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ClassicsOnline Home » CROSBY, Bing: Classic Crosby (1930-1934)
When Der Bingle was just Bing
Music lovers who groan at the mere thought of Bing Crosby, the overweight balding golf-playing millionaire who often sang flat, a parody of himself, should listen to this classic compilation of some of his early recordings made shortly after he left the Paul Whiteman band and went out on his own.
Not only does he sing in tune but with a thoroughly captivating youthful exuberance and delicious jazz phrasing. In these early days Bing had an amazingly rich and beautiful baritone capable of all sorts of variation, which he uses to deliver the words and music to these popular songs of the 1930s with absolute conviction. Listen and you will understand why this young man became one the biggest stars of Paramount Pictures and on radio... and yes, a millionaire many times over!more....
As the centenary of
his birth approaches, Harry Lillis "Bing" Crosby (1903-1977) remains
a world-acclaimed entertainer New biographies continue to appear, hundreds of
his 1700-plus recordings remain "in print," and his films (White Christmas especially) are television
staples. By many measures (total sales, gold albums, number one singles) he is
as successful as any popular singer of his century. His appealing and
influential "crooning" vocal style was, fortunately, developed just as
electrical recording and sound amplification allowed intimate singing voices to
be successfully recorded, broadcast, and heard above a full orchestra.
Many of the songs
on this compilation were sung by Crosby in his early-1930s feature films and
shorts: I Surrender, Dear (the
title song and "Out of Nowhere"), Dream
House ("It Must be True"), Confessions of a Co-ed ("Out of Nowhere"), The Big Broadcast ("Where the Blue of the
Night" and a reprise of "I Surrender, Dear"), Please (the title song and "A Ghost
of a Chance"), College Rhythm ("Down
the Old Ox Road" and "I Surrender, Dear" yet again), and Too Much Harmony ("Thanks" and
"Black Moonlight"). The rest are film or theatre songs first
introduced by others and the occasional independent pop song not originating in
Hollywood or on Broadway.
The broad outline
of Crosby's early years is familiar to many born in Tacoma, Washington, he was
raised in Spokane. He attended Gonzaga University (later the benefactor of his
largesse in many ways) and took his first singing engagements there, eventually
teaming with pianist Al Rinker. Heard by bandleader Paul Whiteman in 1926, the
pair were soon joined with Harry Barris to form the Rhythm Boys, Whiteman's
featured vocal trio National exposure followed, as did their first recordings
After making their
break with Whiteman in the spring of 1930, the trio worked in Los Angeles, most
notably at the Cocoanut Grove accompanied by Gus Amheim's Orchestra. Crosby
shares the spotlight with the Arnheim ensemble in Harry Harris's It Must Be
True The earlier-postponed filming of Universal's The King of jazz (reuniting Crosby with the Whiteman
orchestra) began late in 1930, ending the following March He again teamed with
Arnheim on Crosby's first hit record, "I Surrender, Dear. The song, another
Harris creation, is heard here in an elaborate, unsuited-for-dancing
"production number" arrangement.
(March 1931) recording session for Brunswick included Out of Nowhere, and he is
fully the focus of this relaxed, unadorned performance Another Brunswick
session three months later included, verse intact, I Found a Million-Dollar
Baby from the then-current Broadway revue Crazy
Late summer and
fall 1931 were devoted to theatre and radio work in New York. "Sweet and Lovely" was recorded just as NBC had engaged
vocalist Russ Columbo (formerly an Amheim violinist) to compete with Crosby's
nightly CBS program in the so-called "battle of the baritones" Crosby
is effortlessly note-perfect on the tricky melody and includes some
trombone-like embellishments in his second chorus.
Crosby sang "Where the Blue of the Night" in The
Big Broadcast, his first starring role in a major film This 1931
performance, with Crosby's verse, is his first recording of what would become
his signature song.
Late in 1931 a few
weeks of rest were prescribed for Crosby's overworked instrument, though he was
certain 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's
Paramount. This performance provides a brief resume of his singing style-the
cantabile "crooning," whistling, and wordless scat-styled singing.
"How Deep is the Ocean" and "A Ghost of a Chance were recorded the day
The Big Broadcast opened in New
York. 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.
forces with the Lombardo unit in a bouncing two-beat rendition of Young and
Healthy (from the film musical 42nd Street). The performance includes a generous
helping of jazzy vocal improvisation (listen for a quote from Gershwin's
"Oh, Lady Be Good") and light-hearted whistling.
associations with Tommy (trombone) and Jimmy (clarinet/saxophone) Dorsey
included recordings, radio, and film Their early 1933 session together yielded
an exuberant My Honey's Loving Arms (1922) - the only song on this collection
not essentially "brand new" when Crosby recorded it. The band's
propulsive accompaniment alternates faultlessly with the Mills Brothers'
uncanny quasi-instrumental vocal effects, supported only by rhythm guitar A
pleasant bonus in the lightly swinging "I've Got the World on a String", also from this session, is Crosby's inclusion of its rarely-heard
in the spring of 1933 included the filming of College
Humor, Too Much Harmony, and Going
Hollywood and his ongoing radio broadcasts for chesterfield A
jaunty 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 "a
petting pit or smooching station on any campus." The lyric concludes with
directness "Why keep waiting and debating when you know it's time for
mating on the old Ox Road?"
Two months later,
Crosby and Jimmie Greer's orchestra returned to the studio, the session
including more Coslow-Johnston film songs, "Thanks" and Black Moonlight". The former, written as something of a sequel
to Leo Robin and Ralph Rainger's "Please" (track 2) remains the more
durable 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 The
peripatetic Crosby's twelfth recording session of 1933 included "Did You
Ever See a Dream Walking?" from the Ginger Rogers film musical Sitting Pretty. Crosby's lilting
performance again includes the song's verse; the recording was, happily,
introduced to a new generation in the 1982 film Pennies From Heaven.
late in 1933, vaulted Crosby to top-ten box office status. The opportunity to
record with him was surely irresistible to bandleader Irving Aaronson Crosby
had duetted with Kitty Carlisle on "Love in Bloom" in 1934's The Loves Me Not, and he handles its
chromatic intricacies with ease in the solo recording heard here. The song
remains a standard, principally due to its adoption as comedian Jack Benny's
Crosby's July 1934 session for Brunswick was
his last; he then began a 21-year association with Decca that, independent of
his other ventures, made him rich. The new, intimate style of popular singing
would be identified as much with Bing Crosby as with any other vocalist, and he
entered the mid-1930s as an internationally known singer, actor, and "personality,
" with the height of his stardom still ahead.
George J. Ferencz
Transfers' David Lennick
Digital Noise Reduction Graham Newton
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CROSBY, Bing: Classic Crosby (1930-1934)