In capstone underscoring a line of remasters of Bing Crosby's catalogue, it's entirely fitting, and delightfully so, that Collectors' Choice would put out a 2-CD set of 36 very hard to find recordings, a full 26 of which have never before seen release. Attribute a good deal of this treasure, and the project entire, to tireless efforts on the part of Crosby archivist Robert Bader, who did a hero's job of sleuthing and restoration. Adding to the uniqueness of So Rare, all tracks are chronologically set, starting from 1931, all the way up to 1976.
Among many singularities is a brief commentary regarding rock and roll, with Bing neither pro nor con though that track leads straight into a barrelhouse blues rocker, Pledging My Love, in which Crosby can't help but slip back into this trademark baritone croon. A number of the cuts here were special tracks made especially for friends or for the raising of charity monies, often done because the singer had a generous nature, finding it very hard to turn down requests, grateful his fans had taken to him so roundly for so many years, always expressing his thankfulness.
The entire affair kicks off with Just One More Chance, in which the crooner is young, imbued with a special dynamism that would eventually mellow into perpetually dulcet tones. Sprinkled throughout are any number of striking compositions, including the trippy and hilarious Anthem of the Clams co-written by Crosby with the immortal James van Heusen. Along the way, you'll encounter snatches of very cool studio chatter and personalities like Jimmie Haskell, Nelson Riddle, the omnipresent Buddy Cole, and many others painting the backgrounds to his tones.
Along with Seasons (here), I'd recommend this release as the one that newcomers and those unused to that pop genre of the ancient of days should start with. There's such a range of material that few indeed could possibly come away disappointed. True, hardly a lick of anything remotely like rock is to be had, but consider one of that style's own crooners, David Bowie, and his run-in with Bing, a guy he'd been influenced by (along with Anthony Newley) and you might begin to estimate the value of this gent's contributions to modern music. If the infamous Bowie was enamored of the august singer, then it's obvious there's ample provender for any true music lover, and I've heard more than one critic sotto voce claim that Crosby was to pop what Armstrong was to jazz, a claim I'm not inclined to dispute.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2010, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
Website design by David N. Pyles