Bing Crosby

A Southern Memoir

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Bing Crosby's U.K.-only 1975 LP A Southern Memoir gets its first-ever stateside release 35 years after the fact with this CD reissue, courtesy of Bing Crosby Enterprises via Collectors' Choice Music, which adds seven previously unreleased bonus tracks, most of which are alternate takes of the album's songs. The disc was a pet project of Crosby's (he is even credited as producer), the concept being a collection of songs from the first decades of the 20th century with references to the American South -- "Alabamy Bound," "Carolina in the Morning," etc. Crosby employed pianist/arranger/conductor Paul Smith to come up with a varied group of charts, some of which are typical of the traditional pop style in which the singer usually was heard, some (e.g., the 1917 copyright "Where the Morning Glories Grow") similar to the way they might have been done back when they were written, and some "up-to-date" (as Crosby put it in the original liner notes). It is those last versions that must have given Crosby fans pause in 1975 and sound particularly dated in 2010. Partway through "Alabamy Bound" and throughout "Georgia on My Mind," Smith has used a funk/disco approach à la the mid-'70s. Particularly on "Georgia on My Mind," it suggests that the singer should be Isaac Hayes instead of Bing Crosby, and it has the so-bad-it's-funny quality of The Ethel Merman Disco Album. Apparently, the arrangement was so off-putting to the British branch of Decca Records, which licensed the album for its initial release, that it was edited down for the LP. The full version is restored here, with the edited version relegated to "bonus track" status. Thankfully, this style is limited to a couple of songs on the disc. Otherwise, A Southern Memoir is a pleasant late-career effort for the 71-year-old Crosby, part of his final renaissance as a singer. (The most notable bonus track is a privately recorded set of parodies, "Bing's South Texas Quail Hunting Medley," which provides a sense of Crosby's wit and affection for his friends, with its personal references to his hunting buddies.)

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 3:22 Amazon
2 2:14 Amazon
3 2:14 Amazon
4 3:03 Amazon
5 3:07 Amazon
6 2:15 Amazon
7 2:23 Amazon
8 2:47 Amazon
9 3:24 Amazon
10 2:22 Amazon
11 2:47 Amazon
12 2:23 Amazon
13 5:27 Amazon
14 3:59 Amazon
15 2:24 Amazon
16 3:30 Amazon
17 2:24 Amazon
18 2:48 Amazon
19 3:02 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick