Pop/Rock/World CD Reviews
Bing Crosby – Bing On Broadway – Collectors’ Choice Music Bing Crosby – Seasons – Collectors’ Choice Music
Published on May 23, 2010
Bing Crosby – Bing On Broadway – Collectors’ Choice Music CCM2107, 47:39 ***½:
(Bing Crosby, vocals; Buddy Cole, keyboards; Vince Terri, guitar; Don Whittaker, bass; Nick Fatool, drums; John Scott Trotter and his Orchestra on tracks 11 and 15)
Before Frank Sinatra…before Tony Bennett…before Barbra Streisand, there was Bing Crosby. He was the most popular singer in America. His relaxed brand of singing, referred to as “crooning”, changed the landscape of popular music. His charisma would translate into radio, music and television with unparalleled success.
Bing Crosby On Broadway was recorded between 1954 and 1956, for The Bing Crosby Shows for CBS and General Electric. Selecting some of the finest songs from Broadway shows of this era, and years past, Crosby lends his smooth, baritone vocals to a 19 song catalogue that demonstrates his expertise and musical feel for popular music. Gershwin, Rodgers and Hart, Cole Porter, Lerner and Loewe, Billy Rose, Harold Arlen and Irving Berlin provide a backdrop for a gifted vocalist. Backed by Buddy Cole and His Trio, and John Scott Trotter and His Orchestra, Crosby offers his inimitable, breezy style to classic theatre standards.
On upbeat tracks like “Swanee”, Ain’t Misbehavin’”, “Carolina in the Morning”, and “Crazy Rhythm”, the listener is treated to Crosby at his best. Using improvisational lyrics and jazzy phrasing, the songs take on an informal and bouncy premise for a live radio audience. Additionally, there are excellent, albeit short solos by Buddy Cole (piano) and Vince Terri (guitar) interspersed throughout the songs. However the format restrictions of radio recording tend to limit the complexity of the arrangements. Despite this, the likeable performer is able to infuse the music with a playful exuberance, especially on “Get Me to the Church on Time”, and “It’s Only a Paper Moon”.
What distinguishes Bing Crosby from many of his peers is the impeccable elocution of his vocals. Listen to his versions of “But Not For Me”, and “My Heart Stood Still” and you can appreciate the clarity of his pronunciation. Combined with the pleasing vocal tone, the songs move with a graceful rhythm, that gives his audience a comfortable and familiar context.
TrackList: Swanee; Mandy: Carolina in the Morning; How Long Has This Been Going On?) My Heart Stood Still; Crazy Rhythm; Ain’t Misbehavin’; Fine and Dandy; But Not For Me; New Sun in the Sky; It’s Only a Paper Moon; All Through the Night; Taking a Chance on Love; Come Rain or Come Shine; A Cockeyed Optimist; It’s All Right with Me; Hey There; Heart; Get Me to the Church on Time
Bing Crosby – Seasons – Collectors’ Choice Music CCM2104 , 73:43 **½:
(Recorded with the Pete Moore Orchestra; vocal backing by The Johnny Evans Singers)
Bing Crosby enjoyed a long and productive musical career. His soothing vocals provided a backdrop to the various events of the twentieth century. He was respected throughout the musical landscape. Both jazz and popular musicians were enthusiastic advocates.
On his final album, Seasons, reissued on CD, we get to experience “Der Bingle” as he interprets a plethora of standards. The voice isn’t quite what it once was, so the arrangements tend to overpower the vocals. However, his sense of pitch and melody are intact, as demonstrated on “Autumn in New York”,”April Showers” and “June in January”. A highlight is the elder singer’s offering of the melancholic ballad, “September Song”. Even with a somewhat strained vocal range, the richness of his voice contributes to the poignancy of the lyrics.
When Crosby takes on modern compositions, the rapport between singer and material does not materialize. His vocals do not elevate the songs. With an imposing 25 songs on this CD, it is not surprising that there is an uneven quality to the recording. But for fans of Crosby’s acting, there are five poems by the likes of Kipling, Longfellow and Wadsworth. These pieces are delivered beautifully with perfect diction and a melodious baritone voice.
TrackList: Seasons; On the Very First Day of the Year; June in January; Spring Will be a Little Late This Year; April Showers; June is Bustin’ Out All Over; In the Good Old Summertime; Summer Wind; Autumn in New York; September Song; Sleigh Ride; Yesterday When I Was Young; Around the Corner; If; The Singers; Lucy Gray (Solitude); The Slave’s Dream; Feels Good, Feels Right; Nevertheless; The Only Way to Go; Summer Wind; The Night is Young and You’re So Beautiful; There’s Nothing That I Haven’t Sung About; As Time Goes By; Once in a While.
— Robbie Gerson