CROSBY, Bing: Classic Crosby

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Volume 1

As the centenary ofhis birth approaches, Harry Lillis "Bing" Crosby (1903-1977) remainsa world-acclaimed entertainer New biographies continue to appear, hundreds ofhis 1700-plus recordings remain "in print," and his films (White Christmas especially) are televisionstaples. By many measures (total sales, gold albums, number one singles) he isas successful as any popular singer of his century. His appealing andinfluential "crooning" vocal style was, fortunately, developed just aselectrical recording and sound amplification allowed intimate singing voices tobe successfully recorded, broadcast, and heard above a full orchestra.

Many of the songson this compilation were sung by Crosby in his early-1930s feature films andshorts: I Surrender, Dear (thetitle song and "Out of Nowhere"), DreamHouse ("It Must be True"), Confessions of a Co-ed ("Out of Nowhere"), The Big Broadcast ("Where the Blue of theNight" and a reprise of "I Surrender, Dear"), Please (the title song and "A Ghostof a Chance"), College Rhythm ("Downthe Old Ox Road" and "I Surrender, Dear" yet again), and Too Much Harmony ("Thanks" and"Black Moonlight"). The rest are film or theatre songs firstintroduced by others and the occasional independent pop song not originating inHollywood or on Broadway.

The broad outlineof Crosby's early years is familiar to many born in Tacoma, Washington, he wasraised in Spokane. He attended Gonzaga University (later the benefactor of hislargesse in many ways) and took his first singing engagements there, eventuallyteaming with pianist Al Rinker. Heard by bandleader Paul Whiteman in 1926, thepair were soon joined with Harry Barris to form the Rhythm Boys, Whiteman'sfeatured vocal trio National exposure followed, as did their first recordings

After making theirbreak with Whiteman in the spring of 1930, the trio worked in Los Angeles, mostnotably at the Cocoanut Grove accompanied by Gus Amheim's Orchestra. Crosbyshares the spotlight with the Arnheim ensemble in Harry Harris's It Must BeTrue The earlier-postponed filming of Universal's The King of jazz (reuniting Crosby with the Whitemanorchestra) began late in 1930, ending the following March He again teamed withArnheim on Crosby's first hit record, "I Surrender, Dear. The song, anotherHarris creation, is heard here in an elaborate, unsuited-for-dancing"production number" arrangement.

Crosby's initial(March 1931) recording session for Brunswick included Out of Nowhere, and he isfully the focus of this relaxed, unadorned performance Another Brunswicksession three months later included, verse intact, I Found a Million-DollarBaby from the then-current Broadway revue CrazyQuilt.

Late summer andfall 1931 were devoted to theatre and radio work in New York. "Sweet and Lovely" was recorded just as NBC had engagedvocalist Russ Columbo (formerly an Amheim violinist) to compete with Crosby'snightly CBS program in the so-called "battle of the baritones" Crosbyis effortlessly note-perfect on the tricky melody and includes sometrombone-like embellishments in his second chorus.

Crosby sang "Where the Blue of the Night" in TheBig Broadcast, his first starring role in a major film This 1931performance, with Crosby's verse, is his first recording of what would becomehis signature song.

Late in 1931 a fewweeks of rest were prescribed for Crosby's overworked instrument, though he wascertain his voice "came back a tone or two lower than it was before."The September 1932 recording of Please

was completed while Crosby was smashing box office records at San Francisco'sParamount. This performance provides a brief resume of his singing style-thecantabile "crooning," whistling, and wordless scat-?é?¡styled singing.

"How Deep is the Ocean" and "A Ghost of a Chance were recorded the dayThe Big Broadcast opened in NewYork. The former is his only recording of this wistful Irving Berlin creation,though he sang it once more in the all-Berlin film Blue Skies (1946). The equally-durable, bittersweet standard"A Ghost of a Chance" was sung by Crosby in Paramount's 1933 Please.

Crosby joinedforces with the Lombardo unit in a bouncing two-beat rendition of Young andHealthy (from the film musical 42nd Street). The performance includes a generoushelping of jazzy vocal improvisation (listen for a quote from Gershwin's"Oh, Lady Be Good") and light-hearted whistling.

Crosby'sassociations with Tommy (trombone) and Jimmy (clarinet/saxophone) Dorseyincluded recordings, radio, and film Their early 1933 session together yieldedan exuberant My Honey's Loving Arms (1922) - the only song on this collectionnot essentially "brand new" when Crosby recorded it. The band'spropulsive accompaniment alternates faultlessly with the Mills Brothers'uncanny quasi?é?¡-instrumental vocal effects, supported only by rhythm guitar Apleasant bonus in the lightly swinging "I've Got the World on a String", also from this session, is Crosby's inclusion of its rarely-heardverse.

Crosby's activitiesin the spring of 1933 included the filming of CollegeHumor, Too Much Harmony, and GoingHollywood and his ongoing radio broadcasts for chester?é?¡field Ajaunty verse precedes a sentimental-yet-sly chorus of "Down the Old Ox Road". In his memoir Call Me Lucky Crosby described the song's locale as "apetting pit or smooching station on any campus." The lyric concludes withdirectness "Why keep waiting and debating when you know it's time formating on the old Ox Road?"

Two months later,Crosby and Jimmie Greer's orchestra returned to the studio, the sessionincluding more Coslow-Johnston film songs, "Thanks" and Black Moonlight". The former, written as something of a sequelto Leo Robin and Ralph Rainger's "Please" (track 2) remains the moredurable of the pair.

Described by one writer as Crosby's"first staged dramatic song" in a film, Temptation was heard in Going Hollywood. Bandleader Lennie Hayton,also the film's musical director, is heard here in a brief piano interlude Theperipatetic Crosby's twelfth recording session of 1933 included "Did YouEver See a Dream Walking?" from the Ginger Rogers film musical Sitting Pretty. Crosby's liltingperformance again includes the song's verse; the recording was, happily,introduced to a new generation in the 1982 film Pennies From Heaven.

GoingHollywood, releasedlate in 1933, vaulted Crosby to top-ten box office status. The opportunity torecord with him was surely irresistible to bandleader Irving Aaronson Crosbyhad duetted with Kitty Carlisle on "Love in Bloom" in 1934's The Loves Me Not, and he handles itschromatic intricacies with ease in the solo recording heard here. The songremains a standard, principally due to its adoption as comedian Jack Benny'ssignature tune.

Crosby's July 1934 session for Brunswick washis last; he then began a 21-year association with Decca that, independent ofhis other ventures, made him rich. The new, intimate style of popular singingwould be identified as much with Bing Crosby as with any o
Disc: 1
Down the Old Ox Road
1 Did You Ever See a Dream Walking?
2 Please
3 Where the Blue of the Night (Meets the Gold of the
4 Thanks
5 Sweet and Lovely
6 It Must Be True
7 How Deep is the Ocean
8 Young and Healthy
9 I Surrender, Dear
10 I Found a Million-Dollar Baby (In a Five-and-Ten C
11 (I Don't Stand) a Ghost of a Chance (With You)
12 My Honey's Loving Arms
13 Temptation
14 Out of Nowhere
15 Black Moonlight
16 I've Got the World on a String
17 Love in Bloom
18 Down the Old Ox Road
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