14/5/2014 11:31 pm  #1

Through the Years, Volume 9 / Songs I Wish I Had Sung

Hi everyone,

Today I finished and published an in-depth review of the ninth volume of the Through the Years series from Sepia on the U.S. Amazon website. If you would like to read it, you can access it here:


I also posted a more concise version of the review in my Bing Crosby on CD blog, which you can find here:


I love all the installments in the Through the Years series, but I am somehow partial to this one because it includes one of Bing's best albums of the 1950s—Songs I Wish I Had Sung (The First Time Around), with arrangements by Jack Pleis, who also did some fine work with vocalist Johnny Hartman in the '60s. As of this writing, this is the only affordable way of finding this album on CD, since a prior Japanese issue is now out of print.

Hope you enjoy the review!!! http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/happy.png


15/5/2014 2:50 pm  #2

Re: Through the Years, Volume 9 / Songs I Wish I Had Sung

An excellent review, Anton, and many thanks for undertaking this. I think you like the work of Jack Pleis more than me!


15/5/2014 5:02 pm  #3

Re: Through the Years, Volume 9 / Songs I Wish I Had Sung

Thanks, Malcolm—I am glad you enjoyed the review!

Regarding Pleis, while I don't think he's a first-rate arranger, he has done some acceptable stuff with Johnny Hartman and Camen MacRae, among others. In my opinion, he did a fine job for Songs I Wish I Had Sung..., with the exception of a couple of charts that are a little overarranged or have some annoying elements, like that drip, drip on "April Showers," which was unnecessary. From the little I've heard by him, he usually tried to stay out of the singer's way, as he does on Carmen MacRae's album Mad About the Man, which also includes some nice intrumental breaks. Again, while not a Riddle, May, or Paich in any way, he was an effective arranger, and I do think he's a little underrated...

     Thread Starter

16/5/2014 10:19 am  #4

Re: Through the Years, Volume 9 / Songs I Wish I Had Sung

Anton, an interesting, comprehensive and detailed review.

My own personal story around the record is that whilst Bing is paying tribute to the artists who had hits with the songs, so far as I was concerned the LP by Bing was my first conscious introduction to some of them. 

Back in the 50s and 60s Keith Prowse was a major theatre booking agency with many branches scattered around London. They were also music publishers and stocked records and sheet music at some branches. One of these was the branch in Cornhill, in the City of London, around the corner from the office where I worked.

The staff were knowedgeable and mounted interesting montages in the rather small display window. Came the time when the LP "Songs I Wish I Had Sung (The First Time Around)" was the featured centrepiece of the display, with sheet music for the songs, and if I remember correctly, a selection of the records of the original artists. Oddly, this cannot have been at quite the  time of the original issue (I was not yet working in London)  - it must have been a year or two after, but I remember it very clearly, and it was the first time I became aware of the record.

At that time I would certainly have known "Mona Lisa" and one or two others, but certainly not "Prisoner Of Love", for example. I believe that it is the first hearing that stays with you - the memory sticks, and a reaction on hearing other artists singing  the same song tends  to veer to the negative . The original sets the template against which others are judged, and "others" have difficulty in measuring up. 

As to Jack Pleis, I suspect that the best that can be said is that he was a good journeyman music arranger/director. He does his job but he lacks the star quality of Riddle, May et al. This was of course at a time when Bing was trying to find new partners. The Decca contract (and contacts) had ended, he was trying to forge a new path but viewed in retrospect it seems he might have been uncertain about how to go about it  - two months later there was Bregman, and it was not until another couple of years had passed before the first high spot with Billy May ("Fancy Meeting You Here" LP).


12/11/2014 3:48 am  #5

Re: Through the Years, Volume 9 / Songs I Wish I Had Sung

Anton, I have now read all the reviews on your blog. Good work, and very useful to a newbie like me.
However, even before I read your post, I had preordered the reissue of "Songs I Wish I Had Sung." It won't ship until the end of the month but I wanted to make sure you're aware of it. Bing Crosby Enterprises has done some very impressive work so far so I'm looking forward to it.

At the whopping price of $10.98, it's worth a shot!


13/11/2014 10:26 pm  #6

Re: Through the Years, Volume 9 / Songs I Wish I Had Sung


Thanks for your very kind words about my Bing Crosby on CD blog. I've been listening to Bing for many years and have quite an extensive collection of CDs and records by him (although not as extensive as that of many of the members of this forum...) so the idea for the blog was simply to voice my opinions about the albums by Bing that I own and that I listen to very often. If my reviews help anyone who reads them in any way, then it really makes me happy!

Thanks also for kindly reminding me about that new edition of Songs I Wish I Had Sung, which I am impatiently awaiting. Now it's time for BCE to tackle other interesting albums that remain unissued on CD (or are hard to find) such as Holiday in Europe and Bingo Viejohttp://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/happy.png

Thanks again!

     Thread Starter

03/3/2020 4:24 am  #7

Re: Through the Years, Volume 9 / Songs I Wish I Had Sung

I'm just wondering the sound and mastering differences between the BCE reissue and the Through The Years versions. Thankfully Sepia has released Holiday In Europe, but I am actually very interested in Bing Viejo as a release I haven't heard the whole album, but what I've heard of it it seems good.

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