The most surprising thing about this 22-track, 65½-minute compilation is that during the early period of his solo recording career, 1932-1942, covered by this disc, Bing Crosby, the most successful singer of the time, recorded so few of the songs of Irving Berlin, the most successful songwriter of the time. So few, in fact, that in order to fill up the album, the compilers have included the only four songs written by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart that Crosby recorded during the same period. Annotator Geoff Mine suggests that a feud between Crosby and Rodgers & Hart after the use of three of their songs in the 1935 film Mississippi led to the omission of the rest of their work until Crosby deigned to cut the patriotic "The Bombadier Song" seven years later. But all the major Broadway composers, including Cole Porter, George Gershwin, and Jerome Kern, are under-represented in the Crosby catalog for the period, probably for the simple reason that they spent their time writing for the New York stage while the singer was singing mostly newly written songs for his Hollywood movies. Still, Crosby did manage to make a number one hit out of Rodgers & Hart's "Soon" and "Easy to Remember" from Mississippi and to reach the charts with a duet with Connee Boswell on Berlin's "Alexander's Ragtime Band." He also charted with "God Bless America." But the real turning point came with 1942's Holiday Inn, for which Berlin wrote all the songs. And all ten of them are here, including "Easter Parade," "Be Careful, It's My Heart," and, of course, "White Christmas." (Note that these are not actual soundtrack recordings, but studio recordings made shortly before the film's release.) Fred Astaire and Margaret Lenhart join Crosby on "I'll Capture Your Heart." Mastered from 78s, the tracks are sometimes scratchy, especially early on. But the compilation has a consistency that makes you wish there were more Crosby/Berlin recordings from the period (and that you didn't have to search out British imports of vintage Crosby).
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann
feat: George Stoll
feat: George Stoll
feat: Paradise Island Trio