Universal Music is reissuing an attic’s worth of Bing Crosby’s albums. These three range from the 50s to the late 70s, a period when his music and image was more akin to nostalgia than art. Still, there’s plenty to enjoy on each disc.
On the Sentimental Side has Crosby backed by Ivor Raymond’s Orchestra from a 1962 session, and consists of two or three song medleys that come across like the 1903 St. Louis State Fair. Almost all of the songs are singalongs, and you feel like you’re at a German picnic as Bing leads you through “My Bonnie/The Band Played On” or “Tom Dooley/The Old Gray Mare.” Some bonus tracks with Buddy Cole’s band from the Bing Crosby Show include a lovely and haunting “Too-Ra-Loo-Ra-Loo-Rai,” but otherwise this is for the church Sunday Social.
El Senor Bing is essentially the same format of two song medleys, but this time it features Billy May’s orchestra, and he delivers some caliente arrangements of “In The Still of the Night/I Could Have Danced All Night” and “How High The Moon/Old Devil Moon.” A more intimate band with Buddy Cole’s quartet has Bing sounding more relaxed and jazz on “Papa Loves Mambo” and “Floras Negras.” Intriguing format and use of Billy May’s extroverted orchestra, but not sure how many listens you’ll keep it for.
Seasons has some of the last material Crosby put to tape (remember that?) as the material is from September of ’77 and he died just a short time later. His voice is a tad frail but definitely enjoyable, as he teams up with The Pete Moore Orchestra through more modern and arcane material like “June in January” and “Spring will Be a Little Late This Year.” A haunting take of “September Song” leads to an intriguing collection of Bing reciting poetry ranging from Kipling to Longellow, and it comes of surprisingly well. A fascinating finale.