Bing Crosby

That's What Life Is All About

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In 1974, having turned 71 years old and recently suffered from various physical ailments, Bing Crosby appeared on the verge of retirement. He had made recordings in one form or another every year since 1926, but in recent years there had only been a few, and he had not released a full-length album since 1972's Bing & Basie. Surprisingly, then, starting in the fall of the year and continuing until his death three years later, Crosby became very busy in the recording studio. (He also returned to the concert stage for the first time in decades.) His initial recording project in this spurt was a series of albums with British record producer Ken Barnes backed by Pete Moore & His Orchestra for United Artists Records (though he recorded the London Records LP A Southern Memoir in between the first and second UA sessions). The first of these albums was That's What Life Is All About, and it was a real statement about Crosby's life in his seventies, beginning with the philosophical title song, to which he contributed lyrics. "That's What Life Is All About" seemed to be intended as Crosby's version of Frank Sinatra's "My Way," though he was characteristically less belligerent and more reflective. Other songs also looked at the world from a benevolent, aging perspective, notably "No Time at All" from the musical Pippin and "Bon Vivant" from the musical Foxy. Standards such as "Breezin' Along with the Breeze" and "The Best Things in Life Are Free" also expressed a hopeful, carefree worldview, as did newer songs such as the country-styled "Have a Nice Day" and "The Good Old Times." Crosby paired with old friend Johnny Mercer on two songs from Mercer's musical The Good Companions, the lyrics rewritten to refer to the singers. It all made for an excellent, consistent collection that Crosby sang well and marked a late comeback in his career.

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