in stereo, can possibly have genuine surround sound. The set is also on standard DVD.


Again on Blu Ray and stated to be exclusive to it, we have ''High Time''

Details here http://www.blu-ray.com/movies/High-Time-Blu-ray/45342/


I have just mentioned the creation of 5.1 surround sound out of mono tracks. Well how do you make a 3d image from a flat video image? That's what is claimed to have been done  for ''Road To Bali'' in ''3D (Real-Side-By-Side''). This can only be viewed of course on suitable TVs, but the process is wholly artificial and the only comment I have seen (which opens with the words ''save your money'' is enough to discourage even casual further exploration.

Of particular interest to golfing fans there is ''Golf Mania''.

, which is described as ''a superbly entertaining collection of short films featuring  golf legends and goofy golfers alike -- including Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Sam Snead, Ben Hogan, Byron Nelson, W.C. Fields, Felix the Cat and more. The ideal Christmas gift for the golf lover in your life!. 9 vintage golf films: "Goofy Golfers Newsreel," "Golf Magic" (1948), "Follow Thru" (1940), "Rough But Hopeful" (1946) with dozens of Hollywood movie stars, "Golf" (1922) comedy with Larry Semon and Oliver Hardy, "Golfing with Bing and Bob" (1998), Bing Crosby's 6th annual pro-am golf tournament in "Don't Hook Now" (1943), "The Golf Specialist" (1930) with W.C. Fields, and "Faith, Hope and Hogan" with Ben Hogan, Bing Crosby, Bob Hope.''

At least one of the regular visitors to this board ought to be able to get swinging with that lot.


A nice collection from The Nostalgia Merchant to which Malcolm drew attention and  titled - what else? - ''The Bing Crosby Collection''

How many differing ''Bing Crosby Collections'' can we cope with?
This particular one contains a number of TV shows including The Edsel Show, Ford Jubilee, several others as well as some Mack Sennet shorts.  6 discs.  I'm sure this is great nostalgia fare for those in North America who remember seeing the originals on transmission, and I personally quite like those old Sennet shorts for all their ''corn''.

Malcolm gave details and links here  http://crosbyfanworld.boardhost.com/viewtopic.php?id=402


Festival Films gave us ''On The Road With Bing And Bob'' - details here http://www.fesfilms.com/road.html.

A little snippety, but very nice to have.


I see that Amazon are listing ''Dixie'' for pre-orders, for release late in January but there is no indication as to the extent of any possible editing.

Similarly ''Variety Girl'' is shown for January release. Bing made a brief cameo appearance though the publicity implies a starring role!

     Thread Starter

31/12/2012 3:50 pm  #4

Re: The Year In Review 2012

Here's the link for "Dixie".
Looks like a Region 2 release only.
I see that Simply Media are also releasing "Sing You Sinners".


31/12/2012 3:52 pm  #5


06/1/2013 3:14 am  #6

Re: The Year In Review 2012

Thanks Richard for your thoughtful review of the yerar, a la Bing.


22/1/2013 1:33 pm  #7

Re: The Year In Review 2012

I duly ordered "Dixie". It's arrived today and it's very good. I'll order "Variety Girl" now.


23/1/2013 3:02 pm  #8

Re: The Year In Review 2012

Malcolm Macfarlane wrote:

I duly ordered "Dixie". It's arrived today and it's very good. I'll order "Variety Girl" now.

Mine has also arrived. I previously only had it on a very old video taped version of a TV broadcast and it is good to have it on DVD in good quality. It does not seem to have been digitally enhanced but is good for it's age. 

Many look at it askance these days for the racial overtones of performances in blackface. Whilst those concerns are legitimate I think that it is tantamount to rewriting history to hide all such things from view. Leaving aside these concerns the film has some really good songs, a fairly believable story line and Bing is in good form. The blackface numbers show a part of the entertainment scene as it probably was in the mid to late 19th century and I think it needs to be accepted as such.

In the same delivery I received ''Sing You Sinners'' which has also been transferred very well with nice sharp images and a clean soundtrack.
Both from Universal Hollywood Classics, both region code 2. 


     Thread Starter

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