Bing Crosby

Hey Jude/Hey Bing!

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With a title track that was inevitably destined for camp irony, this pop music cash-in finds Der Bingle haphazardly wrapping his sonorous tones around a set of country and Top 40 standards with nary a relevant moment to be found. "Hey Jude" is delightfully clueless and secured itself a spot on two of the future Golden Throats compilations (a series of ironic packages of kitschy celebrity recordings) for Crosby's off-handed delivery and awkward revision of the song's climactic melody (the soulful "nah-nah-nah" becomes the mannered "pom-pom-pom"). It's a moment that certainly begged for ridicule from contemporary rock audiences, not to mention the jaded few who mine the past for cynical cultural missteps. The most appropriate number on Hey Jude/Hey Bing! is the album's other Apple-related track, "Those Were the Days," where the nostalgic longing for a lost age seems to suit the then-66-year-old vocalist. The rest of the album is filled out with limp country-pop numbers that range from passable ("Little Green Apples") to absolutely awful ("Lonely Street"), and producer Jimmy Bowen's syrupy strings and glossy background chorus do nothing to enliven the singer's apparent disinterest in the material. Crosby walks through every tune like a rehearsal, lending none of his classic warmth to these mismatched numbers. Reportedly, Crosby himself considered the album to be one of his worst, an opinion not likely to be disputed by anyone who explores this audible generation gap.