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A Centennial Anthology of His Decca Recordings

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Album Review

Bing Crosby recorded exclusively for Decca Records from 1934-1955 and non-exclusively for a couple of years after that, and Decca purchased some of the masters he recorded for Brunswick prior to his Decca contract, so parent company MCA (a part of Universal) owns the bulk of his studio recordings. The European copyright limit of 50 years on recordings has put many of those recordings in the public domain overseas, leading to a flood of low-quality compilations, many of which turn up in the U.S. To combat them, MCA/Decca has embarked on its own Crosby reissue campaign, using the original masters, of course, enlisting the long-lived fan club the British-based International Crosby Circle, and specifically its North American representative, Wig Wiggins, to compile the albums. The result has been a series of excellent collections, and this is another one. To mark the centenary of Crosby's birth, Wiggins has assembled a thematically arranged 50-track, two-disc compilation that surveys a group of major trends in the singer's work. The compiler has come up with 11 such subheadings, each of which is worthy of its own album — "Early Hits," "Country and Western," "Songs of the Islands," "Irish Favorites," "Bing's Duets," "Swing With Bing," "Film Favorites," "Bing and the Instrumentalists," "Americana," "The Voice of Christmas," and "Around the World." (Actually, some of these topics have been used to compile whole albums.) It's fair to say that listeners may not be able to distinguish each theme while listening to the discs, but they provide an organizing principal to give the album a good flow. Some critics have faulted Crosby's willingness to record everything from Hawaiian songs to early country tunes, but Wiggins, by choosing and sequencing carefully, justifies his eclecticism. There's a little bit of everything here, and all of it is very good.


Genre: Classics

Bing Crosby was, without doubt, the most popular and influential media star of the first half of the 20th century. The undisputed best-selling artist until well into the rock era (with over half a billion records in circulation), the most popular radio star of all time, and the biggest box-office draw of the 1940s, Crosby dominated the entertainment world from the Depression until the mid-'50s, and proved just as influential as he was popular. Unlike the many vocal artists before him, Crosby grew...
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