Rosemary Clooney

Irving Berlin's White Christmas

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White Christmas, or, as the songwriter who held sway over the project would have it, Irving Berlin's White Christmas, was the big holiday movie of 1954. (It went on to become the top-grossing film of the year, too.) Normally, that would mean an accompanying "original soundtrack" album of Berlin songs sung by stars Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, and Rosemary Clooney (plus Trudy Stevens, who dubbed the voice of non-singing second female lead Vera-Ellen). Unfortunately, the principals had exclusive recording contracts with rival companies; Crosby and Kaye were with Decca Records, while Clooney was on Columbia. As a result, there were two albums, neither of them a true soundtrack recording. Decca substituted Peggy Lee for Clooney and put out an album of songs from the movie sung by Crosby, Kaye, and Lee. Columbia sent Clooney into the studio to cut a batch of the movie's songs on her own, and that's the disc under consideration here. Happily, it turns out to be one of Clooney's best efforts. She effectively re-creates her two big ballad moments in the film, her solo "Love -- You Didn't Do Right by Me" and "Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep," done in the movie as a duet with Crosby. She borrows "The Best Things Happen While You're Dancing," which had been taken by Kaye. And, best of all, she drags her sister Betty Clooney, once her partner in the Clooney Sisters, out of retirement temporarily to perform the clever "Sisters." Of course, with selections such as the title song and "Snow," the album also functions as a Rosemary Clooney Christmas album. [Real Gone's 2014 reissue contains seven bonus tracks, all taken from radio shows recorded between 1952 and 1957. It's a nice way to round out an already classic Christmas collection.]

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