Friday, December 29, 2017

The Bing Crosby CBS Radio Recordings, 1954-56

Fans of Bing Crosby can rejoice! Over 160 unreleased tracks are now available on a seven-CD box set, complete with liner notes and booklet. Following a weekly radio program over NBC, ABC and CBS, for almost two decades, Bing Crosby realized the medium of television was sucking up advertising revenue. By 1954, big-budget radio could no longer compete with the video tube and he began a downsized daily series. Five days a week, fifteen minutes a day, Crosby could be heard over the air in a series of pre-recorded musical programs, sans celebrity guests. The singer recorded an enormous "pool" of songs in a number of recording sessions, which would be used in hundreds of broadcasts on CBS. Derived from these are the treasures in this collection, made possible by a visionary's gamble, an engineer's wizardry and a transformative substance called "tape."

Like buried treasure reclaimed from the past, this remarkable set is like no other Bing Crosby collection ever released. With longtime accompanist Buddy Cole, fifteen recording sessions were remastered and released on this impressive box set through Mosaic Records. While Crosby felt at the time that his voice was not what it used to be, fans of the crooner would never tell when listening to these gems. They were not initially intended to be issued on records, through several tracks were instantly pressed into service for two popular Decca albums. But the majority of the tracks in this set have never been released or heard in decades. 

The set contains a large 16-page book with two informative essays (well-written and accurately researched) by music historian Martin McQuade, and author/historian Gary Giddins. This set is limited to a print run of 20,000, retails $120, is absolutely remarkable, and while the price tag might be a bit steep, less than $20 per CD is not bad when you consider all the music licensing and digital restoration involved. Which leaves me with a thought to ponder: how many vocal legends have un-released tracks still sitting in the vaults, ready to be discovered?  


Luke said...

And somewhere, some dope is reading this and wondering, "But... but... why does Mosaic want me to pay for this stuff? Why can't they just make it available as a free download?"

Some of this material was released after Crosby's death with strings and orchestra added to Buddy Cole's original small combo accompaniment. While the overdubbing was done well enough and had the blessing of the Crosby family, I'm glad Mosaic has reissued all this material in its original form. I prefer it this way. If you like Bing Crosby at all, this set is well worth the price.

Anonymous said...

This set was released by Mosaic in 2010. Why are you posting about it now?

Mike said...

Thank you for bringing this CD release to my attention. Many of these recording labels do little in the way of promotion and their products fall under the radar. I just purchased a set this morning from Mosaic's web site and it appears they have overtook and it never sold out. Had they promoted it better so folks like myself knew about it, they would not have overstock. If there are any other releases that fell below the radar of Crosby, Jolson or Durante, please post a review and let me know.

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